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To serve or not to serve

I've never been one for getting involved in politics. I tend to stay out of political discussions because I have neither the interest in the debates nor the knowledge of party philosophies.

I've never been one for getting involved in politics. I tend to stay out of political discussions because I have neither the interest in the debates nor the knowledge of party philosophies. I guess I'm one of those people who really don't care about party affiliations or political labels. What I am interested in however, is the concept of service.

Somewhere along the line I think we've lost the idea of a person being a servant to others. When we use that word we sometimes have visions of a lowly individual, living a life of poverty and saying "I'm ever so humble," but really that's not the case. A servant is simply one who serves, and there are many different kinds of service, many diverse ways of contributing value to others.

Nurses are a great example of servants. They may not use that term, but they do provide incredible service to the patients in hospitals and nursing homes. They often give both physical and emotional support with little thought for themselves. The police do the same; I've learned to appreciate them while doing the RCMP reports, the scope of their work goes far beyond merely enforcing the law. Firefighters are another example of incredible service, risking life and limb to assist us.

So what about the rest of us, can we serve others too? Every time we interact with another human being, we can either act as if we want to get something from them, or we can look for ways to give value to them. Imagine what would happen in society if everyone sought ways to add value to the people they come into contact with. This is the rubber-meets-the-road message of Jesus, the practical application of loving your neighbour as yourself.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said "You can have anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want." What an incredible truth. Businesses only grow to the degree that they provide customer service, if you or I feel neglected by a business, we go somewhere else.

A month ago, when shopping for a new camera in Regina, three or four stores offered a model I liked at exactly the same price, but it was a bit more than I wanted to pay. In one store, the salesperson thought he might be able to find a slightly earlier model at a lower price, he spent ten minutes phoning other stores to try and find one for me. Who do you think I ended up buying the more expensive camera from?

And so I return to politics, but not in terms of which party is in power, but in terms of service. Sadly, in every party there are some politicians who only serve their own interests, holding onto the position as long as they can because it has become a job to them. While that's not the case with everyone, I wonder how different it would be if every politician approached their honoured position as an opportunity to really serve the people?

I applauded Wikileaks, the "whistle-blowing" web site, when they showed how corrupt and self-serving governments have become. I thought it spoke volumes when the response was "We will need to be more careful about security in the future." I would have been more impressed if they'd said, "We'll need to be more honest, more respectful and transparent in the future." Didn't someone once call that government for the people?

But everything begins at the individual level. It's no use calling a government or a politician to order if we do not individually seek to make a difference. How can you serve today? Can you encourage someone with a smile or a word? Can you visit a nursing home and talk with residents? Can you volunteer in an organization like the Lions or Red Cross? Can you run for town council?

Opportunities abound to become a service-oriented person, to add value to the lives of other people and to serve society. I encourage you to find those ways that fit your personality, style, character and potential.

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