I believe that there is always hope even in times of despair. I have witnessed people experiencing darkness that seems inescapable, and I have seen these persons find hope in the hope of others. Individually, each of us has experienced disappointment, loss, grief and pain. How did we transcend these dark moments? Hope and help imparted through others. Certainly faith is a major ingredient to overcoming adversity, but it is through caring relationships with others that faith is truly manifested.
As the human condition produces a myriad of painful challenges, so too, does it produce a myriad of opportunities to engage with others to impart hope, brighten spirits, provide encouragement, console, and revive broken hearts. Wonderfully, there is a large body of individuals who are “programmed” with a genetic predisposition to serve and minister to people’s needs, to transmit hope, to stimulate the healing process, and to rejuvenate life in others. Think of the transformative value brought to humanity by social workers, medical professionals, hospice workers, the faith community, relief workers, community advocates and the like; and what a profound difference they make in the quality of all of our lives. I refer to this as the “Circle of Serving!”
The Family Care Network has used the byline “A Circle of Serving” since our inception. Obviously, I love the metaphor of the “circle” and how it depicts the heart of why our organization exist. A Circle is never ending, as should be our heart of compassion and care for others and the less fortunate. The Circle represents a group with a shared interest, i.e., a Circle of friends, a bridge Circle, a Circle of dancers, et cetera. The Circle of Serving is a group committed to promoting the wellbeing of others. The Circle represents protection and sheltering, as in encircling a family with support, encouragement, care and services; or “Circling the wagons” to provide protection from overt hostility or assault. Finally, the Circle connotes a boundary of activity and focus – a Circle of Influence!
The word “Serving” also has a real depth of meaning. Serve comes from a root akin to being a slave--but by choice, not force. For centuries, serve meant to render habitual obedience to; to have a duty or a sense of devotion towards ministering, helping, giving aid or attending to others. Serving connotes a sense of being useful, beneficial, or a champion for a specific purpose or function – always for the benefit of someone else. Serving is an intrinsic devotion to bless or enhance the wellbeing of others. True Serving is a vocation; a lifestyle which emerges from compassion, not selfish gain.
Our community’s Circle of Serving--as essential and necessary as it is--is oftentimes overlooked or taken for granted. I am convinced that the health of a community can be measured by two important criteria: 1) how well it takes care of its children, and 2) how deep and effective its Circle of Serving is! Is Service a value which is promoted, taught and esteemed? Or is serving looked down upon? Bringing the issue closer to home – would you rather serve others or be served?
I am sure that I am not alone in contending that the latter is more the rule than the exception. Our self indulgent, narcissistic society has unfortunately greatly diminished and minimized the value of Serving. We now define “success” in terms of social status, power, authority, wealth and material accumulation, and not on the recognition of promoting the wellbeing of others and the internal rewards this brings. All we need to do is look at income levels. Generally speaking, those in a community’s Circle of Serving, are in the lower strata of earners. The financial industry, software developers, entrepreneurs, even the construction industry are exceedingly higher paid than teachers, childcare workers, social workers and the serving class.
I suppose it is a good reminder that Serving is something which is taught. When we overindulge children, give them everything they want, including rewards that they haven’t earned, and lead them to believe that they can be whatever they want to be without working hard for it, we do them a huge disservice. In like fashion, if we fail to teach them how to recognize and serve the needs of others, we do great damage; not only to them but to our society at large. Our children need to be taught that Serving is a wonderful, joyous fulfilling engagement!
I feel so fortunate to be part of the Family Care Network’s Circle of Serving, a network of amazing individuals who are passionately devoted to “enhancing the wellbeing of children and families...” I am equally proud to be part of a caring community which has a wonderful Circle of Serving, making the quality-of-life on the Central Coast better for everyone.
Please join our Circle — there will always be someone who needs hope, encouragement, comfort, help and a friend in their time of need. You may just be that person!