Growing up, my mother required that my siblings and I do things around the house. We were the butlers. We answered the door and made glasses of kool-aid. We were the maids. We cleaned rooms and washed dishes. We were dry cleaners. We washed and ironed our clothes. We were gardeners. We mowed and racked the lawn. We were cooks. We made edible meals that the entire family could eat. We were well acquainted and successful at these tasks by the time we entered our teens. But not only were we required to perform these tasks; we were required to perform them with a smile. It did not matter if we wanted to, nor did it matter if it felt like it. It wasn’t punishment. It was my mom’s way of teaching us gladness.
Gladness characterized by or showing cheerfulness, joy, or pleasure, as looks or utterances. As I observe the world around me, I see a lack of gladness. Everyone appears to be mad, more often than not. The type of gladness that says, “I love you” and shows it. The type of gladness that takes direction without eye rolling, lips smacking, head hanging, foot stomping, hand clapping, or mumbling. I fear that we are simply angry-in-waiting; reacting to life. We are ready to turn up at any moment about anything. Service with a smile is not slavery. It’s submission. It is submitting to a mission greater than yourself.
A few years back I worked in the corporate sector. I was in a meeting with some senior executives when a question was asked about the department I worked in. Being the only representative from my department, I answered. Eyes rolled and the woman behind me mumbled, “who does he think he is” loud enough for me to hear. I could have lashed back at her. BUT, I was the only rep from my department, I was the youngest in the room, and I was the only person of color present. I chose… I chose to continue smiling and answer questions as they arose. Why? Because of my home-training. We served in our home with gladness, and it taught us to serve outside our home in the same manner.
I am not saying that I get this right, all of the time. I am not saying that you should accept harsh treatment. What I am saying is, sometimes, gladness is a powerful and mature reaction. We don’t have to rsvp to every fight or argument we are invited to. We don’t have to turn up, every time we feel like it. That is what the Bible calls childish.
It takes maturity to bite your tongue. It takes maturity to think about more than how we feel. It takes maturity to reason that everyone is not talking about you nor are they out to get you. Turn down for what… because I’m GLAD to.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
- I Corinthians 13:11