Serving others has nothing to do with being servile. It has to do with being a human being among other human beings, nothing more but also nothing less, loving them with actions as well as words.
Come to serve and you will never be disappointed.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.” author=”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”/]
True virtuous servitude is found only where the one who is to be served has the right to be served and the one who serves does so freely.
NO GREATER LOVE: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. This doesn’t mean we have to die to show our love for our friends, neighbors, or strangers. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else’s needs before our own. We lay down our lives every time we serve each other no matter how small or how large the act. We lay down our lives through service. Every day we have hundreds of opportunities to serve one another. We can do small acts of kindness for our classmates, co-workers, neighbors, we can take part in community service, we can fulfill service responsibilities within our local team, school, church, or work organization. These actions, whether great or small, let us feel the happiness of connecting with our brothers and sisters and remind us how great it feels when we are able to be the answer to someone else’s prayers.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”The service you do for others is the rent you pay for the time you spend on earth.” author=”Muhammad Ali”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.” author=”William Lyon Phelps”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”There is incredible value in being of service to others. I think if many of the people in therapy offices were dragged out to put their finger in a dike, take up their place in a working line, they would be relieved of terrible burdens.” author=”Elizabeth Berg”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Love cannot remain by itself— it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.” author=”Edmund Burke”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice–no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.” author=”John Burroughs”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”This is the true joy in life – being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” author=”George Bernard Shaw”/]
Go out and serve others. By service to others, I do not mean quid pro quo – doing a deed in return for an equal or similar deed. I am talking about unselfish kindness and generosity, acts that validate your good fortune, that give meaning to your lives and, above all, that sustain and dignify the lives of others.
In this regard, no positive acts are insignificant, and no person in need of assistance is too lowly for your time and attention. Unselfish service is marked by humility, a hard-to-find trait in this age of egoism, so-called individualism and incivility. More often than not, too many of us are guilty of the latter.
Don’t squander the “moments in our lives when we will be given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.” Reach out in kindness and understanding to people unlike yourself. Look for the reflection of your own humanity in them. See yourself in them. Feel their suffering with your own and go “ease their pain”.
You have a moral obligation to serve others. Merely accumulating wealth is not enough. You have an obligation to invent, to produce, to create, to deliver goods and services that make life better for the greatest number of people.
If you have been blessed with a brilliant mind, you should use it for good. You have an obligation to teach others. What, for example, can you do to help feed hungry people? To find cures for the world’s fatal diseases? If you are a lawyer do you regularly work pro bono for the poor? Establish a foundation that will empower children from low-income families to attend college. Tutor children in your spare time. Help illiterate adults learn to read or help them fill out legal documents necessary for daily living.
If you go into the day to serve others, you will give meaning to life itself. Service to others ennobles us and gives us moral authority.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.” author=”Mother Teresa”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”No man stands so straight as when he stoops to help a boy.” author=”Knights of Pythagoras”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” author=”William Shakespeare”/]
Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve :
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will.
The Power of Servitude
By: Brian Kim
There’s power in serving others and the power I’m talking about here is not the type that usually comes to mind when you see the word power. The power I’m speaking of is more like power in terms of opportunity, namely that serving others will result in powerful opportunities coming into your life that you never would’ve thought possible.
Let me stop here for one second. A lot of people might get the impression that I’m advocating that the only reason you should serve others is to get these powerful opportunities. That seems a bit devious and that’s not what I’m advocating at all.
What I mean by serving others is that you should serve others because you genuinely want to.
If your only reason for serving others is to get something back, you’ll only get that something back. That’s it. It’s like a transaction. 1 for 1. An apple for an orange. I do this, you give me that. But when you serve others because you genuinely want to, something big happens. A relationship is formed.
People are always complaining that there are no opportunities out there when they already have within them the power to create them naturally by serving others. They refuse to serve and because they refuse to serve, those opportunities don’t come about at all.
Now people who’ve made it a habit of serving others always find themselves with tons of opportunities and here’s why.
They’ve essentially made a habit of helping people with whatever they need AND they follow through on it. It becomes automatic. They don’t think – “What am I going to get out of this?” They just do.
As a result, the person that’s been helped senses this genuine desire to serve with no hidden agenda whatsoever and is compelled to help that person back. It’s natural. In fact, we tend to repay even more than what’s been given to us. Now since each person is so unique, filled with so much different knowledge, skills, abilities, contacts, etc., all of that can result in a myriad of opportunities that be given to you, without you even asking.
