Often we think of those in “service” as those serving in the military or priesthood. Ask someone to define the word “service” and they will probably say something akin to “work done by someone for somebody else” or “an action done for another”. Then it might surprise you that synonyms for the word “service” seldom include either definition. These synonyms include words like facility, package, deal, examination, provision, etc. In other words the synonyms are the locations or manners in which a service is performed but not really the action itself.
We all are “in service” and if we are not, we should be. Twenty years ago I heard someone giving a lecture on civics. The speaker was questioned as to the best way to know who would make a good leader, who someone should vote for in an election. The location of this talk was in a country that had not held elections in a number of years so it was understandable that some of the population might not understand the process and wanted to be advised on the best possible outcome. The speaker’s answer surprised many: “I want a candidate to tell me what they have done for others, not what they have done for themselves or are promising to do for me.”
Recent events have brought that lecture to mind as it seems that many people are more concerned about their own personal agenda than that of the world. There is no truth in that statement “What’s good for me will be good for you.” We are all unique creatures and come with our own set of desires and needs. There is no “One size fits all” policy that will work for everything in this life. Having everyone the same nationality, believing in the same customs and religions, wearing the same clothes, etc clearly does not work. Why you might ask? Because if it did, no one would have ever traveled and we would all be living insular lives.
This blog series is about the Ordinary Time becoming extraordinary. Pentecost is a period in several religious calendars in which there are no special days, no celebratory feasts. Hence, it is called the Ordinary Time. However, just because there are no official feasts and festivities does not mean we cannot celebrate life and make each day something extraordinary. How do we do that? We do it by being of service someone else.
A year or so ago I heard a speaker say that they were a leader. Their interest in leading was not for the betterment of others, though. By this person’s own admission, they volunteered to improve their own self-image. This is not really being a leader, in my humble opinion. This is feeding one’s ego. They are not being of service to another but simply promoting themselves. We all have value but the greatest value comes when we forget to promote our own agenda and work for something that benefits us all.
Two great Eastern spiritualists explained this better than I ever could. “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others”, believed the Dalai Lama. “And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” The speaker I heard did lead and I think for more altruistic reasons than even he realized. People benefitted from his volunteer work and no one was hurt. Mahatma Gandhi also realized the power of service. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Want to take the boredom out of everyday living? Volunteer. Help a neighbor. Help a stranger. Go to VolunteerMatch.org and see what is available and needed in your community. Small acts, multiplied by the service of many, can and will transform the world.