It could be making dinner for a sick friend; it could be walking the dog for the man next door; volunteering for a local charity, collecting and donating tins for Foodbank… The list of service jobs you can do in your community are endless. However, the importance of service isn’t just about the act itself. Whatever way you can think of to head out into the community and help others is going to be immensely beneficial – not just how others feel about you – but how you feel about yourself.

Research has found that young people benefit greatly, both academically and emotionally, from volunteering their time to make the community and world a better place. While completing community service projects, we develop real-world skills that help us succeed in school, university and beyond. It’s an ideal way to practice leadership, problem-solving, collaboration with others, time management and communication amongst others. But most importantly, we learn that the work we do can make a real impact in the world. Service doesn’t only help you become a successful adult later in life, it helps you become a good person. Sounds great. Right?

Well almost. The problem is, it’s a little bit boring…

Not always! Don’t get me wrong, baking a cake is fun, and walking the dog isn’t too bad. But mowing the lawns for the old lady across the road, picking rubbish off the side of the road, scraping gum off the bottom of a table – it kind of sucks.

I believe that young people want to be of service, and achieve all the meaningful things that come with that. However, they just don’t want to spend their days feeling like they’re watching grass grow. If it’s meant to make you feel awesome and empowered, why do you come away from most service jobs feeling tired and uninterested?

The thing is, we can’t just pick the fun service jobs that we enjoy. The point of doing service isn’t to have The Best Day Ever, it’s to do something valuable for someone else with no expectation of anything in return. But because it can be so darn tiresome, it’s hard to feel encouraged and motivated to get involved.

This is where solutions come in. We need to find a way to motivate ourselves to get out there and do service, for the benefit of others and ourselves. To me, the solution is the buddy system. Get in a pair or a group and do it together. With a mate almost absolutely anything can become fun – hopefully even scraping gum off a desk. In the failure of the buddy system, grab your headphones. Download your best playlist or favourite podcast. Take the time to think, reflect and feel all the pressure float away.

Service doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be something you dread. It should be a time you either take for yourself to regroup; to feel productive and beneficial, or at least a time to have fun with your mates while still being a valuable member of society.  Get out there and make it work for you!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Research benefits of service for young people – is it worth all the hard work?
  2. What does a society look like with people doing service jobs, compared with one that doesn’t?
  3. Why do schools encourage service?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Who is a good example of someone who led a life of service? Did they come away from it a better person? Did they live a fulfilling life?
  2. Do a bit of research/asking around in your local community about areas that need help, spread the word!
  3. Ask your friends when the last time they did service was. Team up with them and go do some more!

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