I know it gets hard, but help is always just a prayer away.
No man shall live for himself. This is so important to me that I’ve had it tattooed on my left forearm. I want to be reminded of it every day. I want to talk to people about it. I want to stir a movement around it. I want to raise my sons to live by it. This is my heart. It’s the way to a fulfilling life.
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Sometimes, it even feels like a burden. I try to serve as Christ served. I try to love my neighbor and live for others. But sometimes it’s just hard to do.
The Burden of Self-Control
I can get annoyed. I can get frustrated. And when I do, I’m tempted to start reacting that way. I want to be selfish! I think, “It would be so much easier right now if I didn’t have to represent Jesus. It would be so much easier if I could just do whatever I want to do.”
In my flesh, I want to let go and be frustrated, and I want to react out of frustration. Or I want to let go and be angry, and then react out of anger. The temptation can be so strong! Obviously, sometimes I do act out of anger or frustration. As long as we have flesh on our bones, we will struggle with this.
Sometimes, self-control really does feel like a burden.
My little boys are always watching me. And you know what? They act like me. I can see it. When I’m not doing well, or I’m not reacting well to challenges, they reflect that back to me. If I react to things with frustration, they react to things with frustration. If I react out of anger, so do they.
And then they get in trouble and I don’t! I’m sure they see that, and think it’s not fair.
(I do get in trouble. They just don’t see it.)
Selflessness and self-control are very hard, and very important. It’s so important to represent Christ the right way for our children.
But it can be burdensome. Sometimes, I don’t want to react like Jesus. Sometimes, I just want to react my way.
The Burden of Service
Even service can be burdensome. It can be a struggle to understand it and fight for it. It’s not always easy to wake up and serve others. Some days are better than others.
Sometimes it’s exhausting. It really is. Especially if you’re not being served in return.
Jesus, man, think about Jesus! He knew all about this. He said, “I came to Earth to serve, not to be served.” That’s huge. People hear that, and they will say, “Oh, that is so cool.” And yes, it is!
But guess what? It can be very difficult to do. When you’re serving all the time, and you’re not being served in return, that little tank of love you have can run low.
Then the doubts creep in. You say, “Hey, man, I need something in return here. I need some validation. Is anything I’m doing all that important?”
Restored in His Spirit
Turn to Jesus. He serves us, no matter what. He even serves us when we are exhausted, and feeling like His burden is heavy.
I think Jesus got exhausted. I’m sure of it. I think He finally showed it in the Garden of Gethsemane when He started sweating blood. He must have been saying, “I’m exhausted, and I’m about to die for people who will eventually deny that I even existed. I know what I’m about to take on. There’s going to be a lot of pain.”
What a burden. A stress level like that? Jesus sweated blood.
He was never a sinner, but this was a moment where Jesus showed us just how exhausting it can be to constantly serve. He was constantly needed. People were constantly asking things of him. And He served us faithfully. He did it the best of anybody. He’s God! And even He got exhausted.
We’re not going to do it nearly as well as He did. We’re not going to be as reliable and repetitive in our ability to serve as He was. But we’ve got to do our best.
When service grows heavy, when service gets tough, ask the Spirit for help. Ask Him for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
He will teach you. He will show you how to represent Christ every day.
And He’ll restore you. You can rest in that.
I am the author of To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball (2013), and my second book is in the works. Visit my Huffington Post page here. I blog here. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter: @JeremyAffeldt.