The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Simple Acts of Service for a Day of Service and Always

This was written on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Day of Service, and Inauguration Day, 2013--a day of peaceful transitions and loving service. If you have to work or haven't planned to be part of any large service to others today (or any day, why limit ourselves), please consider the following. In an effort to be of service to others (to everyone you meet in fact) try living by the "fruit of the Spirit" as described in Galatians 5: By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. For those unfamiliar with Christianity, the Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God. When we live a Spirit filled life, we live by these attributes ... or we "grow" these fruit to continue the metaphor. That's all you need to know. Try serving others by expressing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control with your family, your friends, your coworkers, your clients, the strangers you pass on the street, with everyone you meet. Consider each and every person an opportunity to serve up one of these fruit in abundance. 

1 Corinthians 13 offers up some guidance on what love is and what loves does and doesn't do in case you need to get the imagination fired ... and note that love is first among the listed fruit: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Examples of simple acts of service include those little touches of civility: holding a door for someone, wishing someone a good morning (afternoon, evening, day, whatever it is) and if they respond with a brittle "Is it???" you smile and say something kind like "I'm upright and taking nourishment, so in my book, yes this is a good day." Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to serve and I'm sure they'll pop up for you. Of course, this may mean getting out of the house today, going somewhere public, hobnobbing with the folks in your community. Give it a shot. You can do it. You have valuable service to offer today. 

If you want a prop to help you serve, try this. Gather up a few items around the house that are in good shape but nobody uses, or purchase a few helpful small items at the drug store (or dollar store) and put them in your car (I was recently given two chemical hand warmers that back in my archaeology days would have been wonderfully useful but today not so much). If you see someone in need of the kind of item you're carrying (make that item pretty general use and you increase your pool), offer it to them in a friendly way (not creepy friendly but genuinely friendly) and see if you don't improve someone's day. The mailman was happy to get the hand warmers as it was a winter's day and he had to keep one hand bare to handle the mail efficiently. 

In these small ways you get to serve others and make the world a little better place. Do that every day and who knows where it will lead you? Once a thing becomes a habit it tends to grow in you ... like ripening fruit (sorry, couldn't resist), and once small projects can become much larger and take unexpected turns. 

Those of you who live in cities have the opportunity to make the greatest impacts. In archaeology we called this diffusion. Ideas first took hold in cities and then diffused out into the countryside around them. So your kindness in town today may diffuse out a whole lot farther than you think. 

Have a blessed day of service, today and every day. 

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