One of the most challenging teachings of Jesus is Matthew 19: 16-30, the story of The Rich Young Man, which ends, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” It’s easy to serve when you know that being last will inevitably end in being first – nobody chooses the turtle over the hare if they don’t know the outcome of the race. But Jesus does not teach us to be last so that we may be first. He teaches us to be last in order that we may be like him, always last and totally surrendered.
My selfish pride began to change. “What is best for me” unknowingly became “What is best.” I found myself serving for the glory of God and not for the glory of Tom Dearduff. But I was never aware of the transformation. I was left asking God to provide opportunities in which I could actualize being last. A woman approached me towards the end of our four days together, pulled me aside, and thanked me for having a helping heart. She said that I, like her husband, have the love language of service. What? Me? She must have mistaken me for somebody else. The last thing I thought I possessed was humility. But I began to look back and see God’s work in reshaping the parts of my heart that were cynical and dark. This transformation was not my own doing, and I praise God for my softened heart.
The Minnesota Christian Ashram was a safe place for me to fall upon my knees and tear the shackles of arrogance from my hands and feet. It helped me surrender my pride and exposed my desperate need for spiritual transformation, and offered ways we can reclaim the Christian message, one act of service at a time.
Tom Dearduff, an intern with the United Christian Ashrams, had these insights to share from his experience at the Minnesota Christian Ashram.