I ask you to take on this one simple task today. Go up to somebody you know and after some small talk and some discussion about their goals, say this to them:
“I really want to help you achieve those goals. What can I do to help?”
Say that with sincerity and I guarantee you that you WILL catch them off guard. They’ll probably do a double take (unless you already do this habitually) because this is VERY rare nowadays. VERY.
But it’s not enough to just ask what you can do to help. When they reply, see what you can do about it and if you say you can help, follow through on it.
Follow through. That will make you stand out even bigger. Following through creates a reputation of dependability. Word will spread about you. You’ll be known as “the guy who says he’ll help others – and actually does” (you’ll find that many people will talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk).
Your network will grow. More opportunities to serve others will arise. As a result, your number and different types of opportunities will increase as well and what you’ll get is a HUGE snowball effect.
Let me give you some short stories that’ll illustrate how opportunities you don’t expect come about from serving others.
A friend of mine volunteered for Habitat For Humanity because he had seen the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and he wanted to help. His sole purpose was to help build homes for those who needed it and he really wanted to do it. Other people treasure their weekends and use it to go out with their friends and relax, but he really wanted to donate his time and energy toward this worthy cause instead. He volunteered every weekend and while he did, he met a woman and they hit it off very well from day one. They had similar interests, they had the chemistry and eventually started dating.
They got married a year later. He’s never been happier. His simple act of serving others because he wanted to led him to finding the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with – something that many people have trouble with today.
I’ll give you another simple example. I know somebody who had a habit of always doing excellent work for his boss – doing the work well, following through, and going the extra mile. When his boss had to resign due to office politics, this person was left hanging so to speak, but his boss did not forget about him. He kept in touch and introduced him to a recruiter who helped him get an even better job, not to mention a big bump in salary as well.
We also see this concept of serving others in business all the time. If you read any business books, you’ll probably find a whole chapter about employees or business owners going the extra mile in serving their customers and as a result, having HUGE opportunities fall into their lap. The story tends to pan out something like this – a customer is agitated because of a mishap so an employee of the company personally makes sure the customer is taken care of, apologizes for any inconvenience, offers some sort of peace offering, – the whole nine yards. Turns out that customer was a big client the company was trying to woo and as a result of the employee’s efforts, the company grabs the client and the account.
You can call this whatever you want – helping others, going the extra mile, caring, but what it all boils down to is really serving others because you genuinely want to without expecting anything in return.
Serving others in it of itself is a powerful opportunity to help and when you start to serve others, you’ll realize the simple fact that we all need help and because you realize that, you’ll start to get in the habit of serving others even more. Imagine the avalanche of opportunities that fall into your lap then.
Develop the habit of serving because you genuinely want to, follow through, and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come into your life.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.” author=”Seth Parker”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”I never pick up an item without thinking of how I might improve it. I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others.” author=”Thomas Edison”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”When I have attempted to join myself to others by services, it proved an intellectual trick,–no more. They eat your service like apples, and leave you out. But love them, and they feel you, and delight in you all the time.” author=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: First, were we truly men of courage with the courage to stand up to ones enemies and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to ones associates the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed? Secondly, were we truly men of judgment with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it. Third, were we truly men of integrity men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust? Finally, were we truly men of dedication with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest? Courage judgment integrity dedication these are the historic qualities which, with Gods help will characterize us in the years that lie ahead.” author=”John F. Kennedy”/]
Staying Sane and Happy While Serving Others
By: Lilly Watson
Anita Laffey, the current mental health leader for the Hurricane Sandy New York disaster relief operation, has a tried and true motto when it comes to the importance of staying healthy during a disaster: “Work smarter, not harder.”
The Red Cross responded immediately after Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, mobilizing more than 15,300 trained workers to perform myriad disaster relief services. In more than a month of 15-, 16- and sometimes 18-hour days, very few have succumbed to exhaustion or major illness, but the danger always lurks.
Laffey said Red Cross workers must realize that to take care of others, they have to take care of themselves. “We care so much, or we wouldn’t be here,” Laffey says. “We want to go gung ho and help everyone else, but if we give too much, we burn out and become the people that suddenly need help.”
