Example #54 Transportation and Service
What if students learned about serving through studying transportation?
Phil’s class had begun a unit on transportation. They had already constructed a chart of the various forms of transportation systems and what they are used for.
“I introduced the second lesson by writing on the board, ‘We need to travel so that we can …’. The students, in pairs, were asked to come up with some endings for the sentence, and their suggestions were recorded. Then I completed the sentence myself by adding ‘… serve others.’ This led into a time of discussion on how transportation could be used for traveling to serve others.
“I divided the class into groups of three or four, and asked for one person from each group to select an unseen card from a box. I had written a scenario on each card; for example:
There was a big earthquake in Haiti. The people there have no fresh water.
The Carter family lives in a remote location a long way from the hospital. Mrs. Carter is very sick.
Mr. Jones is very old and lives alone. He can't cook anymore.
“Each group was asked to think of a way in which transportation could be used to care for or serve these people. They drew simple charts demonstrating their ideas.
“I invited a volunteer driver to talk about how she used her car to take people to the hospital, to go shopping, and to run other errands that needed transportation. The students then discussed what the transportation needs of the community might be and how transportation could serve those needs.”
What’s going on here?
The existing unit focused on how transportation is used to make our own lives easier. However, Phil also saw transportation as a means of service and seeking the good of others.
He engaged students in rethinking existing assumptions (brainstorming endings) and then challenged them to actively respond (service focus, groups coming up with suggestions). He also had students interact with someone from the community.
He reshaped his practice by using a key concept (service) to refocus the lesson, by designing activities to get students to actively engage with the focus and express their responses (card activity, charts), and by making space to learn from a visitor from the community.
How do I do this myself?
What does this have to do with faith, hope, and love?
Service is a practical aspect of love. Jesus modeled service and said that he had come to serve others, not to be served. Christians describe Jesus as the “Servant King.” He redefined service as having status in the kingdom of God, saying that those who want to be first must serve (Mark 9:35). Any gifts Christians possess are entrusted to them in order to be used in the service of others.
What difference does it make?
Much of the information in Phil's transportation unit would be unchanged, but the change of framework meant that students could engage with the material differently. They saw transportation as serving people’s needs. Phil did not need to focus only on volunteer service; a focus on service could be widened so that food transportation is seen as servicing people’s physical needs, library vans as serving intellectual and recreation needs, and so on. This means that people working in a range of fields can view their work in terms of service.
Where could we go from here?
As well as the above suggestion, the following could be explored:
Look into charities and organizations that use traveling for compassionate ends, such as Angel MedFlight, Mercy Ships, and Missionary Aviation Fellowship; or to fulfill the wishes of very sick children (Make a Wish, Starlight Foundation).
Explore Christian concern for the environment in relation to transportation choices, such as wise stewardship of God’s creation in regard to sustainability, pollution, etc.
Study Christian pilgrimages (modern and past) and biblical pilgrimage festivals.
In addition to taking the usual field trips (museums, libraries, etc.), plan a trip using a few forms of transportation for serving others. For example, take a bus or train to travel to sing at a nursing home, or pick up elderly people and take them shopping at Christmas.
Look for other curriculum units that focus on fulfilling our own needs, and consider how you could adapt them to a service emphasis.
The Bible states that Jesus gave up everything and came in human form as a servant (Philippians 2:7). Jesus said that he had come not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Servants were the hired hands and slaves of Jesus’s time. Jesus took the word slave and gave it a new and radical meaning. He took a word that described a person of lesser status under the authority of others, and redefined it in terms of leadership and greatness. He washed his disciples’ feet and expected his followers to be willing to act similarly (John 13:14-15). Jesus made it clear that in the kingdom of God, those who are greatest are those who serve God and others.
The duty is now emphasized of serving God in the world, in every position in life. Abraham Kuyper
For Christians, giving is in response to God’s giving of himself in Jesus. Giving and receiving are essential parts of Christian community life and part of serving the wider community (1 Peter 4:10). The Bible describes this as sowing: putting time, love, skill, effort, and money into others. In turn, people reap what they sow. It is not a rigid equation, but those who sow love are more likely to reap it (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Service should distinguish the Christian way of life at work, in the home, and in relationships.
