Always Remember Who You Serve

Growing up in poverty, I learned about serving others through the compassion of many around me. Caring people from our church and strangers shared benevolence with our family.

I remember many times Mrs. Flora Mae would pull up to our house on South Pershing Drive, and we would rush outside to watch her open her trunk. Loaded with boxes, she would give us hand-me-down clothes that her children no longer needed. While second-hand, the clothes were brand new to use and often came when we desperately needed to replace our worn and outgrown garments. I knew something about Mrs. Flora Mae and her family and always remembered their meaningful charity toward my family.

For me, serving is threefold: I serve Christ as a Christian, serve those I’m responsible for leading, and serve others as a fellow human who cares about the world around me.

In a world that often prioritizes self-interest and individualism, serving others shines as a beacon of light, guiding us toward a more profound sense of fulfillment and purpose. Whether rooted in religious teachings, philosophical principles, or simple acts of kindness, serving others has the power to transform the recipient and the giver. Timeless wisdom can lead to a more compassionate and connected world.

As one of my ten personal values”, “Always Remember Who You Serve” is the backbone of who I am and how I function as a leader.

Serving Our God

As a Christian, I learned at an early age about both serving Christ and serving others. The Bible emphasizes serving Jesus through love, humility, and obedience. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Jesus highlights the importance of serving others to serve Jesus.

In John 12:26, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.” This suggests that serving Jesus involves following his teachings and being with him in all aspects of life.

The Bible also teaches that serving others is a central tenet of the Christian faith. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This highlights the importance of selflessly serving others, following Jesus’ example.

Also, Galatians 5:13 says, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” This emphasizes the importance of serving others with humility and love, embodying the spirit of Christian service.

Serving Our People

As leaders, we are primarily responsible for serving those in our care. Taking care of our people is a fundamental role of leaders.

In a 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader,” Robert Greenleaf introduced servant leadership, which starkly contrasted traditional leadership models. Greenleaf proposed that the core of leadership lies in serving others, not the other way around. In practice, servant leaders prioritize the well-being of their followers, fostering a collaborative environment in which everyone’s strengths are valued and nurtured. They empower their team members by delegating tasks, providing coaching, and creating opportunities for professional development.

This focus on service builds trust and loyalty, leading to a more engaged and effective team. Greenleaf emphasized the importance of the leader’s character, highlighting traits like listening, empathy, and a genuine desire to help others succeed. Servant leaders inspire their teams to achieve great things for the organization and the greater good by prioritizing service.

Military leaders who eat last demonstrate commitment to the team’s well-being. By prioritizing the troops’ nourishment before their own, these leaders exemplify the selfless service and dedication that inspires them to trust, follow, and strive for excellence.

In the same way, leaders of all types should seek ways to serve their people. They should find ways to develop trust and demonstrate compassion, but more importantly, they should care about those in their charge.

Serving Our Community

Engaging in service benefits us and helps us better understand ourselves through self-discovery.

We grow by connecting with others, developing our skills, and profoundly impacting our lives and world. We can also step outside of our little bubble and experience the world from a different perspective.

Service also cultivates empathy and gratitude, instilling a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Think about the experiences you’ve had serving others. How did they make you feel? What did you learn? How did they impact your future decisions?

When we take the time to understand our strengths, passions, and values, we become better equipped to serve others meaningfully and impactfully and embark on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. By aligning our service with what truly matters to us, we can unleash our potential to create positive change and leave a legacy.

Over the years, I’ve worked with leaders and business owners who have shifted their focus. Some even quit jobs once they discovered their purpose and started applying their skills to make a significant impact.

Take a moment to reflect on your unique strengths and consider how you can harness them to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. By aligning your service with what truly matters to you, you can unlock your potential to create positive change and leave a lasting impact. Remember, it’s not the size of the impact but the intention and effort behind it that truly matters.

Serving Is a Mindset

Serving others presents some obvious challenges and obstacles. Some are real, and some only appear real at the time. Life throws curveballs at us, whether the demands of a busy schedule, self-doubt creeping in, or even a fear of not making a big enough impact.

  • Finding Time: We live in a fast-paced world with responsibilities and commitment. It’s no wonder that carving out precious moments for selfless service can feel daunting.
  • Self-Doubt: It’s easy to fall prey to thoughts like, “Would my efforts even make a dent? Am I capable of creating meaningful change? I’ve doubted my efforts at times, too. But remember, even the most minor acts of service can create a ripple effect of kindness. Just as a stone sends ripples across a calm pond, our actions, no matter how small, create far-reaching impacts on the lives of others, sparking a chain reaction of positivity and change.
  • True Impact: Lastly, let’s address the fear of not making a significant impact. It’s natural to desire to create widespread change and leave an indelible mark on the world. However, it’s essential to remember that service is not solely about grand gestures or saving the world as a whole single-handedly. Instead, it’s about showing up consistently, with kindness and compassion, in the lives of those around us. Forgo the pressure to make an earth-shattering impact and start with the day-to-day acts of service that collectively create a significant and lasting difference.

Start Serving Today

The key is to start cultivating a service mindset in your daily life. Remember, small acts of service can create a ripple effect of kindness and significantly impact others’ lives.

  1. Practice Gratitude: Begin each day by expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life.
  2. Cultivate Empathy: Seek to understand and connect with others deeply.
  3. Show Kindness: Embrace kindness as a guiding principle in your interactions. e a ripple effect, inspiring others to do the same.
  4. Volunteer Locally: Find a cause or organization in your community that resonates with your values.
  5. Practice Active Listening: Give others your undivided attention when they speak.
  6. Practice Random Acts of Kindness: Incorporate small acts of kindness into your daily routine.
  7. Seek Out Opportunities for Service: Stay open to opportunities that present themselves unexpectedly.
  8. Engage in Meaningful Conversations: Spark conversations encouraging introspection and promoting positive change.
  9. Support Socially Responsible Businesses: Align your purchasing power with your values by supporting businesses prioritizing social and environmental responsibility.
  10. Reflect and Evaluate: Take time to reflect on your service journey. Don’t overthink it. Just start. Each act of service, no matter how small, matters.

Here is a list of 31 Ways to Practice Kindness and Generosity in a blog post I wrote to close out a year with kindness.

Beyond Ourselves: The Legacy of Serving

I recently wrote about building your legacy and discussed the long-term impact that service can have on our legacy.

As we discussed the ripple effect of service, imagine the power of your acts of service flowing through your community and beyond, creating a chain reaction of positivity and change.

Consider this: when you lend a helping hand to someone in need, you may inspire them to do the same for others. Your kindness and generosity become contagious, spreading like wildfire. That person you helped might pay it forward by supporting someone else, creating a domino effect of compassion and care. And who knows where it will end? Your service has the potential to touch hearts, ignite minds, and create a legacy of positive change.

There are countless stories like Mrs. Flora Mae in my life alone, people who have gone out of their way to help me and my family. I’ve gone on to impact my community, and those investments have multiplied tenfold as others have joined me and collectively made a difference.

Serving Others Keeps You Grounded

Finally, serving others is what keeps us grounded and focused. Staying focused on who we serve is what life is all about.

Take some time to reflect on how you are prioritizing these three areas of service in your life.

  • How are you serving God?
  • How are you serving those around you?
  • How are you serving those charged in your care?