Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Serving Others

Serving others actually may benefit our own wellbeing!

Today let’s examine ways in which the Bible helps us with our daily life and wellbeing. Last week we explored how adherence to basic Christian principles of daily living such as prayer, praise, fellowship, receiving Biblical teaching and outreach (Acts 2:42-47) can be a tool we use to enhance personal wellbeing.

Now let’s focus on one aspect of these principles, personal service. Teleios recently evaluated the effect of personal service on wellbeing at Grace Community Church (MacIlvaine WR, Nelson LA, Stewart JA, Stewart WC. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-582). We surveyed 309 adults in two services on one Sunday.

The survey showed that individuals who routinely participated in a community or church-based service program, compared to those who did not, had better wellbeing scores in contentment, peace, joy, purpose and community acceptance. Wow! Who wouldn’t want that? Additionally, people who served had a better global wellbeing score (average of seven questions together) than those who did not serve.

Interestingly, the study showed the benefit of service might occur with as little as just one hour a week helping others! The benefit was even greater when people served up to 6 hours per week. In addition, the perceived benefit of the service did not depend on the type of service, whether in the church or in non-church sponsored community service.

That leads us to ask why personal service would help wellbeing. We don’t know this answer for certain but there are several potentials:
v  Serving others provides us with a sense of purpose.
v  Serving provides a comfort that our lives are useful.
v  When we serve we realize we are being obedient and living consistently with God's desires.
v  Serving takes our eyes off ourselves so we don’t focus just on our problems, but also on assisting others.

This raises the question; do all types of community service impact wellbeing equally? In other words, does spiritual service have as much impact as service that is purely social?

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to seeing you again next week.

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