The two biggest mistakes Laffey said she witnesses are Red Cross workers acting as if they can meet the needs of every affected community by themselves, and neglecting their own care. When it comes to concrete ways Red Cross workers can stay happy and focused during their deployment, Laffey offers five simple tips that everyone can follow:
- Eat well. Getting fast food or skipping a meal might provide a short term solution, but eating healthy and purposefully will provide volunteers with the energy they need to bring outstanding service and emotional support to victims.
- Buddy up. Opening up to a new friend or a supervisor on deployment each day helps someone comfort a volunteer when he or she is having difficulty or experiencing burn-out. “That person can offer sympathy, laugh with you or help you feel proud of your daily accomplishments,” Laffey said.
- Call home. Taking time to process their experiences keeps volunteers from slipping into trauma. Acknowledging the hardships by sharing them with someone encouraging, helps volunteers process them and prepare for the next day.
- Get rest. Volunteers do their best with an extra hour or two of sleep at night. “If you’re fatigued, you’re more accident prone than if you’re driving while intoxicated,” Laffey said. “Plus, if you’re too tired, the logical part of your brain never wakes up and the animal part takes over, causing poor decision making and irrational behavior.”
- Exercise! Exercising may be the last thing volunteers want to do on deployment, but it gives them an energy – and immune system – boost from endorphins. A quick exercise ranges from retrieving something for a team member from the drugstore or deli to adding a few blocks to a walk home at night.
“Instead of thinking that you’re going to come in and change the world in two weeks, focus on coming in and making a strong and positive drop in the bucket,” Laffey said. “Remember, the biggest oceans are made up of a bunch of single drops.”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.” author=”Daniel Berrigan”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” author=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”/]
The Beggar’s Lesson
“A rich man sent his servant to the marketplace, and there the servant came upon a beggar. The beggar fell to his knees and cried out, “Please sir, might you spare some of your master’s money so that I might have a bite to eat?” The servant replied, “What have you done for my master that you should be given some of my master’s money? Is there no good that you can do in the world that you must grovel at my feet and beg??” The servant walked away giving the beggar nothing, for the servant had nothing of his own to give. But the beggar followed the servant to the rich man’s home. He began working in the master’s fields for free. He weeded the fields. He planted the seeds. He watered and pruned the vines. He gathered the grapes at harvest time, and pressed the grapes into wine. When the rich man heard about what the beggar was doing, he sent his servant to bring the beggar to him. “What shall I do with the beggar?”, the servant asked. The rich man replied, “He is no longer a beggar, but is my son. Bring him into my home, he shall eat with me!”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.” author=”Elisabeth KüBler-Ross”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. ” author=”Albert Pike”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” author=”Tom Brokaw”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Sometimes a man imagines that he will lose himself if he gives himself, and keep himself if he hides himself. But the contrary takes place with terrible exactitude.” author=”Ernest Hello”/]
Value of Servitude
By Meg Brannagan
In a world where many people work hard, compete and strive to get ahead, acts of kindness are not always abundant. Helping others, especially when it is inconvenient, is something for which many people do not take time. The time it takes to help someone else in a small way is not wasted when it improves someone else’s well-being. Acts of helping others also bring joy and satisfaction into the lives of those who practice deeds of kindness.
People give of themselves for causes that are important to them. Values are what people build their lives on, what identifies their character, and what helps them express significance in daily activities. They are the beliefs and attitudes that guide behavior. Seeing value in helping others is a worthy component in a person, and some people possess this as part of their value system while others do not see the need for it.
Helping others means taking time out to do something for someone else. It may be something someone is unable to do for himself, because of time; finances; or physical disability. Helping others also may be as small as a friendly smile, which may seem insignificant, but can be meaningful and uplifting to the person receiving it. Some people believe that taking time out for others is a waste of effort. Helping others is recognizing that giving is never wasted, and the person who gives can receive much in return.
An advantage of helping others is giving something to another person who may not be able to help himself. A small act of kindness may be just what a hurting or tired person needs at that moment. Volunteering provides necessary help for understaffed or underfunded organizations that wish to help people but do not have resources to hire employees. Those in need of help are everywhere: a spouse, next-door neighbor, a stranger at the store or someone in another country. There is no limit to what can be done to help others.
