Friday, December 1, 2017

The Choice to Serve Life

So I wrote this as I began my PhD, a few too many years ago. But as I can't find it published anywhere I thought I would share it now. 

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Where servant leadership can sometimes suggest ONLY serving those you wish to lead, "serving life" serves everything.  What I find I need to do is explore the meaning and value of "choice" and "service".

For now I will focus on service.  Is service "Whatever you say I will do?"  Is that a good servant leader?  No.  While that is exercising one's choice, I think that method is very limiting in the "big picture".  A CEO who says to his company "whatever you say I will do" will soon realize someone else is leader.  But maybe that is where the PEOPLE are.  And they say, "whatever you say we will do."  Again, I find that will be limited as a mode of service.

To offer the best of one's service had come to mean knowing somethings about one's "self".  Who am I?  What are my strengths?  What do I believe?  What are my weaknesses?  What are my boundaries (can I do that which I believe to be wrong)?

Service and being a servant then do not suggest to me "doing whatever the people I am serving want".  Choosing to be a servant is a choice to serve from my best, from who I am.  While I have found the core of who I am to be fairly stable, the expression of that and many of the details have changed overtime.  Thus I conclude that who I know myself to be evolves over time.

"Life" on first look is "easy".  EVERY thing on this earth is life.  Every thing in the universe is life.  While that seems easy to me to say, the difficult part is uniting my being "a servant of life".  Life is me and all I am am.  It is my wife Trixy and all she is.  It is our dog Jordan.  It is our yard and all that creeps and crawls in it.  Life is our neighborhood and town and all the people and things in it.  Life includes the wilderness areas, cities, crime and goodness.  Life is healthy and unhealthy.  Life includes the bonds that unite people together.  Life includes the wedges that divide people.  Life includes belief systems of all sorts: those who believe in some form of God and those who do not.  Life is "the big picture" and everything in it.

The choice to serve life:  I must serve myself.  I must learn to love who I am while not being selfish  complacent.  I have growth to do.  I must serve my wife.  I must learn to love who she is, encourage her to love herself, yet not be complacent (MUCH harder to do).   I extend this to my friends; coworkers; bosses; employees.  Every time "love" must be present.  I MUST learn to love people I don't like.  But how do I show "love" to my neighborhood, town, wilderness areas, people I have never met?  My mind sometimes just spins at the thought of it.   

As I reflect, the choice to serve life is the choice to serve the big picture.  I need not try to love those I don't know and haven't met and may never meet.  By my serving life where I am, in what I do, in my attitudes, in my communications, I WILL serve those I don't know and haven't met.  

Some illustrations come to mind:  

A child who is learning to walk.  S/he takes a step or two and falls down.  Do we focus on the fall? or do we focus on the next step?  I believe serving life focuses on the next step.

Learning to ride a bicycle (walk a balance beam etc), do I focus on my feet?  Do I obsess with my shakiness?  or do I look forward?

There is a country where if you injure someone you must pay their hospital expenses, but if you accidentally kill them you pay the family $300.  Or where the penalty for killing a cow is more severe than for murdering a person.  The choice to serve life must examine these for the big picture.  

When I think on these things I realize that the choice to serve life is not limited to Christian, or others who profess belief in God.   The choice to serve life is for anyone, just as any one in any belief system might NOT be serving life.

But I will close my thoughts with this:  My belief system suggests that anyone serving life from the root of "Love" (unselfish, unconditional, agape), is serving God, regardless of any identity, culture,  race, creed, or religion.  My faith system indicates that only God's true children love as God loves.  The God I worship and admire loves his entire creation and is the ultimate example of the choice to serve life. And therefore isn't limited to the box of my personal beliefs or faith tradition.