The Ministry of Mowing

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  (Matthew 20:26-28)

My brother and I were working a Christian retreat back in April.  We had to set up several hay bales for seating purposes.  He made the comment, “I’ve done a lot of things for my Savior, but now I can add slinging hay.”  Christians often think that being in service to the Lord means preaching from a pulpit, going to a foreign country on a mission trip, or leading some grand revival.  Service to God is usually more about the availability to serve than the action done. 

My father in law was supposed to work that retreat with me.  Unfortunately, shortly before that weekend, he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  That word seems to take the very breath out of anyone who voices it.  A man who for the two years previous had managed a 500-acre retreat camp was told that he could no longer participate. 

After the initial diagnosis, the family worked on our battle plan.  My mother-in-law was voracious in her planning.  Having a medical background, this was a mere blip on the radar.  All we discussed was the victory over this problem, and how we would celebrate afterward.  My wife’s role was to be there for her daddy, time being the most valuable commodity to anyone.  Planning is not one of my favorite things.  Nurturing is not my strong suit.  Action is how I show my support. 

I volunteered for the role of taking care of the homestead.  In the South, we believe in Jesus, loving on our family, SEC football, and having a good looking yard.  We tame the land that is “ours.”  Men take interest in the type of grass, the fertilizer, and the symmetrical lines in their mowing.  It was hard for my father-in-law to relinquish that part of his life.  It is a point of pride for all self-respecting men to take care of their yard work.  So hard, that the first few times, he made sure to counsel me how to crank the mower, what level to mow on, etc. 

In the verse above, Jesus talks about the reason for His presence and His expectation for His followers.  I discuss theological matters with people from many walks of life and the one thing that we can seem to all agree on is that Christ was a Servant first.  No matter what the nature of our theological disagreements may be, we can all seem to affirm the fact that Jesus was a Servant to all.  His entire ministry was based on His faithfulness to the expressed will of the Father. 

I find too often that I am much like Peter.  I feel the need to do grand things for God.  I feel compelled to make a splash.  I want to shout “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4)  Too often, I get reminded of verse 5 of that same chapter that the best thing I can do, is to listen.  If our calling is to be like Christ, our best strategy must be to listen first.  We should seek God in the small moments. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24) 

So today, after I get off work, I will drive to my in-laws, put on my grubby mowing clothes, and mow their grass.  Not for the accolades of my in-laws.  Not to be noticed by their neighbors.  Not because the Bermuda grass gets a little deep after a week. 

I do it because if my goal is to truly be like my Savior, to follow in His footsteps, I must not seek the highest platform, but the lowest. 

In humility and service, there can I truly find Jesus. 

Jim Shempert

Editor, One Million Dads
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