Helping others not only provides assistance for someone in need, but is also beneficial for the person taking time to help. According to Mental Health America, those who spend time helping others deal with less symptoms of depression, have better physical health and experience more of an overall sense of satisfaction about life than those who do not consistently help others with their needs. Helping others makes a person feel needed, which provides a boost to self-esteem. It also may give someone a new perspective on life by realizing how fortunate he is compared with others in unlucky situations.
Ideas for helping others through acts of kindness are everywhere. For someone who wants to make a small difference in the life of someone else, doing something as minor as sending a card of appreciation for someone’s work may make that person feel better about her job. Other ways of helping may take more time or energy, but are worth the investment. Getting involved in volunteer projects such as rebuilding a home, serving at a soup kitchen, or knitting blankets for babies are all worthwhile causes. Helping others can be done in many ways and is easy for those who look for opportunities.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may be ground and sharpened; so does the wise general take his lieutenants oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that he may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in his service.” author=”Robert Murray M’cheyne”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Competition on the market aims at assigning to every individual that function in the social system in which he can render to all his fellow men the most valuable of the services he is able to perform.” author=”Ludwig Von Mises”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service.” author=”Alexandre Dumas pere”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” author=”Martin Luther King, Jr.”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.” author=”George Bernard Shaw”/]
Service to Others
When you give to another person, you are, in essence, admitting that you have an understanding of the grand scheme of human kindness. You are living on a level beyond selfishness, beyond greed, beyond your personal needs. You want to be the most educated, the most brilliant, the most exciting, the most versatile, the most creative individual in the world, because then you can give it away; and the only reason you have anything in the first place, is to give it away.
Service to others is about giving something that no other human on earth could possibly give — you! It is about digging deep into the caverns of your abilities, your talents, and your personality to find the gifts that you can share with humanity.
Humanity is used to describe the human race, but it is also associated with the word humane, which encompasses kindness, compassion, and mercy. Your self-esteem is tied directly to your humanity and how you treat other people. It has been written and spoken by religious leaders, philosophers, educators, therapists, and countless others that those who do not love and respect themselves cannot love or respect others.
Service and humanity begin with empathy. Empathy is when you put yourself in the lives of others. It is when you truly understand their pain, joy, fears, and actions on an internal level. Empathy at its highest level is when you are involved enough to know what other people need and how you can help them with their needs. Empathy is when you forego judgment for understanding, when you move beyond reacting and learn to take action, and when you help find the answers instead of blaming. Most of the time, people with the greatest empathy are those who know how to listen to what is spoken and to what is not spoken. To become a giving person, it will be important for you to cultivate your sense of empathy. Giving is most appreciated when you give what is truly needed, not what you think is needed. Understanding what is truly needed can come from learning to listen with an empathetic ear. By learning to listen more carefully, you can begin to hear the needs of humanity. You can begin to understand more fully how your hands can be the hands that can change a human life.
There is an old saying that goes, “Teachers touch the future. They never know where their influence ends.” This is true not just for “formal” teachers in the school systems, but for you as well. As a person who gives of yourself, you never know where your influence ends, or if it ever does. By giving to one person — just one other person — you could have a profound influence upon that person and upon history.
Visualize for a moment that you helped John Doe, who lives in a homeless shelter, by allowing him to rake the leaves in your front yard for $10. John Doe, whom you have never met before, takes the $10 and goes to the Salvation Army Store and buys a pair of pants, a shirt, and a newer pair of shoes. By buying this outfit, John Doe is able to approach the manager of a local landscaping business to ask for employment. The manager agrees to hire him on a trial basis. After one month, John Doe is hired full-time with benefits. John Doe, grateful for a second chance, moves out of the shelter, rents a room that he found listed in the paper, saves his money, and decides that because he got a second chance, he wants to help someone else. After six months, he has saved over $400. He approaches the local community college and gives the money to a student fund to purchase textbooks for struggling college students. Because of John Doe, two students are able to purchase their books to work on their degrees, one in social work and the other in education. Five years later, these two students are employed. One is a special-education teacher in high school; the other works as a marriage and family specialist at the local Department of Human Services. Their daily actions help the lives of hundreds each year.
