Week 4 Day 3: Return
Question: How does your work serve others?
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Transcript of Video:
To be loving in work is to provide a place that’s safe for others, where they feel accepted. And I can most do that when I feel safe and accepted. So it’s part about balance, in terms of when do I stop that I am then able to provide something for someone else. And part of our whole cycle of prayer is to come back to: I am a beloved child of God. I need rest. I need to be reminded of who I am. And I need to sit at the wellspring and be filled up and receive the good news, that I can then share a cup of water with someone else. But I have to drink that water myself.
So part of our monastic rhythm is to keep coming back to we, ourselves – or part of coming to prayer is also knowing my own need. I need to come to God for my own replenishment, for my own sustenance. So both coming to the table at the Eucharist and prayer throughout the day, is part of sustaining me. And then I think all that work is then sharing that with others. And whatever it is that we do, whether it’s literally hosting guests or whatever our work may be, the way we interact with objects for someone’s use or the way we interact with people comes out of our own experience of love and belonging. So nourishing that, ourselves, then enables us to love others.
-Br. Luke Ditewig
How does your work serve others?
In the past, I could answer that question easily. Today, however, it feels like I am at that point where I am in need of refreshment and to learn again how to serve.
In the meantime, there are many opportunities as I interact with people in simple mundane ways, to help them feel appreciated and loved. I try to recognize these moments as they come to me.
I worked for a time for “Pharaoh” and am returning to non-profit work. I need to work where core values are shared and outcomes are real. Social equity is a must in my work.
I am a nurse and I see my hands as Jesus’ hands!
I live with my aging parents, and I do a lot around the house that they may have the opportunity of just resting, and doing whatever they want to do. They shouldn’t have to do much at 83 and 97!
The other day a friend asked me, “How is your spiritual physical and emotional health?” If I am to be of service to others, I need to be taking care of myself first. Just as one is told, on an aircraft, to put one’s own oxygen mask on first before assisting others, so must the servant be nourished in order to serve.
I am trying to give support to a chronically ill daughter in law. Her illness is hard to treat because of the complexity. Others may think it is mostly psychological; but I know it to be organic. My spouse, in particular, seems dismissive of the severity of her illness and thinks I am “enabling” her. I know that without my support, she would be lost. Something in this lesson touched me…that my husband was not given the kind of love and support in his younger days, so he likely does not know how to give that back. A good reminder, too, that I must refresh myself if I am to be able to do what I feel is “the work God has given me to do>”
Well, I guess, as a life-long teacher and tutor, all my work for income serves others. Sometimes I am more giving and loving, and sometimes less, I must admit. But the very profession is a calling to serve. Also when I am working on projects for my parish, such as writing and preparing printed materials or planning events, I know that I am being of service. I have many times suggested to directees that they consider housework—washing dishes or folding clothes—as holy work, a service for their family members, the others who need and use those objects. But honestly, I’m not very good at following this practice myself. I still tend to think of these as chores to be avoided. This is something I wish to renew my commitment to.
All three of my jobs are service related. One is service to Cambodia through Cambodian Children’s Ministry by being a board member and staff. Second, I assist guests at concerts, sporting events, and such, making sure they are safe and comfortable. Finally, I work in the in-home care business. Often I am the only person my clients see and so I always go above and beyond to make them smile.
As I work, I pay attention to how I interact with my fellow workmates – am I contributing to a good, positive experience? Can I make their day a bit better? As I work with my “customers”, am I treating them with care and respect and having them walk away with a good experience? All I can do to make my corner of the world better builds up the fabric of the world.
How does your work serve others? I work in the technology field. Sometimes it’s hard to see how my work might actually serve others. But this talk from Br. Luke shows me that it’s not only the work product that could serve others, it’s what I do all day long (my work action) that can serve others. I am responsible for a couple of teams of people. I serve them by being attentive to them as they produce the work product, helping them when they are stuck, raising them up when they feel down, praising them when they do good work, helping them build relationships with our clients and each other, guiding them along in their careers, helping to make work a fun and satisfying place to be all day long. My own boss does all this for me. And if I stick to a daily practice of morning meditation and prayer, I’m much more “nourished” when I go about my day of work, and I can serve my colleagues and clients as they do their daily work. Amazing! 🙂
My work serves others when I do a good job teaching and the students can connect. when I connect one on one. when I make useful suggestions in meetings. When I can joke at work.
