A healthy tree has deep roots, a sturdy trunk, and strong branches. Within those branches are a place of shelter: places of nourishment, rest, and protection. We can think of squirrels busily collecting acorns, possums sleepily hanging from limbs, and birds sheltering their young from predators.
Over the past few months, we have looked at how to have a healthy spiritual life.
Spiritual practices that work send our roots down deep. Tall and sturdy growth requires personal and corporate (community) worship. The balanced spiritual life contains one more element—service. Our service is like the strong, leafy branches of a tree. Here we offer food, respite, and safety to others. To be a whole woman of God means to serve others as if they were Jesus.
Immediately we think of the ways in which we care for our families.
Every meal we provide, every towel we wash, every errand we run are ways in which we spread our branches wide for those we love. Although it may seem “unspiritual,” our service in the home matters greatly. Done with love, grace, patience, humor, and humility, these tasks create a safe haven for others–a place of shelter–and become an offering to God.
Volunteering time without prejudice or judgment with battered women or delivering food to needy seniors creates moments of care and shelter and becomes an offering to God.
Giving our time, talent, and treasure to our faith family (church) nourishes the spiritual lives of others.
The outcome of our rootedness and growth in God is blessing others in the name of Jesus.
Too often Christians limit the definition of “service” to volunteer positions or work in the church.
Wherever we find ourselves professionally or socially, we can serve by becoming a place of shelter and care. While I interned in college and in the year that followed, my supervisor became my mentor. She modeled a balanced life—wife, mother, community member, businesswoman, and association president. In each part of her life, she consistently strove for the good of others.
At work, this meant that my mentor took me under wing and taught me the art of public affairs. She held me to high standards but helped me to achieve them. She ensured that I had opportunities to attend seminars and workshops. She showed me how to view problems as opportunities and encouraged creativity in meeting challenges.
The service she gave allowed me to thrive. This is godly service. In later years, she reflected on our early relationship and revealed that it fed her spirit as much as it formed my approach to business. Ultimately, my career path went an entirely different way from hers—but the lessons she taught me have made a lasting difference in my life.
Supporting and caring for our families and friends is vital to making our homes and neighborhoods a place of shelter in a busy and sometimes harsh world.
Serving meals at a soup kitchen and leading a Bible study are wonderful ways in which to create a space of sanctuary for others. They are a necessary part of being the Body of Christ in the world—but they are not the only ways. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus said, “Whatever you did to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did to me.”*
The hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, and imprisoned sometimes come to us in the form of professional associates. Look for those opportunities to enrich the lives of others through your teaching and guidance.
Create a safe place for others to come and ask questions or raise concerns. Become the mentor for others that you had (or wished you had). In doing this, you will glorify God.
About Carol Pazdersky
Carol Pazdersky is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. She serves Bel Air UMC in Bel Air, MD, as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Missions/Outreach and on the Boards of Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United and Be the Change Baltimore addressing issues of homelessness. On a daily basis, Carol ministers with women who are seeking to balance their personal, professional, and spiritual lives. She is a wife, mother of three young adults, daughter of aging parents, friend, and animal lover and on the same journey to find balance. Her sermons are archived on the following sites: www.MtCarmelChapel.org and www.BAUMC.com.
I’m Carol Pazdersky, a pastor at Bel Air United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD (Jory’s church). Spiritual formation is my passion! I have seen so many women facing burn-out because of the heavy load they carry—being a supportive partner, involved parent, care-giving daughter, strong business leader, and dedicated friend. With all that is happening, the spiritual life can take a back-seat—and without the firm foundation of Jesus, we may feel like a dry well. What are your greatest spiritual needs? How can I offer support and encouragement for your journey? On the other hand, some women have figured out the balance between faith, family, friendship, and business. I would love to have you share your wisdom as well. Email me at pazderskyc@ baumc.com with your victories, challenges, questions, and thoughts, and I will respond to them in the coming months. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.