A Lifetime of Service

A lifetime of service is accumulated from a million small acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity.


The story is told of a young man who left his known life to follow the California Gold Rush. After weeks of sifting through the river, his only reward was a growing pile of useless rocks. Discouraged and frustrated, the young man was resolved to quit his search when a more experienced prospector approached and noticed his large piles of rocks. "Why are you quitting?" he asked.
"There's nothing here", the young man replied."I must be too late, for there's no gold in this river."
The experienced man patted the young man on the bak and assured him, "There's a chance to find lots of gold in this river; you just have to know where to find it." With that, he picked up two rocks from the pile, cracked them together, revealing several flecks of gold shimmering in the sun. "See, you've already found quite a lot."
The young man was not comforted. Motioning to the bulging bag tied to the prospector's waist, he said, "But I'm not looking for little flecks. I'm here for the big gold nuggets like you've gathered in your bag."
The old prospector reached out his bag for the young man to look inside. He was stunned that he did not see any large nuggets, but instead, thousands of tiny flecks of gold, collected here and there.
"Son," he said, "it seems you have spent so much time looking for the big nuggets that you have missed the opportunities to collect these tiny flecks along the way. Sure, you can wait and hope to find one big nugget, but you will gain more wealth by the patient accumulation of tiny flecks every day."

There are 52 weeks in a year. 365 days. If I did one small act of service per day for someone else, I know I would grow to be more loving, compassionate, and selfless. Far more than if I waited for one big opportunity to come. I'm guilty, sometimes, of wishing to jump on board with the service opporutnity of a lifetime -- something big and grand -- when there is much needed service with the friends, families, and even strangers that live right here, nearby.

For example:

  • When my husband was out of town for days and weeks on end, friends offered to watch my kids at nights so that I could have a break, and run some errands without kids in tow.
  • When I had a miscarriage, my sisters came over with flowers, and breakfast -- just so I knew that they cared and would help pull me through.
  • When my son hit his head at a store, another mom I did not know immediately sprang to my aid to help with my other kids, carts, and strollers while I stopped the bleeding. She stayed by my side until we got things all straightened out...(ironically, this had happened to HER child two weeks prior. And even more ironically, two weeks AFTER my son's staples were removed from his head, I was at the park when the same thing happened to ANOTHER kid...so I could step in and be that angelic stranger for someone else in need.)
  • When I was sick with the flu, friends brought over dinners for my kids so that I didn't have to think of food. (bless them!)
  • When I was complaining to a friend that I had just put in a load of laundry to discover that my washing machine all of a sudden quit, she showed up at my house, laundry baskets in hand, to take home my clothes to finish my wash.
  • When Shayla (friend of a friend) found out her friend's kids were sick one night, she immediately jumped into action to help. Besides picking up quarters for them to wash all that soiled laundry, she also arrived at their doorstep with these thoughtful surprises: spare sheets for their new twin beds, Pedialite for the kids, gingerale to calm their tummies, new fun toothbrushes, a new movie to watch as they get better -- and she took home their dirty sheets and blankets to be ready for the next day.

There are opportunities for service every day. So often I'm stuck in a spot that I don't know what I can do for someone. And embarrassingly, sometimes as I wait for that great idea, I end up doing nothing. How often do we attest, though, that even a phone call or an email that says, "I'm thinking of you" helps buoy up our spirits to get through?

How true is it that you better understand what someone's going through if you have gone through it yourself! So the best thing you can do to help someone in need is to remember what you needed in that situation. Sympathy is strong, but empathy is stronger. Share your experiences with others. Let them live them with you, too. Accept people's service to you...you are helping them accumulate their flecks of gold.

A lifetime of service is accumulated from a million small acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity.

When you see someone in need -- a stranger, a friend, or a family member --

Don't just ask what you can do.
Do what you can do.

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About Kerri

Ahh…see that smile on my face? That’s a genuine smile. I love my family. I love the 4th of July. I love the beach. I love ice-cream. And the day this picture was taken, I was getting the combination of it all. Ahhh…that’s a real smile!
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