Off-Topic Thursday: Let Others Serve You
As you created your New Year’s Resolutions for 2013, how many involve letting or enabling other people to do things?
In general, New Year’s Resolutions tend to be very self-focused. We want to lose weight, exercise more, write a book, find a new job, become more active in church, etc. And all of those can be good things. But sometimes it can be good to not do something, too.
This came to mind when I was at a conference for travel agents and suppliers recently and heard from a representative from Crystal Cruises. She was telling us about the fact that they have plenty of deck chairs so guests don’t need to worry about not being able to find one available when they want it. Then she said something that perked up my ears: “If you don’t see an open chair, just ask one of the crew members and they’ll find one for you. That’s what they’re there for, and they’re happy to do it.”
It caught my attention because I don’t like to do that. I don’t want to bother anybody by asking for help. On a cruise, I’ll search the entire deck several times looking for an empty chair…and if I can’t find one I’ll probably just go somewhere else on the ship. If I’m in the grocery store, I’ll search the entire store before asking an employee where a product is. When I was working on this website, there were a few bugs and I spent 5 or 6 hours trying to fix it myself. Then I hired someone to do it for me and she fixed it in 20 minutes.
What the Crystal rep’s statement showed me was that by trying to be so self-reliant, I was actually robbing someone else of the chance to do their job—maybe even the chance to live their purpose, use their strengths/gifts, or discover something about themselves.
I know that’s true because I’ve experienced it on the other side, too. There are things I can do, things I’m good at and love to do, but I don’t get asked to do it. I see people who are struggling with something that I can do easily, but they have no interest in asking for help.
Of course, we need to be careful to serve others well and not develop a sense of entitlement. This isn’t about doing as little as possible and making everyone else work for us. As with most things in life, balance is key. But look around at the people in your life—friends, family, coworkers, people you come in contact with throughout your day—really look at them and ask yourself if there’s something you could ask them for help with. Better: Ask God the same question.
Maybe they could teach you something, or assist you on a project. Maybe they have a connection you need or a different perspective that would benefit you. Maybe it’s something big, but it could be something small. The point isn’t how significant or meaningful it seems. The point is creating opportunities for other people to grow, serve, and learn themselves by creating space in what you do and inviting them in.
I have some big goals for this year, and I can’t do them on my own. I’ll be relying heavily on God, of course, but I’ll also be partnering with people in dozens of ways over the next 12 months. You may be one of them. And if there’s some way I can partner with you, let me know!
Question: Have you ever asked someone for help (even begrudgingly) and had them thank you for the opportunity to help you? Talk about it in the comments below or on the Facebook page.