I went to a great “story swap” last night, where I and other non-profit professionals heard and shared our personal stories about what drives us to work for social change. The exchange of such inspiring stories left me yearning for more time to contemplate my motivations, core goals, and professional “origin story.”
So until I have more time to reflect (during my family’s backpack trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains next month!), I’ll take just a bit of time and space now to share some thoughts on why I serve, based on five points from the volunteers at ServiceSpace.org:
1. Serve to discover abundance: the radical shift from me to we
Serving with people all across the globe opens my eyes to the great abundance of our world. There are people out there that have so many diverse experiences and unique stories. I’ve always loved to travel and see and experience new places; wanting to explore that abundance held in the world inspires my correspondence and world service today.
2. Serve to express gratitude
I am so grateful that I understand technology and actually enjoy figuring technology things out. Because I am grateful for this talent and I want to put it to good use, tinkering with Spirit in Action’s website is a natural outpouring of gratitude. When I was a child my dad always told me to say thank you “loud enough so that they can hear you.” Now when I think of that reminder, it’s not just about speaking louder – it’s also about letting my actions, as well as my words, show my community that I recognize what I’ve been given and I’m giving back what I have to share.
3. Serve to transform yourself
When I worked at an insurance company I put in my hours each day and when I got home I rested. Working for Spirit in Action pushes me each day. I believe in our work and our programs, and I honor our partners, and so it’s not just enough to skate by in my work. I feel the need to constantly be learning new things, better ways to do things, to communicate, and to relate in the world. It’s only because I care about those I am serving that I push to transform myself.
4. Serve to honor our profound interconnection
Each small act of service is an unending ripple that synergizes with countless others.
Paying it forward, Sharing the Gift – these are such simple and inspiring practices. That ripple keeps going and it becomes larger than I can know or understand. Being a part of the unending ripple of goodness and caring is why I serve. When I serve my friends by playing with their fun, energetic toddlers, I am honoring interconnectedness in the larger human family – across familial and generational lines.
5. Serve to align with a natural unfolding
This phrase so clear brings to mind the first line of “God Calling…” by Del Anderson, “By My grace, you have the privilege to be used as My yeast, My salt, to be My quickening Spirit manifested . . . now.” For me, seizing this privilege to be God’s yeast in the world is part of the natural unfolding of expanding compassion in the world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. often quoted “”The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” and serving for me is reaching up and grabbing that arc and bending justice a bit closer to the now.
*What inspires you to serve others? Please share in the comments section!