Serving where the need is greater- this phrase conjures up many ideas of super pioneers trekking through an untouched jungle, or hiking up a mountain to reach a village who has never heard of the Bible. Maybe this phrase calls to mind experiences of seemingly impossible situations overcome remarkably. Although these ideas do encompass certain needgreaters’ experiences, they are not truly a realistic representation of what this phrase really means.
I’ve been guilty of it, glamorizing this form of sacred service, as being a life full of one adventure, bible study, extreme weather condition and trial to another;) However, I have learned from our experiences that “serving where the need is greater” is actually much more simple and basic. Especially in our recent move have I had to readjust what this means in my head. You see for me, being in the French field has always been “serving where the need is greater” for the simple fact that French is a foreign language and everyone who spoke French in the US were coming from different lands. It felt like being a missionary at home! I actually really never imagined leaving the French field, unless I were to learn another foreign language.
Now skip ahead to now. We are here in Bilbao and our circumstances have changed. Antoine is working more and does not have the flexibility he had in Murcia, making his own schedule. Which means that because of his work schedule we are not able to fully support the French group as we had hoped. At first we thought we could still support the French in addition to being in English. Reality check!
First… um..we’re not as young as we think in our heads or look 😉 These first few weeks of being in a new routine have been pretty tiring. For Antoine, the kids…lol. They half drove him crazy the first week of classes and even though they are behaving better, it takes a lot of energy. The weather. The weather here is rainy and if you’ve had rainy days recently you know how it makes you feel…lethargic. It rains everyday basically and even though it’s not terribly cold, walking in the rain, being in service for hours in the rain (most don’t have cars, so you are walking for hours in the rain here) can be draining.
Second, we realized we needed to be modest. This is a quality that I have been chasing seemingly my whole life. In my mind I can do it all, but realistically and to be happy, modesty is essential. I was recently doing some personal study and read about a Levite who went to serve two weeks a year at the temple but longed to do what was impossible for him. He wanted to be at the temple permanently to serve. However he learned to be content with what he could do saying that even a day in the temple courtyards was a privilege. This was encouraging to me because often we want to do more and it may not be realistic or in our capacity to do what we want to do. However, appreciating what we are able to do and being reasonable can really contribute to our happiness.
Third, we realized we need to be flexible. Sometimes you think you know what is best for yourself or you have in mind some specific goal or avenue of service, but Jehovah may have different plans. You will only know if you are flexible right? Well even though serving in English was not in any plans, we are here to make ourselves available. It may not be where we thought but it’s obvious that it’s where we should be at the moment.
So I had to adjust my thinking…English did not feel like “serving where the need is great” to me. I actually was disappointed and not too enthusiastic either. Being in English just didn’t fit my “ideal” of what a needgreater is. Well adjustments were needed. For one thing “the need” is not always having 10 bible studies and trekking across rivers or up mountains. It may be that way in some places but in most places that is not the case. Sometimes the need may not even be in the territory. It doesn’t even mean that you need to be speaking a foreign language. So what does that mean? What does it really mean to serve where the need is great? Simply it just means being available to give your time and energy in a congregation or group that needs help in the ministry or in the congregation. For example here in the English congregation, the biggest need is not in the territory but there is a need in the congregation. So I’m adjusting and trying not to compare to the French field, where the need is in the territory. It’s a shift of perspective and it may even take some time for me to see how I can contribute in other ways besides the ministry.
So lessons learned: be modest, be reasonable and be flexible.