10. The Value of Your Gift

The purpose of life is to discover your gift; The work of life is to develop it;
And the meaning of life is to give your gift away.

David Viscott

Serving with what we HAVE and what we DO are two excellent ways to share what we can with those in need of our help.

If we can also find a way to serve with our unique gifts, our idea of serving rises to a
new level of importance in our lives. Serving becomes:

  • Personalized, authentic
  • An energizing process
  • A personal expression
  • Something we want to do
  • Our purpose in life?

This does not begin by looking around our communities to determine what service opportunities are available. It begins with an internal reflection on who we are, what we are grateful for, what is important to us, and how we want to interact with the world.

Personal, Authentic – By discovering and naming our unique gifts, we can focus our service efforts on what we love to do, what we are grateful for, and what has meaning to us personally.

We are giving more than our time, we are giving our authentic selves – who we ARE.

Energizing Process – Research done by a well-known psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, identified a state of happiness with humans that he described as “flow.”

When people are in flow, they are typically so absorbed in a challenging, engaging activity that they lose track of time, skip meals, and forget their ego-related concerns. Flow is seen as a compelling experience that delivers significant personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

When we serve with what we love to do, we can reach this state of flow.

Rather than service being a drain on our time and energy, it can be an energizing process and a fulfilling process for us, as well as valuable for those we serve.

Personal Expression – When we serve with what we love and what is important to us, our actions become a tangible expression of who we are. Like an artist, our service can be our way of expressing what we see in the world, what we value, and what we advocate.

Something We Want to Do – When service is a personal expression, puts us in a state of flow, and fulfills the needs of others, why would we want to stop doing it?

A successful service opportunity will motivate us to do it again and it can become sustainable, maybe even habit-forming, in our lives. Instead of service being something we feel we ought to do, it becomes something that we want to do.

Our Purpose in Life? – One of my favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain, who claimed,

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

We were all born without an instruction manual that clearly identified our purpose in life. That is something that we must all discover for ourselves.

I would argue that using a unique gift that you love using for the benefit of others is pretty close to what anyone could call a purpose in life.

Doug Bate
Service Central