Serving Where Best Fitted to Serve

LETTER NO. 75 - February, 1917

A question was asked recently as follows: "You speak so much about SERVICE; just what does that mean? There are in our Fellowship a number of people who say that they love to serve, but they do not do anything but what they like to do. Is that service?"

It seems that this question offers food for profitable thought and that an analysis of the subject may benefit us all, so we decided to devote the monthly letter to this purpose.

It is evident that they majority of people in the world will not serve unless there is "something in it" for them. They are looking for a material reward, and that is the wise way of the unseen powers to spur them to action, for thus they are unconsciously evolving toward the stage in soul growth where they will serve for the love of serving. But they cannot be expected to change over night; there are no sudden transformations in nature. When the eggshell bursts and a chicken walks out, of when the cocoon breaks and a butterfly wings it was among the flowers, we know that the magic was not wrought in a moment. There was an inner process of preparation prior to the outward change. A similar process of inner growth is required to change the servants of Mammon to servants of Love.

If we want to make a building larger, all we have to do is to bring our brick and other building material to the place, start a force of workmen, and presto! the building begins to grow apace to any dimensions we desire and at any speed we wish, depending only upon our ability to furnish labor and material. But if we want to increase the size of a tree or an animal, we cannot accomplish our object by nailing wood to the tree trunk or lading flesh and skin upon the back of the animal. The building grows by external accretions, but in all living things physical growth is from within and cannot be hurried to any appreciable extent without danger of complication. It is the same with spiritual growth; it proceeds from within and must have time. We cannot expect that people who have just begun to feel the inner urge impelling them into an altruistic association, to renounce in the twinkling of an eye all selfishness and other vices and blossom out into the stature of Christ. At best we are only just a little better than we were save for the fact that we are striving and endeavoring to follow "in His steps." But that makes all the difference, for we are TRYING to serve as He served.

If that is the motive, it in nowise detracts from the service of a musician who inspires us with devotion at our services that he loves his music. Nor does it render the service any less because the speaker who fires us with zeal in the Master's work loves to clothe his ideas in beautiful words. Nor does it make the hall less attractive because the member who swept, dusted, and decorated it loves to make his exterior surroundings beautiful. Each can, in fact, serve to much better advantage if the line of service lies along the path of his natural inclinations and abilities, and we ought to encourage one another to look for opportunities in the line where each is best fitted to serve.

There is no special merit in seeking out service in a capacity that is disagreeable to us. It would be a mistake if the musician said to the caretaker: "I dislike to scrub floors and decorate rooms, and I know you tremble at the thought of playing, also that you are out of practice, but let us change places for the sake of service." On the other hand, if no one were there to play, it would be the decorator's duty to put diffidence aside and serve as well as possible. If the floor needed scrubbing and the chairs dusting, the speaker and musician should be willing to do that work also regardless of personal dislike. Nothing is menial. The same principle will apply in the home, shop, or office. SERVICE MAY BE DEFINED AS THE BEST USE OF OUR TALENTS--THE PUTTING OF OUR TALENTS TO THE BEST USE IN EACH CASE OF IMMEDIATE NEED REGARDLESS OF LIKE OR DISLIKE.

If we strive to do this, our progress and soul growth will increase correspondingly.