Ignited to Serve

 
 
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by Jennifer Noble

Jesus wasn’t shy about explaining his heart to make people a priority.  It’s hard to imagine sitting by friends through a meal and hearing Jesus ask, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?” Everyone looks at one another waiting for the first to respond. Until Jesus replies, “But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27). In modern vernacular, that would be a “mic drop.”

The equation of people being served to be of benefit to them is the math of making oneself less, for others to become greater.  It is an expression of humility and often takes time, mistakes and maturity to understand how much service benefits those giving, as much or more, as the ones receiving. As we take a closer look into the lives of individuals from First Presbyterian Church, we see patterns equating places of lack becoming places of abundance -- through service.

Dan Graber serves at First Presbyterian as the Choir Director, and he recognizes in making service to others more of a “want to” than a “have to,” that joy is expressed as this transition happens. He says, “Doing something to help someone is one of the greatest ways to serve God’s kingdom.  The act of doing can never be underestimated!” This is exactly how Lisa Tunge felt as she was a member of the choir through Dan’s leadership, as she deeply valued being a part of worship and singing as a way to serve.

Lisa Tunge serving with Mobile Food Pantry

Lisa Tunge serving with Mobile Food Pantry

However, two years ago, she found it a struggle to sing because of coughing fits due to allergies being a trigger.  Around this same time frame, she was asked to be a part of a leadership group of Deacons. This brought on new responsibilities and people who she hadn’t gotten to know prior to having this role, because the Deacons coordinate gifts through the Angel Tree offerings through the Christmas season, as well as find individuals willing to serve communion, make home visits, among attending meetings and other tasks. 

Tunge knew Bobbi Lower, who was also a Deacon selected to Moderate the group.  Bobbi asked Lisa to be a Vice Moderator, and she responded as a former elementary teacher that she didn’t know if she had the leadership skills for working with adults that she knew the position needed.  In this conversation Tunge recalls, Lower humbly replied how she didn’t know everything her position entailed either, but that they could help each other. This is how Tunge’s leadership role began.

 
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Jennifer Noble graduated with a Corporate Communications major and has written locally for “Etc. for Her” as well as Sioux Falls charities such as the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, two of her stories are published in compilations, “I’m Glad I’m a Mom” (Harvest House) and “God Still Meets Needs” (CreateSpace). She is the Communications Manager at First Presbyterian Church.

Following three years serving alongside Lower, the subsequent next two years, Tunge would be stepping into the Moderator role as Bobbi’s term ended. By this time though, she really enjoyed the opportunities to find needs in the community and meet them – getting more comfortable in her role as a Deacon.  She began working with Jeanette Justice, as Vice Moderator, as well as later becoming a mentor for a student in confirmation. As her two years of leadership were drawing to an end, Tunge had mixed feelings as she looked back at all of the experiences she had been a part of and in the ways God provided something to do when her voice was at her weakest.

With gained strength, Tunge found having someone by her side was also an encouragement.  In addition, her mother Leila needed some additional assistance as she was aging and needed more attention with doctor’s visits and her health care.  It became apparent to Tunge that the extra space in her schedule by not serving as the Moderator, and in focusing her efforts to a team, would be a good transition to balance the needs of her family and using the areas of experience she’d gained in the past five years.

For Tunge, for someone to walk alongside of her was the strong push she needed to gain confidence in serving in a role she was new in.  This line of thinking was also expressed by Diane Boatright, as she has been a part of a group of friends all serving in classrooms in Hartford with elementary school teachers.  Awhile back, this group of friends discussed something they could do together to make a difference. They have different teachers they help in the mornings, and kept connected to one another by all working the same day, sometimes sharing transportation or joys in serving the children.  West Central Elementary School has the benefit of sometimes upwards of a dozen people to help come alongside teachers, all taking their projects to the lounge to work together.

First Presbyterian staff starts their weekly staff meetings with the following prayer which could be adapted to meeting a variety of service needs, the opening prayer reads:

Holy God, bless us this morning so that we will be doing your will in everything we do.  Help us to put aside our pride and ego that seeks only what we want, so that we can be filled with your Spirit that leads us to want what you want.  Hear us in silence as we center ourselves in you and ask you to guide us this morning.  Amen.

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Have you had experiences with First Presbyterian Church you are willing to discuss?  We are hosting conversation over cupcakes to explore how your faith is growing or to answer any questions you may have about the upcoming activities this fall. On Friday, October 18th at 10:00 a.m. at Oh My Cupcakes, 5015 S Western Ave Ste 290, we will have a Communications Round Table.

For National Chocolate Cupcake Day, join in on a discussion hearing how the Lord has been growing you as an individual and helping you to connect and serve at First Presbyterian. Through our conversation, enjoy the setting of Oh My Cupcakes, as there’s a group reservation.  Praises, prayers and photos will also be encouraged!  Just show up, and perhaps invite a friend.  Church leadership and staff will guide our sharing time.

Want more:  Check out First Presbyterian Church’s article on loneliness.