The Lesson of the Palm Berries

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Humility, Perspective, Service

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT)

Our first American SOWER (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) project was at Gospel Rescue Mission, in Tucson, Arizona, USA, which is a shelter for women, some with children. My husband and I had just retired from teaching. We hadn’t yet reset our thinking or fully understood about being servants, and we wondered what great work we would now be doing for the kingdom of God. On the first work day, Terry and another fellow SOWER received their assignment: sifting out thousands of little palm berries that had fallen onto the sand in the children’s play area. With only shovels, a wheelbarrow, and a wire screen, they tackled the job. By the end of the day, their muscles were sore, and they had cleared only about a third of the area.

On day two, the other guys told what they had been doing. Resealing a flat roof with rubberized reflective paint sounded much more interesting, much more beneficial to the Mission. The two guys on berry duty continued in their slave labour. Terry wrestled with God in his thoughts. Why am I doing this dumb task? Surely You have something much more important for me to do!

There was no reply.

The men pushed on in the hot sun.

I would feel much more productive if this job were easier, or more fun!

By the end of the second back-breaking day, the boring, make-work-for-nothing task was done. Terry was in full rebellion. Are you satisfied, Lord? I’d like a more significant task next time, thanks!

The next day, the Lord graciously showed him the big picture. A young mother timidly approached him asking, “Are you the one who cleaned out the play area? My daughter is highly allergic to bees. She couldn’t play in the sand because the sticky berries attracted so many bees. Now she can. My daughter thanks you from the bottom of her heart!”

Okay, Lord, now I get it. Terry’s proud attitude turned to one of humility. Now, when he explains to others what SOWERs is all about, he says, “We do whatever job we are asked to do.”

God had a purpose and a plan for Terry in this new area of our lives, showing him how he needed to change his perspective. Terry wasn’t really working for the staff who had assigned the task, but for the Lord. Terry learned to be content in his work and to let go of his resentment.

How does one work willingly from the heart? Realize that it is the Lord Whom we are serving, not merely people. It’s not what we do, but for Whom we do it. We’re not working for self-centred reasons, or to impress others. One job is not more important than another. Even menial tasks are dignified when we do them with God as our boss.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the realization that we work for You as our boss, rather than for people. Help us to work willingly, doing whatever You require of us, no matter how insignificant it might seem, to further Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2022, by Alice Burnett <>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional .
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission


The Lesson of the Palm Berries