All around us we have many different people offering some kind of service to us. It can be the matatu tout, or the restaurant attendant or the guy who works at the car wash. But there are those whose service stands out for one very important quality — humility. They offered their service in a way that showed respect and care to the person with whom they were serving. Their demeanour showed how much they enjoyed serving those placed before them.
I have seen this a couple of times at a coffee shop. There is one particular waitress who has always worn a smile every time she served my friends and me. She would be very patient with us as we fumble over the menu and as we try to pick out something to eat or drink. I have also seen this with our office cleaner. He knows how to gently ask us to move when he needs to clean where we stood or sat. We can argue that these people are required to be this gentle or kind. It’s their job right? But it takes discipline and a certain resolve to do this consistently. It is something they have nurtured over the period of time they have served others.
Likewise, there are times when certain service providers have failed to show honour to those whom they serve. I remember a time when I had part of my car repainted and the mechanic made a mistake and got the colour wrong. He then refused to own up to the mistake. He insisted that the colour was similar to the other parts of the car that did not need repainting. I gave up arguing with him. Looking back, I sometimes think that I should have insisted that he get it right. Anyway, from that day on, I did not trust that garage for any other job.
The waitress and office cleaners have been teaching me humility and joyful service. I looked forward to being served by them. I felt honoured and respected. This made me think about how I have conducted service to others. We have been given a different landscape to serve others. It could be your workplace, your church, your family, your neighbourhood, the salon, the barbershop e.t.c. All these are opportunities we have to serve others.
Service is considering others before our ourselves; placing the needs and/or preferences of others before our own.
We are often faced with such choices. Do we insist on our own preferences or do we make room for other people’s needs, ideas or way of doing things? I recall many times friends have asked favours of me and I have passed up the opportunity to help out. For some of those times, I could have been of help but I could not get past how their request clashed with my schedule and plans. I could have moved things around but I felt that my plans were more important. Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we live every moment of our lives for others at our own expense, but I am proposing that we need to embrace an attitude of service; where our needs are not of absolute importance. I am only 28 years of age when I write this blog post, but I have seen that the fullest of lives is experienced in service to others. In whatever endeavour we partake we can choose to view life through this lens. We can ask, “How I am serving others in this thing that I am doing?”
Service requires being quick to listen and slow to speak.
Take for instance failing to listen to a workmate or friend and really just waiting for the next opportunity they take a breath to express your point and win that argument. Service would seek to understand before speaking. Everyone wants to be listened to and more so to be understood. There is nothing as frustrating as talking to someone and feeling as though nothing you say matters to them. Listening and seeking to understand others shows that we are placing their thoughts before our own.
Service requires taking initiative even when the other party does not seems to care.
When part of a team, we should strive to share in the responsibilities of that team. When we do not share in the responsibilities we communicate that we think we are more special than the rest. Service takes this further. How willing are we to put in the effort even when others among us do not care? Service sees the bigger picture. Serving others comes before being served. I have personally learnt how serving others looked like by being a recipient of the service of others.
Christ teaches us how to serve
Christ served his disciples. He showed this by washing their feet and exhorting them to do the same to others. Service is taught by extending it to others. Christ likewise fills our hearts so much that we can never truly say that we lack after we have served others. Even after we have experienced loss of some kind when we serve, Christ remains our supreme satisfaction. Knowing this empowers us to make great sacrifices. All we can do is give, give and give since we have everything we need in Christ Jesus.