“I may never know you personally, but I know something essentially true about you. Unless you find a way to love and serve, you will never be truly happy.” – Albert Schweitzer
The truth of the above statement revealed itself many times while I served three thriving ministries. Healthy communities and fulfilled individuals have many things in common. One is the awareness of the power of sacred selfless service as an act of devotion to God. People and communities that flourish don’t just pray for peace and a world that works for everyone, they get up every day and work for it.
As young children, we were taught that “God so loved, God gave.” It is our divine nature to give the best we have. As we begin to serve, we discover serving is pure joy, not a burden at all.
In fact, loving service is one of the fastest ways to wake up. It moves us beyond the traditional understanding of volunteering to one of service as an act of devotion to God. We serve the Divine, whether we are picking up litter, teaching a child, or feeding the homeless. All acts are in service to the Divine and the fruit of all service is in the hands of the Divine.
Sri Anandamayi Ma was a 20th century Indian saint who had renowned scholars, philosophers and statesmen sit at her feet, though she only had two years of schooling. This is how she described service: “This body has lived with father, mother, husband, and all. It has prepared dishes, so you may call it a cook. It has served the husband so you may call it a wife. It has done all kinds of menial work, so you may call it a servant. But if you look at the thing from another standpoint, you will realize that this body has served none other but God. For when I served my father, mother, husband and others, I simply considered them as different manifestations of the Almighty and served them as such…. I had but one ideal. To serve all as God.”
Serving at such a level elevates us into the realm of pure Being and leads to bliss. All of the benefits of volunteering are maintained and the negatives, especially burnout and discouragement, are eliminated.
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr reminded us that everyone can be great because all of us can serve. And I add that all of us can be happy because all of us can serve. Here’s more good news. True and lasting joy is the result of discovering our spiritual gifts and serving in our gifted areas—in our passion.
Perpetual Bliss Is Our Divine Birthright
Isn’t it amazing grace that, as we serve in our passion, we live a life of perpetual bliss? This does not mean difficulties do not arise, but we are aligned with something greater than our local limited selves, and the entire universe seems to open doors and create everyday miracles. The biggest miracle is the deep joy that wells up within us. I’ve watched hundreds of individuals wake up to joyful service and dozens of projects accomplish the impossible. I can’t emphasize enough the profound impact of discovering one’s gifts and giving them to a true need in one’s area of passion. Perpetual bliss is a wonderful thing, and it is our divine birthright!
As the world awakens to its Oneness, each of us is carrying a portion of the solution. Not only do we all have gifts, but all gifts are equal and all gifts are essential to the whole.
With 7 billion people sharing a planet and facing huge problems, one might be discouraged. Obstacles might seem too big. A thirteen-year-old girl participated in an extravaganza involving musicians and choirs from junior high school to the professional symphony. When her grandmother asked her how they found time to rehearse together, the thirteen-year-old responded, “That’s not how it works, grandmother. You learn your part very well and you keep your eye on the conductor.”
And that is exactly how it works. You discover your gifts, you give them in your area of greatest passion, and through prayer and meditation you listen deeply, individually and in community—that is, you keep your eye on the conductor.
Nobel Prize-winning Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore summarized the great truth:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
When all service is an act of devotion to God, we simply wake up every day and get about the business of creating the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is happening all around us. And we know we are being led by Spirit by the deep joy and sense of wellbeing we experience.