I had a couple of events occur this week that pushed me to think about this topic and eventually share. I want to start by stating that I truly believe service is not an incredibly important part of a persons development, but a vital component of a healthy society. With the presence of genuine service, true fulfillment in one’s life becomes impossible. That said, we as parents and educators need to be cognizant of the fact that students and children do not learn what we teach. They learn what we model. Which brings me to a recent trip I took.
I happened to be in the area of a school at which I taught for five years. It is in the inner city with a free and reduced lunch rate of 60-70%. I stopped here for three reasons. First, I miss the students who are there working to have a better life. Second, I still have individuals there who I consider friends. The last and most important reason is to see a person I consider to be an inspirational leader. I had the pleasure of working with her when she was in the classroom. She is now the head of the school. This woman has won awards and is incredibly talented, but that is not what fulfills her. Mrs. Lena Pires is from the city where she runs this school. She has seen its best and its worst. Instead of taking her success and moving on, she understands that these students and the community are in need. Therefore she has decided to make a stand and make a difference through service.
This dedication to service can be learned, but only through example. Once you experience the feeling of successfully and selflessly serving in a capacity that truly helps someone else; you understand that there is no higher level of fulfillment. The issue becomes noticing when those opportunities, no matter how small, to make a difference and serve appear. Your conscious attention to service makes you unconsciously model the behavior to those who are watching; children.
I remember driving home with my family one cold February afternoon and seeing an elderly gentleman who lives a street away from us trying to shovel the built up ice at the end of his driveway. I stopped the truck, got out as my wife moved over, and told my family I would see them at home. My son opened his door, told my wife he was going with me, and got out of the truck. I was surprised, but started helping clear the man’s driveway. My son began to help as well. It wasn’t until the discussion during our walk home that the “why” of what he did was revealed. He had asked my wife what I was doing the last time I got out of the truck to help someone. He learned that it was good to help others and then he told me it also felt good. He had not expected that aspect.
It comes down to this. In the end: we are not black or white; we are not rich or poor; we are not the haves or have nots. In the end we need to realize we are all human and to serve is to elevate humanity to a new level. If you want to elevate society it’s not about who you vote for, who you hang out with, or what you do for a living.
It’s about what you do, who you affect, who you help, and what you model.
It’s about your level of service and self fulfillment.
Have you modeled service today?