When You Want to Serve Like Jesus, But Crave Appreciation Too

Eight hungry kids settle into their spots at the long narrow table just after the noon hour. Lunchroom-type trays are passed out, each dividing wall doing its best to keep the applesauce from running onto the sandwich and over to the carrot sticks. I love these plates. They remind me of those days eating pizza dotted with perfect squares of pepperoni while drinking a little carton of chocolate milk in Mrs. Reeder’s third-grade class. Our dining room often looks more like a lunchroom than a dining room, so I imagine the brightly colored trays feel at home here.

As all receive their food and prayers are prayed, I stop and wait for someone to say something. I wish I could say this yearning stemmed solely from my desire to see good manners displayed. We’re big on manners, but sadly, on most days I lean heavily toward being an appreciation addict. I wait for someone to acknowledge my hard work. Because on those days, it doesn’t feel worth the work unless I know it’s noticed.

I’ve read a bunch about this one guy who thought of ways to serve everyone He came in contact with, never asking for the applause of onlookers. Yeah, of course it’s Jesus. Jesus, the God-man.

He’s always known moms (or all humans for that matter) would struggle with wanting our work to be noticed. It’s nice to hear encouraging words along the way to spur us on toward further acts of service. Our families owe us as much, right? Well, no. Jesus looked at this much differently, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

He wasn’t looking for anyone to actually serve Him or give him a thumbs up during His time on earth, even if He was completely worthy of praise. There would be no huffing away after giving the now-famous Sermon on the Mount if no one stopped him afterward to mention how moving and life changing His words were that day. He simply showed up, gave His all, and let it fall where it may. Never forcing others to commend, be changed, or appreciate His work. Jesus was confident in His mission from the Father: To deliver the message of hope and serve the people.

He didn’t serve for accolades. Though He did the most amazing things and spoke the most amazing words.

He didn’t expect everyone to like Him or what He did.

He didn’t demand a thank you or even an acknowledging glance.

He didn’t yearn for the ancient equivalent of comments, shares, tweets, or discussions about his life and times for His own sake.

He simply wanted His life to point to the Father.

We all want to feel appreciated — because heaven knows it’s not easy being a mom. The hours are endless and the work is never quite complete.

But what if instead of desiring or even demanding appreciation for the ways we serve the people in our life, we do it simply because we love God and love the ones He’s given to us to impact?

Our acts of love and service toward our families and the world around us do not go unnoticed. They don’t. Our lives point to the Father too when we give without the expectation of a thank you, love without limit, and speak not to be adored — but to bless.



Amanda Bacon

Amanda Bacon

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of eight kids and has been married for sixteen years to the most helpful man on the planet. She is an adoption advocate and encouraging voice for moms everywhere.
Amanda Bacon

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  1. Merry says

    So thankful for the wisdom in these words. Thank you. You ARE appreciated! I am especially thankful for the way God is shining through you into the dark places–places we so easily hide in our superficial, online, fast paced lives. Our hearts need this!

  2. Kristin Robison says

    I struggle with this often – I feel *so* invisible! It’s not just at home, it’s everywhere I go (work, church, friendships). In fact, it almost makes me teary when someone compliments/thanks me for doing something…it always takes me by surprise and just feels SO nice! I don’t like that I feel that way, but it’s not cool to be a doormat, either. I definitely feel taken advantage of by people (who are old enough to know better…I totally don’t feel this way around little kids!) and I struggle to know if I’m really doing them any favors by silently continuing to serve while they take it for granted. Am I raising self-indulgent people if I don’t insist they express some appreciation in word and/or in deed, at least some of the time?

    • Amanda Bacon says

      I’m sorry to hear this, Kristin. I pray the people in your life will see how valuable you are to them, and will tell you so. I wrote this from a place of knowing the people in my life appreciate me, but was making a habit of desiring appreciation so much at every turn that I became grumpy or wanted to give up altogether if I didn’t sense their gratitude the moment I did something for them. Which is just plain backwards.

      Also, you aren’t wrong to insist on good manners. Teaching our kids to appreciate the things people do for them and the things they have is never a bad thing. I think us moms know our own hearts and know when we’ve crossed the line between wanting our families to be thankful and that desire for our self-esteem to be fed by what others see us doing.

  3. says

    Thank you for another GREAT post! Loved it! Spoke right to my heart.
    Also, love Jason Gray’s With every Act of love!!!!! Have hear it on the Christian Radio here and have not known what the name was.

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