I do not have a predisposition to service. You know those people that find it life-giving to be thinking of and caring for everyone else besides themselves? That’s not me. I’m more of the person who thinks about only myself, and forgets to think about others.
Selfishness can be a parasite.
We can allow it to feed on us, thinking that it will give us what we want. But all the while, it is actually draining our very life.
Not long ago, while listening to a podcast emphasizing the importance of serving others, I was filled with the desire to serve those right before me. Those in the very household I was currently inhabiting. (Sometimes those are the hardest people to serve, aren’t they? It can be easier to [want to] serve people we’re trying to impress, for instance.)
I took action. I decided to serve in a very tangible, somewhat simple, but meaningful way. Low and behold, it was so uplifting. It was life-giving. I found myself delighting in the ideas that I came up with, taking joy in the activity of fulfilling each step that came to mind, drumming up additional ideas as I went. “How pleased they will be!” I thought. And all the while, not desiring attention for myself. I was finding joy in anticipating the joy, rest, and pleasure (even ease) that would ensue for others—for those receiving.
When we live myopically, we rob ourselves of the joy of serving. There is delight and warmth to be found in the outpouring of oneself—not in self-abuse or in allowing another to abuse us, but in choosing to give our strength, to use our skills, gifts, time, etc. for the blessing of another. It is about humbly putting others first. It is obedience to the commands God gives us in scripture to love one another and it follows Christ’s perfect example as the humble servant who emptied himself, even to the point of death.
Does it feel like something is missing in your life? I know I felt that way. I continued to self-preserve and seek my own happiness, but that which seemed to fill was fleeting. Taking time for ourselves can be very healthy and appropriate in the right amounts and at the right times, but if we are not serving others—if the most important person in the room is myself—then it’s no wonder we find joy elusive. May we be known by our love—love that honors others above ourselves.