by Leslie De Morais
Serving – [sur-ving] (n) 1. the act of a person or thing that serves.1
She provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. – Proverbs 31:15b,c (NIV)
Why do we serve?
The act of serving another person is a powerful experience. Depending on the condition of one’s heart, the action can evoke either a sense of tremendous gratification or immense indignation. It can produce a deep feeling of true humility or utter humiliation. Motivation determines on which end of the spectrum you may find yourself. It begs the question: why do we serve?
Throughout the history of humankind, there have always existed situations where one person served another, whether formally as in employment or informally within a family. In all the depictions of service I can remember reading about, seeing in films or in my own experience, there was never any indifference about the act, only polar opposite reactions. Either you love to serve and love the ones you are serving or despise service and those you serve. The heart behind the action matters.
Serving requires humility and love
“We have to humble ourselves and the way you do that is by serving other people.”2 – Tim Tebow
It’s refreshing to hear a young, very successful athlete speak of the need for humility and service to others. In this age of self-promotion and superstar-worship, few recognize the real keys to a truly happy life.
The wife of noble character in Proverbs 31 provided portions of food not only for her own family but for her servants as well. Why? Shouldn’t her maids have been responsible for serving the lady of the house and not the other way around? The act of serving someone who is typically in the position to serve you sends a powerful and compelling message. It communicates humility and love to the one being served.
Serving is so much more than the mere act of service. We may think that only those on the receiving end of serving benefit, but in reality, those who serve gain much more than you might imagine.
Here are 7 benefits of serving:
- Helping others can help you live longer. Want to extend your lifespan? Think about regularly assisting at a soup kitchen or coaching a basketball team at an at-risk high school. Research has shown that these kinds of activities can improve health in ways that can length your lifespan—volunteers show an improved ability to manage stress and stave off disease as well as reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction—when they were performed on a regular basis. This might be because volunteering alleviates loneliness and enhances our social lives—factors that can significantly affect our long-term health.
- Altruism is contagious. When one person performs a good deed, it causes a chain reaction of other altruistic acts. One study found that people are more likely to perform feats of generosity after observing another do the same. This effect can ripple throughout the community, inspiring dozens of individuals to make a difference.
- Helping other makes us happier. One team of sociologists tracked 2000 people over a five-year period and found that Americans who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month. This heightened sense of well-being might be the byproduct of being more physically active as a result of volunteering, or because it makes us more socially active. Researchers also think that giving back might cause individuals to experience a mental boost by providing them with a neurochemical sense of reward.
- Helping others may help with chronic pain. According to one study, people who suffered from chronic pain tried working as peer volunteers. As a result, they experienced a reduction in their own symptoms.
- Helping others lowers blood pressure. If you’re at risk for heart problems, your doctor has probably told you to cut back on red meat or the hours at your stressful job. However, you should also consider adding something to your routine: a regular volunteer schedule. One piece of research showed that older individuals who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year decreased their risk of hypertension by a whopping 40 percent. This could possibly be because they were provided with more social opportunities, which help relieve loneliness and the stress that often accompanies it.
- Helping other promotes positive behaviors in teens. According to sociologists, teenagers who volunteer have better grades and self-image.
- Helping other gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Looking for more meaning in your day-to-day existence? Studies show that volunteering enhances an individual’s overall sense of purpose and identity—particularly if they no longer hold a life-defining role like “worker” or “parent.”3
Watch this video about how simple acts of serving communicate and multiply kindness throughout a community.4
Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us. They see what we do and hear what we say. This is not by chance. As Christians, the fact that others watch us provides the opportunity to impact people through our daily example of serving others.
Another young man understood this concept and used his personal example and acts of service to influence those closest to him. He could have simply told people what to do, but instead he led the way, teaching by example. That example spread throughout the world and affects us to this very day.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. – John 13:14-17 (NIV)
In the beginning of the same chapter, it says:
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1 (NIV)
Jesus served out of love. Love for the Father, love for the disciples, love for those who would later follow him.
The disciples had been through so much with Jesus up to this point. They had witnessed miracles, they had heard him preach, they saw him deal with the religious leaders, they saw demons being cast out and the sick being healed. They learned how to pray. They believed he was the Son of God. To the disciples, he was their rabbi, their hope, their Lord. How, then, could someone in that position, kneel before each one of them and wash their dusty, smelly feet? It was a lesson that would be etched on their hearts and seared into their memories forever. Out of love, Jesus gave them an example of serving for them to follow for the rest of their lives.
