Don’t Be the Donkey

There is a wonderful poem by G.K. Chesterton called The Donkey”. It is told from the perspective of the donkey that rides into Jerusalem. While the first three stanzas lament the donkey’s unfortunate appearance and life… the final stanza celebrates his moment in the sun. It reads:

Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:   
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

I’ve taught this poem before, and my students always enjoy the donkey’s confusion here. He thinks the celebration for Jesus is a celebration for him. The cries of the crowd and the palms? They’re in his honor! Poor guy doesn’t know any better; he’s just a donkey. 

But what about us? How often do we interpret the cheers of the crowd as being for us? How often do we forget about the person beside us, about Jesus and the glory he deserves? I’ve recently had to apply this to my life. I’m trying to get a book published! It’s so exciting and I feel so accomplished, but you know what? God gave me the intelligence and the creativity to write it. He gave me purpose and passion, hope and a life that is filled with ideas and material. He gave me creation, with its many splendors and triumphs. What would I be without God? Apart from him, it’s all meaningless.

So over the next few months, as I try to get published, I’m trying to remember not to be the donkey. I don’t want to confuse the cheers as adding to my glory and fame. I don’t want to confuse recognition or success as something I’ve earned, or worse, something I deserve, I want to remember what I owe Jesus, and what he’s done for me. I don’t want to be the donkey.


I began attending Christ the King Presbyterian a few summers ago (which sounds crazy, because it hasn’t felt like that long), and I was first immersed into this wonderful community through service. I decided to do something that I hadn’t done at other churches I’d attended; I decided to stack chairs.

A fairly dull task, really. But it allowed me to get to know my community and serve my church. Fast forward to today, and I actually am a part-time employee of the church that manages sound and set-up. Again, not the hardest job in the world, but here’s why I think you should serve if you’re a part of a church:

1. Jesus was a servant. He calls us to the life of a servant. He urges us to pick up our cross. He washes his disciples feet. I kind of love serving through “set-up”, because it puts me in charge of setting out the chairs and cleaning up the trash. No offense, but I’m pretty sure our pastor, Geoff Bradford, could train a dozen monkeys to do the same task with the right resources. But the church calls us into service, Jesus calls us into service. How cool is it to be a part of his plan? And this thankless task humbles my sense of self-importance. I like to feel smart. I like to do things that take a lot of thinking… So to be thrust into a role that takes little ability and usually goes unacknowledged? It’s hard to boast over that.

2. Community. You were made for community. You were made for other people, for being sharpened by others, for being reminded of who Jesus is through alternative perspectives. The list goes on. Maybe this isn’t the case at other churches, but in most places I’ve been, there is a surface-level get-to-know-you vibe going on. We say hello on Sundays. We may even talk about the big game or ask about how work is or did you enjoy vacation? But serving together draws us close to Jesus, and draws us close to each other. Half of the people I know at CtK I’ve met through serving on Sundays. Those relationships have a better opportunity for depth as I see them serve, and they see me serve, and we see Jesus in the process.

3. To tie it neatly together… all of us could use more humility. All of us could use more love and community. Serving offers both.

So the next time your church asks for volunteers, or asks for people to help out with an event, or asks for people to step up and help with the children’s ministry, I’d urge you to leap at the opportunity. God has called us to be servants, has called us to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, has called us to know Him more deeply. I know that I was missing out on that before stepping into this role at CtK.

Happy Sunday, everyone.