What is service and what role does it play in our lives and in all of the connections in our lives?

An attitude of service makes us constantly aware of the needs and yearnings of others. We instinctively respond to those needs and desires just as we instinctively respond to our own.

A Waitress taking a breakfast order at Kahala ...

A Waitress taking a breakfast order at Kahala Hilton Hotel, Hawaii, USA (1989) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often the most powerful forms of leadership is that of the servant-leader, who rather than promoting self seeks to nurture and empower others, modeling humility along with vision and clarity of purpose.

One of the most important questions in life is what and whom we serve. This question is at the very heart of our life’s purpose.

Following is a little story that illustrates what it means to be of service to our fellow man.

One day a man saw an old woman, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. Therefore, he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she looked worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He did not look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. Only fear can put that chill in you.

He said, ‘I am here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it is warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.’

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old woman, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. Nevertheless, he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She could not thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The woman asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, ‘And think of me.’

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road, the woman saw a small cafe. She went into grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day could not erase. The woman noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old woman wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the woman finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the woman wrote: ‘You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I am helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.’

Under the napkin was four more $100.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard….

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, ‘Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.’

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