Serving is one of the biggest responsibilities Christians have. It’s one of the most rewarding things for both the servant and the receiver, and there are so many ways to do this! The word “serve” is a verb, and a verb implies action. We are told to actually do something for someone. Kind words are great, but actions go a long way. I’ve been on the receiving end of a few good deeds (some for no particular reason), and it made me feel loved, understood, wanted, and encouraged.
Recently I was at a Bible study, and this was a topic that came up. We were asked to think about ways we can serve others – to get creative with it. You have to tailor a service toward the person (a lot like choosing an audience when you write). What would make that person feel the best? What does he or she really like? We didn’t have very much time to discuss what we thought, but since then, I’ve been brainstorming, and here’s what I came up with.
1. Send a card.
I love love love writing and receiving cards! It doesn’t seem like very many people do this anymore, so it’s especially heart-warming to get an encouraging letter to your mailbox. I think sending a card is a great thing to do because the receiver will feel loved and if you’re sending the card, you get to be reminded of your blessings. You could send holiday cards, birthday cards, or old-fashioned letters on stationery. It takes some effort to write a card, address it, and send it, and that’s part of the joy of receiving it! You know someone put in the effort to do something kind for you.
2. Take a meal to someone (or just a snack!)
This is probably one of the most-done acts of service I’ve seen. When someone is sick, they get a meal! Had a baby? Meal. Surgery? Meal. Just moved in? Meal. You get my drift. It’s a pretty easy thing to do for someone – you can just make a double batch of whatever you’re having that night, and take part of it to someone who could use a little encouragement or company. Although it can be cliche and overdone, it’s a very thoughtful thing to do, especially for someone who lives alone or isn’t able to make a meal for herself. It could even just be a batch of cookies, brownies, or a big bag of snack mix. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
3. Visit people.
A lot of people, especially elderly people or others in nursing homes, really just need some company. They don’t want a meal or a card – they want a visit. Sometimes the best thing you can do is go sit and talk to people. You could meet them to eat or to get coffee and catch-up, or if they can’t get out, just go see them. Let them talk to you about what’s going on in their lives; listen to them and try to understand what they’re saying – maybe take that information and see how you can help them further! When my grandfather was in the nursing home, we would go visit him. Even if he was in the middle of a nap, he jumped right up, so excited to see someone in his room who wanted to visit with him. I could really tell how much it made his day just by the look on his face.
4. Take someone a gift basket.
Pay attention to what people around you are talking about and how they’re feeling. You can easily make a gift basket to meet their needs. Use your resources to help other people. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I took a basket to one of our new friends who had a terrible cold and was working 12-hour shifts at the hospital. We decided to take her a basket with a couple of oranges, Epsom bath salts, an essential oil “cold bomb” blend, and a couple of other things that always make us feel better when we’re sick. Plus, we had all of these things on hand already! We took it to her house the next day, and she was thrilled. It wasn’t much, but anything in a basket sounds great to me.
5. Clean someone’s house.
It’s so helpful when people are busy and overwhelmed, and someone comes in to clean their house just because they want to. This was both mentioned at the Bible study I talked about earlier and something I’ve seen firsthand. Several years ago, when my grandmother passed away, my family had some wonderful friends who came into our house while we were taking care of funeral business and standing in long visitation lines and cleaned our house. They vacuumed the floors, picked up the (extremely messy) rooms that both my brother and I lived in, cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen, and probably more that I didn’t know about then. They knew extended family would be coming over, and that we would have visitors coming to bring us food, so they deep cleaned our home. It didn’t hit me then how kind of a deed that was, but thinking back on it, I can imagine just how much that comforted my parents.
6. Make something.
If you know a person who doesn’t have much money to buy clothes and you can sew, make them clothes! Dorcas (Acts 9) did this for people in need, and she was such a servant that she was restored to life so she could help others keep serving. If you know someone who needs help with repairs, do that. Some people quilt, some crochet, some know how to make things with wood or paint on canvas. If you can make something with your hands that would be useful to anyone, do it! What a wonderful surprise it would be to have something you need handmade by a person you love.
7. Read the Bible to someone.
When my grandfather (on the other side of the family) had dementia, he couldn’t read the Bible like he used to and always wanted to. One day I was reading a devotional book along with my Bible and he kept sitting up straighter to see what I was reading, and I finally asked him if he wanted me to read to him. He nodded that he did, and I ended up reading the entire book of 1 Peter (if I remember right) to him. He listened so carefully, and at the end of the reading, I said, “You used to read this a lot didn’t you?” (more about that here) He nodded and said “yes.” We never know who needs help reading, who longs for the Word of God, but struggles to get through it or understand it. Pay attention to other people, and meet their needs!
8. Invite others to your home (or to a restaurant).
Since John Mark and I got married, we’ve gotten to enjoy a meal with at least three families in their homes, with one who paid for our meal at a restaurant, another family included us in their family meal outing later, and were invited to another home but we had already made plans that day. I was still getting used to a new place, and both of us were getting used to marriage, so it was nice to be able to eat a meal prepared by someone else and enjoy their company. Even if you don’t feed them, you could have them over for a game or movie night, light snacks, even overnight if they need a place to stay. Even if your house is small, you can have a couple of people over (something I’m learning). It’s really the thought and the company that counts. If you can’t have them over for food for some reason (the people we went out to eat with were having kitchen renovations done), I’m sure they wouldn’t mind going out to eat with you.
There are many more ways to serve people, but these are the simplest ways I thought of. People of almost any age can serve in these ways! I did some of these in college and even while I was still in high school, and they were beneficial to all parties. Don’t get too shy or insecure or busy to serve. You never know whose day you’ll brighten.