Setting Up Chairs and Why This Matters

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9)

“Who helped lead you to Jesus?”

It was part of the Sunday sermon at my church, our pastor opening up the floor for answers from the congregation.

There wasn’t even time for a more formal pass-the-microphone kind of testimony sharing.  People popped up their hands all over the church and some just called out their answers in tribute to those who carried them to Jesus.

Some mentioned sisters or friends, several Sunday School teachers, a school teacher, pastors and grandparents who had taken them to church.

But overwhelmingly the answers were “My parents.”

In Scripture, that’s part of Timothy’s testimony, too.  Paul writes:

 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you (2 Timothy 1:5).

If he sat in our church on Sunday, Timothy would have thrown up his hand and said, “My mom and grandma taught me about the Lord.”

It’s one of those moments in life where everything freezes for the slightest breath and you realize something deeply true—“This Matters.”

It’s not always so easy to persevere and keep on keeping on.  When you’re prepping the Sunday School materials week after week …when you’re grading papers and writing lessons….when you’re asking your friend to church for the hundredth time… when you’re just driving kids to church.

Then there are those daily tasks, seemingly unimportant, easily overwhelming, when it’s hard to feel like you’re having any significant impact at all beyond washing clothes and cooking meals.

Most of the Mom-life isn’t deep spiritual lessons and massively important character lessons for our kids.  Most ministry isn’t radical and miraculous transformation.

My children don’t sidle up to me around 4:30 each day, ask me what’s for dinner and hear me preach on the feeding of the 5000 or the Bread of Life or how we should hunger after righteousness.

Usually I just tell them chicken or spaghetti or something I’m going to make up in about 15 minutes that I haven’t decided on just yet but will surely be awesome.

I once heard a youth pastor say that “90% of ministry is setting up chairs.”

Isn’t that true of what we do as well?

Sure, God gives us these perfect moments when our kids ask the deep question and we need to know how to answer with the Bible and with prayer.  Of course, our lives need to be an example of personal faith in Christ.

Other times, though, we’re ‘setting up chairs.’  We’re washing mounds of clothes and matching the socks not devoured by the dryer monster.

We’re filling the cart with groceries and cooking those dinners night after night.  We’re packing lunch boxes day after day and bending over a child’s shoulder to watch her put the final touches of paint on a school project.

It’s jumping up every five minutes when a child calls out, “Mom!” or “Help!”  It’s standing outside waiting for the bus even in the cold and the rain and chasing down children who’ve forgotten their mittens or hats on a frosty day.

It’s losing sleep because of illness, bad dreams, night owls and early birds.  It’s foregoing any attempt at an uninterrupted conversation and occasionally hiding in the bathroom with the telephone just so you can hear what the person on the other end is saying.

It’s shuttling children here and there, cheering from the sidelines of a field on Saturday mornings or snapping photos at a ballet performance.

Setting up chairs–that’s what we’re doing day after every single day.  We’re serving in our homes and communities, schools and churches in hundreds of hidden ways.

Because we love.

We do it because God Himself, the Savior of us all, stooped onto a knee and washed the dust and grime off the feet of His own followers. Then He said, “since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow.  Do as I have done to you (John 13:14-15).

We do it without recognition most of the time.  No onlooker cheers you on for spending your day changing diapers, making meals and giving baths.

There aren’t enough ceremonies to thank the faithful servants who “set up chairs” in our churches every week.

But we can remember in this moment that “This Matters.” We can fold those clothes with a little more joy and prepare that lesson with a renewed sense of purpose.  Because every moment that we’re serving others is part of leading them to Jesus and there’s no greater ministry than that.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

6 thoughts on “Setting Up Chairs and Why This Matters

  1. Robin says:

    I went through a phase where I was addicted to “messages.” In our family room were at least 12 different messages in the form of pictures, plaques, wall hangings, cross stich verses in frames…all statements of what I believed, what motivated me, what mattered to me, what I wanted to tell others. Several favorites were: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” (Abraham Lincoln); “The greatest reward a man can receive for his toil is not what he gets from it but what he becomes by it.” (Unknown); “Here, at whatever hour you come, may you find light, help and human kindness.” (Albert Schwitzer); “A friend loves at all times;” (Proverbs); “One shoe can change your whole life.” (Cinderella); “Great things are small things done with great love.” (Mother Theresa); and my two all-time favorites: “Because Kindness Matters,” and “Love is the reason behind everything God does.” (Anonymous). In my experience as an oncology nurse over the past nearly 30 years, I feel like I’ve seen it all…the worst and the best in human interactions. But surpassing every obstacle, every fear, every unknown, every failed therapy, every bit of bad news I’ve witnessed patients and families, and nurses, face—there is kindness, always kindness. It softens disappointment, strengthens faith, reduces lonliness and bridges the silence. Because it’s true that at some point, there isn’t anything else we can say or do to change the circumstances, but at least, if not at the most, we can offer kindness. It’s in its most genuine form when its just a part of the routine and the expected aspects of our day and our duties. Years ago as a younger nurse I was taking care of a woman dying of ovarian cancer. She came into the office sick and needed IV fluids for dehydration and vomiting. She was the only patient in the sick room that day. While I cared for her I looked out the window and saw that it had begun to snow. I said as much to her and she commented, “I love to watch it snow.” Well, the way the sick beds were positioned she could not see out the windows so without much thought I unplugged everything and turned her bed around so she could watch it snow. Several weeks later I received a phone call from her daughter. Her mother had died and she was calling just to thank me for that one act of kindness showed to her mother that day…taking the time to turn her bed around…that it meant so much to her mother and thus to her. I thought to myself, “Such a small thing but yet, not so.” I would not have remembered doing it if it hadn’t impacted this family to this degree. I shared this story in a letter to the editor of a nursing journal I subscribe to in response to the question, “How do you cope when a patient dies?” I learned that no matter the outcome of cancer therapy, if the patient lives or dies, what the family remembers most is how I made them feel. It’s not the medication, the good nursing assessment, the watchful eye over them, at least not really. It’s the kindness–the kindness with which all other actions are either done or not done, with which all words are either said or not said. Do all things with kindness, in love, no matter how trivial or void of thought or intention. Because Kindness Matters.

    Thank you Heather for this very special devotion..obviously it hits home with me.

    • Heather C. King says:

      Wow, Robin, I am overcome by your response. So beautifully said. Thank you for sharing that. I love this: “Do all things with kindness, in love, no matter how trivial or void of thought or intention. Because Kindness Matters.” I’ll be pondering that…. And also I love “One shoe can change your whole life” 🙂

  2. Eileen King says:

    Many years ago, my Aunt Mildred and I were walking away from the gravesite ceremony for her lifelong friend. I’ll never forget her turning to me and saying, “Only one thing matters – be kind.”

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