How Do You Serve Others?

For some people, serving others  is a noble endeavor, and helps provide motivation for living. How do you serve others?

In the United States, a mythology has sprung up around the notion of being independent, like “individual’s rights” and “personal freedoms”. The idea of living your life in support of others is not something talked about as much, but it happens just as frequently.

The experience most have in this regard is family connection. For example, once someone becomes a parent, then suddenly priorities shift. Your time, effort, and money (and sleep!) are sacrificed for your child or children. Even beyond children, you may well feel an obligation to your parents, your siblings, or even members of your extended family.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Are we too busy?’

But for some, serving others can go well beyond family obligations. There are many people who have chosen a public service career, from police and firefighters, to teachers and educators. Politicians, at local, state, or national levels are public servants.

Even people who work in the private sector often do so with the intention of improving the lives of others in some way.

Churches of most religions and denominations serve the public in various ways. Many holy texts speak extensively about the importance of serving others, particularly those less fortunate.

What about you? What do you do, in your daily life, to serve others? Are there ways in which your intentions are different from your actions? How might you change your life to provide better service for your community or the public in general?

Related questions: What expectations do you have of others? How do you depend on others? Protecting yourself or protecting others? What are our responsibilities to others?

1 thought on “How Do You Serve Others?”

  1. I have incredible respect for those who provide direct service to those who struggle. As service providers work to assist those who came before, more people seek their help daily. I couldn’t do it. I’d burn out.

    My work to serve others comes primarily through my career as a social justice advocate. These days, I work to make tenant-landlord law more renter-friendly. I’ve also been, more generally, an affordable housing advocate and once led a statewide coalition to end homelessness. In other words, I work to get and keep people housed. For me, the one-on-one work of direct service providers must be joined with organizing those who struggle on the streets or in poor-quality housing and the systemic efforts to address the problems upstream that force millions in America to live without housing or in precarious situations.

    According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for every 100 extremely low-income households, only 37 units of housing are affordable and available to them. While things are more complicated, this fact describes why homelessness and housing instability exist in this nation. The thing is, it hasn’t always been this way. In the late 1970s, the number of those who needed low-income housing was close to the amount of housing at that level. As a result, the number who faced homelessness was much smaller, and those who experienced it often suffered for much less time. Furthermore, those who rented often had greater bargaining power with their landlords.

    My work in political venues seeks to change laws and secure funding so homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring, as well as make tenant-landlord law more equitable. This work, informed by those who struggle and those who assist them, will lead to better days.

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