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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!