My friend told me a story about how her family was volunteering at church one day.  As they were putting on their “I CAN HELP” tee shirts, her daughter said, “I can help, but I don’t want to” in the tone only tweenage girl can achieve. We laughed about it because it was so honest. I have a hunch that most people who volunteer to help others feel like this from time to time, if not often.

Showing up and helping others even when you don’t want to is what builds character. Especially when you don’t want to. True, it would be ideal to always feel like we were being greeted by a magical unicorn who would escort us to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow after a good deed was done, but the reality is that helping is often inconvenient and thankless. Whether its volunteer work or taking a family member to the doctor, there is always something else we would rather be doing. But helping when you don’t want to offers deeper yet more subtle rewards – character, peace and self-esteem.

When my friend held her daughter to her obligation to help, she was showing her how to selflessly give of her time, and she was teaching her how to be a good family member, friend and someday employee. She was teaching her daughter how to be responsible and take action despite not feeling like it or being particularly moved to do so. This is what helping really is, and this is what service is. It can be as big as building a house for a family in need or as simple as listening to an elderly neighbor tell your for the millionth time about their shingles.

Just help. Even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.