Choosing Service

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Choosing Service

I have found that among its other benefits,
giving liberates the soul of the giver.
-Maya Angelou

Growing up in the forties, fifties, and sixties, I mostly learned about service through osmosis by watching my parents, the people in my neighborhood and at church, and watching Victory at Sea on television. I had Lutheran, community, and military ideas about what it was. The way I interpreted these messages was that it was very important to relieve the suffering of others and it could come at a big price—your life.

My biggest heroes at the time, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and JFK, were visionaries wanting to create a better world, and they were all assassinated. Would that happen to me too if I had a dream and helped make the world a better place? You may think this silly, even ridiculous, and yet it made perfect sense to me.

I also saw another aspect of service that was upsetting to me. I would overhear the ladies at church, my Grandma Inga, the elders of my church, and my teachers at school expressing resentment, frustration, and even anger if they were not appreciated the way they thought they should be. Adding these two things together, I became suspicious of people’s motivations and the value of being in service.

All of this changed when I started participating in this work and then choosing it as my life’s work. I began to see and experience the beauty and generosity of choosing service and what the words “unconditional giving” mean.

As I talk with you about service now, it is very important to understand a distinction I draw. The historical definition of service is focused outward and has to do with being helpful, dutiful, and tirelessly providing for others, even to the extent of personal loss or suffering. Now, that sounds extreme, and yet to some people that is what service is about: sacrifice. When we talk about service at Wings, it is a balance of in focus and out focus. Sharing yourself unconditionally with others, your talents, capabilities, and heart, being an instrument of kindness and caring, all the while taking care of yourself.

Wings’ mission is to inspire and support positive change, creating an abundant, loving, and respectful world community. And one of the main ways we do that is by being dedicated to service. Every day at Wings, we create an environment that is rich in respect, compassion, creativity, honesty, playfulness, acceptance, risk-taking, and community. In many ways, we have created family in the healthiest form. This does not just happen! It is not an accident. My staff and I hold our day-to-day working and living environment as crucial to the integrity of our vision for Wings.

Service is an invitation to celebrate what you have to contribute and who you are! Giving to others is a way that touches the world gently with love and respect.

Choosing service is an acknowledgement that we have something of value to share—our energy, love, expertise, time, and sometimes simply our calm presence—listening to and holding the person we are with as valuable and important.

Service is choosing to be fully present in each moment using what we have been given for the highest good for ourselves and others.

Do you want to share your love, capabilities, and enthusiasm? How would you, your family, your workplace, your community, your place of worship, the children of the world benefit by you stepping into an even higher level of being in service in your life? The world community is thirsty for the calm presence of service, for the very gifts and talents you have to share in abundance.

There is a very dedicated and tireless group of individuals that I watch transform their lives through service over a period of a year: the Wings Leadership interns. They give of themselves joyfully and patiently, with tremendous enthusiasm and playfulness. As I work with them as a group and as individuals, I am awed by their incredible commitment to living life as whole, happy, contributing people while helping others. Believe it or not, since I started in the first intern group in 1983, there have been hundreds of interns!

Each day I feel deeply honored and thankful that I “get to be” involved with so many people who support Wings’ vision, doing simple things with great love, presence, and service. Thinking about creating a better world is one thing; taking action to create it is another, because action takes commitment and courage.

I am thankful for every person on this earth who chooses service now.


1. How did you learn about being in service?

2. What were the strong, healthy aspects of service and what were the negative ones?

3. What is your definition of service now?

4. Who is someone who models your definition? How do you feel when you are with them?

5. If you could do one thing for the world, what would it be?

With love and gratitude,
Kris King

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