It’s “the next day”, but I still want to add this comment. One of the projects I undertook as I retired was to learn how to machine metal, and over a period of eight years I built a 1/8 scale live steam locomotive patterned on the colourful little engines at Disneyland, California, which I loved as a child. This year (Easter-Thanksgiving) will be my first season running my engine to give pleasure to children and parents who visit our little miniature railway. All through the time of constructing the engine, even when quite perplexed (steep learning curve!) I would remember that ultimately I was building it to serve God by serving other people to foster fun and fellowship in their lives. I’m very grateful for both the opportunity and the upcoming fulfillment of it.
Br. Luke, Your excellent homily has propelled me back in time, to when I was a wife, mother of 4 young children, a teacher, community volunteer and part time HR at family business….and, of course, going frantic. I went to a four day silent retreat and changed my priorities. I put God as my # 1 priority in my life, # 2 husband, # 3 children, etc, down the list. Daily meditation time with God. I was serving and listening to God and taking care of my family and othersi and every one was content with a happy, loving wife ,mom and teacher.
Serving others for me includes helping people learn how better to engage with the rules that affect them.
Since unemployment, I have been blessed to help with an outreach project that is supported by my congregation. I am cutting food vouchers for Arlington Food Assistance Center. While I am cutting I am communicating with God.
I work in telecommunications providing dial tone and high speed cable to the residents of NYC
When I am at my best, my work serves those around me on a number of levels. It serves my coworkers when I can be an open, helpful and caring presence. It serves my children who see from my example that work can and should be rewarding and fulfilling. It serves all those who I come in contact with each day who get the satisfaction of a positive interaction with someone whose job it is to help them. And it serves me by helping me feel I’ve done some good in the world. However, today’s reflection has helped me to see that when I am “tapped out” and need replenishment — when I need to drink from the well — I am unable to be any of these things to myself or anyone else. I am thankful for that reminder.
In my retirement, I try to serve others through my work as a volunteer with the local literacy council, in various capacities at church – including servicing until recently as senior warden, as a mentor and encourager to others, through helping with editing a couple of newsletters, and through doing pastoral visits. Some of this work actually nourishes me. For other things, I do need to be certain that I am replenished through my personal quiet times, eucharist, reading, walking with our dog, communal workship.
In my business I have a variety of people that work. I try and be respectful and caring even in times when they are not doing what they should. I have to be careful because I can become a mother type and then I become resentful if they don’t listen. I also have finally realized I cannot not take care of myself and put all my energy into them. I love helping people.
…if i see someone new in fear @ work i try to help…everybody else ‘seems to take of themselves.’
…juxtaposed to your Eucharistic statements, I agree with the great Queen Elizabeth “…whatever the Lord did make ‘it’ I do believe I receive and take it…”
Greeting people and treating others with respect and dignity. Trying to keep things simple and direct rather than complex. Listen at least as much as I speak. Pray that I can be an instrument for God.
When I was growing up, taking piano lessons, I always said that I would never make music my career. When I was 20, I began learning the organ and violin
as well. Also I did a lot of accompanying for students when they participated in festivals, exams, and recitals. Also at that time I began playing for a United Church congregation. I still said music wasn’t my career. Then, I went to university and studied Church music. After four years of training during which I played for services in the Chapel, I got a job as organist and choir director at a church near where I lived. It wasn’t until quite recently that I finally said, “Yes, music is my career”. Before that music was just something I loved and did, but I was always searching for other career opportunities. Before I was truly able to see myself as a professional church musician, I needed to love myself as that. I needed to realize that what I worked at was also what I loved. Having said all that, I truly do feel that I am doing something important which serves both God and the congregation I now play for. I am much more dedicated now that I accept myself as God made me. I enjoy giving people pleasure, and enhancing their worship experience on a Sunday morning. I truly do not feel it to be work, but it is because I am paid to do it. I feel my reward is much greater than my pay cheque. My reward is serving others through my musical ability. And that is God given. My music enriches me so that I may enrich others.
I’m now retired and finding that I am spending too my time nurturing my wants and desires and not enough time doing for others. I know there are volunjteering opportunities, but I can’ seem to light on one that is good for me and good for others.
I work in the public safety field, so I hope that the work that I do helps to get the most qualified people in those critical jobs. In addition, the work I do assists the people around me…whether it’s completing a project for someone or finding work for a part-time employee. It’s all about relationships in the end.
In corporate America I have the great privilege to talk and be around many different people all day 5 days a week. I get the opportunity to be there for whoever wants to stop by my desk and talk. I am constantly aware that I might be the only Christian one of my peers comes in contact with throughout the day so I try to be on my best loving behavior and be hopefully a help to them. It has been great for me and hopefully I have helped people on the way by showing God’s love in thought, word, and deed.
I found this bit especially useful:
” the way we interact with objects for someone’s use.”
