From a Bucket List to a Washbowl List

In a doctor’s waiting room author Ann Voskamp read an article which promoted the value of having a bucket list. A bucket list is a collection of achievements or experiences that the list-builder hopes to accomplish before dying. “What’s Even Better than a Bucket List” is the title of a chapter in Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, her response to the article.

I never considered the negative ramifications of having a bucket list, but I’ve given it a second thought since reading Voskamp’s reflections on the subject. My summary of her point? What’s even better than filling the bucket of life with personal experiences and achievements is emptying the bucket of one’s life in serving others!

No, there’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking new experiences or achievements. As Ann Voskamp points out, however, this approach can tend to be self-centered. A better way is to collect experiences and achievements of helping and serving others! I recall someone saying that the smallest package is a person all wrapped up in himself.

Jesus didn’t suggest a bucket list for self-actualization but a bowl and towel approach of self-giving, serving, and self-sacrifice. Jesus illustrated this in a beautiful and powerful way when, near the end of His time on earth, He took up a bowl and towel and washed His disciples’ feet.

The tendency, of course, is to want to look out for our own interests first. However, the irony is that we serve ourselves best when we serve others (though this shouldn’t be our primary motive for doing so, it just turns out that way). Yes, we find our life by giving it away. There is something better than a bucket list; it’s a wash bowl list!

…He [Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him… [Jesus said] ‘I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’” (John 13:5,15)


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