Service to Others

“Plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”. - Unknown

The statement above is about selfless sacrifice; service to others. I was raised in a family of service providers. My parents served in the military. My mom for less than 10 years. My dad, 22 years and some change. Since then, they’ve also served as laypersons and members of the clergy in various churches around the US and even overseas. That said, service is in my DNA. Hell, it’s in all of ours, but, surely, it’s in mine. I’ve seen the highs and lows of service, too. The early mornings and late nights. The scorching summers and the Alpine winters. The missed birthdays and holidays. The culture shock from living comfortably in America to an interrupted, involuntary existence overseas. Not to mention, the pomp and the parades when everything was going right as well as the crushing, lonely losses that are enough for one to question their faith. Still, service is not about the person as much as it is about the people. A phrase that I like to say, one that I gleaned from a local personal development circle of mine, is “It’s not about you.” And though that statement might be a painful pill to swallow given how counterculture it is, it can be done. In fact, to calm my gag reflexes, in my kitchen on a white dry-erase board are three simple questions written in black marker: Who can I serve? What can I give? Who can I celebrate? I am humbled every time I read them, too, though I don’t always answer them. I guess it’s partly because I don’t always have the answers in the moment and, at other times, if I’m being honest, I allow my selfish ego to override my heart. However, truly, those three questions keep me grounded in my humanity and in yours. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve”.