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\”Selfless Service\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (SELFLESS SERVICE): Showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others by providing assistance or help.

Did you ever wonder why someone would want to be a volunteer fireman or an auxiliary member of some other service organization that would put one’s life at risk? Day in and day out, these men and women are ready to respond at a moment’s call. They do not get paid for their work and some organizations even require volunteers to buy their own equipment. In effect, they have to pay to volunteer their services. Why would anyone do that?

I have friends who volunteer at the St. Stephens food pantry and others who build houses for Habitat for Humanity and supply both time and resources. I know men and women who visit local elementary schools and read to the children. Local men and women take youth on weekend camping and hiking trips and typically spend good money for food and gas, not to mention the time commitment. Most churches have some form of youth ministry and people readily come forward to help and we all know lots of people who help with Little League. Why would anyone do that?

These volunteers choose to be part of something larger than themselves. They serve without thought of recognition or reward and, in time, they learn that service is its own reward. They have moved past the selfish, banal question of “What’s in it for me?” and have chosen to make a difference with their lives. So, instead of asking, “Why would anyone do that?” a better question is “Why doesn’t everyone do that?”

Selfless service is putting the needs of others before one’s own and this virtue is one of the core values of America’s Army. Soldiers live this virtue by working for the team and do not prioritize their personal safety or comfort over the needs of their nation.
I’m reminded of the last stanza of the Ranger Creed that states, “Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.”

Here in Baldwin County, we have many men and women who provide selfless service on a daily basis. They are living proof of Albert Einstein’s observation, “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.”

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment. Anthony Robbins, peak performance expert

For those who wish to climb the mountain of spiritual awareness, the path is selfless work. For those who have attained the summit of union with the Lord, the path is stillness and peace. Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit poem

We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them. Buddha

If you’re in a relationship and you want to make it work, you have to be a little selfless at times. Montel Williams

Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting. Von Goethe

The highest of distinctions is service to others. King George VI

There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed. Albert Schweitzer, philosopher

No one has learned the meaning of life until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Beran Wolfe

Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. Count Leo Tolstoy, philosopher

Men are rich only as they give. He who gives great service gets great rewards. Elbert Hubbard, author

Human service is the highest form of self-interest for the person who serves. Elbert Hubbard

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us