Serving God by serving others

How is God challenging you to be useful?

The idea of serving God by serving others has been written on my heart for as long as I can remember. I recall vividly the childhood visits with my grandmother when she would challenge my siblings and me to be useful. And that was not just a nice thought accompanied by a pat on the head.

My grandmother was Millicent Fenwick, a pipe-smoking New Jersey congresswoman who was committed to issues of social justice. She demonstrated bold determination in taking up the cause of those who needed an advocate to make their lives better.

She would also recite to me what she called her “life verse” from the Bible, Micah 6:8, which says we are required to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford reflects on serving God by serving others.

Those words have had a profound influence on me and became very real when I was on a mission trip to India years after my grandmother’s death. There, I encountered such hopelessness among a group of Dalit children, commonly called “untouchables,” and I knew God was reaching out to me. I was fairly sure that I wanted to devote the rest of my life to helping those living in the world’s poorest places.

It would be a long time before I received the phone call about the CEO job at Habitat for Humanity, but I had continued to look for ways I could serve. I believed I could — and should — be a positive influence in the business community, and I found great joy in helping others. I was not a person who could sit on the sidelines when I saw people suffering. I often felt the powerful call to get up and do something.

I think that is what attracted me to Habitat. Our vision to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live offers people — motivated by a variety of reasons — the opportunity to make a difference. We are so grateful for the millions of people who have come to job sites to help families build or renovate their homes. And we are excited that accountants, lawyers, students, people with warm telephone voices and so many others have also found such innovative ways to contribute.

What is it about people living in desperate situations that is calling you to respond? How is God challenging you to be useful?