I’ve always been a huge fan of quotes; I have an embarrassingly-large collection of them posted on my Facebook profile. The other day I was searching for a particular quote when I came across this somewhat well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi. He said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This got me thinking and, as so often happens on the internet, I was immediately sidetracked. Ten minutes later I was still looking at quotes about service. That’s when I came across this gem from Douglas Adams:
To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity. – Douglas Adams
That quote has been rattling around inside of my head since that day. What is REAL service? Douglas Adams, a 20th century English writer, apparently sees real service in the form of sincere acts done with integrity. I would have to agree.
Are most college students serving with sincerity and integrity?
To answer this I think we must first determine how someone can serve with sincerity and integrity. What does this even mean? Some may say that serving with sincerity means honestly caring about the person or group being served. Others may give a more simple explanation and say that sincere service is about honesty; the server must honestly want to help the group benefiting from the work. There must not be any other substantial motives. Perhaps serving with integrity comes down to the fact that the person doing the service isn’t receiving any external benefit from the interaction.
What happens when people are volunteering for these more selfish reasons? I think disingenuous volunteering—people just checking off volunteer hours, people just building resumes, etc.—results in volunteer events turning into people just standing around and not actually working .
Maybe this has something to do with the size of many community volunteering events. When there are two dozen volunteers at one place, how effectively can the site leader really assign work to each specific person? From my experience this can end in people standing around or even fooling around.
Now, I’m not trying to be some old man that believes in all work and no fun, but these ‘volunteers’ must realize why they’re there: To volunteer. Someone who doesn’t actually put in work is not only wasting their own time, but also the time of those who organized the event.
In the end, it is great that so many college students are willing to take time from their hectic schedules to serve others.
But, next time you go to volunteer, ask yourself why you’re really doing it.