How well do we do at elevating others, and serving others while humbling ourselves. This thought crossed my mind this week as we prepare for our Community Thanksgiving Dinner. And as I thought about it, I was reminded of a game the kids play at church camp called, “Balloon Stomp.”
Here is the objective to this game. A balloon is tied to every child’s leg, and the object of the game is to run about and pop everyone else’s balloon while protecting your own. The last person with an intact balloon is the winner. While at camp, I watched our kids ferociously attack other kids, corner them, use strategy against them, and ultimately remove the competition from the game. The opponent’s balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. Even those kids that clung to the sidelines were doomed just the same. The entire battle only lasts a matter of minutes as kids chase each other around in an open field, leaving only one balloon inflated. Now, it’s difficult to win at a game like balloon stomp. In order to complete your mission, you have to be pushy, rude, offensive, and willing to take anyone down that stands in your way. The game must be played with an “it’s all about me” attitude.
I read an article though, about this game being played with a group of mentally handicapped children. They were given the same explanation about the objective of the game, and the signal to begin was given. But the game proceeded very differently with this group of kids. Perhaps the instructions were given too quickly for children with learning disabilities to grasp them. The one idea that got through was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. So it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies. Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons. One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker. A little boy came over and stomped it flat. Then he knelt down and held his balloon for her pop. It went on like this for several minutes until all the balloons were destroyed, and everybody cheered. Everybody won.
So, who got the game right, and who got the game wrong? In our world, we tend to think of another person’s success as one less opportunity for us to succeed. There can only be one top dog, one big kahuna. If we ever find ourselves in that position, we will fight like mad to maintain our hold on it. A lot of companies fail to enjoy prolonged success because the people in charge have this “balloon stomp” mentality. But in the church, the rules change. Jesus takes the rightful seat as top dog. And we’re just here to serve His purposes. And we do that most effectively by elevating others and humbling ourselves. And that’s what service is all about.
So as we take part in this Community Thanksgiving Dinner this week, don’t look at it as though we are any better than those we are serving. Don’t consider it our way of elevating self over everyone else. Instead, view it as an opportunity to elevate others, while humbling ourselves. Do that, and it will be a true service to the community around us. And who knows, it might make a lasting impact for God in someone’s life.