We all have a purpose in life. We are not an accident. We may not know or understand it fully yet, but we do have a purpose. We have a God-given reason to exist. We were created with a purpose, as part of God’s master plan. Our purpose includes a life of service. We were uniquely created to help serve others, and not just yourself.
Did you know that God actually prepares opportunities for us to serve? Yes, the Almighty Creator of all that we know cares enough about each of us to give us special occasions to help other people. He wants to teach us to become more like Him through service. In the Bible, the apostle Paul says so. “For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” (Ephesians 2:10) That is the purpose of this book as well. It is to remind and encourage both Christians and non-Christians of the amazing plan and responsibility to serve. Anyone who helps handicapped children or mentally disabled adults, or serves the homeless knows how much they get in return. It feels good to help others. Those who give often receive back much more than expected.
The reader will find Willing Hands full of proven ideas and simple reminders that service is not complicated, costly, or out-of-reach. Each suggestion has been written to be concise and to-the-point. Each recommendation within this book can easily be made an active part of our lives. Service may not always easy, and sometimes we all need a bit of encouragement and support, but it truly is a great way of life.
"This concise, short book is jam-packed with tips and ideas about how best to serve The Lord. It would make an excellent text for churches to hand out and discuss in small group studies. It will help open a dialogue where Christians can help one another find where they can serve in the church and how . . . [Willing Hands is] an important message that needs to be told." —"P.S. Annie" (blog) - Suzanne McClendon
Dan Richard is a lifelong Bible student, having read the Bible over 30 times. He actively seeks to put his faith into action and this short volume is a result of extensive dealings with refugees. Dan is a lay minister and also works full time as the sales and marketing head of NOW Foods, a large family-owned nutrition company.
He has previously written three books including Beating the Odds, a history book about NOW. He also wrote Operation Lost Sheep, which encourages Christians to search and rescue those who have left the church.Dan and his wife Beth live in Carol Stream, IL.
Table of contents
PART 1 Service within Your Family
1. Hospitality 101 2. Raising Godly Children 3. Caring for an Elderly Parent, Brother, or Sister 4. Serving Your Spouse 5. Serving at Home
PART 2 Service within the Community
6. Welcome Refugees 7. Feed My Starving Children 8. Service at Your Workplace 9. Serving in the Mission Field 10. Teaching English as a Second Language 11. Serving in Preaching 12. Serving the Disabled 13. Service as Youth 14. Service in Retirement
PART 3 Service within the Church
15. Serving by Attendance: Just Show Up 16. “How can I help you?”—Attitude of Service 17. Operation—Lost Sheep, Inside the Church 18. Operation—Lost Sheep, Outside the Church 19. Financial Service 20. Service in Public Prayer—“Lord, Teach us to Pray" 21. Service by Music: the Joy of an Eight-Year-Old 22. Service by Teaching Sunday School 23. Serving Brother’s Responsibilities 24. Serving Sister’s Responsibilities
PART 4 Service in Sermons
25. Serving by Exhorting: A Message with Meaning 26. Preparing for Speaking Success 27. Delivering Your Message Like a Pro 28. Engaging Questions 29. Attention-Getting Introductions and Vivid Conclusions 30. PowerPoint and Visual Aids 31. Exhortations Without Words 32. Presiding With Passion 33. Memorial Service
About the Author
Excerpt from book
I would like to recognize those closest to me who have been inspiring, personal examples of service. My dad, Elwood Richard, became a giant in the nutrition industry, but was equally known for his humility, kindness and service to others. He continues to inspire me and remains my greatest mentor and role model. My mom, Betty Richard, served my brother, David, sister, Sharon, and myself for many years when dad was away from home, working 80+ hour weeks. She quietly cared for our family despite little recognition and she instilled our Christian faith. Thanks indeed Mom!
My wife, Beth, has lived a life of service and really been a helpmate in recent years as we became very involved with refugees. Our life is better because of this life change, and Beth has done more to help others than anyone i know. My children Nathan, Faith and Adam have developed a willing spirit as well. This was essential when the Emena family of ten came to live at our house for almost a month in 2012! Life has never been the same since. That experience led to our eyes being opened to a new way of giving. Thank you to the amazing parents Ramazani and Sangani for their incredible life story and friendship. My life is better for knowing you.
I would like to thank the following people for their insights and wonderful contributions to this project: an anonymous sister on Chapter 2; Sue Johnson and her mom, Marie, on Chapter 3; Bruce Parker on Chapter 9; Dana Pratt on chapter 10; Nathan Richard on Chapter 21; and Kari Larsen on Chapter 22.
Introduction or preface
Are you selfish? I am. I really am. I’d much rather serve myself than others, yet God has been working in my life to teach me how, and why, to serve others. It’s a journey that all disciples of Jesus must experience and learn. No one is born serving others. Someone who cared enough to raise you had to serve you. Someone had to feed, clothe, change your diaper and care for you. It is only later in life that we learn that service is a choice. We learn to serve because someone served us first.
Writing about service is like describing a beautiful sunset. It’s something that has to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated. We choose whether to serve ourselves, or others. We choose whether to serve God or man. We choose whether to serve at home, school, work or play. Service is a choice. It’s not the easy road, nor the most natural. We are all naturally selfish and have to change our natural inclinations in order to serve.
Of course the best example of the ideal servant is the son of man, Jesus. Everything Jesus did was an act of service to others. He healed. He taught. He fed. He forgave. He loved. He helped. He believed. He cared. He died for you and me. Jesus served in practical and spiritual ways. He understood people’s material needs and was sympathetic to all who suffered. “Servant” was actually one of the titles given to Jesus (Isaiah 42:1). He set a high standard when he washed his disciples’ feet, just hours before dying on the cross. Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
This book has a variety of subjects intended to help each person’s spiritual service. The initial concept was developed in preparation for an adult bible school. That is why there are extra parts for speakers in the church near the end. God willing, something here will connect with you and be helpful in your lifelong walk of service. Finally, I write these tips primarily as advice to myself, knowing my extensive failings. I hope you can benefit from my faults.