Why do people serve others? Most people would agree that they serve (help) others for two reasons: either they do it because they are required to (i.e. community service); or they help others because it makes them feel good, it brings them joy.
During the last year serving as a Lasallian Volunteer at an all-boys high school in New York City, I have often asked myself, “why am I doing this?” Why did I give up a year of my life, move to a new place and get paid next to nothing?
Our current culture would think that I was crazy for turning down job offers after college to become a volunteer and serve others. For a while, I thought I was too. That’s because until recently, I did not understand the true meaning and purpose of service from the Catholic/Christian perspective.
During my undergrad at a Catholic college, I served people in many different ways. I was a leader in campus ministry, worked at student retreats, and even led international mission trips to South America. I did all these things because I thought I was being a “good Catholic” and helping others always made me “feel good.”
The roller coaster ride of emotions I’ve experienced during my time as an LV has helped me realize what Christian service actually is, and how we all can incorporate it into our lives. Service comes from the Latin word “servus” meaning slave. In the Gospel of Mathew (20:28), Jesus defines service when he says “even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” St. Paul unpacks this point even further in his letter to the Philippians (2:7) when he says “but [Jesus] emptied himself, taking the form of a servant [slave], being born in the likeness of men.”
Analyzing these scripture passages, I realized that service (helping others) is not about what I give to someone or how it makes me feel, but rather what I give up in order to serve someone. Jesus is the ultimate example of service because He became one of us and died on the cross to save us from our sins. He gave us everything He had, He emptied Himself pouring out His love for us.
This new mindset has helped me tremendously in my ministry because everyday I am reminded of the choice I made to put my future on hold and give up personal desires so that I can serve the young men of La Salle Academy. Jesus calls us all to serve one another, and when we put others before ourselves we follow not only in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, but of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, as well as countless other holy men and women.
How can you answer the call to serve in your life today?
Saint John Baptist de La Salle …
Pray for us.
Live Jesus in Our hearts …
Brady Fehringer is first-year LV serving at La Salle Academy in New York, New York and is a 2017 graduate of Benedictine College.