bakery-baking-blur-271458In my kitchen, I have the following quote by Mother Teresa framed and hanging on the wall:

The fruit of silence is prayer.

The fruit of prayer is faith.

The fruit of faith is love.

The fruit of love is service.

The fruit of service is peace.

It is a beautiful quote. The part that I find most true is the last: The fruit of service is peace. When we serve one another, not only are our relationships peaceful, they are functional. In every good relationship, each person must serve and must be served.

The root of many relationship issues is the failure of one party (or sometimes both parties) to serve the other person. That leads to resentment. And that resentment leads to arguments and the breakdown of the relationship.

When we serve others, we make the other person feel loved and cared for. That is why holidays and birthdays are important. Yes, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. But more immediately, it is about serving others by giving gifts and providing meals to our family and friends. Christmas, like Valentine’s Day, Easter and birthdays, is an opportunity for us to serve others by giving them gifts and doing other thoughtful gestures.

The key to service is to not serve others in the way that you want to serve them. That isn’t effective. The key is to figure out what another person wants and to fulfill their need or desire. For instance, there is a lady at my church who likes Starbucks hazelnut coffee. So, whenever she and I meet, I always bring along a hazelnut coffee for her. It is my small way of serving her.

Now, I will admit that I sometimes am tempted to do things for others that are really self-serving gestures. That isn’t service. That is just me doing whatever I feel like doing. For example, let’s say that I buy tickets to take you to a classical music concert, and you hate classical music. That isn’t much of a gift. That is me serving my own needs and pretending to do something nice for you. Service occurs when I consider what the other person needs or desires, and doing that, regardless of my own interests.

For instance, at my house, my husband and my daughter really like homemade cookies. Now, I am not an avid baker. I can make a pie from scratch, and I can make certain types of cakes and cookies. But I don’t enjoy baking.

However, when I bake cookies it is an act of service. The issue isn’t whether or not I like to bake. The issue is whether that is a service that my family would appreciate. And I will admit that things are pretty peaceful in my house after I’ve baked a batch of cookies!

Acts of service smooth the rough edges of our relationships. After all, it is human nature that when I do something thoughtful for you, you will have kinder feelings toward me. You will be more likely to overlook my faults. In effect, you will view me through rose-colored glasses.

By the same token, let’s say that I never help out around the house. I don’t cook, I don’t do dishes, and I never clean a bathroom. I leave all those chores to my spouse or roommate. Then I become an irritation. And my little faults become major annoyances to the other person.

By serving others, we grow in maturity. There are people who don’t like to serve but instead like to “direct” others. They constantly want to have other people doing things for them. Every sentence they say starts with “can you …” Can you do this or that for me? It is an immature approach to life.

When we serve others, we grow up. We become the adults in the room. Adults take care of things. We handle matters. Children live in the world of “can you?”. They need their beds made, their food prepared and their bathrooms cleaned. Adults do those tasks for themselves and for others.

Service also makes us humble. I could have the attitude that I am too important to bake cookies, clean a bathroom or mow the lawn. But that would be delusional. And arrogant. No one is too good, important or amazing to do a load of laundry or wash dishes. So, when we serve others, we develop a healthy humility. And simply put, humble people are much more pleasant to be around.

If you are having relationship difficulties, consider how serving the other person may get the relationship back on track. Think of things that you could do for the other person that might help them or bring them joy. Spend less time thinking about what that person should be doing for you.  Instead, focus on what you can do for the other person. Develop a “service attitude” and watch your relationships improve!

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)


Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey ( )

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