The Missing Heart Of A Servant

One of the aspects of the contemporary world that is particularly problematic is the divide between such opportunities as are available for people and the mood and tenor of the times. In previous generations, up until the early part of the twentieth century, it was by no means unusual for people to consider themselves and be considered the servants of others. Nor was this a bad thing. I have read and heard stories of how young women worked for a few years about a century ago or so as servants in order to learn the skills necessary to be a good housewife, and similar job progressions are not unusual up to around half a century ago or so, within the personal memory of people I have known personally. Such a thing seems almost unthinkable now. A great many jobs are undesirable to others simply because they involve service. The fact that service jobs are both so readily available and so undesirable is to me a fascinating picture of how it is that economics and psychology do not always make for pleasant befellows.

Far more jobs than we realize are service jobs. Let us take, for example, the air traffic controller. Such a person has to communicate on a regular basis with pilots and help to keep airspace properly clear, communicating conditions, vectors, and manage takeoffs and landings to ensure that planes do not crash into each other and can arrive safely at airport destinations. This is a job that is extremely important in keeping airspace safe. But it is a service job nonetheless, most notably in the fact that the air traffic controller is, whether he or she entirely realizes it, serving the pilots and their best interests (including survival). This is not always something that ATCs realize or appreciate. At times, they will act as if they are in charge of the skies and not merely servants and this attitude tends not to be popular by those of us who listen to the interactions between them and pilots.

In such positions as these, and there are many of them, we can see a wide gulf that exists between the purpose of these positions to serve and the heart of the people that serve in these positions. This is something that we see often in cases where those who are servants view themselves frequently as people in authority rather than servants. We refer to those who work in government, for example, as civil servants, but they typically view themselves to be lords of their domain, something that is easy to recognize if one has ever, say, spent very much time in the DMV. Words like minister spring from the language of service, and yet few would think of the prime minister or those who serve in various cabinet offices as being self-aware that the whole reason for the existence of their offices is to serve the realm. It is hard for people to think of serving others when they are focused on serving themselves.

And that is what we find as being the key problem of our age. We want to be served, but do not want to serve others, by and large. This means that those people who, for whatever reason, find themselves in service positions, tend to feel resentful about it. Those who are served see nothing wrong with this because they are using their money to purchase some sort of time from others, and think themselves perfectly entitled to do so. Yet receiving money for doing service to others does not give someone the heart of a servant. Having a position that requires service does not make someone a content servant, as it is easy to see people with titles of service who forget entirely that such power and position as they possess is for the purposes of serving others. Ultimately, we cannot possess the heart of a servant unless we want to do so, and unless there is a drastic change in our time, it seems unlikely that this is going to be popular;.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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