There are some important questions to ask ourselves as followers of Christ. What types of actions will help us maintain our relationship with God? This question is most simply answered as the 12 spiritual disciplines. I will be focusing on the discipline of service and how Jane Addams was an incredible example of how God wished to see His people serve others. Christ was the backbone of Jane Addams work with the poor, women’s suffrage, as a peace advocate during World War II.
Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois to a moderately wealthy Politian in 1860. She was a part of a large Christian family, raised mostly by her father due to her mother’s death during birth. She was highly educated and was the first in her class at Rockford Female Seminary, she went onto attend medical school, until her own health declined, causing her to drop out. After traveling to London, she was very inspired by their wonderful services provided for the poor, this is the spark that started her work with the women’s suffrage movement, the poor, and aiding the peace during the war.
Once she returned from England, she established the “Hull House” in the impoverished area of Chicago. Her goal for the Hull House was to help people living poverty by educating them. Her friend, Ellen Gates Star was also involved with the Hull House, they worked together to create a better community. They established a kindergarten and day-care for working mothers; provided job training, english language, cooking, and acculturation classes for immigrants; established a job-placement bureau, community center, gymnasium, and art gallery (Michals, 2017). Addams passion served her well when she helped develop the juvenile court system, better sanitation, and women and children labor laws. With all of her success with making a difference not only in her community, but nationally, may have fueled her future victories.
Jane Addams was the first woman to become president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, but her triumph did not end there. She went on to fighting for women’s rights during women’s suffrage movement as a columnist. She was a passivist, she started protesting World War II, she lost some popularity due to disapproval of her beliefs on the war. She became highly involved in a women’s peace group, which toured the countries at war, in hopes to spread peace. She helped in the establishment of the of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, until she died in 1935, from a heart attack that she never fully recovered from. But why did Jane Addams feel compelled to live a life of service?
Growing up in a Christian home, she sought out the gospel for career guidance. Although, she went through a time in her life when she questioned her faith. She turned to God and his actions presented through the gospel to model how she lived her life and decided on a vocation. Often, she was hesitant to include scripture in her speeches and writings, but she was determined to share the idea that the kingdom of God needed to better be reflected on earth. She internalized her faith for the most part, until she writes an article about her struggling with anxiety, in which she touches on three scriptural passages that resonated with her.
Her continuous effort and success in the discipline of service was extremely beneficial, not only for her but the people she positively affected. Addams worked as the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth, she did incredibly work for many. She most likely led the people she helped into the loving arms of Christ and gave them hope. I think a perfect example to describe the command that Jesus gave them can be represented in John 13:1-17, when Jesus tells the disciplines to wash one another’s feet as He has done. I could imagine that this verse may have stood out to her as to what God was calling her to do.
Addams was able to integrate the spiritual discipline of guidance into her life as well. She turned to the word of God for vocational advice. She was always interested in serving the poor, so she felt it was crucial that her work reflects that. I could assume that she saw in scripture that as followers of Christ we must trust God’s plan, as well as love one another.
Integrating major biblical themes into her career created nothing less than a fulfilling life for Jane Addams. Overall, Addams did not always receive praise for her work, but she continued doing it because she God compelling her to do so. Her journey is inspiring, because it is a great example how we must trust God with every aspect of our lives and live as He intended us to.