SERVICE ~ It's a word you may have heard many times in your life. Here are ways I heard this from my parents throughout the years:
“You must service your car.”
“You shouldn’t yell at the customer service rep on the phone!”
“It’s important to serve others and volunteer your time.”
“Serving your country is the greatest service as an American.”
“Serving God should be a priority every single day.”
For me, this word takes on many meanings. Writing this blog has helped me consider these meanings and think about the true depth of service. While waiting on the phone for an hour to hear back from a customer service representative after being put on hold, my opinion of customer service isn't always great. If the definition of service is the action of helping or doing work for someone else, it makes you wonder if anyone in customer service jobs are really trained to embrace this concept let alone know what it means.
Two days ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a man named Patrick Riley. He knows about service! He is an older gentleman who has lived a full life. Not only is he a talented artist, but he has spent much of his life teaching art to children and yoga to prisoners. Listening to him, I recognized the beauty of service. I doubt, as humble as he is, that he would call it that but I felt at peace being in the calming presence of him (someone who has given his life to others). He said to me “When you're in touch with your Creator you know everything is as it should be.” In that moment, I realized his purpose of service was greater than himself. And wouldn’t be great if we all tried to live that way! Maybe I shouldn’t get so frustrated with the reps on the phone. Ha Ha!
Back to my earlier thought, I was raised to service my car on a regular basis or my dad would flip out. If my car was overdue for an oil change or my gas tank got too low, I would hear a lecture on how important it was to take care of your car! “That car costs too much for you not to be responsible enough to take care of it. If you can’t take care of the things we give you then you don't deserve to have them!” Hmmmmmm… That's a thought.
I assume that would also apply to serving God, serving country, and serving others. After recently talking with a close friend, I would also add serving ourselves to this list even though sometimes it feels like serving yourself is a selfish act. Many Americans take the vow of serving their country seriously through joining the armed services, becoming a public servant, or participating by voting. Many gifted people I know get up every day to serve others, whether it's in their job duties or in the time they give after work hours to volunteer in local non-profits or their church. Parents serve their children. Pastors serve their congregation. Nurses and firemen serve everyone in their communities. Soldiers and police serve even with the chance of dying during their service. With all of these amazing ways of service, the thought of serving or doing anything for yourself does sound selfish, but what about that car we talked about earlier? Maybe it's a happy balance? If I don’t serve myself at times, I can’t serve others at all. Just like a car won't drive your family, if you don't take care of it. The flight attendant does say to put your mask on first then your child’s mask, so maybe service to myself sometimes is necessary and not selfish at all.
I believe service can be one the greatest purposes of one’s life. In my opinion, a known reality is that we are here to do and give for others. Yet if you run out of all the steam you have, you can’t give it any more. I recently had a friend share with me his struggle with giving everything he had. Getting back on track and refueling needed to be a main priority. Sometimes, it is important as humans to serve your soul, serve your mind, and serve your body. Regroup, refill and refocus or you can't fulfill your purpose to serve others or God. We are given the freedom to serve, but also the knowledge of when to refuel ourselves so that our service will continue in the long-haul. Maybe we should be as responsible with our own well-being as we are with the service of our car. We are valuable too. Refuel and do maintenance, so that you can continue to be of SERVICE to others!
This week's blog writer is Julie Brittain, co-founder of LIVING52. Read more of Julie's story at www.living52words.com/stories.