The following words were written seven years ago during my first year of working at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. They remained true the entire time I worked there, eight years in total. Of all that I learned, this was, and still is, the hardest lesson. Of all the blogs I have written, it has thousands of hits on our former site, so I am re-posting. Apparently I’m not the only one who struggles with being a servant.
“Leaders are measured by how much they sacrifice, not by how much they gain. When the will of God cuts across the will of a person, somebody has to die. Leaders are meant to be losers-losers of ourselves and losers of our rights. The best way to find out whether you really have a servant’s heart is to see what your reaction is when somebody treats you like one.”
Southeast Baptist Seminary
I hate my apron. Well, that is to say, I used to hate my apron. It is kind of an unusual circumstance that even brought me to a place where I was required to wear an apron. As many of you know that have followed the Campbell family’s journey, we left Nashville a couple years ago so we could have “our best life now”. From all the books we read, we were not living our dream because we were afraid to “get out of our comfort zone”, “afraid to step out of the boat”, etc, so we decided to get out of the boat and our comfort zone by quitting our jobs, leaving our home in Nashville, living by faith, and going full time with our ministry. Now, I must say, if you look at the website of where Rich and I work now, (www.creationmuseum.org) you’ll see a nice photo of me, Geri Campbell starring in a children’s musical I co-wrote. If you walk around the halls of the Museum, you’ll hear me singing in the promo on the hall monitors. So, one would think, wow, they did make it! They are living their best life now. Geri is living her dream. Life must be a bed of roses. Some might even compare their lives with mine and think that they are not useful in the kingdom of God because they are not doing some great thing right now. It is for this reason I feel I need to write the truth, or rather, the behind the scenes reality of Geri’s life.
Now, back to the apron…
Yes, I am on stage at the Creation Museum, but that is only for one hour a couple times a month. The rest of my 40 hour work week, you’ll find me in guest services. We have many different positions around the Museum from show host in the various theaters, to parking, to admissions, and added this summer, the café. When I was hired into guest services, working in the café was not part of the job description. I did wait tables in college, but that was many years ago. Of course, being interested in acting as a young person and heading to college I heard, “You better have something to fall back on or you’ll end up waiting tables”, and “You better study hard or you’ll end up waiting tables.” So, I lived my life with the understanding that if I did everything right, I could avoid this terrible fate. And in my estimation, I did do everything right, so imagine my surprise when God put me exactly where He wanted me- not waiting tables (you get nice tips when you do that), but cleaning tables, for which you just get tired and dirty.
Two worlds clashed together this spring when we opened “Let the Rain Come” at the Museum. All winter I had been taken out of the guest services department and given a desk on the office side of Answers in Genesis, and allowed to use my time to write the musical. During our Creation Celebration week, we did the show every night, and I signed autographs, did newspaper interviews, and photo shoots with the guests. Yes, for one week, it was a dream come true and I was thrilled. The very next week, it was all over, and I was sent back to guest services. I was given an apron, and my first day back, my job was to “take care of the dining room”, which was cleaning the tables, and also to hand out menus in the entrance, about 10 feet from where I had just stood the day before taking photos and signing autographs. As I stood holding the menus, I could barely hold back the tears. I wanted to quit. I wanted to run away and never return. I thought, “I don’t need this. I can just quit and work on my own ministry.” It was all I could do to stay that day and muster up a smile for the guests.
I have never felt as low as I have this summer. I turned 42 this July. I should be a lot further ahead in my life than I am right now. The voices in my head tell me, “You are better than this. With your experience, your education, your talent, you should not be doing this. This is beneath you. Just walk away Geri. All you have to do is walk away. You have earned the right to have a better position than this. You have earned the right to walk away” Yet, there is a still small voice in side my heart that says, “Stay”.
Our preacher, LD Campbell, preached a sermon in the midst of my apron struggle. He used the verses from the book of John chapter 13 where Jesus washes His disciple’s feet and instead of using the word “towel”, LD used the word “apron”. (After all, it is the same thing- Jesus wrapped a cloth around his waist which he used to dry their feet-vs. 5)
Of course, the idea is we are to be like Jesus, and be an “apron wearing servant”. LD said, “When you put on your apron, your carnal nature will fight you tooth and nail.” It became clear- that was exactly what was happening to me. LD’s commission to us as a church that day was, “Will you be an apron wearing servant?” In my heart, I answered, “Yes.”
The amazing part of this story, to me, is that I realized one other aspect. Something I have been missing many times as the Lord has tried to reveal himself to me. We have worship songs in the church that contain the words, “I want to know you, I want to know you more…” words that contain the sentiment that we want to see Jesus, we want more of him in our lives, and that we desire to be more like him. It’s true, we can read the Word of God, and we can know Him. Then, there are also our life experiences that expound upon this knowledge in a deeper way as we realize the power and depth of the words of the Bible. It hit me as I was sitting with a girlfriend the other day in her living room, sharing how I felt about something, that Jesus desires to share himself in that way with us. I realized that the Lord was trying to show a part of himself to me. He wanted me to know how He felt about being a servant. Matthew 20 vs. 28 says “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give himself as a ransom for many.” He wanted to reveal a precious part of his heart to me. Jesus knew who He was. He knew he had the power to walk away, but He was obedient to His Father and chose to be a servant. He did it because He loved his father, and I know from reading the Word of God, he did it because he loved those people. He washed his disciple’s feet to be an example, but he also did it because he loved them. He died on the cross for our sins because we were lost, and he did it because He loved us. He really did have a choice. He could have walked away from being an obedient servant, but love brought him to the cross and kept him there.
I know that I have to wear my apron not only until I have a positive attitude about it, but until I WANT to wear it. Until I love that guest enough to want to clean up after them, or serve them a good meal. Until I realize it is a privilege to serve. Until I can identify with my apron-wearing savior enough to say, “I know Him”. Until I know the day I take that apron off on the outside for a higher position, I never take it off on the inside. Until I know there is no higher position.
So let this be an encouragement to you. If you are not where you thought you would be in life right now, know there is a reason. If you are being humbled, embrace it. If God is taking your possessions and your status away, let Him. He knows what He is doing, and if you let Him, He will reveal a part of His heart to you that you could never have known any other way. Trust Him.
~ Geri Campbell