Month: December 2013

Better is Better

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dog-assist-shopThe title above is from a recent cell phone carrier commercial. I like this commercial. It shows kids being asked to value which one is better “more or less?”. Of course the kids say “More!” This commercial is meant to highlight that using their carrier’s service is almost a “no brainer”, something kids could easily choose. In theory you would always choose something “better” if you knew for sure it was of higher value, but that assumes you can easily compare the value of things. In my experience, you rarely can. This is especially true when you introduce human needs into the equation. I won’t even try to discuss the complexity of selecting the right romantic mate for yourself. But, I’m sure you get the idea.

THE VALUE OF YOUR SERVICE

What is interesting to me is that there seems to be unspoken value judgments placed on service. I will call this the “more is better” valuation. This is the idea that the more people your service impacts the more value it has. For example, caring for your one baby does not have as much value as working to provide clean drinking water to thousands of people. Think about that for a moment. Please actually take a moment and a break from reading and decide if you agree with that statement. Does more lives impacted equal more valuable service? Most people never thought about it, but they feel it. They feel it in whose service they consider honorable and whose service they ignore. They feel it in what service impact they hope to leave as a legacy and what they think will be unimpressive. But you won’t find that thinking here.

You will find a challenge to serve deeply and more broadly when life allows. You will find a challenge to serve fully and to serve better. Then after you’ve served better there will be a challenge to serve better than that. Why? Because better is better, but know that any act of serve or any act of genuine caring and love will be valued here. Below is the a list of the five ways this blog will categorize service and encourage you to serve others. Some of you will spend an entire lifetime mainly in one category while others will find seasons of life for them all. I can almost guarantee you that you will not have the capacity to serve well in all five categories at once. So please don’t set that expectation for yourself. Nobody can serve all missions or in all categories so you will have to explore what is the right match for you. All you need right now is to decide that however and wherever you are serving today, you will serve better tomorrow. I plan to serve better tomorrow.

Service Categories

  • Serving Personal Relationships: Giving time and energy to the people you know well and are emotionally invested in. You will have the deepest connection and impact with this group. This is worthy service.
  • Serving Professional Relationships: Using your unique abilities to make a positive impact in the work environment. We spend a lot of our lives in our place of business and it’s a worthy place to serve, but one often overlooked.
  • Serving Community: This is usually the first type of service that comes to mind. Efforts spent here can have immediate life changing benefits to those served. This is worthy service.
  • Serving Country: There are those that serve their country directly (and their families serve along with them), but there are also a host of organizations and services that support the US military and those in foreign service. Further, there are many other ways that civilians can serve their country. They are all worthy service.
  • Serving the World: This is about thinking beyond borders and addressing issues that affect mankind as a whole. This is doing your part to fight for global causes that have wide reaching impact. This is worthy service.

Feel passionate about a certain area, but not sure where to start? How are you focusing your area of service and has it changed over the years? Tell us about it. Serve on!

Who has the time?

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Clock

Imagine a race that tested to see who was the busiest, most overwhelmed, and most exhausted. Would you win? I hope I’d lose miserably and bring great shame to my family name. But I’m guessing you’re a contender and like to win. You just look like a winner. So do you really have anymore time or energy to serve? Maybe and maybe not.

That really depends on how you think about service. My service mentor is a CEO of a nonprofit that fights homelessness in our local area. When I look at my life, it is hard to imagine serving and having the kind of impact that she does. But serving isn’t a competition and all service is worthy. There are three things to consider when looking for time and energy to serve.

  1. Clearly identify tasks as service. Having a broad impact is great and we will look for ways to serve the vast world around us in this blog. However, if you are working from sun up to sun down to serve your family, you may already be living a life of service but just aren’t giving yourself credit for it. You can think about washing dishes as a chore or you can think about it as an act of service. If you chose the latter, you are likely to feel proud about your effort, be less tired when it is complete, and over time even learn to enjoy it. Every time you do a chore at home or at work ask yourself who you are serving and think of them while you do it. Try this for a week and see if it makes a difference.
  2. You can’t help people if you don’t understand them. Now let’s be serious, getting up in the middle of the night to care for a baby is not going to energize you no matter how much you identify it as “service”. What it will do is allow you to relate to and support other parents of infants better. The people that are there to help you get through a difficult time are likely people that have been through something similar. If you are too overwhelmed right now with loneliness, exhaustion or grief to imagine serving others, this experience may be preparing you to serve in the future. So get the help you need now and go easy on yourself. Service will patiently wait for you.
  3. Giving without receiving. To live a life of service you have to make a conscious decision to give without receiving. It is a natural instinct to expect those you are serving to be grateful but this expectation actually robs you of the connection to true service. It makes it more about self gain and less about giving. Try serving anonymously at first to help break the connection to your expectation of receiving. You will never fully break it, but trying to is a worthy endeavor.

Are you trying to find more time or energy to serve? How is it going? What are some ways you give anonymously? The floor is open below in the comments section. Serve on!