A LIFE OF SERVICE
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© June 2012, The Center For Development
WHAT IS MEANT BY SERVICE?
Service, first and foremost, is an attitude about life, and about why you are doing what you are doing. The idea of service is to give of yourself and help others, first. As you do so in a wise way, which involves taking care of your own basic needs, BUT NOT GOING BEYOND THIS, you will benefit more than you can possibly imagine. This is the theme of this short article on a very important and enormous topic.
Service, thus, is not about gaining anything for yourself at the expense of another. Service is not about taking advantage of the weakness, ignorance, stupidity or carelessness of others. Service is about helping others to overcome these qualities.
WHEN DOES ONE HAVE THIS ORIENTATION?
It does not matter what activity you are engaged in, or the time of day, or year. You may be playing with friends, chatting on the telephone, cleaning house, raising a child, running a business, working for someone else, building a house, or just lying in bed with your partner. These do not matter in the least.
What matters in terms of this article is your reason or motive for doing whatever you do, and for being who you are. This is what matters, and only this. Where, when, how and who you give service to are besides the point, in fact, or at least secondary to your basic motive for acting and being alive.
DOES IT MATTER WHOM YOU SERVE?
In one way, it does not. At another level, it matters greatly, and this is one of the subtle qualities about service.
At a basic level, service is about accepting responsibility and following the orders of your conscience, or your boss, or your military commander. In other words, at one level service is simply about obedience and following, and doing what is needed and best in each situation.
However, if one follows the wrong leader, one is doomed. We all know this. For example:
Š If you follow ‘friends’ who smoke dope, or drink alcohol and carouse, you will not get far, and will probably die young, poor and raped.
Š If you follow a political leader who lies and cheats, or is corrupt, your nation will go down in ruin.
Š If you follow a military leader like a Hitler, Stalin or MaoTse Tung, you will usually die for no good cause, and you may cause the needless death of millions of others.
Š If you listen to a college professor or teacher and follow his advice, and are not discerning enough to check it, you may cause much harm to yourself and others.
Š If you even follow the advice of your husband, wife or partner who is ignorant, you may lose all of your money or worse.
So whom you are obedient to is a critical matter if one wishes to be of service.
WHY IS SERVICE AN IMPORTANT IDEA?
It is just the most important concept of life on earth. Service is about giving back the gift of life that has been given to you. As you do this, your life will change for the better in every way. You may not see it at first, but it will occur. Those who watch religious television networks know what I am talking about. When people decide to live for service, all sorts of wonderful things start happening to them, often in odd and unusual way.
It is as though God, or the universe, or perhaps your higher or Real self committee is sitting around waiting for you to commit to a life of service so your life can be used for some wonderful project. When anyone, at any age, makes the decision to give over his or her life to service, the higher powers or angels, or whomever they are in the heavens, take notice!
They jump for joy and they immediately “share the case load” with you. This means they will set before you a task. It may be menial or even trivial, but it is a task that needs doing. Often the first tasks are fairly simple, though not always. If you follow through with it, another task is set before you, and so it goes. In this way, you grow in spirit, you grow in character, your life becomes filled with more interesting people, places and events, and you take your place slowly as a master of this planet, not a victim of it.
It may seem odd to say that by serving, and being obedient to your high self or God, that you become a master. However, this is exactly how it works. The reason is that the true masters are true servants of others and of God or the universe. So to become like them, you, too, must learn to serve and serve correctly, all of the time.
QUALITIES OF A PERSON WHO LIVES A LIFE OF SERVICE
This is a very important section. It is one thing to want to be of service. However, everyone needs to learn, practice and thus develop the qualities needed to be of service. Otherwise your desire to be of service will never come to fruition properly. You may burn out, become depressed or overwhelmed, or just fail at your tasks Here are the most important ones:
STEADINESS. The person of service keeps going when the going gets rough. This is essential, and perhaps the most important quality. You must not be discouraged when things do not work out right. That is just a small rock on the road that you must push aside and move on.
This means, first and foremost, that when things do not go well, do not just give up. Giving up is the end of the game, and definitely no fun for a person in service. So that option must be ruled out.
Also, when disappointment strikes, you are not t become too discouraged or depressed. When there is not enough money, or not enough people to help, or not enough time to help, you are not discouraged. You realize it is not up to you to solve all problems, in most cases. Your responsibility is to keep on going, and do your best. If you are bright, clever and courageous, sometimes you may be able to solve the problems that arise. If you do, you are demonstrating other abilities and you will be given more complex tasks next time around.
Having said this, a person must not be so steady that he or she ends up dead, or a martyr. This is not the goal of service. You must stay alive, you must eat and have a place to live. So if the task or situation is draining the life out of you, steadiness also leads to another quality of the person who lives in service to others.