Part of my work is mentoring an EFM group at my church; that involves serving others by creating a safe, nurturing environment where people are free to express their thoughts, feelings, ideas and to share their experiences.
Another part of my work (as a human resources professional) involves serving others by helping people develop their potential, helping them identify what career path may best fit their goals/gifts, and by helping the people within organizations determine how to create atmospheres that allow their teams to thrive.
I am retired and a volunteer chaplain for 20 homeless men in respite care. I am reminded by today’s message that I must pray for the men I get to see and to remember to include myself to be God’s servant. When I do this, I find I am filled with warm feelings in my heart and knowledge that I have served the men I was able to see.
Thank you Br.Luke,
In a few words you put everything perspective
My 24/7 work is not paid in money and yet with gratefulness from my 2 elderly loved ones and yet I often forget to replenish myself. When my son says, “Mom, just breathe, breathe, Mom!” I do it and it helps. My husband and I are on the “taking” end now of being served by others — it is humbling!
i often work with Seniors as a lay reader doing pastoral care. I encourage them to do a little exercise and to use their names in our group after 1/2 hour we play a ball game and then I do a Bible Chat and we pray. It works out well. One week we have communion with our rector and I help with the service etc. I also visit older parishioners who can’t get out and give them a bulletin as well as pray about their concerns with them. As a member of AFP, I encourage their participation.Today I will visit a parishioner in hospital. I could not do any of this without prayer.
I am a volunteer charity worker and I feel that this for me is very God led and always has been. Before moving to this part of England my husband and I ran a charity and again God ran the charity and ran me and I had never been so loved and aware of God when he sent the message that our work was done in this field. We then moved and for several months I was restless as I expected God to “find me a space” as soon as we moved – how wrong I was. It was a real case of “in God’s time and not in my time”. Patience is not one of my virtues but He taught me to wait, rest, be patient and, of course, in the end He found me my space and so I now realise how blessed and loved I am by God who enables me to have the love and the energy to do the work he has asked me to do. I just had to realise His calling, accept with thanks and do His work.
This is a great message to us all. In the hustle of taking care of everyone else, we need to stop and take time to take care of ourselves. I have to quench my own thirst before I can offer that “cup of cold water” to another.
I am a writer and I come to my desk each day hoping that something I write will serve others. However Br Luke has touched upon something that I have come to believe is my greater “work”: I am a beloved child of God. I know it is of utmost importance to my soul that I understand and believe this because when I carry myself with the spirit and confidence that comes of being beloved–and this also goes for any well-loved child– it does serve others. As Marianne Williamson wrote, “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Often when I’m with a group of people whether on campus as when I was getting my MFA, or at church or some other public forum, someone will comment on how well/content/happy I look and I like to respond by joking, “Yes, but it’s my job to look this way.” But Br Luke has made me realize that it’s not a joke–this really is my job. And I love my work. 🙂
Your beautiful picture and your beautiful words make me smile. Thank you!
I do volunteer work through my church. I also do handmade gifts for friends and family.
I find those actions are a form of self replenishment.
What I found important in this message was the reminder that in serving others we need to create a safe space for them. It has taken me years to learn to do that for my students. That insight came as I reflected on the fact that as teacher I am both coach and judge. And now as part of my coach function, I try to remain aware of creating safe spaces for students to share their weaknesses and struggles with the subject matter of the course so that I can better help them.
I have been “retired” for almost a year. I ask God to break my heart over things that break his heart. When that happens the only thing you want to ask is how can I help. I find that I am directed to do God’s “work” by serving my neighbors, by feeding them and loving them. But as today’s message says I do find that I have to renew myself or I have nothing to give. My retirement is more fulfilling than any job I ever had.
My first reaction to this question is to realize that I supervise others: do they always feel safe and accepted here at work? And then, drinking from the wellspring — such a hard concept for me. It is so hard for me to acknowledge my own need in prayer. Great to be given permission to offer my own need. This is counsel I will take to heart.
In the second week of retirement, I would have to admit that I’m mostly serving myself with the exception of some church stuff and cooking dinner for my wife in the evening. I expect this to change with the passage of time, but I want to do it thoughtfully and intentionally so that I am spending my time on things that matter rather than filling my time with things that keep me busy.
I’m also newly retired and since I’ve relocated to a different part of the country, I feel, at times, like I’ve been serving myself in setting up a new home and becoming familiar with my new community. But now I realize that in decorating my new apartment little by little, I am serving others by creating a warm, welcoming, safe space for those who come to visit as well as for myself. I, too, want to find new activities that have meaning for me rather than just filling my days with activities to simply keep busy. I’ve started attending my church’s Friday morning “contemplative sit” where we sit in silence for half an hour and then spend the next half hour discussing one of the scripture readings from the previous Sunday’s service. We end with Noon prayer. I am enjoying it and am learning more about the Bible, something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m actually facilitating this Friday’s meeting when we’ll be discussing God’s establishment of the Sabbath. I’ll be using some of what I’ve learned about this during these wonderful Lenten sessions. So I’ll have the opportunity to share and serve in that way. It’s a beginning!!
