The Wheel of Service

I was driving in Oregon yesterday and needed gas. Drivers can’t pump their own gas in Oregon—a station attendant does it. I often forget that and start to do it myself, but they always kindly remind me.

I’m old enough to remember when self-serve gas stations became the norm, and I remember thinking at the time how inconvenient it was to have to do it myself. Now, in Oregon, I find it inconvenient to be served. When and why did being served become inconvenient?

I had the same reaction the first time I went to a restaurant that had a table-top debit machine to allow me to pay for my meal. At first, I thought it was burdensome (and I don’t like allowing the machine to take someone’s job away.) As time passed, I found it convenient to not have to wait at the end of the meal. I had the opposite reaction with self-checkout in grocery stores. At first, I loved it until I saw grocery clerks I liked begin to lose their jobs. Now I only go through the line with a human checker.

Why the mixed reactions? I love to serve others! I have a category in my spending plan called “Service” and every month I put money in it. Sometimes it costs to be in service (food, travel, etc.) and I’m happy to fund it. It’s one of my favorite activities in life—to be in service to others.

I want to become as good at accepting being served as I am at serving. I don’t want to find it inconvenient to be served. If I am being served by a friend, it is a gift. If I am being served in a business, it is that person’s way of making a living and I’m happy to support them. I hope that they get to have the experience of being served in their own lives.
From now on, I want to see this as a wheel: I serve, and I get served and I serve, and I get served in a never-ending circle. I want to trust that both experiences are important. I can let go of my “I don’t need anybody’s help” loner attitude and I can become a welcomer of service, a giver of service, a beacon of the blessing of service!

I’m adopting this new prayer:
All That Is, please guide me in welcoming being served, welcoming being a giver of service, and welcoming being a beacon of the blessing of service.

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