Serving Builds Community
Ironically, I’m going to begin my thoughts on service and serving others with a brief anecdote about myself. One of the most meaningful service experiences for me was on a trip to Joplin, Missouri in 2012. I traveled with a group to aid in the tornado recovery following a deadly tornado. We mostly cleaned debris, helped prepare land for house rebuilds, and moved large amounts of scattered wood. It was hard work, but absolutely worthwhile. While I was there, I got to work with people from other areas of the country and hear firsthand the appreciation that the local people had for the work we were doing. This trip opened my eyes a bit more to the revolutionary power of service and its role in our ability to connect with each other.
In a basic sense, when I think of the word “service” I think of it as an action in which one serves others. Participating in a missions trip to help rebuild people’s lives after a devastating tornado is one way that I’ve found to serve others in my life. Service can also encompass many parts of our lives. Listening to a friend to provide emotional support is a type of service. I’ve always been taught that serving others should be of the utmost priority. I’ve always valued service because it’s a beautiful expression of love toward the people in our lives. Acts of service is an underrated love language in my book. There also needs to be space in our lives for self care to ensure that we are at our best self in order to serve others with a gracious heart and not with resentment or spite. We have an obligation and calling to care for others, especially when we are able to provide something that someone else is missing or needs.
I strive to live my life by Philippians 2: 3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Serving others gives me purpose. It fulfills me and, ultimately, gives my life meaning. More importantly, other people’s lives are better because of any service I do — even service for myself. I find joy when I can make someone’s life a little better. Tornado relief in Joplin allowed me to be a part of a larger community working together to have a bigger impact. You can’t always see the impact, but that’s not necessarily the point. Service brings people together. People appreciate even the smallest effort you may put forward. Though I have a prideful heart at times, this is the number one way I try to live my life in the image of Christ. If I don’t, I wonder what sort of Christian I profess myself to be.
We could all use more service in our lives — for ourselves and others. It’s vital that we begin to think of others before ourselves. By leaning on each other and helping one another, we build connection. This connection leads to empathy and community, which makes our world a little brighter. Service leads to understanding and compassion, and we could all stand to see the world through another person’s perspective these days. In a culture in which we are polarized, disconnected, and individualized, I think we could all better prioritize serving each other. With every act of service, you are a part of something bigger than yourself. As a privileged individual, helping with something such as tornado relief allowed me to be a part of a larger community of healing. I was reminded of all the basic elements of my life that I take for granted. We all benefit from service, truly. We were built to need each other, so we must serve each other.