Our society looks for freedom and happiness in wealth, fame, and power. The Bible sees it in giving and serving others. One Episcopalian prayer describes the service of God as “perfect freedom.” Those words, cui servire, regnare est translate as “to serve is to reign.” To serve God and others is the highest honor; it is what we were created for.
One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer
Explore similar examples
1I can assure you that some of the people standing here will not die before they see God's kingdom come with power. The true glory of Jesus (Matthew 17.1-13; Luke 9.28-36) 2Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him. They went up on a high mountain, where they could be alone. There in front of the disciples, Jesus was completely changed. 3And his clothes became much whiter than any bleach on earth could make them. 4Then Moses and Elijah were there talking with Jesus. 5Peter said to Jesus, Teacher, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 6But Peter and the others were terribly frightened, and he did not know what he was talking about. 7The shadow of a cloud passed over and covered them. From the cloud a voice said, This is my Son, and I love him. Listen to what he says! 8At once the disciples looked around, but they saw only Jesus. 9As Jesus and his disciples were coming down the mountain, he told them not to say a word about what they had seen, until the Son of Man had been raised from death. 10So they kept it to themselves. But they wondered what he meant by the words raised from death. 11The disciples asked Jesus, Don't the teachers of the Law of Moses say that Elijah must come before the Messiah does? 12Jesus answered: Elijah certainly will come to get everything ready. But don't the Scriptures also say that the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected? 13I can assure you that Elijah has already come. And people treated him just as they wanted to, as the Scriptures say they would. Jesus heals a boy (Matthew 17.14-20; Luke 9.37-43a) 14When Jesus and his three disciples came back down, they saw a large crowd around the other disciples. The teachers of the Law of Moses were arguing with them. 15The crowd was really surprised to see Jesus, and everyone hurried over to greet him. 16Jesus asked, What are you arguing about? 17Someone from the crowd answered, Teacher, I brought my son to you. A demon keeps him from talking. 18Whenever the demon attacks my son, it throws him to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grit his teeth in pain. Then he becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to force out the demon, but they couldn't do it. 19Jesus said, You people don't have any faith! How much longer must I be with you? Why do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me. 20They brought the boy, and as soon as the demon saw Jesus, it made the boy shake all over. He fell down and began rolling on the ground and foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus asked the boy's father, How long has he been like this? The man answered, Ever since he was a child. 22The demon has often tried to kill him by throwing him into a fire or into water. Please have pity and help us if you can! 23Jesus replied, Why do you say if you can? Anything is possible for someone who has faith! 24Straight away the boy's father shouted, I do have faith! Please help me to have even more. 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering fast, he spoke sternly to the evil spirit that had kept the boy from speaking or hearing. He said, I order you to come out of the boy! Don't ever bother him again. 26The spirit screamed and made the boy shake all over. Then it went out of him. The boy looked dead, and almost everyone said he was. 27But Jesus took hold of his hand and helped him stand up. 28After Jesus and the disciples had gone back home and were alone, they asked him, Why couldn't we force out that demon? 29Jesus answered, Only prayer can force out that kind of demon. Jesus again speaks about his death (Matthew 17.22,23; Luke 9.43b-45) 30Jesus left with his disciples and started through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know about it, 31because he was teaching the disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to people who would kill him. But three days later he would rise to life. 32The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask. Who is the greatest? (Matthew 18.1-5; Luke 9.46-48) 33Jesus and his disciples went to his home in Capernaum. After they were inside the house, Jesus asked them, What were you arguing about along the way? 34They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and so they did not answer. 35After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, If you want the place of honour, you must become a slave and serve others! 36Then Jesus made a child stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, 37When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me. For or against Jesus (Luke 9.49,50) 38John said, Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But he wasn't one of us, and we told him to stop. 39Jesus said to his disciples: Don't stop him! No one who performs miracles in my name is going to say something bad about me the next minute. 40Anyone who isn't against us is for us. 41And anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name, just because you belong to me, will surely be rewarded. Temptations to sin (Matthew 18.6-9; Luke 17.1,2) Jesus continued: 42It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the sea with a heavy stone tied around their necks. 43So if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! You would be better off to go into life crippled than to have two hands and be thrown into the fires of hell that never go out. 45If your foot causes you to sin, chop it off. You would be better off to go into life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47If your eye causes you to sin, get rid of it. You would be better off to go into God's kingdom with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. 48The worms there never die, and the fire never stops burning. 49Everyone must be salted with fire. 50Salt is good. But if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made salty again? Have salt among you and live at peace with each other. Teaching about divorce (Matthew 19.1-12; Luke 16.18)
1Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: 6Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. 9Then God gave Christ the highest place and honoured his name above all others. 10So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, Jesus Christ is Lord! Lights in the world 12My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. 14Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless. 17Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. 18In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me. Timothy and Epaphroditus 19I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. 20I don't have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does. 21The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus. 22But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news. 23I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me. 24And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon. 25I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me, 26but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick. 27In fact, he was very sick and almost died. But God was kind to him, and also to me, and he kept me from being burdened down with sorrow. 28Now I am more eager than ever to send Epaphroditus back again. You will be glad to see him, and I won't have to worry any longer. 29Be sure to give him a cheerful welcome, just as people who serve the Lord deserve. 30He almost died working for Christ, and he risked his own life to do for me what you could not.
1After Jesus left, he went to Judea and then on to the other side of the River Jordan. Once again large crowds came to him, and as usual, he taught them. 2Some Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. So they came up to him and asked if it was right for a man to divorce his wife. 3Jesus asked them, What does the Law of Moses say about that? 4They answered, Moses allows a man to write out divorce papers and send his wife away. 5Jesus replied, Moses gave you this law because you are so heartless. 6But in the beginning God made a man and a woman. 7That's why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. 8He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. 9And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together. 10When Jesus and his disciples were back in the house, they asked him about what he had said. 11He told them, A man who divorces his wife and marries someone else is unfaithful to his wife. 12A woman who divorces her husband and marries again is also unfaithful. Jesus blesses little children (Matthew 19.13-15; Luke 18.15-17) 13Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him. 14When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. 15I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does. 16Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them. A rich man (Matthew 19.16-30; Luke 18.18-30) 17As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life? 18Jesus replied, Why do you call me good? Only God is good. 19You know the commandments. Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother. 20The man answered, Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man. 21Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, There's one thing you still need to do. Go and sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me. 22When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, It's hard for rich people to get into God's kingdom! 24The disciples were shocked to hear this. So Jesus told them again, It's terribly hard to get into God's kingdom! 25In fact, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God's kingdom. 26Jesus' disciples were even more amazed. They asked each other, How can anyone ever be saved? 27Jesus looked at them and said, There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything. 28Peter replied, Remember, we left everything to be your followers! 29Jesus told him: You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30will be rewarded. In this world they will be given a hundred times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be ill-treated. And in the world to come, they will have eternal life. 31But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first. Jesus again tells about his death (Matthew 20.17-19; Luke 18.31-34) 32The disciples were confused as Jesus led them towards Jerusalem, and his other followers were afraid. Once again, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and told them what was going to happen to him. He said: 33We are now on our way to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death and hand him over to foreigners, 34who will make fun of him and spit on him. They will beat him and kill him. But three days later he will rise to life. The request of James and John (Matthew 20.20-28) 35James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, will you do us a favour? 36Jesus asked them what they wanted, 37and they answered, When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left. 38Jesus told them, You don't really know what you're asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized? 39Yes, we are! James and John answered. Then Jesus replied, You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! 40But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for God to decide. 41When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. 42But Jesus called the disciples together and said: You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. 43But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 44And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. 45The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people. Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus (Matthew 20.29-34; Luke 18.35-43) 46Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho. And as they were leaving, they were followed by a large crowd. A blind beggar called Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting beside the road. 47When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! 48Many people told the man to stop, but he shouted even louder, Son of David, have pity on me! 49Jesus stopped and said, Call him over! They called out to the blind man and said, Don't be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you. 50The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus. 51Jesus asked, What do you want me to do for you? The blind man answered, Master, I want to see! 52Jesus told him, You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith. Straight away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus. Jesus enters Jerusalem (Matthew 21.1-11; Luke 19.28-40; John 12.12-19)