Imagine the impact that your servitude to others can have on humanity. Because some leaves fell on your lawn and you chose to spend $10 on a “wanderer,” the course of human history changed for thousands of people. Because you took a chance and gave just a little, you could be playing a part in a miracle that stretches far beyond the confines of the people you directly influence.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Following his brief inaugural address to the Congress, President George Washington and his party walked over to St. Paul’s Church for divine services. His prayer that afternoon was: ‘Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large.'” author=”George Washington”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Small service is true service while it lasts: Of humblest friends, bright Creature! scorn not one; The Daisy, by the shadow that it casts, Protects the lingering dew drop from the Sun.” author=”William Wordsworth”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice – which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction – which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.” author=”Ayn Rand”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Be alert to give service — what counts most in life is what we do for others.” author=””/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Every day use your magic to be of service to others.” author=”Marcia Wieder”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” author=”Leo Rosten”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.” author=”Sydney Smith”/]
Shifting Your Focus To Serving Others
A simple lesson that my dear mother taught me years ago, proved itself quite well recently. The most beautiful part was that it was proven through the person who taught it to me!! My mom always said:
“The surest way to feel better when you are depressed is to take the focus off yourself and put it on someone in need of help. You’ll quickly forget your own problems, and remember that you play a larger role in the world, that can make a significant difference”
Growing up I remember my mom telling me to help others and stop focusing on myself and my needs, as young people normally do. Kids are the center of their own universe, and if we are not careful, even adults can be as well. I admit that I fought the demon of this self-focus “living in a bubble” like attitude, as an adult, but only when in a depressed state. Depression can be like a snake that tightly wraps itself around you, and isolation is the tendency that accompanies this snake’s habitat. When we are down, blue, emotional and even sad, the last thing we want to do is reach out to others in any way, much less offer them assistance. From my own personal experience I can tell you I confuse my loved ones, family and friends as I need their love and support at that time the most…yet I push it away.
Life has a way of offering lessons, or healing opportunities, whether we are ready, open or even willing to accept them. Just before Christmas, I got a call that my mother was suddenly very ill, and would most likely pass away within a few weeks. My own welfare completely went out the window at that point. All that mattered was getting to California to be by my mother’s bedside. Though in pain, I could hear my mother’s voice telling me “it’s time to take the focus off yourself, and be of service to someone in need”…and that I did.
My daughter and I got on the next plane and got to her granny right away. For the next two weeks we took 3 hour shifts during the night, administering morphine to her, and never leaving her side. The energy I needed was simply there as I called upon it, and has been ever since. I seem to have a renewed strength, attitude and outlook. You just never know what experience will pull you out of the dullness, and into the brilliance of regular everyday life, with all its glorious simplicity. I am grateful for this lesson, and thank my mom for teaching me something so powerful.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” author=”Mother Teresa”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” author=”Maya Angelou”/]
Five Reasons to Serve Others
By Nipun Mehta
It’s a beautiful fact that in practicing kindness, we can’t help but deepen our understanding of how inner and outer change are fundamentally intertwined.
Here are five reasons to serve that we’ve discovered through our own journey.
1. Serve to discover abundance: the radical shift from ‘me’ to ‘we.’
When you serve, you discover that often the most important things you have to offer are not things at all. You start to uncover the full range of resources at your disposal – your time, presence, attention – and recognize that the ability to give stems from a state of mind and heart, a place much deeper than the material. Inspired by the possibilities this opens up in every moment, you begin to discover humble opportunities to serve – everywhere.
This process begins a shift from a me-orientation to a we-orientation. You start to look at people and situations with an eye for what you can offer them, and not vice versa. You break the tiresome tyranny of questions like “What’s in it for me?” The mindset shifts from consumption to contribution. Paradoxically, when serving in this way, you are no longer operating from a space of scarcity. Your cup fills and overflows.
2. Serve to express gratitude.
When you acknowledge the fullness of your life, you can manifest a heart of service in any situation. In that sense, service doesn’t start when we have something to give – it blossoms naturally when we have nothing left to take. And that is a powerful place to be.
We begin to play our part – first, by becoming conscious of the offerings we receive, then by feeling gratitude for them, and finally by continuing to pay forward our gifts with a heart of joy.
Yes, external change is required for the world to progress, but when coupled with inner transformation, it can affect the world in a radically different way.
“We can do no great things – only small things with great love,” maintained Mother Teresa, a woman who made a difference in the lives of millions. It’s a matter of what we focus on. In other words, it’s not just what we do that matters, but the inner impetus behind our action that really counts.
3. Serve to transform yourself.
Any time we practice the smallest act of service – even if it’s only holding a door for somebody with a full heart that says, “May I be of use to this person” – that kind of giving changes the deeply embedded habit of self-centeredness.
In that brief moment, we experience other-centeredness. That other-centeredness relaxes the patterns of the ego, a collection of unexamined, self-oriented tendencies that subtly influence our choices. This is why no true act of service, however small, can ever really be wasted.
To serve unconditionally in this way takes practice and constant effort. But with time and sharpened awareness, we begin to brush against the potential for transformation that is embedded in every act of generosity.
It’s a realization that when you give, you actually receive. You begin to internalize this, not at the intellectual level but by experience.
4. Serve to honor our profound interconnection.
Over time, all of those small acts, those small moments, lead to a different state of being – a state in which service becomes increasingly effortless. And as this awareness grows, you inevitably start to perceive beyond individualistic patterns: Each small act of service is an unending ripple that synergizes with countless others.
As Rachel Naomi Remen puts it, “When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole.”
With that understanding, we begin to play our part – first, by becoming conscious of the offerings we receive, then by feeling gratitude for them, and finally by continuing to pay forward our gifts with a heart of joy. Each of us has such gifts: skills, material resources, connections, presence – everything we consider ourselves privileged to have. And when we actually start to use our gifts as tools to facilitate giving, we deepen our understanding of relationships and start to sync up with this vast “inner-net.”
5. Serve to align with a natural unfolding.
When we increasingly choose to remain in that space of service, we start to see new things. The needs of the current situation become clearer, we become instruments of a greater order and consequently our actions become more effortless.
When a group of people perform this kind of service as a practice, it creates an ecosystem that holds a space, allowing value to emerge organically. All of this indirect value, the ripple effect, has space and time to add up, synergize with other ripples, and multiply into something completely unexpected.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”I’ve met a few people who had to change their jobs in order to change their lives, but I’ve met many more people who merely had to change their motive to service in order to change their lives.” author=”John F Pilgrims”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness—great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy.” author=”Jim Rohn”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us. In all likelihood it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.” author=”Stephen M. Wolf”/]
Serving an Unexpected New Friend
I was walking home from work on a busy city street with lots of people. I wasn’t looking forward to going home and my friends weren’t able to hang out with me.
That’s when I walked past a homeless person that I hadn’t seen before. He was moving back and forth to stay warm, and very gently asking for change. He spoke so quietly I could barely hear him.
Something made me stop, turn around, and walk up to him. All the while anxious thoughts whirled around in my head like, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ ‘You’re alone, it’s dark out and you’re a woman,’
Before I knew what I was saying I asked him if he had had dinner yet and would he like to join me at a nearby restaurant. He said he hadn’t eaten and he would like to. So, he walked with me a few yards to the restaurant and held the door open for me as we entered.
He asked for the smallest thing on the menu but I ordered a larger meal and explained that the price difference wasn’t worth worrying about.
We had a good dinner and a pleasant conversation about everyday stuff like where we grew up and what kind of music we liked. The whole time I just prayed to say the right thing and to give him the respect and dignity everyone deserves. I didn’t want to come across like I was better than anybody or out to fix someone.
I was so grateful for this experience. I may not have met my friends that evening but I met an unexpected friend and the experience changed my life. It will make me think twice in future before I complain about something I think I lack.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” author=”Chinese Proverb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger and we will make not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” author=”Mahatma Gandhi”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Service… Giving what you don’t have to give. Giving when you don’t need to give. Giving because you want to give.” author=”Damien Hess”/]
by David Cerqueira
Sarah’s parents were new to town, and she was just getting to know her classmates at church. As a second grader, she was full of energy and beaming with naughtiness. As Sarah’s Sunday school teacher, my wife provided me with a limitless supply of funny stories – Monday night dinner was usually served with Sarah’s latest antics. Everyone at church seemed to like her. She was simply an easy kid to fall in love with.
One Sunday my wife had prepared a lesson on being useful. She taught the children that everyone can be useful – that usefulness is serving God, and that doing so is worthy of honor. The kids quietly soaked up my wife’s words, and as the lesson ended, there was a short moment of silence. Then Sarah spoke up. “Teacher, what can I do?” I don’t know how to do too many useful things.”
Not anticipating that kind of response, my wife quickly looked around and spotted an empty flower vase on the window sill. “Sarah, you can bring in a flower and put it in the vase. That would be a useful thing.”
Sarah frowned. “But that’s not important.”
“It is,” replied my wife, “if you are helping someone.”
Sure enough, the next Sunday Sarah brought in a dandelion and placed it in the vase. In fact, she continued to do so each week. Without reminders or help, she made sure the vase was filled with a bright yellow flower, Sunday after Sunday. When my wife told our pastor about Sarah’s faithfulness, he placed the vase upstairs in the main sanctuary next to the pulpit. That Sunday he gave a sermon on the honor of serving others, using Sarah’s vase as an example. The congregation was touched by the message, and the week started on a good note.
As a pediatric physician, I have developed an uncomfortable feeling about telephone calls. During that same week I got a call from Sarah’s mother. She worried that Sarah seemed to have less energy than usual and that she didn’t have an appetite. Offering her some reassurances, I made room in my schedule to see Sarah the following day. After a battery of tests and days of examinations, I sat numbly in my office, Sarah’s paperwork on my lap. The results were tragic.
On the way home I stopped to see Sarah’s parents so that I could personally give them the sad news. Sarah’s genetics and the leukemia that was attacking her small body were a horrible mix. Sitting at their kitchen table, I did my best to explain to Sarah’s parents that nothing could be done to save her life. I don’t think I have ever had a more difficult conversation than the one that night. Sarah’s mom looked me in the eye and with tears asked, “How can this happen? Why would God allow this?”
As doctors, we try everything to save a life. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing to trade our life for that of one of our patients, especially when they are as dear as Sarah. But sometimes, nothing can be done, and a tragic end is only a matter of time. Sarah was to have such an ending. Such a beautiful life, ended by such pain and anguish. It became difficult not to question the goodness of God in Sarah’s life.
Time pressed on. Sarah became confined to bed and to the visits that many people gave her. She lost her smile. She lost most of her weight. And then it came: another telephone call. Sarah’s mother asked me to come see her. I dropped everything and ran to the house. There she was, a small bundle that barely moved. After a short examination, I knew that Sarah would soon be leaving this world. I urged her parents to spend as much time as possible with her.
That was a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning church started as usual. The singing, the sermon – it all seemed meaningless when I thought of Sarah. I felt enveloped in sadness. At the end of the sermon, the pastor suddenly stopped speaking. His eyes wide, he stared at the back of the church with utter amazement. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at. It was Sarah! Her parents had brought her for one last visit. She was bundled in a blanket, a dandelion in one little hand.
She didn’t sit in the back row. Instead she slowly walked to the front of the church where her vase still perched by the pulpit. She put her flower in the vase and a piece of paper beside it. Then she returned to her parents. Seeing Sarah place her flower in the vase for the last time moved everyone. At the end of the service, people gathered around Sarah and her parents, trying to offer as much love and support as possible. I could hardly bear to watch.
What the Note Said
Four days later, Sarah died. I cancelled my morning appointments and sat at my desk, thinking about her and her parents, hurting. I remember the funny stories that my wife told about Sarah. I remembered the sweet sound of her laughter. I remembered that telephone call that brought the sadness.
Tears filled my eyes as once again I struggled not to question the goodness of God in allowing Sarah’s life to end in such a horrible way.
I wasn’t expecting it, but our pastor asked to see me after the funeral. We stood at the cemetery near our cars as people walked past us. In a low voice he said, “Dave, I’ve got something you ought to see.” He pulled out of his pocket the piece of paper that Sarah had left by the vase. Holding it out to me, he said, “You’d better keep this; it may help you in your line of work.”
I opened the folded paper to read, in pink crayon, what Sarah had written:
This vase has been the biggest honor of my life.
Sarah’s note and her vase have helped me to understand. I now realize in a new way that life is an opportunity to serve God by serving people. And, as Sarah put it, that is the biggest honor of all.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Servitude is never a simple act; it’s about sacrifice for others and about accomplishment for ourselves, about reaching out, one person to another, about all our choices gathered together as a country to reach across all our divides.” author=”George Bush”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” author=”Nelson Henderson”/]
During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war.
First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.
Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ‘We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.'”
Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people with their “faces to the coal” who help the church accomplish its mission.