Serving others is an invaluable part of your spiritual wellness practice. Even if you don’t identify as a member of a religion or culture that celebrates a December holiday, you can still dedicate this time to service and giving. Think of it as a twist on your gratitude practice. Read on for inspiration for serving others this holiday season.
Serving Others is Serving God
At first, it might not seem like serving others should be included in a spiritual wellness practice. After all, isn’t spirituality just between you and God? The truth is, all relationships have a spiritual element to them. This is for two main reasons: First, serving others is a form of expressing gratitude, which is a key element to spirituality and overall happiness. Second, serving others is serving God.
In a previous article on improving mental health with spiritual wellness, we said: “A big part of spirituality is recognizing that all of us are interconnected by something bigger than ourselves.” So, when you serve someone else, you’re acknowledging the presence of the divine. That’s why giving and serving tend to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside—you’re connecting to a higher power together.
You’re not alone in this. You have God to guide you. Here are just three ways that the divine can help you serve others:
1) Finding motivation to serve others.
2) Discovering who needs your help the most.
3) Knowing the best way to help someone else.
So if you struggle with the whole idea of giving, start with dedicating time to your higher power. Once you’ve established that connection, you can explore and discover the best next steps for serving others.
Give Without Gifts
Would the holiday season be the same without all the shopping? It’s hard to imagine. Starting with Black Friday and now with Cyber Monday, the whole country and the Internet seem to light up with huge discounts for the holidays. Some of the deals are hard to pass up, whether you’re shopping for yourself or others. But not everyone has the time or the budget to go crazy with holiday shopping.
The holiday season is so conflated with shopping that it’s easy to feel like you can’t give a gift (or at least a good gift) without buying something. While gifts are definitely great ways to show someone you love them, there are plenty of ways to give the gift of service to someone else. Here are some examples:
- Call your grandparents and ask them about their lives.
- Invite someone over for a homecooked meal.
- Text a friend and tell them you appreciate them.
- Pray for someone.
- Thank your mentor for their support.
- Make a personalised card for a friend.
- Bake a batch of cookies.
Feel free to get creative with this! There’s so much you can do. If you need more inspiration, download the Skylight app, where you can find loads of content about serving others. In this article, we’ll highlight two videos from the app from two wellness coaches, Kelly Boys and Thomas McConkie. Both of their videos use New Testament verses to teach about loving and giving, and then the speaker shares their thoughts and leads a mindfulness meditation centered on service. Read on for reviews of the videos and additional reflection questions!
Two Wellness Trainers Share How to Serve Others: Kelly Boys
Selflessness and Compassion with Kelly Boys begins with a reading of a scripture about loving others:
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:1-5)
Kelly says that “it's the comfort that we receive from divine love that allows us to actually turn our gaze toward others and see what their needs are.” She talks about how being selfish is natural because you need to take care of yourself to stay alive and thrive. But feeling loved by a higher power can move you to serve others and overcome your own selfishness:
“One of the really quick ways to help yourself be selfless and look towards others' needs is to see that you're not better than someone else. That's kind of a really big hack for some of us who might carry a sense of inflated self-esteem. Or even if you have a deflated self-esteem, you can bring yourself up to the same level as others, and see that we're all human, we're all in this together. And everyone is doing the best that they know how given their psychological conditioning, given their resources, given their history. And so we can cut each other some slack and be selfless and humble before each other. What would that be like, instead of this kind of attack mode that can happen online and in schools and other places? What would it be like to hold each other in high esteem?”
The video ends with a guided mindfulness practice for serving others and some helpful ideas.
To go along with the video, here are some extra reflection questions to get you thinking about this concept more:
- When was a time where I acted selflessly? What motivated that action?
- What are some of my habits that keep me from serving others?
- Who is someone that I struggle holding in high esteem? What are some of their positive qualities?
Two Wellness Coaches Share How to Serve Others: Thomas McConkie
In the Mindfulness+ episode Giving is Receiving, Thomas shares an inspiring news story from March 2022 about one creative way people sent donations to individuals in Ukraine. This story demonstrates the concept of giving while expecting nothing in return. Then Thomas connects the story to the following New Testament verse:
"And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return." (Luke 6:34)
Here’s one way he interprets the verse:
“On a spiritual level, when we give with no thought of getting anything in return, that quality of selfless giving is receiving in itself. I want you to just let that into your heart for a moment, and I want to practice with this, because the mind gets jammed up. The mind, the thinking mind, does not do particularly well with contradictions. It's either this or that. It's true, it's false. I'm giving or I'm receiving. But at a soul level, at a wisdom level, when we give with no thought of return whatsoever, no hope of return, we are giving as a new self from a new place. And just the blessing of flowing that kind of generosity is a different kind of receiving in that very moment of giving.”
So, whether you’re giving a physical gift or the gift of your time, if you give with no expectation to receive anything back, you’re giving something more than the gift itself. You’re giving yourself to the other person. And this is something everyone can do:
“There is giving from the pocket if we have material resources, and that's wonderful if we do, but there's also giving from our soul, our heart, giving from the source of what we are, and we can all do this. We can all cultivate a spirit of generosity.”
The podcast finishes up with a guided meditation to help you find where you feel called to give with no intention to receive.
Take this practice to the next level with these reflection questions:
- What would it look like for me to give from my heart?
- When was a time where I gave freely, expecting nothing in return? How did it feel?
- How can I be more generous?
The Spirituality Behind Serving Others
As you’ve probably figured out by now, serving others is indeed a spiritual practice that helps you open your heart to love others, yourself, and God. The holiday season is the perfect time to bring service into your spiritual wellness practice. Take some time to reflect on the best way for you to serve others this month. Involve God in your pursuits, and be creative. Soon, you’ll recognize the spirituality behind serving others.
Maybe one of your close relationships feels rocky at the moment. Our app can help with that, too. Try the See Through Conflict or Power to Forgive spiritual exercises to access divine help in your relationships.
Want to start volunteering but don’t know where to start? Head over to JustServe.org to search for volunteering opportunities in your community.