Elder Wisdom for Serving Others

In doing research for the Compassionaries book, I ran across an 80-something grandmother who devotes almost all of her “free time” to serving others. Her name is Louise Jackson. She volunteers in various capacities and often answers people who question whether she should be working so hard at her age.

Ms. Jackson’s response is: “This is what I believe about serving others: Step up. Get up. Show up. Listen up. Grow up.”

I was so impressed with this attitude about serving that I used it as the outline for the final chapter of Compassionaries. Allow me to summarize.

Step up.

Get off the sidelines and into the game. Stop waiting for someone else to respond to the needs you see. Lily Tomlin said: “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” We need more people serving people in need. There are more needs than are being met. For another thing, we need fewer people with the what’s-in-it-for-me attitude.

Just one person who is passionate about serving others can make a difference. Rosa Parks was the face of the civil rights movement last century. But did you know that someone else went before Mrs. Parks? In early 1955, a black teen named Claudette Colvin refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested. Rosa Parks knew that and was inspired to do what she did 9 months later . . . and the civil rights movement got underway.

Get up.

Stand up for the priority of serving. Serving others needs advocates. Recruit your friends, family, and neighbors to get involved. Share what serving others means to you and how you serve. Invite them to join you. Your reasons for serving may differ from those who do so as part of their faith, but what you do helps meet needs as much as anyone’s service. Compassionaries are missionary-like in how they draw others into serving.

Show up.

Seize the opportunity to serve others. Sometimes, we think we are responsible to serve others. And that’s true. Everyone shares responsibility for making the world a better place. This responsibility comes with our existence. Either we are givers, or we are takers.

Even better is seeing the need of another person as an opportunity to serve. When we encounter a person in need, it’s an opportunity not only to provide help but also to fulfill our calling to serve, another chance to experience the benefits of serving, another opportunity to be a positive example of serving for passers-by. Who wouldn’t want to do that?! So, is it a responsibility or an opportunity? Yes.

Listen up.

Believe in the power of serving. One of the secrets of the power of serving is its contagion. Serving tends to spread. One of the amazing examples of the contagion of serving took place in the drive-through at a popular fast-food restaurant. One customer paid for the order of the driver behind him. That customer paid for the next order as well, and the next paid for the next, and so on. In all, 288 consecutive customers paid for the orders of those behind them in the drive-through line!

But serving has to have a method of delivery. It’s like a freshwater lake that has the potential of sustaining a nearby town, but without a pump and pipes to deliver the water, it is only a potential resource. Compassionaries are convinced of the power of serving. They see themselves as the pipeline of service delivery its therapeutic powers where they are needed. Margaret Mead once said: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Grow up.

Grow your capacity for compassion. Compassion grows with use. Compassion is not used up. It is not a finite resource. The more we exercise compassion, the more it grows.

Compassion is a spiritual muscle. Athletes grow muscles by using them, actually straining them to their limits while training them to do what they want them to do. Athletes’ muscles are not depleted when they exercise; they grow stronger and bigger. This is how it is with compassion: it grows with use. Compassionaries enjoy an ever-growing capacity for compassion.

Now what?

What will you do with this blog? Leave it and move on to something else? Or share it with people you know who believe in the priority of serving? Is Louise Jackson’s motto something you can use to motivate you to serve more often?

Written by:
David Crocker

David Crocker is the Founder of Operation Inasmuch. He was a pastor for 38 years prior to launching the Inasmuch ministry which has equipped more than 2,100 churches in 25 states and several other countries to mobilize their members in mercy ministry. David’s passion is seeing believers serving as the hands and feet of Jesus as a lifestyle.

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