Tell Us: How Do We Be of Service Without Being a Servant?

Denise

Tell Us: How Do We Be of Service Without Being a Servant?

Denise
playing-cards-167049_640Since launching Caregiving.com in 1996, I've worked various full-time and part-time jobs. When I don't work, Caregiving.com suffers from my financial strain. And, then I suffer even more.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I began babysitting for a now 8-year-old boy and his now 6-year-old sister. I work various hours each week depending on the travel schedule of their mom, a corporate trainer. She and I both need flexibility -- she needs a babysitter who doesn't need a guaranteed 40-hour week. I need a client who gives me the flexibility to work when I can. (I don't work when I have a speaking engagement or my parents' have a doctor's appointment or other heath-related commitment.) Some weeks, I may work 40-plus hours; others, just 12 or so. When I do work, the days are long. I'm up at 5 a.m., out of the door at 6 a.m. and back home after 7 p.m. While the kids are in school, I run errands for the parents and then work on my business. They pay me for the full day, even for the hours when I work for myself while the kids are in school -- an awesome arrangement we agreed to from the beginning.

Yesterday afternoon, the boy had soccer practice which meant the girl and I played in the park. "Come on, Denise," she said. "Let's play that game we play. Let's play Queen and Servant where I'm the queen and you're the servant doing anything I ask you to."  (Just a reminder: This little girl also coaxed me into the pool last year which inspired into my $100 summer vacation.)

As I walked to take my position on the playground, I mumbled, "This isn't just a game. It's my life."

How do we be of service, I wonder, without becoming a servant?

We are individuals who value service to others, making us invaluable in our society, our communities and our families. Being of service means we have empathy and compassion. We understand another's pain and do what we can to lessen the pain. Being of service means we can do and be in ways others simply can't imagine.

In our service to others, though, we encounter others who take advantage of our service, who may ask too much, too often. But, we're service-minded. How do we step back during our service to remain of service but not a servant? And, how do stay of service and stay well?

What do you think?