KNOWS WHEN TO LET GO. This quality is also essential for service. Some projects are literally “mission impossible”. They are just not ready to happen. You may want to end world hunger, for example. That is fine, but many have tried before you, so perhaps that is a worthy service goal, and a good way to spend your life, but if you kill yourself in the process of trying to accomplish it, that is not good for service. Those who do not have this quality of knowing when to quit become disabled, depressed or ill. Then they often become a burden to society because someone must care for them, and perhaps even bury or cremate, them. That is not service, but stupidity. However, it is very common on planet earth.
So learning when to leave, when to stop, when to end a relationship, when to end a project, when to say that God must have other plans for me - this is vital. Once again, it is a learning experience to find the balance between steadiness or stick-to-itiveness and when to let go. An article on this website may help entitled Letting Go.
RUTHLESSNESS. The next factor to learn if you want to be of service is related to steadiness, but is slightly different. I will call it ruthlessness because it has a slightly wild quality. The person of service is always slightly unusual, very determined, and not easily dissuaded. This is what is meant by ruthless. It is a somewhat rough, somewhat masculine even if it is in a woman, and always admired by others. It will make your enemies angry, though, and will create some enemies, so beware.
Ruthlessness is needed because life presents many challenges, and one must overcome them by force, at times, in order to succeed. Everyone in service learns this at one time or another. You see, there are forces that want only the status quo or worse, they want destruction. So if you are in service and trying to build a better life or a better world, they will naturally oppose you. This is fine, and you must accept it as “normal”.
The correct response is to be ruthless in your pursuit. Any other response will usually bring down your effort because the opposing forces are also ruthless, in their own sweet way, often. So, for example, if you want to change the government to get rid of corruption, realize that the forces of corruption will not just yield. They have been there for years, in most cases, and have established themselves firmly. They have their “friends in high places” whom they will call upon to stop you. So you must be ruthless, preferably with a smile, in your pursuit.
SINGLE-MINDED OR VERY FOCUSED. To be of service, one must also be very focused on your mission, objective or goal. Many who seek to be of service fail because they cannot maintain their focus or objective well enough in the face of opposition or temptation. Opposition is the forces that would oppose your objective or goal. Temptation is the forces that would oppose your service by distracting you. So becoming single-minded and focused, and becoming immune to distraction, is a key to service.
UNSELFISH. Selfishness, in this article and context, means that you want to offer service, but only on your terms. You want a nice house, a nice car, perhaps, some nice friends, a few vacations, a decent salary, perhaps, or whatever else you believe you need to be of service.
This may be the most important quality of service. If you are selfish, you will be too easily co-oped, distracted, bought off, bribed or just become lazy and decide to quit. You will also be influenced by all sorts of forces that will take you off your chosen path of service. You may not like “the heat”, or perhaps the cold, or perhaps the deprivation, or perhaps the people you must deal with, or something else, and you won’t want to continue.
Selfishness is a lower chakra attribute, which means it is a regression to a lower level of existence in which you actually believe you are just a physical being, like an animal, that must have all its physical and other needs met first, before you can go forward with a project. This attitude is a killer of service, if I may use the term. So watch out for selfishness.
Selfishness of any kind has another negative effect. It saps your strength and drive. Instead of focusing totally on your service, you find yourself focused on whether things are neat in the house, whether your clothing is pretty enough, whether people like you a lot, whether your partner is satisfying you sexually, or whether you need a different partner to be of good service. All such considerations dampen your service and diminish it a lot. We have all been “helped” by sales people and other service people who clearly are not as focused on service as they are focused on themselves in some way – their clothes, their manners, their paycheck, their golf game that is at 4 PM so they need to leave and come back later, or something else other than serving you and taking care of your needs in the moment.
SURVIVAL-ORIENTED OR PRACTICAL. This quality has to do with knowing when to let go and quit, but it is much broader. To be successful, you must survive, and survive well. This may sound silly, but most people who want to be of service die too young, cutting short their service. This applies to doctors, parents, even children, teachers, lovers, and many others. So watch out for this essential quality.
To be of service fully, you must survive and thrive. You must be practical, take a long-term view of life, measure your strengths and weaknesses, take steps to care for your health and your body, get plenty of sleep, not depend on doctors too much but rather learn the truth about your health from this website and others, and so on. This is all about being a practical, clear-headed person and not a mush-head, air-head, space-cadet type of person who is not taking care of himself or herself properly, and thus not surviving well.
I find this problem is common among some doctors, for example. They do not know how to run an office, charge the right amount, and keep good records, for example. So they do not survive well and have many office-related issues that take their time and energy away from their service. Another example is found in church lady volunteers, often. They sit and eat cookies and cake, and wonder why they are tired, overweight and really do not do as good a job as they could if they cared more for their health and were more practical about their service.
Even leaders in service must deal with this issue, such as pastors, rabbis, priests, company executives, and government officials. Otherwise, they become ill, tired, bored, discouraged, and usually die young, cutting short their service. A nutritional balancing program is the answer to this problem, in my view. Many articles on this website discuss this approach to health and healing.
HONEST. You will find that to truly be of service, brutal honesty is quite important. Honesty is not easy! It means being honest and authentic with yourself, first, and being honest with others to the greatest extent possible. It means to watch out about little lies, exaggerations and deceptions that you may be tempted to use or invoke to get what you want. It means to watch out for little lies you tell yourself to make you feel better, or to avoid discouragement. It means to watch out for little untruths you spread around about your enemies, for example, because you think this will weaken them. It might, but often they backfire on you when the truth is found out and you are found out to be a liar. Honesty is thus a difficult lesson for anyone who wishes to be of service.
Some people are naturally honest, and women tend to be more honest than men. Others must learn this lesson the hard way, so to speak, usually by failing at a task or being fired from a position of authority for overstepping, leaking information, exaggerating or doing something else unethical or dishonest.
DIRECT AND OPEN WITH COMMUNICATION. This is another critical quality for the person who wants to perform service or be of service. This quality is related to honesty, but is somewhat different. It has to do with being direct and to the point, forthright, forthcoming, open and clear with communication.
Many who wish to be of service are not clear and open about their intentions and their goals. As a result, the outcome is not nearly as good. Others are clear about their goals, but not about their methods, tactics, personnel needs or other needs, so they fail on that account. So learning to be organized, direct, open with communication, forthright and forthcoming are very important qualities for the life of service. If you notice you are “hedging”, hemming and hawing, beating around the bush, as they say, let this go. Be clear and up front.
A LOVER AT HEART. This is another essential quality of the person of service. In this article, being a lover means to take life a bit easy, laugh at yourself now and then, and be willing to give someone a hug if it is helpful, and just smile and relax with people. It is a quality of the fourth energy center or chakra in which you are able to “go with the flow”, at times, get along with all sorts of people and situations, and not get too serious or intense. You are able to balance your goals and your service with simple human loving and kindness. If you can do this, you will succeed much better.
It does not mean to sleep with or have sex with your co-workers, or any such thing. In fact, this is another quality to develop for service called integrity or ethics. Neither is it about giving or receiving hugs and kisses, giving gifts to people, or boosting people’s egos or your own ego in some way. In fact, these traits are its opposite.
Instead, becoming a lover means one must be committed, but not so serious that everything upsets you, and you become angry too much, or disabled by problems and failures, which will inevitably occur. Becoming a lover of yourself is also very important for your health. Otherwise you will take things too seriously and become ill and burned out, usually.
Lovers at heart take time out for relaxation every day. You must also take time for recreation and play. Play with your co-workers, with your charges or those you are helping, play with everyone and everything a little bit, to keep things from getting too intense. Intensity is good when needed, and is part of the warrior spirit. However, there must also be relaxation, laughter, play and just loving the moment. Do not take anything too seriously, or at least do not let on that you do, because most people are not that serious and will not relate to it.
HIGH INTEGRITY, OR THE WARRIOR SPIRIT. Integrity is a wonderful word to memorize and think about for hours. It is related to the word integral and integer, which means a whole number and not fractionated. It is also related to the word integrated, which means put together properly and coordinated properly.
Integrity must be the watchword of anyone who wishes to be of service. It means, in essence, that your entire life, your entire operation, your entire company, your entire staff, works together in a wholesome, honest, meaningful way. Integrity is more than honesty, though. It has to do with wholeness and oneness.
Integrity means that all operations and matters work together harmoniously and ethically. There is more to integrity, but this is a good beginning of the meaning of integrity. For more, read the article entitled Integrity on this website.
A PIONEERING SPIRIT. This is another essential quality for anyone who wishes to be of service. A pioneer is someone who is willing to go where no one has gone before. This is simplistic, but is the basic idea. A pioneer is also a person who is willing to lead. This, however, I will call a separate quality because it is somewhat different.
A pioneer is somewhat fearless, too. After all, it is much easier to follow in the footsteps of others than it is to blaze a trail through the mountains and the swamps of life. So a pioneer requires courage, fortitude, practicality, survival-orientation and some of the others listed here. All of this is part of the pioneer spirit.
A LEADER. The person who wishes to be of service is necessarily a leader because the world, at present and into the near future, is not about service. So you must be willing to be different, be out in front of the masses in terms of your ideas, your motives and your methods, and not be deterred because the masses of people reject you, think you are strange, or even wish to harm you for your ideas.
