Maybe you’ve heard that Bible verse that is quoted many times when urging people to give to a particular cause, “It is better to give than to receive,” and wondered how exactly giving would be better than receiving.  This verse largely refers to the fulfilling nature of consistent service to humanity.

Service is that very noble virtue that compels us to not only give, but also give ourselves to others in a consistent, firm, and decisive way. It leads us to offer the best of ourselves and our talents for the benefit of others. Bryant S. Hickley, an early 20th century American author and religious leader, had interesting thoughts on this virtue. Hickley aptly said that service “is the dividing line which separates the two great groups of the world – those who help and those who hinder, those who lift and those who lean, those who contribute and those who only consume.”

Serving has a great impact on an individual. It helps diminish the inherent selfishness we have as human beings by instilling in us an attitude of generosity and detachment. This helps us grow together and coexist peacefully. It also gives one a sense of responsibility toward others and enables one to understand that they can have a big influence on others’ happiness. Service should also be adopted as an attitude and in this regard be practised habitually, making it much more than a superficial or fleeting gesture that only happens when there’s great need.

In the individualistic and materialistic world we live in that values comfort and convenience, service is an ever-diminishing virtue, reduced to obligatory hours and material gifts. Not many of us are taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to be of service to others, which makes us not realise how important our personal initiative and actions can be in others’ lives.

Service requires cheerful and willful giving. It should never be forced, but should be a deliberate action. Just like any other habit, the more it is practised; the more it becomes part of one’s life. It also requires an awareness of others’ needs and not being locked up in one’s own little world. Too many of us are busy ‘doing our own thing’ and not seeing the great need around us. So learn to help and to give of your time without being asked.

Participate actively in initiatives aimed at helping others. Also learn to give, not only to those you love or are known to you, but also to strangers, especially those who may never be able to give back. Remember that being of service to others does not have to be a grand gesture. An act of kindness, a smile, a friendly word, a gift or even an effort to include an outsider – these are all acts of service we can practice regularly.

 

Reflections

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

Muhammad Ali, retired American professional boxer

 

Service, which is rendered without joy, helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service, which is rendered in a spirit of joy.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 –1948), preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India

 

At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997), Indian Roman Catholic sister and founder of Missionaries of Charity

 

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) American clergyman, activist, humanitarian and leader in the African-American civil rights movement

 

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, German aviator, airline executive and religious leader

 

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

Albert Schweitzer (1875 –1965), French theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and medical missionary in Africa

 

Your thoughts

Apart from fulfilling your duties as is expected of you, serving others makes those you’ve attended to feel content that their needs have been addressed, especially if you’ve helped them get exactly what they came for in a cheerful and understanding manner, despite how difficult their problem was.

Elizabeth Njoki, 30, Customer Care Agent