Don’t you hate it when someone steals your blog post and then says it better than you? Linda K. Burton did that to me with her “First Observe, Then Serve” talk.
But I figured I would go ahead anyway because the world must need to hear about service right now.
For years I served selfishly. I preferred to take a meal into somebody rather than watch their kids because other people’s kids scared me. But after I had more kids, I preferred to babysit someone’s kids rather than clean their house because I could stay in my normal routine. I served in ways that were convenient for me.
I still struggle with selfish service sometimes.
For example, I helped my friend move last Friday. I went over to her house hoping I could pack some boxes, clean out kitchen cupboards or run some errands for her. The last thing I wanted to do was actually help her MOVE. Anything but hauling boxes up and down — in and out — please.
When I showed up, there were only 4 men helping to MOVE the big stuff. So when I said, “What do you need me to do?” my friend replied, “Actually, I need you to haul boxes.”
Oh great… She apparently didn’t understand that when I said, “What can I do to help?” I didn’t really mean haul boxes. I meant, “What can I do to help that doesn’t inconvenience me or make me exert too much energy?”
I wanted to serve in a way that was convenient for me, not necessarily how my friend really needed me to serve.
I remember being on the opposite side of this selfless service issue when Croft was born. Crew was a crazy 18 month old at the time and Elle was 4. People brought me dinner and they took Elle so I could have a break, but nobody offered to take Crew. But that was the service I really needed- someone to take Crew away just for an hour or two so I could rest from his busyness.
I wonder how often this happens? Service all around, but real needs not being met.
I am evolving and maturing in how I serve. Although I have a long way to go, I am trying to serve more selflessly. I ask myself, “Are you serving on your parameters, your timeline, and your terms or are you serving how others NEED to be served? Are you meeting their needs?”
So when I texted my sister recently who just had a baby, “Do you need a nap, your bathrooms cleaned or dinner?” I was ready to serve however she chose, even if it meant doing something I hated.
And back to my moving story. I am happy to report that I sucked up my selfishness and hauled boxes up and down stairs, in and out of houses, and loaded and unloaded my car a few times because that is what my friend really needed that day.
Selfless service may take more thought, more energy, more time and more sacrifice, but it also is more helpful and it meets more needs.