“I can’t afford to.” “I don’t have time.” “I am too busy.” “It’s not my thing.” If you have said any of these before (and I have too), get a clue!
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
“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.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
Edward Everett Hale
“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.”
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”
“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
During this past eighteen months of house-sitting and couch-surfing which have certainly not been stable or predictable, my usual outlets of service continued to be part of my life. In fact, on reflection, I believe my service has increased during this timeframe. Certainly, as I am writing this, I am being of service to a very elderly dog including putting a diaper on her, when she is in the house, and rearranging my schedule around her walks and care so she is comfortable. Yes, at times, it ain’t pretty! The smell certainly can be challenging, and yet, I still do it anyway.
Is it a stretch sometimes? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes! Every time!
Having service as a conscious and regular activity in my life, has kept me close to my Self, to Spirit within. It has been a constant in my life that has really maintained my inner buoyancy, so to speak. I truly believe that if we all make acts of service a priority each day, we will change the way everyone lives. Regardless of scale, any act of self-less service makes a difference, particularly to the one giving the service.
Service to others is perhaps the greatest gift we can give. To give of ourselves, because we want to, sometimes because we NEED to is what makes us human. Actually, I’d go so far as to say, that giving in service is what makes us more than human, more than mundane, it shows us God inside and in another. What? Keep reading, I’ll explain.
Let me lay a couple more statements about service on you that aren’t in the quotes listed above:
Service is the highest form of loving.
Service is it’s own reward.
Consider these two statements for a few moments.
When we honestly act in service to another, it is an altruistic and self-less act by its very definition. It is a truly unconditional and caring act. When we give of service, and it being self-less in action, the feeling of warmth, the inner glow of love reflected back into ourselves is the reward that we derive from the giving.
I wrote about humility previously (way back in Lesson 2!). Humility is intrinsically part of service. If we serve to get something back that is selfish, to get notice, fame, external reward, then it is no longer service. It is something less than service, even if the recipient benefits. Giving to get is not service. Giving simply to give is service.
Many who know me, know my life is very service-driven. Service is not just once a year doing some project out in the community, painting walls or planting a garden for someone. All that is good too. Service is part of our daily lives, you simply notice the possibilities!
Service is also intrinsic to being a truly effective and successful leader, in business, in community, in life. Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) wrote a powerful essay entitled Essentials of Servant Leadership, and in it he states: “The servant-leader is servant first… Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first… The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
My speaking and coaching is something I do in service to others. I have served as a volunteer, many times as a leader, both directing and supporting teams and groups and at the same time as one pair of helping hands among many. I have honed my understanding and appreciation of what service is, and I continue to do so!
Service has many flavors and many avenues to express, although two things are very clear to me: first, true service is self-less, it is done without intent to benefit oneself, it is to give unconditionally; second, service can change your life even while you are giving unconditionally without intending to benefit!
Want to build teamwork and collaboration in your office? Get together and do a service project as a group out in the world, totally unrelated to your work. It will change how you work together in the office, and will build community in your team.
Is your relationship not working as well as it could? Go out somewhere and serve together, whether it is feeding the homeless, cleaning up a beach or a street, or some other place, serving together will change your relationship for the better.
Feeling lost or unsure of what is important in your life? Go find somewhere to serve, donate your time in support of others, and your life will light up with clarity and focus.
As I have indicated, service works both ways. And I’ve mentioned I whole-heartedly recommend doing some level of service every day. At the same time, being the recipient of service is something not necessarily talked about that much. My experience of house-sitting and couch-surfing has really deepened my own experience of service from the aspect of receiving it.
Receiving? I wasn’t so good at receiving (can you relate?). How well do you receive? I have always been good at giving, of my efforts, my time, my compassion, my caring, my energy. I hadn’t been as good at receiving from others. This journey has changed me! I am more grateful and humble, and yes, able to receive, than I ever was before. I’ll be writing more about that in the future. Gifts are only real when they are received. I so get that now. I highly suggest you consider that too!
OK, so service is a good thing. Where do I serve? How do I serve?
There are so many ways and places to give service. I won’t list organizations of places where you can serve. That’s your own assignment! What I have listed is, I trust, an trigger list that will assist you in recognizing how you can serve. It’s up to you to take steps to make service a more powerful part of your life! Service truly works, trust me, test drive it for yourself!
Here are some inspirations for service that you can review and gain direction from. Whenever you feel stuck, upset, lacking, limited, low, or any other feeling, frankly, review this list and do some service! Get out there and make a difference!
Serve yourself; Serve your life; Serve your community; Serve your relationship; Serve your Higher Power; Serve your family; Serve your business; Serve your country; Serve the planet; Serve your world; Serve the Truth; Serve your purpose; Serve Love; Serve Peace; Serve Others; Serve the highest and the lowest; Serve your friends; Serve your enemies (yes, even them)
Serve to Live; Serve to Love; Serve to Give; Serve to Receive; Serve to Grow; Serve to Know Yourself; Serve to make a difference; Serve to be more yourself; Serve to heal; Serve to change; Serve to change your paradigm; Serve to be grateful; Serve to understand; Serve to be more successful; Serve to make more peace; Serve to share your heart
Serve With Compassion; Serve With Intention; Serve from the overflow; Serve because you can; Serve because you care; Serve all the time; Serve Daily; Serve when it’s easy; Serve when it’s difficult; Serve when you want to; Serve when you don’t want to; Serve in each moment; Serve until you are grateful; Serve when you can; Serve every day (in any and every way); Serve in everything you do; Serve without ego, control or attachment; Serve because you can, others won’t or …
Now your turn! Fill in the blank on these stem sentences every day and see what shows up!
How can I serve?
The opportunities and way to serve is infinite!
As always, I invite your input. Add a comment or two.