Have you ever uttered this phrase to yourself before? You’re doing some sort of task or interacting with some human and suddenly it hits you: “I’m a jerk!”. That’s not a fun revelation to come to.
Living in community and working with people has a way of exposing character traits and certain flaws that we can hide when we’re in isolation. Community naturally brings these things to light.
I volunteer with a ministry called We are Unveiled, an organization that seeks to remove the veil for all women, encouraging them to embrace who they are in Christ. We do this by sharing stories of victory through a number of platforms. I love serving on this team and have met some amazing women during my time there. I feel like I’ve known these ladies forever when, in reality, I’ve been on the team less than a year.
I’m always asking the founders what they need and how I can help them. I try to make myself available because, currently, I have the time, the capacity, and the grace to do it. But I don’t always get the response I want. For months I’ve heard people speak about needing help in a certain area but, because that’s not an area that I am passionate about, I ignored their ask. I chose to avail myself to tasks that I cared more about. I wasn’t listening.
A couple weeks ago the founders again reached out to the team, asking for help in this area when I had the realization: I’m a jerk!
I had made serving on this team about me. I wanted to serve my way, in my timing, when it fit within my schedule. But that’s not what a servant looks like. Serving is not about self.
And, I’ve learned, serving others should always begin with listening. I’ve found the question “What do they need?” often is made up of two components:
What do they say they need?
And what do they actually need?
Intuitively I see needs in an organization or system that are deeper and aren’t often expressed but, until the known needs are addressed, these other things won’t be a priority. When I choose to listen and meet the needs that are explicitly stated, I can build more trust and rapport so when I present I need I see, others will be more likely to respond. But it all begins with listening. Truly listening, which is hard to do sometimes.
Choosing to listen and learn is a really humbling experience and majorly uncomfortable for me but is entirely worth it. This means going into a situation without a solution already drummed up. This means laying down pride and pre-conceived notions and just serving.
Is there anyone you need to listen to this week? This could be anyone, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, your friends, your teammates, your pastor. Has your heart to serve others drifted like mine had? I encourage you to take a step back, humble yourself, listen, and then serve those around you this week!