Archive for January, 2011

How is Jesus serving you?

January 27, 2011

The Bible teaches that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. He showed us the plan of God, taught us the ways of God, and pointed us homeward. He did his work as a servant. Many who follow him, though, lose touch with his servant-ness. We create elaborate worship experiences, study interesting theology, strive for obedience, strive for grace. Work, worship, wonder – when will we just stop and let him do what he does best, serve us? Dignity Serves insists that Jesus Serves. How is he doing that in your life, today? Does the current manifestation of his martyrdom matter to you? Is he healing you, feeding you, finding you?

Here’s a brief conversation between Dan Crain and Phil Hissom answering the question:

Lamarr’s Journey – Become a Blessing

January 20, 2011

Listen as Lamarr briefly tells his story. He says that the homeless should seek to “become a blessing to others” in order to improve their situation. That’s just what he did. After loosing his job, he found himself on the streets of Orlando. His plan became: learn the Word of God, build real friendships, join a church, bless others. Not a bad plan. No one who meets Lamarr forgets him. He has a truly infectious smile. He is relentlessly hopeful and eager to share the love of God. It is a blessing to know him.

There have been many people involved in Lamarr’s journey over the last couple of years, helping him and receiving help from him. Friendship. Life. This is a beautiful thing. He mentions a homeless ministry called Compassion Corner which has volunteers from over a dozen churches. Through working with Polis, Lamarr has also been exposed to service opportunities that have inspired him to want to get more involved. He got involved with a church called Rock Orlando and is now enrolled in the Jobs Partnership program. Both of these ministries are also built on partnerships with other organizations and volunteers. It is truly inspiring to see the citizens of our city, with no input of public dollars, invest their time and energy to help others.

I used to be You

January 12, 2011

Dignity Serves contributor Brian Sullivan tells the story of a woman he came to know while serving at a mission in Orlando. He discovered how the blessings in his life were a painful reminder of loss in her life. This story is in Lesson One of the Dignity Serves curriculum.

The Wolf That Wasn’t (False Alarms When Helping Others)

January 5, 2011

I can’t tell you how often I get “urgent” messages. When the messages are delivered via voicemail, they have their own special beep. You have to add the special beep which means the caller took the time to navigate the menu maze and pressed the right button for “This is an emergency.” When the messages are delivered via email, they have their own red exclamation point. Less dramatic than the beep, but made special nonetheless. None of the urgent messages I’ve received in my life have been emergencies.
For me, on the other end of the message is usually an earnest helper quite convinced that he or she has seen a wolf – a particularly worrisome problem. Perhaps it is a person in need of food or shelter. Perhaps it is a little boy in need of a bed. A recent “wolf report” was of this sort – a frantic call to locate bedding for a boy who just moved into an apartment building with his parents. The calls were urgent, incredulous even. They were passionate enough to ignite a ripple effect of more calls, confirmation of the wolf report. “The boy must have a bed!” “What are we going to do?” A small army of people were engaged to handle this emergency situation. The problem – it wasn’t an emergency. It was sad that he had no bed. Even sadder that his parents were extremely poor, struggling to provide. It was cause for concern, reason to seek assistance. But it was not an emergency. It was not a wolf.
While I have no doubt of the sincerity and good intentions of the helpers in cases such as these, crying wolf is counterproductive on several fronts. Like the fable, crying wolf when there is none causes others to distrust the distress call. Secondly, it often takes up far too valuable time for far too many people. Once people engage in the hunt for a solution, they often lose site of the initial situation and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to solve the problem. Thirdly, and this is the biggest issue, it tends to damage the potential for real relationship because it produces shame. If my non-emergency is such an emergency to you, what is wrong with me?
In the case of the little boy’s bed, the parents were well aware that their child had no bed. They did not ask for a bed. A bed was not their highest priority. They were interested in food and shelter. If they got a little money together, they were hoping to get a little microwave to heat up food. Making such a big deal about the bed made them feel ashamed when they were actually focused on more immediate concerns. They wanted to get their son a bed. They did not want strangers getting their son a bed. The fact that the bed became the primary focus of the helpers damaged the opportunity to build relationships with the parents which eventually could have led to friends helping them get a bed or, better yet, friends helping them secure a job so that they could buy their son a bed.