How can you be of service to someone? When I was training psychotherapists-to-be, wondering how to be of service was a frequent theme.
But what does “being of service” really mean?
Yes, it is most certainly a noble and worthy intention.
And while it sounds awfully good, the reality is often murky.
Intentions matter. The why you do what you do, is important to explore.
Because it turns out there is a whole other world living under the surface.
Consider these in your actions
Of course, it’s wonderful to want to serve in the world. It becomes an act of love when you serve in purpose.
Some inner inquiry can bring you a deeper understanding. Inner inquiry happens by getting quiet and going inside yourself. It takes going beyond the busy mind of thought into a reflective space that invites your heart to have a voice.
Allow yourself some inner space. Then you can begin with these…
- Does this (whatever you feel you are doing to be of service) involve sacrifice on your part?
- Does it include offering advice, or providing guidance?
- Is the offering of something tangible, like physical support?
Then, going deeper in your inner inquiry…
- Why are you drawn to act?
- Do you have an agenda that your actions are fulfilling,—about what is right, or good or fair?
- Do you expect something in return?
- Are you serving in order to reap expected spiritual rewards?
- Does it enhance your feelings about yourself?
- Do you avoid cleaning your own “house” in your focus on others?
- What purpose does Presence serve in this interaction?
…you take time to serve yourself as well with a peaceful, attentive breath.
…you have respect for your own needs.
…your belief system holds that it is wrong to care for you and that the only good is in serving others. Then the question becomes for you: Where is the balance?
…you give and give, depleting your own energy systems?
Be of service to yourself
Personal meaning can be realized through acts of service. I have often heard the phrase “we teach what we need to learn.” I think of that frequently. It helps to keep my actions aligned with my beliefs and my sense of purpose. It keeps me balanced.
When I remember that we are all part of the human community and that there are no “beginners”, I am able to see God in everyone I meet. I realize that it is God’s energy flowing through me. Then my primary responsibility is to get out of the way and let that energy provide what is needed to the person, and in the situation. When I act, it is as a partner, in service to that energy.
When you give, who is it for?
How can you serve another without being of service to yourself first?
There is nobility in being of service. Just remember to be of service to you, too.
Guidance for Reflection
Take a breath. Release it. Take another. Devote some dedicated time of concentration/meditation. It doesn’t need to be hours of quiet, perhaps only 15 minutes. Then allow the question to simmer within you through the weekend. Let responses bubble up into your awareness. Notice new ways of thinking, of images or ideas that arise spontaneously. Pay attention to your dreams. Let it happen. Be aware. See where it leads you next. Let yourself savor this process of receiving from yourself. Don’t judge whatever comes up, just receive it. Make notes.
You may want to share something from this process. Sharing your experience is an important way to anchor an insight in your body. It leads you to deeper insight. It stimulates action. Feel free to use this arena to share whatever moves you.