A reflection on being of service

I checked my military email account this morning before heading out the door to start my day with the University of California “Cal” Football team, and of course the inbox was full from last Friday. Most emails, as usual, were unrelated to me or my future. But the few that mattered each had their own unique importance when it comes to the big picture…the big picture of a life of service.

I received one email about setting up a phone interview for a sports medicine fellowship. Obviously someone is being of service to me by giving up their time to do an interview, with the goal of me giving up my time to help those with sports injuries in the future.

Then another email from a young man, a senior in high school, with aspirations of becoming a naval officer. The son of a career naval officer, who happened to be one of my faculty, and who is yearning to go to the University of Washington on an NROTC scholarship. He sent forth his personal statement and has asked for my review and recommendations.

The next email from a current sports medicine fellow asking me to join him on submitting a paper for publication. A nice gesture to say the least, where everyone involved will benefit.

I put my computer away, grabbed my bags and headed to the car.

Talk about serving others. I am currently staying with great friends who always give themselves and their time to help others. That is how our relationship started 10-years ago. You see, it was my friend Todd who has really shown me what it means to be a servant leader. But he would never label himself with the “L” word. Because for Todd it is all about giving to others without expecting anything in return.


(Todd doing what he does best in serving the players and coaches on the Cal Football team. Making sure all the communications systems are up and running. We almost pulled it off against USC, but they continued the winning streak to 15 years).

And then while sitting in the back of the car on our way to the airport to drop off Todd’s wife for a flight to visit their grandchildren, I received a text message from the son of an old medical school classmate. A navy veteran himself who now plans to apply to medical school. Asking for my advice with interview techniques and if I could write up a letter of recommendation for him. Of course I will. It is all about helping others, isn’t it?

Then a phone call from Todd’s son came in over the blue tooth receiver. For some reason, the steering wheel on his truck was locked and he could not get it released no matter how hard he tried. So we took a little detour on the way to the football stadium to help him out. Serving once again. But we will have to go back and serve some more because we could not get the thing to work. And if Todd cannot fix it, there is definitely something wrong.

All of this in a matter of just a couple of hours. It felt good to be asked. To be of service to others.

And I even made breakfast for my girls this morning. They often wake up at 0500. Not sure where they get that from. Perhaps they are already thinking about serving. And they are taking care of Todd’s dog while we are gone during the day. So yes, they are serving as well.

Service is what you and I “DO.” It is “WHAT” we are. It is what we “BELIEVE” and it is what sets us “APART” from the lonely souls who only think of themselves, and who see serving others as “COMPETITION” rather than “COMPASSION.”

The more you give, the more you will surely receive.




One thought on “A reflection on being of service”

  1. There is magic in that simple but difficult twist of the soul: “It’s not about me,” but what can I do for you? When I look after my teammates success, I get to ride on the same bus home?

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