Thoughts on Serving: Part 1

Hey Guys! I started this a while back & haven’t posted it yet. I’m going to follow up with a few more posts with more details on these thoughts, but I thought I would throw this out to start! (Also it’s a little more formal than I usually post here, because at one point I thought I had enough to say to write a book) (lol what a joke). Okay. Yea, anyway. Just read it if you want. Or don’t. What do I care. (I really do care a lot but it’s a personal problem).

PART 1: BIG CHANGES, SMALL STEPS

I reluctantly opened my computer to start an assignment for my advocacy class. The instructions read, “Write a paragraph or two about a powerful experience of serving that you’ve experienced recently. Add detail.”

I sat at my computer astonished at the idea that just yesterday I thought I could write a book about acts of mercy and serving others, and today, when asked about a specific act of service I’ve completed, I sat with a mind as blank as the Word document in front of me.

“Alright, it’s not due until next Thursday,” I told myself as I exited the document, closed my laptop and went to go see one of my friends.

It wasn’t until later that week that I realized I could write my paragraph on plenty more acts than I first recalled. And I think that’s because of the way a majority of us look at service.

The first definition of “service” when looked up in Merriam-Webster is “the act of serving”. When redirected to “serve”, the first definition is “to give (food or drink) to someone at a meal, in a restaurant, etc.” It isn’t until the third definition of the verb where we see “to be of use”, which is the definition I would argue is the most common connotation used today. But it does not say anywhere in the dictionary, three definitions down or otherwise, that serving someone must be a grand act or gesture.

As a society, we are looking at service all wrong. When I couldn’t think of one thing I’ve done to help someone else, it made me feel kind of shitty. Have I ever really even done service? Yea, I mean I was a girl scout. And I spent a few Saturday’s helping at Toys for Tots last year. But have I done meaningful service?

(Just wait, I’m about to come to the realization that I have. That we all have.)

Think of all the times you were of use to someone. Ever picked up a carton of milk for your kid’s cereal while you were getting gas? Service. Ever helped someone with their homework? Ever brought soup to a sick friend? Ever given someone a ride when his or her car broke down? Service. And you guys helped the environment. That’s two birds and only one stone.

All you have to do is be of use in order to perform service. Everyone can do that, and by a majority, a lot of us do that. Every single day.

We’re all called to love.

We’re all called to serve.

But we aren’t all called to do grand gestures of “service”. Some of us were called to raise families. Some of us were called to be entrepreneurs. Some of us were called to run programs; some of us were called to run.

What if we thought about service like we did anything else. Example: some people were called to be professional basketball players. But very few of us. So does that mean that every one who is not in the NBA doesn’t ever pick up a basketball? Or have fun while doing it? No, because in order to find out if that’s you’re calling – you try. And you practice it every day. Even if you don’t make it to the NBA, does that mean all that time you spent in your local grade school league was a waste? No. Because at the very least, it gave you some exercise. It taught you control, it taught you self-discipline, it taught you teamwork, it inspired others to play. Which is something to be proud of.

It’s the same with anything else.

It’s the same with service.

Just because we aren’t all in the “big leagues” of service, doesn’t mean the rest of us stop. It doesn’t mean we don’t contribute. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to see if that’s our calling. It doesn’t mean that the small acts we do every day aren’t helping.

We think because we haven’t gone into the streets of Rwanda to help out that we aren’t servers, and perhaps the work we do isn’t meaningful. Many of us haven’t taken a weeklong trip to an orphanage to teach children in a third world country. And only a rounded 1% of us have been in the PeaceCorps. And for that percentage, it’s amazing. The work you do is amazing. And the fact that you feel you were called to do that, and you responded is amazing. But not everyone is in the big leagues of service. And that’s okay. That’s perfectly okay. That doesn’t diminish the good deeds that people all over the world, are doing every day – no matter how small.

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