Service with a Smile (or a Sarcastic Smirk)

Stephen Peterson


When asked to write a short excerpt for this week's Imago Voices, I did what I do most of the time: say yes, and then think "ah crap, what did I agree to?" When I write, I typically get trapped in my head, leaning on my pensive nature and spending way too long staring at my computer screen trying to find just the right words. My monkey brain, stream of consciousness (daydreaming) manifests itself as I hope to find some sort of inspiration, typically leading me on various rabbit holes of tangential thinking. Below is an edited version of my brain dump relating to the subject of Being Servants:

  • Service
  • To humbly serve
  • Servant leadership (buzzword [buzz phrase?])
  • Customer service
  • Bad customer service
  • Lip service
  • Church service
  • Service to Armed Forces
  • Thank you for your service
  • Service Industry... Serve Ice Industry. How profitable would an establishment be if it only served ice? Snow cones,
  • Maid Service
  • Hospitality Service
  • Full Service
  • Service your car
  • Beginning to wonder if I'm misspelling service...Ser Vice...Sirvis...Service...yes, service
  • Serve in tennis/volleyball
  • Viral video of Yale volleyball player continuously getting nailed in the face by return serve...Scott Sterling!
  • Ser Vice - Spanish Vice
  • Miami Vice
  • Ricardo Tubbs
  • It was good growing up in the ‘80s...I wish my kids could grow up in the ‘80s...

And so it goes. Eventually, I find my way back to some form of reality, either by my child vying for my attention (Dad, Dad!, Dad!!) or my dog snoring too loudly at my feet. This same level of tangential thinking holds serve (collective eye-roll) when I read novels or lengthier books. I read something, start contemplating, find I'm two pages farther along and cannot recall what I just read. Back two pages I go. Focus.

Being Servants: For me, it is those who humbly give of themselves for the collective good in ways that might inspire others to do the same. Role models. The helpers. The silent heroes — unassuming, yet powerfully impactful. The difference makers. Those who are patient, and kind, slow to anger, compassionate, the real listeners and those abounding in love. We have a pretty solid example of "being a servant" in Jesus. Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve." And bringing it directly to each of us: 1 Peter 4:10, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."

I hope the world gets better (there is a lot of ugliness out there right now, or minimally, the ugliness has a platform that makes it louder), and I feel it will take a servant's approach, multiplied over and over again to stem at least some of the ugliness, likely one experience, one conversation, one relationship at a time. The egocentric narcissism so prevalent today can be maddening, and I like what Matthew 23:11 says about the drive for individualism (MSG): "Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you are content to simply be yourself, your life will count plenty."

And even more directly and poignantly, Philippians 2:1 (MSG) — "If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care — then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Sounds like being a servant. Did you just get served?

Stephen lives in Morton with his wife Michelle, daughters (Sydney and Wynnie), and 90-lb lab, Lily. He likes to think his attempts at humor land about 3 out of 10 times, closer to 7 out of 10 when upgrading to Dad jokes with his girls as the intended audience. He enjoys running, reading, air-popped popcorn, and drinking iced coffee from mason jars.

Christina Hite