Tuesday, 31 March 2015

40 Acts - Do the Dirty Work

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Five words guaranteed to change your life this year: ‘Can I help with that?’

I’m the type of person you’ll always find in the kitchen at parties, getting stuck into the washing up, collecting empty glasses or taking out the rubbish. I like helping others but to tell you the truth this is actually my coping mechanism for navigating scary social occasions. As a painfully shy child I found that having something practical to do gave me the courage to start conversations with people I wouldn’t normally speak to. Some of the most interesting people I’ve met have been elbow-deep in a washing-up bowl.

In my working life, I travel the world gathering stories about how poverty and injustice affect communities, speaking to individuals and civil society groups who are working for change. I’ve often found that the quickest way to put people at ease is to help out with their chores or be willing to get stuck into some seriously dirty work.

This can be a bit of a risky tactic! The learning curve for certain activities can be rather steep (cement mixing),  they certainly won’t be glamorous, and some jobs definitely require a strong stomach (clearing sewage ditches) but when you’re working alongside someone, laughing and joking together as you learn the ropes, you have the time and space to ask questions and share stories from your lives.

So I ask you to think about doing things for others, not purely as acts of service but as an opportunity to learn more about our world and the people we share it with.  Be generous with your time and your comfort zone. Look for opportunities to volunteer or help out in communities that are different from your own, and do not be afraid to get some grime and life experience under your nails.

Stephanie Atkins

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