Date Added: January 2016
As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day tomorrow, two words come to mind – grace and service. He epitomized both, and living grace and service daily for ourselves, at work, with our families, and in our communities is a way we can contribute back to society.
Contributing back to local and global communities is part of corporate social responsibility; and something many people do not consider as much as they should. This promotes more engaged employees, stronger collaboration, enhanced recruiting and retaining of employers, and a stronger corporate culture.
For employees, it has been proven that people who care about our community care more about others. Employees volunteering, side-by-side, produce more collaboration at work. Volunteering also provides leadership development opportunities.
Nearly 63 million people in the U.S. volunteer annually, approximately 25.3% of the population. Time invested ranges from 32 hours per year for those aged 25 to 34, to 96 hours annually for those aged 65 and older.
Service relates to grace in how we live our lives and contribute our God-given gifts back to society. Grace is living out our gifts in our daily lives, using them the way they are intended to be used, and being a vessel to humbly serve others. Serving others means our co-workers, our families, and our communities.
Grace renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to do good works. Our actions testify to our grace, and grace provides us direction on how to live our lives through contributing back to others.
At a recent team-building event one of the questions was, “What is one thing you would like to do before you die?” About one quarter of the participants responded with, “Go on an international humanitarian trip.” This is fantastic; however, instead of simply saying this, it is time to begin acting and doing. There are myriad opportunities through churches or other service organizations.
I have had the opportunity to participate on three international humanitarian trips – leading teams twice – and will be returning this year, leading another team. The trips have related to health, economic development, and clean water. Many people compliment me for going; yet it more important to encourage others to go themselves to experience the service and grace.
The first time I heard the word grace, I didn’t think much of it. Over the years, I have learned the importance of living a life of grace because it impacts all areas of our lives. It takes humility to another level because it truly is acknowledging our gifts and recognizing our obligation to use them to contribute back to society and service to others.
For me, grace was breaking down religious barriers to ensure children in India didn’t contract polio. It was holding a baby in my arms in a Muslim village in the Hindu country to give the child two drops of polio immunization, and the mother saying, “thank you” to the Christian man who happened to have the honor of performing the service in that moment.
Grace is breaking down into tears in front of an entire village in Kenya not because of playing a small role in helping provide clean water to people, but because they exemplify grace in every action and word. People without clean water, and with little food and money. People who open their homes to people they have never met. Who gladly walk for miles to say “thank you.” Who work side-by-side to help each other, knowing their community will be stronger together than individually. Who embody peace. This is grace.
We can and should use our gifts at our jobs and to provide basic needs for our families. However, it is our responsibility to use these gifts for more than ourselves.
There is a saying, “I am who I am.” We should each remember that “I am” because of the gifts we have been given, and strive to live your life full of grace and service to others. This is not only a New Year’s resolution, but a promise to “I am.”
David Yeghiaian is committed to positively impacting the lives of others through faith, inspiration and leadership. Reach him at email@example.com.