Last week I received an email from one of my colleagues at Catawba College about the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday as being “not a day off, but a day on of service.” This spoke very deeply to me as an educator and person. For many of us, we get a holiday in mid January in honor of Dr. King but I am not sure how many of us really think about the difference that Dr. King made in our country and continues to make. There is still much work to do and we cannot deny that. The past couple of years have shown that individuals with different skin colors definitely have different experiences living in the same country. Some individuals are fortunate enough to encounter less barriers to overcome than others based on where they live, who their parents, and other factors. We have to believe that a better world can exist where there are less barriers and obstacles for all of us, regardless of background and circumstance, to live a life that is incredible and transformative.
As I continue to live into my resolution of being more faithful, I see service as a way to build trust in others as well as within myself. Through service, we provide hope to others even though our service may not often be seen. I truly believe that if each of us took some time to serve others, we could create transforms the lives of many others. Hebrews 11.3 explains that “by faith we understand ..what was seen was made from things not visible.” Though serving others, we can create better outcomes not only for them but for ourselves, This is where the not visible part comes in. I currently serve as youth group leader at my church and often share my times and talents in other ways in both my church and community. In my current job, I also support educators from across the region and state and beyond.
I would encourage you to think about how you can serve others if you are not currently doing so. Or perhaps, you are serving others and do not necessarily realize the impact that you are making when serving others. Think about the talents, times, and resources that you have and how you could use those to make life better for someone else. Maybe this involves you helping out at your local homeless shelter, volunteering your time to help at your house of worship, or maybe even checking to see if the local neighborhood school needs assistance. Serving others can be as small or as large you are able to accommodate. For many of us, time is a limiting factor. Perhaps instead you can donate items as well or make financial contributions that you feel comfortable making.
Regardless of how you serve, the act of giving yourself, time, and resources creates a relationship between you and those who you serve. By giving to others, we create stronger outcomes for many. We also impact ourselves in ways that we often do not realize. In October, my son and I helped with a canned food drive collection at our local homeless shelter. It was amazing to see him give so freely of himself and ensure that others would be able to eat despite any food insecurities. As a father, this brought me a sense of pride that I cannot adequately express. I also benefitted from knowing that I was helping to make a difference.
Sometimes, we worry that our service won’t make any difference. I would argue that any service that helps another makes a difference. We don’t necessarily have to do something on a grandiose scale. Instead, little things add up - “the power of addition.” I encourage you to think about what you can do to serve others and commit to be “on” for serving others. Begin small. Realize that the power of serving others is that we create a powerful connection between ourselves and those we serve that connects us while humanizing our relationships. Dr. King is quoted as as asking “What are you doing for others?” I encourage you to thoughtfully explore this question and find a response that supports serving others with the gifts that you have.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.