What comes to mind when you think of service? For me, I have flashbacks of raking leaves or mowing lawns when I was a teenager. I also think of soup kitchens and animal shelters, etc. Overall, when I think of service I usually think of people who can’t do things on their own. People who are too sick, too poor, too old, etc. These are my stereotypes.
Maybe this is why I find it extremely hard to let someone serve me. Maybe I worry that the only reason they want to help me is because they think I can’t help myself. That I’m too helpless, or too busy, or too stressed to do it myself. Because of the way I have viewed service in the past, I have viewed being served as a slap in the face. My pride has prevented me from accepting service from others, because I didn’t want people to think I was a pity case.
It took me a long time to come to this realization but learning how to be served is a skill. And it is a skill that, if mastered, will immediately increase the amount of happiness and joy that you find in your life. Not only will you enjoy the temporal blessings of the service, but you will also enjoy stronger relationships.
We need to get over the idea that someone is doing something nice for us because we can’t do it ourselves. And even if you can’t do it personally, get over yourself! We all have moments in life where we stumble and struggle to get by, and wouldn’t it be better to allow someone to remove a little bit of the stress from us through service, so we can breathe? It’s a temporary life raft.
When we refuse to be served by someone we think we are saving face and that by doing so we won’t be seen as a charitable cause. We put a positive spin on it in our minds and think that we’re doing a good thing by preventing them from serving us. In reality, we are just preventing them from receiving the blessings of providing service.
I don’t know about you, but every single person I have served I have gained a deeper love and appreciation for through service. There is this false belief that people do service begrudgingly (community service punishments, etc.), but in my experience I found that I connect on a much deeper level with someone after I serve them than I would before.
I also have had a false belief that if I asked for help I would lose my friends because they wouldn’t respect me. If we can’t trust our friends to be there for us when we really need help (and it’s WHEN, not IF), then who in the world can we trust? We will all have times where we need someone to lean on for support, so accept that now and when it comes it will be easier.
When a friend goes through a difficult time I often tell them to let me know if they need anything, and that I’m here for them. I think many of us have that instinct to reach out and offer help when we see someone struggling. How would we feel if they did reach out and ask for help? Personally, I would be ecstatic!
When I offer help I do so genuinely, and sometimes I just wish they would let me help them. It would in no way diminish them in my mind, but instead would increase it because they were humble enough to ask for help, and I would be honored to help them. I have avoided accepting service in the past because I thought they would view me as a lesser, but the truth is that this thought only occurs in our imagination and is only a worst-case scenario.
I realize that until now I have focused on accepting service after asking for it. What about accepting service when it is offered but not asked for? Let’s face it, most of us are too stubborn to ask for help. There’s a reason I have had maybe one person ask for help after I offered it, even after I explicitly said that I would do anything they needed.
As humans, if we are offered help without requesting it we feel insulted. We feel like they think we’re lesser humans and can’t take care of ourselves. The sad part is that we were usually offered exactly what we could use, but many times we turn them down to try to save face. Let me tell you that you aren’t saving face. You know you could use it, and they know you could use it. Instead of saving face, it just comes off as you being prideful. Let them serve you.
What about those times when someone tries to serve you and they really were off-base with their assumptions that you needed help? If you really are doing just fine in life, aren’t stressed out, and don’t have financial struggles? Let them serve you. Don’t stop them from serving you, just say thank you.
We need to get over the stigma of viewing service as a negative thing. Service is an act of love and support. Neither of those things are negative. We feel blessed and receive blessings when we serve others, and we need to allow other people to receive those blessings for serving us as well. Lose your ego and allow others to serve you. When you do this it will bless your life and the lives of those who try to serve you, and you will enjoy much stronger relationships.