We all feel called to serve in some way. But what does service entail? Does it mean working in a soup kitchen? Participating in a mission trip to a third world country? Visiting a hospital?
It can. But service can be much more basic than that. It includes the inevitable daily opportunities to assist, console and, yes, even be tolerant of people who are in our lives every day.
But is it enough to simply assist, console or tolerate those who come in and out of our daily lives? I don’t think so. Our mindset matters as well. What if we feel bitter or used in the process of serving?
When we serve, we are fulfilling a request from God. And when fulfilling a request by God, God fills us with joy, peace and meaning. If in serving others we feel burdened, taken advantage of, or unappreciated – those emotions leave no room in our hearts for the gifts God wants to give us.
The challenge is to not feel burdened or resentful. How do you keep those feelings at bay? Lou Nanni, VP of the University of Notre Dame, has some insight on this question. Lou's commitment to service is beyond impressive, from serving the poor in South America, to starting a homeless center in South Bend, Indiana, to bringing a heart of service to almost every situation. Listen to his advice about viewing service as a privilege rather than a responsibility:
Try starting each day with the idea that opportunities to serve are privileges. With this mindset, you will likely focus more on serving rather than being served or appreciated. This in turn will leave plenty of room for God to then fill you with the joy and meaning that we all are ultimately seeking.