“If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it” (Roger Babson).
A FAILURE TO RENDER SERVICE IS AT THE ROOT OF MANY OF OUR DISSATISFACTIONS WITH LIFE. Frequently, when we get ill-tempered and out of sorts, the reason is that we’ve gotten so bogged down in our own concerns that we’ve quit serving those around us. When this happens, we come dangerously close to missing the main point of our lives. “No one has learned the meaning of life until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow men” (Beran Wolfe).
One obvious thing about service is that it has to be rendered to actual people. There is no such thing as abstract service to “humanity.” Either we serve those we actually come in contact with or we don’t serve. It’s usually just as simple as that. But therein lies the problem. Those we actually come in contact with are always fallible, imperfect people. They often have unpleasant habits and irritating responses to our help. So we tend to put off serving until we find some people to serve who are more congenial. But just as we don’t get to pick our families, we don’t usually get to pick those whom we have the opportunity to serve. Life (I would use the word “providence”) brings us into contact with certain people and presents us with the opportunity to serve them. We don’t choose whether to serve them or to serve someone else. We choose whether to serve or not serve, period.
There is an old saying that “the smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.” Most of us mean no harm. We have good intentions. But if our good intentions don’t show up in service, then they serve no useful purpose beyond making us feel better about our intentions. So let’s quit making excuses and get busy finding someone to serve. Even if we don’t see the results with our own eyes, we must never doubt this fact: it always does good to do good.
Give me the power to live for mankind;
Make me the mouth for such as cannot speak;
Eyes let me be to groping men and blind;
A conscience to the base; and to the weak —
Let me be hands and feet;
And to the foolish, mind.
(Theodore E. Parker)