Anytime I meet an adult, the inevitable “so, what do you do?” question comes up. Work is built into humanity and this is a good thing. Honest work is dignifying. I like to work and almost any work can be valuable if you have the right attitude. A wise ancient king once said “In all labor there is profit..”
“So, what do you do?”
Lately, I have felt awkward when asked or when i have asked this question. I think this is because the connotation of this question has become very self-centered. I love what Rabbi Daniel Lapin asks when he meets a stranger; “how do you serve God’s children?”
What a great way to pose the same question. Think about it. Almost all work that I can think of involves serving another human being. I’m grateful that our society is set up in such a way that when I serve another human being well I am rewarded with money. Don’t get me wrong, serving another human is worth it in and of itself. But, great service is almost always rewarded with money. And this is the way it should be.
What do I do? Basically, I sell natural supplements. Vitamins, herbs, organics foods and such. A basic question with a relatively uninteresting answer. But when asked another, better way…
Who do I serve? My main job is to help people. The way that I serve and help people is to increase their success. I’m doing my job well when the people are work with are profiting. The best part about what I do is that when the people I serve succeed, I succeed and profit too.
Who do I serve? I love this question because it challenges me to view my work in a less self-centered light. Anyone with any job can think of at least a few ways that they serve others. I know that many jobs can suck the life out of the employee. I used to be a manager at a fast food restaurant and there were many nights that I wanted to torch the place. At the time my attitude sucked but there were some ways that I served people. I helped to create a welcoming environment to eat. I helped them decided what they might like best.
Now, I like to think of my self as a professional helper, a servant if you will. I don’t find that demeaning at all. Ask anyone who is genuinely serving someone and they will tell you that the opposite is true. Serving other people is empowering. Serving other people is inspiring. Serving other people is invigorating.
So, who do you serve? Think about it. I know you serve someone. Take pride in that. Be grateful for the opportunity. It’s a beautiful thing.