To serve is a daunting task. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay not to be able to resolve your own personal, professional, health care, or family difficulties/distresses/disasters. It’s okay not to understand or fix the political quagmire that is the United States of America.
It’s okay to admit to messing up, needing to regroup, and even needing to start over from the ground up. There are people who are able and available to assist you; people who serve as guides, teachers, coaches, mentors, or cheerleaders.
There are people, some with specific training and some with the gift to reach out and serve. They are —one phone call away, one text away—-and willing to listen empathetically, offer assistance, and not judge you for needing their service.
For me, upward career mobility meant leaving one community for a new city and state where my children and I had to recreate a village and supportive network. My previous network included child care, chore service, and resources too numerous to mention. I also had a circle of people who could help me navigate the human services and political landscape.
When we arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan, there wasn’t an instant supportive network available to us. Instead, we were the new family in town, the new organizational leader without anyone to vouch for me.
During that first year and the following years, I found individuals and families whose commitment to serving disadvantaged families allowed them to widen their circle to include my children and me. Their service began with explanations of community norms, eccentricities, how to navigate professionally in sometimes “shark-infested waters,” and how to ask insightful questions and wait for the answers, not being swayed by the loudest or most strident voices. They explained how not to become a people pleaser; how to deepen my prayer life so that God could direct me instead of my ego or the loudest voices in the room.
Sometimes my decisions could have been more popular, and community members let me know their displeasure. But to God be the glory, more often, those principled decisions resulted in better outcomes for the people I’d been called to serve. Some of the more long-lasting results didn’t have my name attached to them. And that became a lesson for me. It’s not about who gets the credit. It’s about creating conditions for improvement or new policies and seeing the benefits of the changes.
I believe we are all called to serve, to help one person, a cause, a community, or a nation. Equip yourself for the journey by not setting unreasonable expectations for impact on day one. Instead, reach out to find support for your cause. Be prepared for the setbacks along the way.
Let your higher power guide you through each step, celebrate with you, wipe your tears, and refresh you to meet the challenging outcomes of your call to serve.
Joyce A. Brown is a motivational speaker and author who uses her creative energy to give voice and meaning to the challenges women face in all walks of life. She grew up in Rockford, Illinois in a household of strong women, but her professional career expanded her reach into Peoria and Battle Creek, Michigan. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served as a direct services worker, executive director, program director for a major foundation, and entrepreneur. Joyce has experienced many uplifting moments as a professional and as a dedicated parent and strives to bring those events and lessons to life through her characters in the contemporary fiction novels she pens. Visit her Author’s Page