By CHRIS BATES
How my dog reminds me
to serve others
We can learn a lot from our dogs. One of the big differences between my lab, Julep, and me is her endless energy to serve. Those of us who are dog owners know well their undying affection and desire to please.
During one extremely cold and icy January duck hunt, we had a successful morning and she was busy with a lot of retrieving. The amazing thing to watch was her battling ice the whole time. It was well below freezing, and we had broken ice to get into our spot. Our equipment had frozen up several times, and it was difficult to stay warm. I kept a close watch on Julep, and at several points wiped ice off of her whiskers and coat.
Every time we shot ducks, she was wide-eyed and excited. She swam through icy water to bring them back every time I sent her. Her retriever body is built to withstand cold, and her mind is geared to serve and please. I was proud of her and was very aware of her value to the hunt for us and the amazing strength, endurance and passion she showed.
God made us in His own likeness. We are built with the capabilities to help others and impact those around us. We are each given our own specialized talents, but at the same time, every one of us has the ability to serve those around us.
Serving others even impacts us. It lets us avoid self-seeking and self-pity. It works when all other activities fail to get us out of a funk or change our way of thinking. To watch others grow is a priceless reward and feeds our souls. The energy derived from seeing others succeed can give our own lives new meaning.
If only we were all as selfless as Julep. Giving of ourselves to others can go as far as mission trips and professional callings to serve. Matthew 25:35-40 guides us: “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Let us not forget, however, that it’s just as important to be aware of those closest to us as it may be to serve elsewhere. How can we be nicer and help our spouse today? When our children make us angry or disappoint us, how can we lift them up anyway? When a coworker is struggling, how can we help her find success? It is not that we can always slay the giant with a slingshot, but we can absolutely change a moment for the man next to us. Those opportunities add up and bring us further into His light. Be challenged to change a moment today, then wake up tomorrow and do it again. You will be amazed at how much you are built to serve.
Chris is president and founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.