What’s in it for me?

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Maj.) Tim Porter
  • 21st Space Wing chaplain
"What's in it for me?" is a sentiment that is often a driving motivation within popular culture. However, Air Force members fly by a different core value - service before self.

What does "service before self" really mean? Certainly it's primarily about the service we render in order to accomplish the mission, but I believe it is a fitting core value as we enter into the holiday season rich in religious and family traditions, squadron parties and the exchange of gifts among family and friends.

While exchanging gifts is an activity that enriches us, I suggest that we expand our circle of care to include people who are unable to give us anything in return. These include organizations on the base or in the community which support the families and individuals who are struggling financially or who are less fortunate than us.

Right here at Peterson AFB, you can provide gifts for needy families through the "Angel Tree" sponsored by the chapel and first sergeants. The Angel Trees are located in Buildings 1, 2, 350, the base exchange and chapel. All you have to do is take an angel from the tree and follow the instructions. Your gifts will bring joy and a smile to a Team Pete child for Christmas.

Another way you can give of yourself is by volunteering your time and energy in the local community. Just search for homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food bank, or rescue mission and bam, there's your service opportunity! If you have children, take them along with you while you serve. Broadening their perspective on the plight of those less fortunate will help them appreciate all the things they might take for granted and it nurtures a spirit of compassion within their hearts.

Most religious faith groups emphasize the value of sharing personal resources and serving others. Recent research has also shown that volunteering not only meets a need for those at the receiving end, but it improves the giver's mental and physical health too, making them generally happier people.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who was a theologian, philosopher and physician, discovered the blessing of serving for the good of others. He believed that it was needful for him to repay the world for the happiness which it had given to him, so he determined that he would give of himself to improve the plight of humanity. Schweitzer poignantly stated, "I don't know what your destiny will be but one thing I do know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

There are numerous opportunities to practice service before self all around us. Let's go spread some kindness and cheer to others this holiday season, and ultimately you'll be the benefactor too.