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The concept and meaning of service


[FILES] Corps members

Some time ago, indeed some years back, a friend of mine and I were engaged in a serious reflection and conversation on the concept and meaning of service. Every now and then, we all speak of service. We ask ourselves: Service to whom and by whom, and to what end? We ask: What is service and what kind of service there are: voluntary or obligatory? There is talk about service to neighbours and we speak about service to our community. There is a national service: there is service to organizations. We speak of church service. There is a national youth service which requires Nigerian Youths to serve their fatherland.

Similarly, we speak of military service which is akin in a more serious and greater dimension than youth service. What is the essence of service? The concept of service can’t but invite those who occupy themselves with it into deep contemplation. All human beings need and desire service in one form or the other. When services are rendered what should the scale of compensation be in order to comply with the Law of Balance? For, where there is no balance there can be no harmony. Even where the disharmony is suppressed, it soon rears its ugly head. The Law of Balance like all other Laws of Nature are inflexible, incorruptible, uniform and self-acting.


It is hardly realised that some beings provide the air we breathe unceasingly for 24 hours that make a day, for 365 days that make a year, 2,160 earth- years that constitute an Age—the Age of the Father, the Age of the Son, and the Age of the Holy Spirit! And 26,000 years that make the Platonic Year also called the Great Year. Working with plants, the beings turn carbon dioxide, through photosynthesis using sunlight, into oxygen without which there can be no human or animal existence. They give their all in the service of the Highest without first reconsidering, without any forethought. For us human beings, what is service?

The following came out of the conversation which I have decided to share:
Throughout the world, service is accepted as one of the values that should inform the policies, the programmes and activities every individual, of all rightly guided governments and organizations. While on their hustings, it is service politicians plan to render if elected they hammer upon. It is by how much service they have delivered what they want to be judged. We find it is by the uncomfortable criteria of service rendered that our governments of different hues, military or civilians have been judged and are still being evaluated. We also find service as one of the key concepts in the motto of social clubs and societies whether in this country or elsewhere. It thus becomes important to understand this little word consisting of seven letters—seven which is a number out of which Creation issued, and which denotes Perfection while five is the figure of Love.

Service is a common enough concept the dictionary meaning of which is “work or duty done for another.” Its meaning, that is, its everyday meaning ought, therefore, to be clear enough to all and sundry. Unfortunately, however, dictionary meanings are not the best or the deepest where the understanding of primordial or natural concepts is called for. By a primordial concept is meant a concept which would exist even if a man did not. A concept like Nigeria or country, for instance, requires the existence of man to exist.

A natural concept on the other hand with a primordial concept is to elevate and enrich one’s being. What then is a concept in the context of higher knowledge? A concept is best described as a thought-capsule which, like most capsules, carries, more than one ingredient or element of thought or idea. To know the full potency of a medical capsule, what it can do and how it does it, we need to know its constituent ingredients and their relationships.


What I am getting at is that concepts hold the key to many of the so-called enigmas of life. Thus, the more concepts we understand the more of life—its physics, its mechanics and its dynamics—we understand. The channel of expression of concept invariably has its nexus in language. The value of the gift of language itself lies in its ability to communicate to us the meanings of concepts and thus to unveil to our life, Creation and their secrets. In other words, in an attempt to understand the full meaning of the concept of service, we are engaged in trying to extend our knowledge of one tiny fragment of life in the wonderful Creation of our Maker. We are engaged in what in common parlance, though incorrectly, a great many would describe as a religious activity. More correctly, however, it is a spiritual activity by which we mean an activity that enriches the spirit.

To come to a proper understanding of the meaning of service, we must first understand its constituent parts. These are the one performing the duty or work; the work or duty performed and the recipient or beneficiary. At one level, therefore, service involves an active agent (the doer), a passive agent (the recipient) and the instrument or nexus (i.e. the deed) which links the active with the passive. At a deeper level, however, it is seemingly more complex than that, for, if service is properly conceived and properly executed, as well as properly received, it involves motion which is not linear but cyclical. It leads to a situation in which the active agent soon becomes the passive agent and the passive agent the active agent—that is to say, the giver becomes the receiver and the receiver the giver. What does this mean?

A good service soon generates in the recipient gratitude which can take any of the three words (or kind) deeds which go from the receiver of the duty or work to the original doer. With that the cycle of actions initiated by the service closes, having lifted two agents concerned to a new plane of being which can or indeed serve as the starting point of a new cycle of service. We can here have a glimpse of the meaning and import of what the Great Nazarene, the Lord Jesus Christ, had in mind when He said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” For, when we give or render service, we start a new cycle of beneficial actions which find their destination only when they return to us as the giver.


It can be seen from the foregoing that when we render service, we are cooperating in the cyclical service of life and the entire Creation which is unceasingly mediated, thus raising the question about the truth of any departed soul in eternal rest in the Beyond. It bears stating that no one, no public officer in the elective or appointive office is doing his fellow man any favours when he renders genuine service. This means a hollow service, lip service is no service at all. The implication of this is that it may so happen that a great many will enter the Beyond with sawdust in their hands depicting emptiness of souls.

There are no treasures laid in Heaven where moth and rust cannot approach. It is worse for one who received pay or compensation for services not rendered as any breach would be tantamount to a break in the movement of the universe which can be likened to putting a clog in a man’s blood circulation. Does a hindered blood circulation not result in ill-health for our body and eventually, death? In the outworking of Creation, rather permitting the movement of the universe to be hampered, Creation Rays simply sweep the impeding souls into the depths, that is, into the Region of Darkness.

Service can take any of three forms. It can be a kind thought, a kind word or a material deed. It is this fact that makes it possible for every man to render service to his neighbour. However a man may be material, he has limitless opportunities of being rich, indeed, very rich in kind thoughts and kind words and kind deeds. Thus, having neither silver nor gold, he can still render abundant service. The world is upside down today because hardly in a majority of cases can we speak of genuine service, but service borne of calculation, aggrandizement, public acknowledgement and acclaim!

Other dimensions of service will be treated next week.

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