As a therapist, if i don’t help my clients feel safe and cared for, no work can get done. As a preacher and teacher, if the parishioners don’t feel understood and included in the message, no point in expending the effort. The part that has taken me awhile to learn is that being forgiving and kind to myself, allowing myself some understanding, allows me to welcome others with less judgement too and makes life easier and more loving all around.
I am blessed to have a vocation whose primary goal is to serve others and enable them to bring themselves closer to God. This is, to me, a source of great joy. It can be challenging, as my ministry is non-denominational and interfaith, and I serve a widely diverse population; and I do all this without pay. But challenges are opportunities, and the work brings blessings.
Being retired it is hard to identify what is my work. As a Franciscan Tertiary I have identified advocacy andprayer for aboriginals and the natural environment, also producing works of art, also supporting the life of my parish.
Getting settled into these emphases has been a difficult process as I suffered a health crash trying to become more active as a priest and community activator. How I help others often comes in surprising little bits. Yesterday I spotted an aboriginal serving customers. Both the art and the first nations stuff came into play. How to do something without being patronising? I studied the features of his face and took a stab at what nation he was from. “Anishnabwe?” “Yup” he said, with a little smile. I’d say that I made his day.
I am an retired architect. Perhaps the finest building I ever designed was my church, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Redding, Ca. It was a labor of love for me. It is a place for worship for many. It has exceptional acoustical qualities for the choir, organist, readers of the Word and the Eurchrist. It is a Sanctuary for many over the years. I truly feel Blessed each time I enter the church.
What a wonderful legacy to leave for others – that will last well into the future.
I too am a retired architect and have had the privilege of working with church communities. I visited the website of “your” church and loved what I saw — people together in peaceful surroundings sharing their love of God. I particularly like the way one whole side of the nave opens to a view of the garden and admits lots of sunshine. Through you, God created something quite wonderful.
Working in a field that is related to financial services, it is not readily apparent that what I do serves others. Am I truly serving or am I merely enabling and supporting greed and selfishness? This can be debated but Brother Luke’s point about creating a space that is safe for others is a valuable insight. Whatever any of us do can nourish and support our brothers and sisters, whether our contact is fleeting or sustained over a longer stretch of time.
I can relate to this .. having worked in various fields in offices for many years. A simple smile or word of encouragement can make all the difference to someone’s day. .. Nourish and support … you said it well.
I serve others not through my work, but though helping my co-workers as we all work together. In my field, many have the attitude that the more they know, the more valuable they are; so they do not share and help each other. My outlook is completely different; the more I can share with and help my co-workers, the more valuable I am to them. One issue with this is that I take on too much in trying to help. This sometimes backs me up to deadlines, and most often prevents me from replenishing, as I don’t have time to do the things I enjoy. This might be volunteer work, bible studies, walking in prayer…
Thanks for the reminder of replenishment.
Thanks for being a person who shares rather than withholds. I too have come to the recognition that we are really more valuable as we share and help others.
A sharing person has a generous and open heart, which is able to see and receive the many blessings which will come her way. We are meant to live our lives generously, and share the gifts we have been given.
I deal in electronic information, providing information to accountants and other attorney that they use to service their clients. So in that concrete way I serve others in the marketplace. However, I have spent the last 30 years caring for a series of sick, and often dying friends and relatives. That is exhausting work, but in the end very fulfilling to know that you have helped someone in need in a very concrete way, caring for them, overseeing their finances so that their life is not disrupted, procuring the best medical care or residential care for them you can (given whatever their financial situation). However, I often fail to get the rest and replenishment I need to do that and still maintain my job and my own family. At those times I can become irritable and resentful of all my responsibilities. So this video is very timely.
Thank you for this wonderful message, and the reminder that we must drink from the well of replenishment if we are to offer replenishment for others! I am also struck by the need for safety – that I must feel safe if I am to create a safe place for others, whether it is in my workplace or at home.
In my work I teach adults who are new in their profession. Some of what I teach is the ‘how to’ of research, problem solving and critical thinking, but a lot of it is about how to communicate effectively what they do. To teach, I must create a safe place to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. My service is as a facilitator of discovery.
