DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to be all butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns or portray me as a goody-two-shoes. Absolutely not! My motivation for writing this is to gently remind you that life speeds by at warp speed and we get one chance at it. Many people are emotionally and physically drained, are juggling numerous plates (responsibilities), feel little joy, and are just going through the motions as they search for purpose. I’ve found that serving others can add a significant amount of meaning to your life and simply wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.
Additionally, if you’re a parent to young ones you’re already a servant whether you think you are or not. You’re putting your kids’ interests above your own and showing them lots of love and kindness because…well…that’s what parents do.
Do You Want Some Fries With That?
The other day I was sitting in a restaurant near me and thinking back to a miserable experience I had years ago when I waitressed for a summer. Let me explain…
Have you ever had a waiter or waitress that just seemed to have it all together? You know the ones…they can balance stacks of plates and glasses without breaking any. They’re attentive to your needs, but not bothersome. They can upsell you on appetizers and desserts without being pushy. They can manage numerous tables and still get ‘er done. Well…this wasn’t me. Most of the time I was frazzled, absent-minded, and couldn’t wait for my shift to be over. Crowds intimidated me. Numerous orders intimidated me. Interacting with patrons intimidated me. If I had to summarize my distaste for waitressing it would be this: serving others just plain intimidated me and made me nervous.
What Is a Servant?
In life, an everyday servant puts the interests of others above their own. They try to show love and kindness to everyone.
In business, a servant leader focuses on the growth and well-being of their employees. They intentionally seek to help the people they serve grow as individuals. They focus on providing their employees with development opportunities.
Me to We
Nowadays serving others doesn’t intimidate me as it did back in my waitressing days. Mainly because I’ve been getting lots of practice by putting every day serving on my to-do lists.
This is a new thing for me. You see, in the past my lists were pretty “me” focused, and checking things off of the things that made my life easier made me feel good.
▢ Get the oil changed.
▢ Go to the gym.
▢ Clean house.
▢ Water plants.
▢ Take dogs to the groomer.
▢ Grade papers.
I had a major a-ha moment a few years ago when I began doing some personal introspection by taking regular audits of my life. I realized that my calendar pages were flipping quickly. I felt unfulfilled and a bit directionless. I noticed that most of my days were filled with thinking about myself instead of thinking about others. Deep down I wanted to make a difference and bring value to those around me. The a-ha moment came when I realized that ordinary people like me could leave an extraordinary impact on the world just by being an everyday servant.
I’m a “work-in-progress” kind of gal so I don’t always get it right. My default setting is still “me” quite often, but now I add things to my to-do lists like:
▢ Buy someone a cup of coffee or a meal.
▢ Affirm someone’s talent (ie. you’re really good at ____.).
▢ Encourage someone (both verbally and written).
▢ Tell someone I’m praying for them (and mean it).
▢ Smile genuinely and look people in the eye.
▢ Write blogs that add value to others’ lives.
Those are simple easy-peasy examples. Let’s challenge ourselves and take it up a notch and do things like:
- Helping a neighbor in need.
- Mentoring someone in our area of expertise.
- Volunteering at a food bank or troubled youth facility.
- Donating blood.
- Babysitting for a single mom or dad.
- Visiting the sick or elderly.
Whatever it is, serve with no conditions, no expectations, and with no thought of reciprocation. As Lailah Gifty Akita, founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation, says “Service to humanity is service to God.”
Create the Positive in You
Contributing and serving beyond yourself (having a we instead of me mentality) creates the positive in you! Volunteering your time, helping someone in need, saying an encouraging word, or buying someone a cup of coffee doesn’t just make the world better—it also makes you better.
Although there are dozens and dozens of benefits of serving others here are five of my favorites:
- Serving is contagious! Serving can spur others on to keep the cycle of “paying it forward” going.
- Serving sets a great example. Showing other people (especially the younger generations) how you serve shows them how they can serve too.
- Serving gives a sense of purpose. Being a benefit to someone else can give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction (especially if you’re retired from your job or an empty nester who no longer has a role once had).
- Serving can help you live longer. Serving others can help alleviate loneliness and enhance your social life (both can affect your health).
- Serving makes you grateful. Helping others gives you a sense of perspective about your own situation and can teach you to appreciate what you have.
You Can Make a Difference
You don’t need to be famous, be a Nobel Prize winner, or be a billionaire to make a difference in the world. One ordinary person like you and me serving others can make a lasting and positive impact on the world.
I love these words of the poet Edwin Osgood Grover:
“I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
So…what do you think? Do you want to join me in “not refusing to do the something that we can do”? Please say you do!
Already being an everyday servant? Send me a note and let me know what you’re doing. I’m always open to new ideas.
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