How not to feel crappy when doing the right thing

I was going to post a webcomic today. I really was. It was awesome and about coffee- you guys know how much I like coffee. But my laptop with my photo-editing software is on the fritz, and here we are. I'll try to get back to webcomics when I can.

Today I asked my community group about something that I've been struggling with lately; how does one go about serving someone when serving them looks the same as being their pawn? The action is the same, even if the "authority" is different. When a Christian serves another person, he or she does so out of love for God. Service becomes a way to demonstrate Christ's love for us. Being someone's pawn, on the other hand, is giving the authority that should be God's alone and giving that authority to someone else. Instead of being used by God, the individual is used by other people. To use perhaps tired but still relevant terms, the individual becomes consumed with "fear of man" instead of "fear of God." My community group gave me some good answers to my question. A lot of answers focused on persevering through hardship, suffering well, and having a right attitude towards earthly authority. The thing is, while encouraging, their advice didn't quite resolve the issue for me. They answered the question perfectly, but I think the reason why I still had my qualms was the same as why I struggled with the question in the first place. It was the wrong question.

Much like Will Smith's character in i, Robot, asking the right questions is often key to resolution. The right question wasn't what does service look like, but I think the question instead ought to be "How does a (hypothetical, of course) individual not feel like he or she is being used like a pawn while serving someone who treats him or her as such?" (Oh dear, I just used "ought" in a sentence. I'm becoming that kind of blogger.) Put simply, the question is "How does someone not feel like crap when they're doing the right thing?"

Maybe I didn't phrase the question that way to begin with because I didn't fully understand the situation. Or maybe I- er my hypothetical friend- didn't want to admit to feeling used. But the most dangerous thing is an idea, and the most powerful ideas come from feelings, even the feelings we intellectually know are wrong. But after thinking things through, maybe "being used" isn't such a bad thing after all. It grates against our sense of autonomy, but doesn't everything in the Christian faith? As always, Christ is our example, and He Himself was "poured out" for us. If you think about it, we "used" His blood. But that's not a bad thing. In fact, it was a beautiful act of service 1) according to the will of the Father 2) according to the joy set before Him and 3) for our benefit. I guess that puts service in a different light.

I'm not advocating constructing a "martyr" identify for oneself. People who point to their suffering and boast of how Christ-like they are consider themselves their own standard of holiness. They forget about Christ's selflessness and love in the midst of His suffering. He was raised up on the cross, not so everyone could see Him and see how awesome He was, but rather as a mockery and a warning to others. It was not until later He was raised up to the right hand of God.

Instead, what I'm advocating is a heart that wants to serve God, no matter the consequence. Often that means serving others, and sometimes that means serving others to the point that they take advantage of your service. But that's OK. Because the goal isn't pleasing ourselves and the goal isn't pleasing the other person; the goal is to please God.