1It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. 2Even before the evening meal started, the devil had made Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, decide to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. 4So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing. 6But when he came to Simon Peter, that disciple asked, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? 7Jesus answered, You don't really know what I am doing, but later you will understand. 8You will never wash my feet! Peter replied. If I don't wash you, Jesus told him, you don't really belong to me. 9Peter said, Lord, don't wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head. 10Jesus answered, People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. And you, my disciples, are clean, except for one of you. 11Jesus knew who would betray him. That is why he said, except for one of you. 12After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? 13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them. 18I am not talking about all of you. I know the ones I have chosen. But what the Scriptures say must come true. And they say, The man who ate with me has turned against me! 19I am telling you this before it all happens. Then when it does happen, you will believe who I am. 20I tell you for certain that anyone who welcomes my messengers also welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Jesus tells what will happen to him (Matthew 26.20-25; Mark 14.17-21; Luke 22.21-23) 21After Jesus had said these things, he was deeply troubled and told his disciples, I tell you for certain that one of you will betray me. 22They were confused about what he meant. And they just stared at each other. 23Jesus' favourite disciple was sitting next to him at the meal, 24and Simon motioned for that disciple to find out which one Jesus meant. 25So the disciple leaned towards Jesus and asked, Lord, which one of us are you talking about? 26Jesus answered, I will dip this piece of bread in the sauce and give it to the one I was talking about. Then Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27At once Satan took control of Judas. Jesus said, Judas, go quickly and do what you have to do. 28No one at the meal understood what Jesus meant. 29But because Judas was in charge of the money, some of them thought that Jesus had told him to buy something they needed for the festival. Others thought that Jesus had told him to give some money to the poor. 30Judas took the piece of bread and went out. It was already night. The new command 31After Judas had gone, Jesus said: Now the Son of Man will be given glory, and he will bring glory to God. 32Then, after God is given glory because of him, God will bring glory to him, and God will do it very soon. 33My children, I will be with you for a little while longer. Then you will look for me, but you won't find me. I tell you just as I told the people, You cannot go where I am going. 34But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. 35If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. Peter's promise (Matthew 26.31-35; Mark 14.27-31; Luke 22.31-34) 36Simon Peter asked, Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered, You can't go with me now, but later on you will. 37Peter asked, Lord, why can't I go with you now? I would die for you! 38Would you really die for me? Jesus asked. I tell you for certain that before a cock crows, you will say three times that you don't even know me. Jesus is the way to the Father
1Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning. 2It means you have turned from your own desires and want to obey God for the rest of your life. 3You have already lived long enough like people who don't know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and feasting and carrying on. In fact, you even worshipped disgusting idols. 4Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. 5But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. 6The good news has even been preached to the dead, so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God. 7Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray. 8Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins. 9Welcome people into your home and don't grumble about it. 10Each of you has been blessed with one of God's many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11If you have the gift of speaking, preach God's message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honour to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful for ever. Amen. Suffering for being a Christian 12Dear friends, don't be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire. 13Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return. 14Count it a blessing when you suffer for being a Christian. This shows that God's glorious Spirit is with you. 15But you deserve to suffer if you are a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or a busybody. 16Don't be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God that you belong to him. 17God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say, 18If good people barely escape, what will happen to sinners and to others who don't respect God? 19If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right. Helping Christian leaders
1I don't need to write to you about the money you plan to give for God's people. 2I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord's followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. 3That's why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to boast about you. 4Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don't, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. 5So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to. 6Remember this saying, A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest. 7Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don't feel sorry that you must give and don't feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. 8God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. 9The Scriptures say, God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right. 10God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. 12What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God's people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honour and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God's people and with everyone else. 14Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words! Paul defends his work for Christ