During the holiday season, the “season of giving,” it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit. Just like people who only show up for church services on Christmas and Easter (Urban Dictionary even has a term for it) the tendency to be more generous with one’s time and money increases with the holiday cheer.
But do we want to be the kind of people who do good things just because of the season? Or do we want to be the kind of people who commit to the things we believe are important, and keep coming to the soup kitchen after the December gift-giving rush wears off?
Service is more than just a special occasion. It’s a way of life. To stay excited about volunteering through mid-July and beyond, here’s some food for thought to keep us motivated all year long!
Serve to See from God’s Viewpoint
If we want to tackle injustice in the world, we can motivate ourselves with, as the Divine Principle teaches, seeing people from God’s standpoint. By making the determination to love the least fortunate of our peers, we are putting ourselves in the position to love them like God loves them. This exercise brings our hearts closer to God’s, and can help us understand our Heavenly Parent’s hopes and desires more poignantly. Service is, after all, one of the five love languages, each one being a key to loving all people.
Father Moon made it his life mission to reach a place where he was so deeply concerned with our Heavenly Parents’ happiness, that he couldn’t even tell it apart from his own happiness. Service and learning about the plight of others, as a conscious exercise in commiseration, is one way to reach that point.
Serve to Feel Good About Yourself
Don’t try to deny it! Whether it’s buying somebody a gift for no reason, doing the dishes, or paying for a stranger’s coffee, little acts of kindness make us feel good, too! Maybe it’s because they give us an opportunity to step outside of our own heads, and live a life that’s actually worth something greater. Our own head can be a deafening, overwhelming place sometimes. If we do something for somebody else, suddenly our own fears and insecurities, which seemed to loom above us, are trivial. Service allows us to break the negative cycle, and start a new, more positive one.
Father Moon tells us that “the essence of love is such that when you live for the sake of others, your love becomes greater, but when you want people to live for you, your love diminishes little by little” (Cheong Seong Gyeong, 315). The more love we give, the more we receive in return, and the more we are able to give.
Serve to Keep Life Interesting
As humans, we crave variety. Just like we don’t want to eat the same meal for dinner every night, no matter how delicious, we may not relish making a habit of a single type of volunteer engagement. So shop around! Volunteer for many organizations and see what they do. Then narrow your choices into two or three favorites. You can choose to split your time evenly between these two or three organizations. Keep things busy, interesting and fun.
Find Something You Believe In Strongly
Sit down and make a list of what you find to be most important. What are you passionate about? What do you really want to see changed in the world or in your local community? What can you do to be a catalyst for that change? What are the steps you need to take? Is there already an organization that is concerned with this issue? Do they accept volunteers?
If you reflect and write down your goals regarding service, your service to the community will begin to seem like a project, rather than a yearly trip to a hospice to sing christmas carols. You’ll find that your plan will become more long-term, and you’ll be well on your way to build a life with love and meaning.