The call to be a servant of all

Adam Harbinson
Adam Harbinson

I might have mentioned a book by Edward de Bono that impressed me when I first read it some years ago.

I am in the process of reading it again and I must say it is better and richer second time around.

The book description on Amazon sums it up well; ‘People spend a fortune on their bodies, their faces, their hair, their clothes. Cosmetics, plastic surgery, diets, gym membership - everyone’s trying to be more attractive.

“But there’s an easier way to become a beautiful person. It doesn’t have to be physical. No matter how you look, if you have a mind that’s fascinating, creative, exciting - if you’re a good thinker - you can be beautiful.”

Just as a reminder, he tells a story about two unrelated people at a dinner party; one a stunningly beautiful young woman who stands alone with no one appearing to want to talk to her.

The other is a balding, overweight, middle aged little man with a crowd around him.

It seems bizarre, until you eaves drop.

As people drift toward the young woman and attempt to strike up a conversation they quickly drift away. Why? Because she is intent on talking about herself, her work, her achievements while her unlikely opposite number had developed the ability to show more interest in others than in himself.

‘Tell me about your job... What do you think about this, or that... Tell me, how do you know our host this evening?” - that’s the type of thing he was asking.

John Powell in ‘Why am I Afraid to Love’ says much the same.

He talked about a ‘..vicious and terrible cycle that closes in on us when loneliness, seeking to be relieved through the love of others, only increases.’

He believed that when a person orients his or her life towards the satisfaction of their own needs they become self-centred and difficult to love, even if deserving of our compassion.

This whole business reminds me well of a chap I used to know called Jim, a thoracic surgeon based in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

He used to say: “I do not believe that anyone can be fully happy and fulfilled if their lives are not committed to serving others.”

But there’s nothing new under the sun, is there?

Isn’t that what the Master said?

“If you want to be great in my kingdom you’ve got to be the servant of all” - the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Some of us at the head of life’s queue are in for a shock when we, too late, realise that the queue is heading in the wrong direction!

Adam welcomes comments on his weekly column. You can either email him or write to him, c/o Larne Times, 8 Dunluce Street, Larne, BT 40 1JG.