Have you ever spent a whole bunch of time doing something that you thought was helping out, and then all you got at the end of it was a bunch of complaints?
I’ve been there – and I’ve been left fuming…
“I did this for you and that for you… I spent X amount of time… I, I, I, I…. Can’t you just acknowledge what I did…”
Now is there something you noticed about my response – I certainly did – the word ‘I’…
I’ve been helping clean up this morning, and like all slightly self-centered human beings, I’ve been thinking all about what a great job, you guessed it, I have been doing.
I’ve been thinking about how many brownie points I’m going to win – the mileage I’m going to get out of it…
So, all of a sudden, the question that started toying around in my mind is – ‘who am I serving here, S, or me?’
And then it dawned on me – it’s not really an act of service – if I’m serving myself!
It’s not really an act of service, if I’m so caught up in what a great job I’m doing bringing her breakfast in bed, and how pleased she’ll be with me – but all the time forgetting that when she actually gets out of bed, she’ll feel obliged to clean up the bombsite I left downstairs in the kitchen!
Is it really an act of service if it creates more work than there was to begin with?
“It’s the thought that counts…” I’ve heard myself say a ton of time, but really – if I’m going to do something, I’ve got to start thinking about who I am serving!
Philippians 2 says:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
And I guess now I understand what empathy means – not looking at things my way, but looking at things her way – what will actually bless her? Am I trying to see the things that she sees, or just trying to check a box?
Can I do something that she’ll really appreciate – and would I do it even if she doesn’t notice?
What am I trying to communicate – how great a husband I am? what a wonderful sacrifice I made? Or how much I actually value and love her?
And with that in mind… I better get back to folding clothes.