Robert Henderson, 10, helps clean the dining hall after lunch at his church.

Robert Henderson, 10, helps a deacon clean the dining hall after lunch. (Photo David Tulis)

“Why are you here helping me?” I ask the boy.

“I don’t know,” Robert Henderson, 10, says. “I just thought I should help.” He works broom and pan.

By David Tulis

As deacon, I look for young men at my church who recommend themselves. They do it by offering to help with lordly tasks such as sweeping the dining hall after Lord’s Day meal. Few boys help.

One elder, taking notice of my plight, sometimes appears to a group of teens and says, swiveling a fingertip, “You, you and you.”

I’ve done likewise. But I favor the self-selecting and voluntary approach.

A deacon’s job is to visit the sick and to “serve tables” (Acts 6:2), among other tasks such as repair, weeds and plant maintenance. Wiping tables is part of the job. Am I griping? Am I discontented with my lot? Do I fault teen boys smalltalking away the hour at the swing under tree and sky?

Joining Robert today is Ian Hamilton, 13. Things are better, and I am gladdened.

But help comes and goes. One boy, about 8, volunteered two or three months, then quit.

To an employer I spoke favorably about a young man in my church who rarely recommended himself over mop and broom. I did that to help the prospective employer, and lightly bite my lip at my inconsistency.

A breeze from an open dining hall window flips the pages of a calendar across one year and the next. People come and go, but I try see a principle serviceable to youth.

A young man who recommends himself is one who helps without asking, who is regularly attentive to the needs of others, cares more that work get done swiftly than that his friends’ conversations all include his best wit and latest information.

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