Developing an Attitude

“Developing an Attitude,” New Era, Oct. 2007, 46

Developing an Attitude

To me, service meant boxes of hygiene kits, a pile of donated blankets, students heading to a rundown public park with shovels and rakes. And that kind of service was something I did not have time for. I felt bad I didn’t do more for other people, but I was barely juggling my classes, part-time job, and calling already. What more could I do?

One day, a phrase popped into my head: “Service is an attitude.”

“What?” I silently asked the air. I thought service was a “project,” like gathering food for the poor or starting a recycling program.

The next day after class I saw a student cutting across campus with his backpack flopping open. He was too far away for me to yell to him. “Someone else will tell him,” I thought. But he continued power-walking away from me. No one stopped him. “I hope he doesn’t lose anything important,” I thought.

“Service is an attitude,” a voice whispered to my mind.

I broke into a run. “Hey,” I called. “Hey, buddy, your backpack is open.”

The bewildered student stopped and flipped through his folders and books to make sure nothing had fallen out. He glanced up at me, eyes wide with relief. “Thanks!”

Sometimes service is a project. Other times it’s paying attention and taking a small step out of the way to make someone’s day better.

Photograph by Robert Casey