Being a leader is about much more than this, but this is the main idea here. To be of service does not mean you need to be the head of the organization, the fund-raiser, the boss, or anything like this. It just means you will be separate from the masses and the crowds who mainly want to indulge their ego selves.
ABOUT WHAT, NOT ABOUT WHO OR WHOM
This is a curious quality of service, but very important. Service is always an impersonal subject, even though it is usually about people. To be of service, one must overcome personal biases, prejudices, racial, religious stereotyping, and other prejudices such as what a person should look like, talk like, eat, or other personal habits.
This is actually a critical quality of service. You will not succeed if your entire group or staff or organization must fit some mold and cannot be flexible. Flexibility is another quality of service related to the idea of knowing when to let go. But this quality of making it about what, not who, is important because most people are loaded with personal agendas and biases, whether they realize it or not. These will always get in your way.
The only way around them that I have found is to focus on the fact that we are all spirits having an earth physical experience. In other words, underneath our skin and our brains and all the other trapping such as clothing, material goods and the rest, we are all spirits, and all one. Anyone who is willing to lend a hand is welcome.
SMOOTHNESS. This is a wonderful quality that just means that a person can handle bumps in the road without becoming too unhappy or upset. It also means a quality that can smooth out troubles that others are having, which enables work to go forward much more swiftly and smoothly.
SKILLED AND COMPETENT. This is another large stumbling block for many who wish to be of service. Many people would like to help out, but they lack the experience and skills to really help in the way they would like to. As a result, they cannot find employment, or their help is less than ideal.
The answer is to obtain skills, read up on your area of expertise, stay abreast of new developments in your field, take simple jobs that build your skills and competence, and practice your skills often. Many people do not want to learn, believing that they should be able to somehow just do everything the first time they try it. This is never the case, however. Learning and practicing skills is definitely always needed for most service, and is helpful in all cases.
COOPERATIVE OR ABLE TO GET ALONG WELL WITH OTHERS. This quality is absolutely essential. It is contained in the other qualities, but perhaps it is best listed separately. Getting along with others requires a certain relaxed quality, a lack of harshness, some tact, and the ability to avoid getting caught in personal prejudices. It also requires that a person be open to the ideas and creative efforts of others. Only in this way can a group can work together creatively.
WHO CAN BE OF SERVICE?
Absolutely anyone can live a life of service. This can begin when a person is in his teens. In fact, many stories fill the news of young people, even in elementary school, who decide at this young age that they will assist poor children in other nations, or something similar. They can amaze everyone with the amount of money they raise, or items they create. Nothing can deter a person who wants to be of service – not disease, poverty, insufficient skills or anything else.
CAN SERVICE BE A WAY OF LIFE?
Some people think of service as something to do in one’s spare time, once in a while, on weekends, or on a mission with the church. However, service can become a way of life.
What is service as a way of life? Service as a way of life is quite different from periodic service, or spending a few years in the military, for example, or in the Peace Corps. Service as a way of life affects every moment of every waking hour, and even during your sleep, as you can ask for dreams while asleep that will guide your service.
Service as a way of life does not mean a particular career or activity. You can be a student, a mother, a father, an office worker, or anything else. It just means you view your entire life as one based around service.
Here are some qualities of service as a way of life:
1. All the time thinking of ways to assist others, and how to assist the awakening of mankind.
2. All the time thinking like a service person, as explained above, such as thinking in terms of the whole system, thinking like a warrior, like a pioneer, focused, with honesty, integrity, and some ruthlessness.
3. Thinking with all the qualities of service all of the time.
4. Constructing a lifestyle or way of living that supports the above, and following through with it. This will need to include many facets of your life such as the friends you spend time with, where you live, how you eat, how much money you spend on clothing and entertainment, and much more.
It might mean that you must watch the television news each day, even though you don’t like it, so that you remain informed about the day’s events. It might mean you will go to bed early every night, even Saturday night, so that you will be fresh and have enough energy each day to carry on your life of service. It may mean you will forego the parties and other distractions that really just waste people’s time so that you can focus better on what matters in life – the service your life is. This is what service as a way of life entails.
WHY LIVE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE AS ONE OF SERVICE?
1. It is great fun.
2. It works. This means it is rewarding, pays well, creates wonderful friendships, brings lots of love, and more.
3. It will move you forward in your mental and spiritual development faster than anything else you can do, other than eating well and caring well for the body.
4. It provides protection from time-wasting, boredom, laziness, getting in with the wrong crowd, and other hazards of life.
5. It is “in the groove” or “in the zone”. This means that, whether you believe it or not, human beings are built to be of service - to each other, to humanity, and to God or to the universe. Therefore, if you choose this way of life, you are following your heart’s deepest desire, even if it does not feel that way at times. At this time in history, it is particularly important and potent in its effects, so think a lot about this reason for a life of service.