Many people shy away from serving on civic, community service and professional bodies. I am glad to note that a Malaysian main stream newspaper recently launched and continues to promote a programme that extols the virtues, satisfaction and joy of serving voluntarily in such worthy bodies.
Quite a number of people do not see the point of serving in PTAs, temple, church or even neighbourhood associations. The majority of these people are quite prepared to let this task be shouldered by a few, caring, responsible and committed individuals who sometimes serve on not one but a few such committees.
Reluctance to serve
Why is there this reluctance to render voluntary service on an altruistic basis? There are various reasons. For some, it is considered a sheer waste of their valuable time and effort; for others, they do not have the time to spare!
The irony here is that it is the busy person who is best suited to serve because he really knows how to manage his time and priorities. For a few others, they feel that such voluntary service does not in any way help with their career or business progress. This is just plain fallacy!
Lose yourself in service to others
Mahatma Gandhi once remarked: ‘ The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’
The important point to remember is that in serving voluntarily in such bodies, and for the right reasons too, we actually gain quite a bit! We get to really improve and hone our social, business and professional skills in such settings. We also learn the art and skill of working with a wide variety of individuals with their own motivation to serve. Many actually gain hands on lessons in inspiring leadership, master the skill of chairing meetings effectively and also acquire the much needed social, business and professional etiquette through such interactions in these organisations.
Emerging definition of a career
Another equally valid point to consider is that in the emerging definition of a career, it is not just what you do at your place of work that matters. In the larger and more encompassing definition of a career, it is the sum total of all your nine to five work plus your other social, professional and business commitments that you voluntarily undertake.
When this voluntary service is carried out for the right reasons and not for personal publicity in the print or electronic media, then this brings honour and recognition for your employer too.
A number of people volunteer with the aim of securing a state or federal award. i.e. a PJK, an AMN or even a datoship. They even work behind the scenes to secure such awards and get angry and disappointed when no such award is bestowed. Many blue chip companies and MNCs are pleased to see that their employees are carrying out this selfless voluntary service after office hours because it also reflects well on the company and the brand.
Contribution for the betterment of society
There is also actually much satisfaction to be gained by serving in a voluntary capacity.
For instance, if you are serving in a civic capacity, then you are making a contribution for the betterment of your society. If you are serving in a community service club or a neighbourhood association, then you are actually saying that you are giving primacy to the human and spiritual rather than the material values of life.
Further more, you are also developing by example, a more intelligent and serviceable citizenship. And finally, if you are a professional, you are actually giving your profession a good name in the process.
I would, therefore, like to encourage many more individuals from all walks of life to volunteer in a body of your choice and liking and make a difference to your community and society at large.
As someone wise once remarked: ’Service on a voluntary basis is a form of prayer to thank the Almighty for our many blessings in life.’