7. Service Journey Phase 1 – Giving what you HAVE

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

― Mother Teresa

Christians, based on the strength of their faith, can enter boldly into service opportunities that help to transform the lives of others and the world. The ministry of Jesus was filled with positive transformations and those who encountered him were commanded to “follow me.”

My early encounters with serving the needs of others were based on the belief that as a Christian, it is something that I “ought to do.”

Over the years, my view of service has gone through a dramatic evolution. What started as something I felt I OUGHT to has evolved to something that I now really WANT to do.

In the next few postings, I will share with you this evolution, which I am describing as my “Service Journey.” In my case, it has three distinct phases.

Phase 1

A number of years ago, my business took me to South Africa, working with a family-owned business that made health and beauty aid products for black women. The family was a very large Muslim family, originally from India.

On my trips there, the family graciously treated me to many fine and expansive meals. At the end of each meal, the many leftovers we created were gathered by the wait staff into containers and given to the family members. They would then proceed outside to give our leftovers to the poor, hungry people who would gather outside of the restaurants there.

My reaction when I first saw this action was that this Muslim family was more Christian in their actions than I was. They were feeding the hungry.

Reflecting on that experience, I realized that most of my serving of others was very similar to my South African friends – sharing my leftovers.

Being in my own business, paychecks were frequently unpredictable. So in December of each year, I would pay all of my bills and see what was “left-over” in my bank account.

I would then proceed to write checks to charity organizations that had particular meaning to me. Because my mother died of cancer, I would typically write a check to the American Cancer Society, in hopes that I might contribute in some small way to the research and cure of this devastating disease.

As I wrote the check, I would often think about my mother and the tremendous impact she had on my life. This produced feelings of love and gratefulness in me, as I looked to give-back by giving what I had.

Unfortunately, those feelings were usually short-lived. By the time I put the stamp on the envelope, they had dissipated.

In Phase 1 of my Service Journey, I learned two things:

  1. Giving your leftovers is vital to service organizations, as it allows them to continue their service efforts, making a positive difference in the world.
  2. I wanted, however, to expand that brief, positive emotional response that felt so good and make it last longer.

I continue to share my leftovers with those in need. It is something that I feel I ought to do, given the many blessings that I have received in my life.

But my service journey continued.

Doug Bate
Service Central