Selfcare is not inaction. It isn’t just the stopping of doing things like stop working, stop saying yes to everyone, or stop stressing out. Selfcare is the intentional action of taking care of yourself like going to the doctor, cutting back on social media, or forgiving yourself. Practicing service is one of those intentional actions of selfcare.
Ever heard the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive”? Paul actually said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). An effective way to take care of our souls is to practice service.
Doing service for the sake of doing service because I told you that it’s a way to practice selfcare is not selfcare. It’s an additional item on your to-do list. It’s another burden to carry, and I don’t want that. But C.S. Lewis said,
“People are often worried. They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).
If you haven’t practiced service before, don’t wait around for feelings of generosity or charity to arise in your heart or mind, but go out there, find a need, and fill it.
And as you continue to practice service, it will become part of your life. I believe you will have a shift in attitude and perspective because giving of ourselves without return or expectation of a return impacts our souls. It touches the deepest part of hearts that long to love on others and make this world a better place. Even though we service without expecting anything back, we do get something back. We are blessed. We are fulfilled. It feels good to give back.
How do you practice service? Volunteer! And there are many ways to do that.
Do something you can accomplish on your own such as:
- Donating clothing and items to charity. Rummage through your closet or storage seasonally and take what you don’t need to the local shelter or Goodwill.
- Feed your neighbors. Cook a little extra and give it to your neighbor who might live alone or who might be struggling with food or the act of cooking (like someone with a disability or an elderly neighbor).
- Hand out Blessing Bags to the homeless. Create Blessing Bags and put them in your car. You can hand them out to the homeless you may encounter in your daily commute.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in a group or community, such as:
- Join a ministry in your local church
- Raise money for a charity walk/run
- Participate in a community clean-up program
You can practice service or volunteer locally. Aside from the above ideas, here’s a few more:
- Read. Volunteer to read to children in the library or the sick in hospitals. Check out your local libraries, community centers, and hospitals for more information.
- Sponsor a classroom or a school. This best done in a group or through a ministry. Partner with a local public school to sponsor a classroom or the entire school or an entire grade class. You raise the money and/or collect donations to buy items the teachers and students may need, such as: backpacks, school supplies (pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc.), classroom/teacher supplies (construction paper, folders, stickers, tissue boxes, etc), and other needs (just ask).
- Volunteer with a local organization, such as a shelter, a food bank, or homework help center. There are many kinds of volutneers they may need. They may need volunteers who do the actual work like serving food or giving one-on-one homework assistance. But they may also need volunteers who can do marketing, publicty, donation collection, etc.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to leave your local area to serve globally. If you want to serve globally, but are unable to go on a mission trip or join a disaster relief response team, here are some ideas to look into:
- Pack a shoebox. Through Operation Christmas Child, you can impact the lives of children all over the world. You can pack a shoebox alone, with your friends, or with a ministry or group. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it has a global and eternal impact.
- Fundraise locally for a global impact. Find a organization with a global impact on the cause you want to support. Find out how you can raise money on their behalf. Check out A21, working to abolish slavery.
- Give your hobby a global impact. There are organizations like Knit for Kids that need donations like knitted hats and scarves. Sure you can buy them, but you can also make them, which is usually cheaper for you and adds a special touch. You can also monetize your hobby and donate the money to a charity of your choice.
- Sponsor a child through organizations like World Vision or Compassion International.