Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Warning: In Service, You Will Get Trampled #GivingTuesday

I’m still thinking about a line I lifted out of the message this Sunday at church: To be a bridge for the hopeless, you must be ready to be trampled upon.

I’m adding this as a sub-text to one of my most-repeated phrases, “No good deed goes unpunished,” something a former boss used to say to me whenever I complained about my latest bruising.

Doesn’t it seem like whenever you are trying to help somebody, whether a specific person or a general, ideal of a group (the “homeless,” “those kids”) you get stepped on a little bit, jostled, and pushed around.  And then you wonder, what the heck am I doing this for? I could instead be sitting back, reading that book that I’ve been stuck on chapter one forever because I’ve been so busy doing this thing and sipping a glass of wine.

Being of service to others isn’t easy. It requires sacrifice of time, energy, emotion, and, often, personal resources. And as a Veteran who spoke at an event I went to last week reminded us, it requires a sacrifice from your family and loved ones around you.  When you go to volunteer at the food pantry, you might be missing dinner with your family.  When you help coach the basketball team, your own kid is missing out on the time to play catch with you.  When you are sitting in PTA meeting, planning the bake sale to buy books for the reading room, you are missing a conversation with your spouse. Dropping those clothes off at the job training center is cutting into happy hour with your friends.  So the sacrifice is your’s, but also your family’s and friends’.

On top of all that, sometimes, folks don’t appreciate your service. Sorry, it’s true. Whether the recipient, other people you are working with, or other people who would like to be doing what you are doing but for some reason are not.  You will have detractors and nay-sayers, unfortunately.  Someone will complain that you should’ve bought canned beans for the food drive, not macaroni and cheese.  You should’ve donated hats, not scarves.  They will whisper that you drive a Benz and just came back from a vacation in Hawaii, but only bought two tickets to the school play.  Sorry. It’s going to happen.

When all this happens and you are looking at the footprints up and down your spirit, look outwards.  Look toward the other side.  Where are you trying to help people get to. Are you trying to make sure kids are warm this winter?  Do you want to make sure families are fed?  Do you want women to have a safe haven when they are abused or assaulted?  Are you trying to get a crosswalk at your school?  Do you have this crazy notion that every child should be able to read, no matter their country of origin?  Keep your eyes there, on that distant side.  Keep in mind the destination you are trying to help people reach.  Dust off some of those dusty footprints.  And keep leading people to a new place.

And in case no-one else says it, “thank you for your service.”

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