Our Motivations For Service
It’s easy to jump into service without thinking about what our motivations behind serving are. Giving back can become part of a routine, or something that is done because of a vague sense of obligation. Being in touch with the passions and intrinsic factors that guide our desire to give back to and help support other people plays a vital role in sustaining service as a life-long practice.
At our last Tuesday meeting, sophomore Bonner Chloe Stowell posed an important question: What are our personal motivations for service? Some kept their reasoning short, sweet, and to the point while others took a more specific angle on why we as Bonners do what we do.
James Russ: We all come from different ethnicities and backgrounds, and it’s our duty to serve the community around us.
Josh Monsivais: To learn and develop ourselves through helping other people, and also because it makes us feel good.
Justice Caldwell: Serving in order to making housing more affordable.
Hiral Waghela: Mutually beneficial service learning.
Greg Goedecke: As Bonners, we are finding our place in the worldwide community of service in order to live lives that aren’t meaningless. Part of this means building our leadership skills, networking, thinking critically about the issues that surround us, and creating projects to serve those needs.
Brinda Penmetsa: The UH Bonner Leadership Program is a service oriented leadership program within the Honors College consisting of a diverse group of undergraduate students who commit to making a meaningful difference in the Houston community.
One of the core beliefs held by the Bonner Foundation is “that colleges and congregations have vital roles to play in society in nurturing and mobilizing thoughtful, caring, and diverse leadership dedicated to community service.” If you reflect on the answers to why we serve, you will find that the basic tenants of “thoughtful, caring, and diverse leadership dedicated to community service” are present—at some level—in all of them. The Bonner Network Wiki (http://bonnernetwork.pbworks.com/) is a great resource to reference when asking these questions about what the importance of and motivations behind service are. A large part of the answer to those inquiries comes from self-exploration; using the wiki as a source can help unearth those explanations.
Whether our motivations are founded in spirituality, a passion for connecting with people, or any other reason for pursuing a service-oriented life, the end goal is a positive influence in the lives of people who need it. The rationale highlighted by the Bonners above reflects the reciprocity embodied by service. Service isn’t solely about selfish or selfless motivations; it’s about combining the two for the benefit of our fellow people. Without feeling a sense of purpose or accomplishment, it can difficult to find joy in serving others. At the same time, self-efficacy is a vital part of connecting with and learning from those we help. Being in touch with the foundational motivations for our service helps identify the balance between the two, allowing for a more specific, effective, and ardent attitude toward how we serve the communities around us.
(This piece was contributed by Sam Scarber, Bonner Affiliate.)