Friday, February 4, 2011

Words, Words, Words from Albert Schweitzer

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." Albert Schweitzer

I have finished the first volume of the Stephen Ministry training manual, and while each chapter has had a huge impact on me as a person, one that clarified much for me was the chapter on the difference between servitude and servanthood.

Servitude is slavery, service without choice. Servitude is oppression, where the one serving is powerless to change his or her position and often feels humiliated or abused, worthless or hopeless.

Nobody wants to be a slave.

Servanthood, as modeled by Christ, is a form of love. The servant chooses to do tasks that help others out of love for them, not out of obligation or duty, force or social injustice. Servants don't expect anything in return for their service because it's given freely, out of love.

Anybody can be a servant.

Not everyone chooses servanthood, but those who serve, in the sense that Schweitzer uses the word, find it's a kind of addiction. You do something for someone out of love and kindness, and you feel good. So you do something else. And you feel even better. And the service snowballs from there. And one day you realize that doing for others out of love is as necessary for you as breathing. Sometimes it's hard--even painful--but that doesn't matter.

What matters...what makes us acting out of love. Very few of us are called to the level of servanthood of, say, Mother Teresa, but all of us are called daily to little acts of service: making a donation to a worthy charity, taking a meal to someone in need, scrubbing bathrooms so our family stays healthy, holding a door for someone, letting others into traffic, returning a shopping cart for a mom who's loading kids in the car, paying for someone's coffee, bowing our heads in prayer to the Most High. What matters is choosing love.

How can you be a servant today?


  1. I love this post of yours! It's so true - we can choose little acts of servanthood and whenever I think about that the first thing that comes to my mind is how much the drivers on the road can do for each other. To me it feels so good to let another driver merge - yes it's a very small thing but I feel if everybody was to do that the road would be a happy place to drive on! There are so much little acts like these that can transform this world.

  2. The first thing that came to mind is to smile, genuinely, as you meet people along your way. Have you noticed how seldom people smile? (It's especially noticeable in Prague when I visit my daughter there.) Yet a smile can be so encouraging, like a little gift that says "you're special."


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!