Now, can you imagine how different this scene would have been if washing the disciples’ feet were a mere duty for Jesus and not an act of love? Can you picture Jesus simply ticking off tasks on a To Do list? It would completely change how we’d feel about what he did, for the disciples and for us. If his motivation matters to us, you can comprehend how our motivation matters to God.
Think of those you serve, at home, at work, in your community or church. Do you communicate love or duty as you serve them? Let’s love others to the end, in every task, no matter how daily or mundane.
Serving brings you happiness, satisfaction and fulfilment
Great chefs have a passion for cooking. It’s an art, it’s a form self-expression, and for some it’s an obsession. Creating and serving meticulously planned and plated dishes is what makes top chefs thrive. Yet no matter how chic the restaurant, or how fancy the food, there have got to be days when even the most dedicated chef finds maintaining his or her high level of continuous service challenging. So, what fuels the fire?
“Although the skills aren’t hard to learn, finding the happiness and finding the satisfaction and finding fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat is what makes a really good restaurant.”5 – Mario Batali
For Batali, the thrill lies in his connection with the ones he serves. Their reaction, their gratification, their joy becomes his happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.
What I learn from this chef’s comment is the actual work cannot be the only source of contentment. No matter what your field, no matter how much you love what you do, the joy derived from serving others with your talent, skill or intelligence needs to be at the center of it all. Anything less than that falls short of the goal of serving and leaves us empty.
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)
The Apostle Paul implores the church in Philippi to make his joy (of serving) complete by realizing the effect of Christ in their lives and becoming like him. It wasn’t enough for Paul to simply do the right thing. He had to see his service taking root in others and continuing. His service was meant to inspire others to serve.
Any of us can learn from this lesson, however it amazes me how quickly little children pick up on the joy that comes from serving others. They
brim with satisfaction at bringing dad a glass of water as he watches TV, or serving mom the scrambled eggs they made themselves on Mothers’ Day. They are not concerned so much with the perfection of the act as they are enthralled with the reaction it produces; the gratitude, the hugs, the kisses, the closeness. I imagine at moments like these the endorphins go off the chart!
Serving is about selflessness and sacrifice
Joyce Hilda Banda (née Mtila; born 12 April 1950) is a Malawian politician who was the President of Malawi from April 7, 2012 to May 31, 2014. She is the founder and leader of the People’s Party, created in 2011. An educator and grassroots women’s rights activist, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice-President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012.
Banda took office as President following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was Malawi’s fourth president and its first female president. Before becoming president, she served as the country’s first female vice-president.
She was a Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs and Community Services. Before her active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.
In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.
In November 2016, Banda announced she that she was willing to stand as a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections.6
My blog takes my heart and mind places I never dreamt of going. Through it I have learned so much and been inspired by so many amazing people while researching their quotes and lives. Joyce Banda is one of those people who just motivate and encourage me to dig deeper; to do more and be more than I am.
“I learned that leadership is about falling in love with the people and the people falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, with sacrifice, and with the need to put the common good ahead of personal interests.”7 – Joyce Banda
It’s not common to hear a politician talk of “falling in love with the people.” That’s probably one of the attributes that set Joyce Banda apart from other presidents around the world…that and the fact she’s a woman. Her comment about serving the people with “selflessness and sacrifice” immediately called my attention and caused me to wonder about her personal life. Further checking revealed she is the mother of five children: three from the first marriage to a man she described as abusive and another two children from her current husband. Most mothers know and understand the meaning of selflessness and sacrifice. A mother of five knows it five times as much.
As Christians, we are called to serve in many ways throughout the day, every day, just as Christ was. In fact, he gave us the perfect example of serving the people with selflessness and sacrifice.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)
When we truly understand how incredible it is that Christ willingly served us by living a life worthy of imitation and died a death out of service to the very ones who were crucifying him, then and only then will we be able to serve each other out of love and humility. When we put the needs of others before our own we will discover the spiritual meaning of serving and will reap happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment for ourselves. When we learn to love people as Jesus loved us, then our serving will reflect the selflessness and sacrifice that is pleasing to God.
4 Life Vest Inside – Kindness Boomerang – “One Day” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU