Let me tell you all a story.
Once upon a time, in a far away country, a boy was born into a family of two parents, two older sisters and one older brother. There was something special about this boy, that much could be said from birth. He was the pride and joy of that family.
The boy grew, and entered school, never forsaking his responsibility to his parents, whose health had begun to get bad, and his siblings. Even though he was the youngest, he was always the first to help others. Even if they were total strangers. Even if their intentions were bad.
The boy developed many talents. He could draw. Animals and birds so lifelike, that you would swear they could come off the paper and walk or fly away. He could do complicated math in his head and come up with the answer faster than any teacher. He could even imitate bird calls. He was a prankster in nature, but again, he would give someone the shirt off his back if he could. His teachers spoke of his endless potential and told him he could be whatever he wanted one day. The boy's dream was to travel, and to study nature.
When he was 15 his father died of a heart attack. With his older siblings either marrying off or working, the house responsibilities were left to the boy. He took care of his mother. He took care of the farm animals. He cooked. He cleaned. He made sure all of the bills were paid. All while finishing school and going on to trade school to become a machinist. Eventually, he met a girl and fell in love. When he was sure his Mom was sufficiently taken care of, he enlisted in the army.
After the army, he married the girl. Only two weeks after his wedding day, his Mom passed away. Eventually, the young man (because he was no longer a boy) and his wife welcomed their first daughter. The man realized that their meager income wouldn't do and so he temporarily left his wife and daughter to work in America because there was more opportunity there.
He began looking for work the day his plane landed. He rejoiced when a company hired him, even though he spoke no English. He worked hard, keeping a tiny apartment and budgeting carefully, so he could send money back to his wife and child. He came back home to visit whenever he could, sometimes staying as long as three months. More children followed.
When it was clear the couple would have no more kids, the man set about working to bring his whole family to America. He worked even harder. He bought a big car to accommodate the wife and children who would be coming one day.
That day finally arrived. There was a happy reunion. A brief reunion. The man had to go to work the next day. He continued to work hard. He was so tired when he came that he sometimes fell asleep on the couch before dinner was even served, but if one of his children needed homework help, or even just wanted to talk, he was right there.
One day, one of his daughters had an assignment for school. She had to interview one of her parents and ask them about their life. She chose her father. He told her about his boyhood dream to travel and study nature.
"Dad, WHY?" she asked, "WHY did you give all of that up? You have all these kids. All these bills. Your life is so HARD."
The man laughed softly then.
"Well, my dear," he replied, "I did it so YOUR life wouldn't be so hard."
That little girl was me, about 20 years ago. The man is my father.
I was struck by the unfairness of that situation. My Dad married young. He had children young. He gave up everything to go to a country where he didn't know the language. He worked nonstop, giving of himself. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer, he still helped everybody he could. Now that he is cancer free, he is helping out his neighbors in their garden. He has a servant's heart. A joyful one. I've often admired that trait. When I was in the 6th grade, my Dad got a new job. His old boss was not happy with that and actually came out to our house to have words with Dad. When his boss left, I turned to my Dad and said, "WOW. He is crazy! When I grow up, I'm going to be the boss. So I don't have to deal with bosses like THAT."
Dad looked me in the eye and said, "That's very admirable, but I think God has something bigger in store for you."
Dad was right. I'm a proud wife. A proud Mom. I also work two jobs and homeschool. I am often tired and sometimes fall asleep on the couch if I sit for too long. I've been accused of "doing too much" and often am told to "slow it down already." Despite my two jobs, I cook dinner more often than not. Sometimes, I feel like I'm living in a state of constant motion.
Yesterday was one of those days. Where nothing stops. Where everything keeps moving. I went to my first job in the morning, with no time to grab breakfast. I came home to a sick 8 year old and a sick husband. They are both down with the summer cold. Gabe is particularly miserable, as he doesn't get sick often, and gets hit HARD when he does. As soon as I put my handbag down on a kitchen chair, I began lessons with Ella, who worked diligently despite the fact that she is sick. I cooked lunch and dinner for Ella and Gabe and after a quick lunch, I was out the door again.
My first job is cleaning houses. I'm what one would call a professional housekeeper. (aka: I clean up after other people) My second job? I work on a farm. I picked about 20 pounds of shelly beans yesterday. It's hard work. I got home yesterday, took a shower (because farm work is dusty and dirty) and set off to the grocery store to get English Muffins and cough drops. At some point after returning home, I sat down on a kitchen chair. Maybe I fell asleep because I looked up to see the concerned eyes of my husband and daughter looking at me.
"Do you want me to heat you up some soup?" Gabe rasped. His voice was nearly nonexistent.
"Can I get you anything, Mom?" Ella piped up. "I could bring you your tablet. You could read a book. I got your pajama pants out of the dryer."
"I'm okay. I'll heat up the soup." I replied. "Thanks, honey. I'll get my pajama pants in a bit."
"I've been in bed pretty much all day." Gabe protested. "You've been working all day. The least I can do is heat up some soup for you."
"Yeah, Mom! Sometimes, I think your life is so HARD! Why do you do that?"
A scene from 20 years ago flashed before me as I looked down at my daughter and replied, "I do it so your life isn't."
Yes, sometimes I have days when I want to be the boss, not the servant. There are days where my thoughts aren't fixed upon God, and I begin to feel unappreciated, and overwhelmed. There are days where I want to throw in the towel and stay in bed for a while. But I don't. Because I have the best examples of a joyful servant in my life.
Jesus Christ, who served everybody He met. Healed the sick. Ministered to total strangers. Lifted up those who were down. Died for people who didn't deserve it...
...and my Dad, Edward. My inspiration. My proof that a servant is just as important (oftentimes even more so!) than what the world considers the boss.
If you ever have a chance to minister to somebody, do so. Do so with a joyful heart.