The three perspectives I wrote about last week - hope, reciprocity and shared responsibility - help keep us get close to God and nearer to finding that best part of ourselves that is called serve others, i.e. our own “Little Christ.” I have to re-anchor myself to these perspectives all the time, it’s not a onetime shift in perspective.  It is easy to lose hope, to not take a moment and let in what has been given to me and to allow myself to think I am alone. This can happen to the best of us when we serve. Some signs that we are losing these perspectives are our desire for concrete outcomes, forgetting our position of power, and our pride.

This first is the danger of wanting concrete things to happen for another person so much so that we become blind to what is before us and deaf to what they are really saying. This sets us up for disappointment and shoves God out of the way. Often times we cannot see what God has in store for us or the person we are helping because our own desires have become paramount. Thinking “this is what these people need” can actually reduce our own effectiveness and theirs. 

The second is not being aware of the position of power we hold when we are helping someone. Whether you wish to or not, when we move into a helping relationship with another person the reality “I have something you need” puts you in a position of power over that person.  Remembering this helps us shape what and how we serve. This includes even our most subtle desire for a “thank you” from that person. If we let go of our desire for a "thank you" and just accept we are helping the person with no need for gratitude, it will free you up to see the hope and feel the reciprocity, thereby reducing the power differential.

The third is the danger of pride. All of us who want to make a difference and help another person or cause is in danger of putting ourselves above that person and seeing their weakness as an opportunity for our ego to get bigger.  How do we stop ourselves? One way is to bring these into your awareness. Pray before you set out to be of help to someone else, ask God to bolster your sense of hope, open your eyes to the gifts this encounter will bring to you, and see yourself as a member of the community that you are serving.