Family Mission Statement – Part 2: Serve
We all have a story of service that has humbled us and shaped our category of what it really means to be a servant to others. An example of a servant that often comes to mind for me is my Dad. Whether it was shoveling the snow on our neighbors driveways, volunteering to coach my little league teams, or always going well beyond the call of duty during a big move to a new house, my Dad has a proven track record of going out of his way to serve others.
Most recently, when Joelle and I undertook a major house renovation project, my Dad spent a few weekday evenings after work each week along with weekends for several months coming over to help and he lives about 45 minutes away. Talk about sacrifice! And I’m thankful to have both benefited from it and had this modeled before me throughout my life.
When it comes to what we talked about in Part 1 of our family mission statement, Jesus blew the doors off any category we have for service when he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Crazy! With service being driven then by love, we can see that the bar is set very high on how we are to serve others. Namely, the giving of our lives…. Which is exactly what Jesus did in serving us. Hence the back half of the opening sentence of our Family Mission Statement that because of Jesus laying down his life for us, we similarly, “desire to compassionately serve others.”
We added the word compassion because we believe this is an integral part of service. Compassion is the way the heart engages with and motivates the act of service. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines compassion as, “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” So, in order to see distress we need to find needs. In order to find needs we need to know people. In order to know people we need to live intentionally in community.
This intentionality is not a natural thing for most and certainly not for us. Fear, busyness, anxiety, motivation, insecurity, doubt can all be real conditions that hold us back from both seeing and acting on people’s needs. There’s been times where we have been referred to by family or friends as the “busy people” which I’m not fond of. Mostly because it can often be true! Sure there are times we can be busy. But I find when we are perpetually busy it reflects an inward focus instead of an outward focus. It shows a lack of compassion to slow down, be attuned to the real needs of people around us, and have a readiness to act on those needs.
So how do we seek to compassionately serve others? I know this is going to sound cliche, but a few helpful categories in trying to cultivate a lifestyle of compassion and service are to think through our Time, Talents, and Treasures.
The great thing about time is all of us have it! What we prioritize is what determines how much of it we have. Getting hit with being labeled the “busy people” makes you think a little deeper about those priorities and the choices you make. What we are learning (or trying to learn!) is that we can choose to consider others needs above our own in how we plan or view our time.
The two components there are planning and perspective. Service can and should be something we plan for in our schedules… and believe me, I’m no planner so I’m talking to myself here! Sit down with your calendar each month, and add at least one day dedicated to serving others in your community. Since service opportunities can also often be sporadic and unplanned, the other end is having a right perspective on how you view your time. If I’m honest, I can probably think of more opportunities to serve others that I turned down recently than dropping whatever I had and going to help out. If we plan to serve others and change our mindset to accommodate others needs when opportunities arise, we are making significant investments in seeing our local communities thrive.
Just this morning I read in book of Mark in the Bible that as Jesus came up to a large crowd of people he, “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus saw a need, and what does it go on to say that he did. First he taught them and then he fed them. He gave spiritual nourishment and physical nourishment.
The idea of learning real life skills and transferring them to others has challenged us lately. It is at the core of sustainable living; passing down a way of life from generation to generation. As we’ve considered how far removed our culture has gotten from food production with the rise of processed, factory produced, convenience food, it seems crazy to think that just a few generations ago our great grandparents both grew and prepared nearly all their own food. And what they didn’t produce on their own likely came from someone else right there in their community. These skills were learned from watching their parents, who learned from watching their parents, and so on.
Food is just one example. As we’ve shared before, living sustainably means considering how each area of your life impacts the people and planet around you. The challenge for our family has been understanding what skills were natural and sustainable practices for our predecessors that we have lost touch with. These are things we want to be actively learning and refining in our own lives and then spreading to others in our communities.
Sharing our wealth can be one of the most rewarding but also most challenging ways to serve others. Rewarding because we all need some form of currency to meet our basic needs. Challenging because we work hard for our income and sharing it often means sacrifice toward something we want or are saving toward. Going back to our consideration of Eternity in Part 1, since we can’t take our money or possessions with us into eternity, it causes us to view all we have and own as a temporary gift. We are stewards of all we own on this earth and we choose to see our treasure not merely for our own comfort or enjoyment but for benefiting others.
We are by no means perfect at this, but it has been fun for our family to look at our budget in recent months and try to find areas we can cut back our spending to bless others with our finances. We do a cash envelope system where we have different categories of envelopes that get a designated amount to spend each month. As 2016 rolled to an end, we held an annual family financial meeting to adjust our budget for 2017. We decided to try out a new envelope: Share! We wanted to be more intentional with looking for needs in the lives of people around us and already have money set aside to help out financially. So we put $100 in the Share envelope each month, keep an eye out for needs, and are able to give at the drop of a hat. Plus, with our daughter turning one, and seeing the constant struggle parents often face in getting their children to share with others, we thought this would be a good example to start setting now 🙂
You might think that the two hearts in our logo represent Joelle and myself… but the actual thought behind the hearts was this very topic – One heart connected to another through service; the sacrifice of time, the transferring of skills, and the generosity of giving.
We can’t say it enough that the convenient things in life always come with a hidden cost. There is nothing convenient about serving others, and it certainly comes at a cost, but so many real needs can be met in our communities as we generously give of our time, talents, and treasures. Here are just a few thoughts on how you can promote sustainability and serve others.
- Volunteer with a local organization like The Gardenworks Project.
- Go on a family adventure to pick up trash along the side of a road (make sure you consult with your local jurisdiction first!)
- Provide a nourishing meal to a family that fosters or adopts.
- Start your own Share fund.
- Help out at a community garden.
- Start more seedlings than you need for your own garden and share them with others.
- Find a local farm and set up a day to go help with regular farm chores.
This list is just what 2 minutes of quick thinking produced so don’t limit yourself. Look for real needs in your community and be a part of meeting that need!