I am among other things a musician and music educator although retired. I sing in the Senior Choir at our church. For some the gift of music makes scripture more realistic to our parishioners. I also play trumpet in a community band. I feel the gift of music brings people to other states of consciousness.
Music and the other arts help us connect on multiple levels and in ways not even fully understood. Yes, indeed that is a gift and a service.
Perhaps one of the most important works we can do, our service, is to create and be a safe place for each other, no matter what specific form might take. We express our service in the forms that fit our talents and skills, but at its heart all service is a giving of self to others.
Some jobs get overlooked or taken for granted more than other jobs, of course. I mentioned how I see our trash collector’s faithful appearance each week as a service. Well, this morning I am reminded that the folks down at the water board also perform their silent support of life in our community, their service to us being another that we often take for granted. We don’t need to spend much of our day trekking for the water and hauling it back like so much of the world. We just twiddle the tap, and out it comes, voila! clean drinkable water at a reasonable water pressure. Except for a morning like, say, this morning when the greatly reduced trickle eking out of the faucet is an unwelcome reminder that there really is someone at the other end of that pipe doing a service, probably someone out standing in a muddy ditch in the cold of early morning working to restore my life to normal. All I can say is, God bless that person really good!!
it’s not just the work, it is the way that we do it. I am in healthcare quality and I am charged with preventing patient harm. So I begin with respect for those striving for excellence and I maintain vigilance for seemingly small harmful acts. I stop patient harm by examining errors. It’s hard to be in a confrontational role. It begins with helping people repent and then creating in them a desire to move forward.
Good reminder that the way we do our work makes all the difference. I am thankful for the work you do and especially for the way you do it–with respect and mindfulness and humility.
I manage a volunteer program in a non profit faith based hospital, so I am blessed to serve others who are recovering and those who come to serve those in a healing environment. We embrace the philosophy that we do sacred work and it is reflected daily in the faces of those I am thankful to serve alongside.
I ‘m retired so my work has several parts: church treasurer, board member of credential evaluation company, trip organizer for and with professional colleagues, matriarch of large family, friend, and most importantly, the one who provides love and the spark of life to my husband who suffers from Alzheimer’s. I serve these groups by using by organizational skills and treating the many people I deal with as I would like to be treated.
It’s like taking time to recognize….in a way consecrate….every act we do for others as an offering to God.
Thank you for this reminder that in serving others we are serving God, and that all our acts of service are service to God.
Like an earlier commentator, at first glance this is easy: I’m a pastor! Of course my work serves others! But, over the years, I have also tried to make the office a safe place for my colleagues and staff and to try and be truly collaborative in ministry.
I teach chemistry to teenagers – and I already knew that I teach them far more than the chemistry they learn in class. I have considered my calling as service, but mostly in the abstract – teachers are usually underappreciated, but we do it because we are called to it. I never really thought about how it serves them, but I think that’s what I’ve been doing all along. I try to provide them with a place where they are safe to make mistakes – all kinds of mistakes – and so to learn.
I have always had an absolute belief that they can learn chemistry, and I directly tell them that – and along with it comes unconditional love to support it.
Teachers *are* underappreciated. Two years ago at our Maundy Thursday foot washing, I washed the feet of an elementary school teacher. As I held her feet, I felt such love and gratitude well up and flow out through my hands, and our eyes filled with tears. I’ll never forget it. Thank you, Kathy, for your loving presence with your students!
It is hard to nourish myself without feeling selfish or self-centered. It is a wedge that Satan drives between me and my feeling of self-worth. Thanks, Br. Luke for this wonderful message to remind me that in order to do my work, I need to feel loved and cared for first, or I become resentful at its purpose. “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” Thank you.
I understand that sentiment!
I know also what you are saying. I think about this though, Jesus continually throughout his life took time for prayer and renewal-sometimes alone, sometimes with a few friends and sometimes in the worship community. He taught me , us that we continually need to be refueled for the journey- It’s hard to find the time with the distractions of our lives but it sure helps! Joyce
Briefly written early this morning: “How does my work serve others? In learning patience and quiet and first of all accepting myself. So that I may accept others as they are. With less negative projections. Learning and owning what those projections are about. A kind of mindfulness.”
I like this … video very much. It is most helpful.
I am in the nursing field. My prayer every day is for Godly wisdom and guidance in my practice…and for Christ to flow through me. Some days I get in His way too much…and other days…
The best yet Br, Luke. Thank you Margo
In healthcare the superficial answer is easy.
Deeper, and I ws reflecting on this as part of my annual review, our unit goes beyond looking after the patient & their family and really looks after our colleagues too. The local family run charity even started to put on cut price massage & exercise classes for staff to support us!
This sort of loving is so important at work. I am delighted to be reminded of it.