Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Are you a people pleaser? As an adult child of a poly-substance abuse family, I once was. I had a strong need to be liked and accepted, which stemmed from experiencing years of rejection, blame, neglect, abuse, and a core feeling of being unlovable and flawed. A child in this situation learns rather quickly to read people, because one never knows what to expect, and learns how to compensate for difficult situations.
I mainly compensated by doing things — good things — I thought would turn the tide. Sure enough, when I did good things for people, they liked what I did; I secretly hoped that meant they would like me, too. I learned the more good things I did, the more people seemed to like me. That made me feel good, making it easier for me to get along with people. Win-win, right?
Until one day in the early 90’s: I was waitressing at a Mexican Buffet in Alabama. I adored the owner, a hard-working Mexican woman who had given me a chance to earn some money. She treated me like family. At one point, her family, more than a dozen of them, traveled up from Mexico to visit. It was a long, difficult journey and I wanted to do something special to express my love. I did what I knew best … I cooked. I made them a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It was hard work and depleted a disproportionate amount of my meager resources.
I’ll never forget how excited I was to serve them. I anticipated how much they were going to love the meal! Well, guess what? They poked at it, they prodded it, they stabbed it with their forks and moved it around on their plate. They spoke in their native tongue among themselves. They didn’t eat the meal I had poured my heart into preparing. I was crushed! I became mad and indignant: “How could they refuse what I had so lovingly done for them?!”
I was not yet a born-again believer, but my next door neighbor was. She compassionately paraphrased Ephesians 6:7-8, which tells us to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” I internalized this verse, allowing it to lead me to change my life. Shortly after, I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life.
Fast forward thirty years: I find immense joy serving the Lord and His people however I can. I don’t serve to gain worldly praise. Often I serve through bone-aching pain and fatigue, falling into bed, completely exhausted physically, but elated spiritually. Have I been the face of Jesus in doing so? I hope so. Have I done ‘good things’ in the light of how the apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:19, “I have become all things to all people in order that I may win some”? I think so.
I serve not to please people but to please my gracious heavenly Father. I do not grow weary serving for God. He loves me because of who I am and not what I do so that one day I will reap the prize of hearing Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant…come and share your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
So I encourage you too; do not grow weary, finish strong.
~ Lorraine Walsh