Service. Think about that word, what it means. There is a reason we use the word “service” so often in connection with the armed forces. With Veteran’s day being celebrated this weekend, I wanted to take some time to unpack the idea of service and what it means to me as a veteran and as a person.
The Meaning of Service
“Service” means, by definition, doing something for others. That is why people thank us for that. Military service is so honored because it can extract such a high price from those who serve. However, outside the armed forces are many people currently in service to others, in many, many ways, who make sacrifices large and small. The military taught me much about this, and thinking about that can help us all to have a better understanding of the service mentality – what it means to be in service to others.
When people thank me for my service, I say “I’m grateful to have served.” I learned and gained a lot from my time in the military, but as I’ve gotten older the one lesson that has stayed with me and for which I am most grateful is a deeper understanding of service to others. I serve now in other ways, as a manager for ABT’s User Research team, as a Zen chaplain at NCSU, and as a dad. The roles are vastly different, from protection to nurturing, however the principles that go along with service—focus on needs of others, teamwork, dedication, and even some sacrifice—remain the same.
Find Your Path to Service
In all cases where I have served, then and now, I’m honored and grateful to have spent my time doing something important for others. Because service to others brings additional depth and meaning to life, a life without service is a diminished life. That in mind, I urge you and everyone else to meditate on this idea: as you grow and find your path, find some way to serve others.
Finding your path to service doesn’t necessarily mean enlisting. In my career at ABT, I’ve been gratified to work alongside our partners in government and education. I find these people’s dedication to improving the lives of everyday citizens and promoting knowledge among students to be deeply inspiring. Choosing a career that works in these critical areas of the community is a noble way to serve others with your professional energy.
Perhaps you have already found the career you want. Your path to service might involve volunteering for a cause that matters to you. At ABT, my colleagues volunteer their time and energy to raise money for cancer research, local theater and performance companies, children with special needs, and even animals who need care or loving homes.
Ask yourself what cause lights you up and inspires you to want to help. That is a clue to your path to truly understanding the meaning of service for your own life, and to continue your journey to do something for others on Veteran’s Day and every day thereafter.