Everyone can be GREAT,
because EVERYONE can SERVE
– Martin Luther King Jr.
How Do I Start and Finish?
1. Discern your talents and interests. What do you enjoy doing? There are always people who would appreciate and need what you are skilled at or are joyful in doing.
2. Discuss and collaborate with fellow SOFT Disciples in what they feel are you attributes.
3. We highly recommend reading some general support material. The Art of Listening by James E. Sullivan is an excellent (short read) book to start with.
4. Determine how to get where you want to go.
- Make your own new path
- Utilize organizations and agencies to find opportunities.
- Contact SOFT and ask for specific assistance.
5. Focus on the other person. Be Curious. You are both made in the image of God. You are both loved equally by God. Prepare to be vulnerable and share as a brother or sister. This is not charity.
6. Go with a mentor / fellow disciple to discern activities or gain some experience and a comfort level.
7. Create a plan of action and commit to a regimen for serving.
8. Perform as you intended. You can make a difference. They matter. You matter.
9. Share your experience with others, that is part of evangelizing for Jesus and the Church. It is not bragging or prideful to share your experience with other disciples. We are called to! It also greatly improves the quality of the results, your commitment, and your satisfaction.
10. Join or create a tribe for support, encouragement, and having fun.
11. Share anonymously on SOFT, if you desire.
How to Connect
1. Go to our Support section and review the material.
2. To get started, we highly recommend the short-read books The Good Listener and Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart.
3. Be friendly, confident, look them in the eye, shows you have self-respect, positive attitude.
4. Be yourself.
5. Take the first step.
6. Be prepared to connect – pray beforehand and trust Jesus will be there with you.
7. Be determined to connect. Make a friend or extend the friendship. You must be intentional about concentrating on and listening to the other person’s underlying themes, emotions, and heart issues.
8. Have genuine interest in them. It’s a great opportunity to learn about someone else – God’s child – and what they know. BE CURIOUS. Ask non-judgmental questions. Ask open-ended questions requiring a thought or reflection or comment.
- What’s going on in your life? What do you think…? Why do you think…? How do you thank God for Blessings like that?
- Ideas for conversation: Sports and participation; cars; hobbies; pets; books; weekends, kids, current issues, origins, life track, where they grow up, life story, dreams, amazing stories, marriage, life, jobs, travels, regrets, learn from them, seek understanding.
9. Who are these people? How might they tell their own stories? What thoughts preoccupy their minds? What joys and troubles are coursing through their feelings?
10. Listen in as many ways as possible. Observe what people are doing. Always be asking, listening, watching, and thinking about what you learn. By listening, the servant is able to identify the needs of their colleagues. That puts them in a good position to meet those needs.
11. Make a conscious effort to “pick up the signals” from each person with whom you have meaningful interaction today, to try to get a better understanding of who they are and how they are feeling.
12. Use encouraging language – Great to see you. Missed you. Proud of you. Glad to see you. I care for you.
13. Take the risk of vulnerability – it’s not about you; it’s about them.
- There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served, if implicit in the compact between the two, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share.
- You must give up control of how you are perceived and experienced by the other person.
- To begin connecting, you need to suspend your point of view. Temporarily put aside your own experiences and perspectives, and enter the world of the other person. It helps you see and feel what the other person is feeling.
- When we empathize, we are in there with them; their memories, viewpoints, emotions, and their values. We are respecting them.
- Then he is able to tolerate, look at, deal with who he is, for he is connected in a relationship, NOT all by himself, with himself.
- It is natural to insist that the other person should understand your point of view first. It is spiritual to be patient and hear them out.
- It is natural to correct their distorted viewpoint. It is spiritual to find out what their experience is.
- It is not about you. It is about them!
14. Align your interests, skills, and values with the task. Craft your service so you are working on a task more interesting, meaningful, or developmental.
15. Don’t tell me, show me! How do you overcome your fears? Take one step. Learn. Pray. Act. Love of God is an internal mystery, “I Love God”. Love of neighbor is external proof of that love. By Matthew Kelly
16. Your vision, your passion, is contagious. If it matters to you, it will matter to others. Just doing what you love, changes how you treat others around you, such as your family and colleagues better. In most cases doing what you love involves helping others in some way. Hang around people who think like you do, or want to.
Your effort should be about “is it worth it”? If so, time and cost don’t matter.
It is a great feeling to help people achieve their own passions. Don’t let fear and doubt creep in. Keep the big picture in mind, and continually discern, pray, and explore ideas.
Believe: I AM THE HANDS, FEET, AND VOICE OF JESUS
How Do I Find Serving Opportunites?
What are your talents and interests? What do you like to do?
- Books – reading / sharing / discussing
- Budgeting / Accounting
- Music – teach / play / entertain
- Food – share / teach / collaborate
- Meditation, Personal
- Technology / Computers
- Social Media – Facebook / Instagram
- Cars – wash / share / visit shows / work on
- Sports – talk / share / visit
- Entertainment – movies / events / free concerts / art
- Garage Sales
- Outdoor activities – landscaping / gardens / lawns
- Wood Working
- Painting and maintenance
- Walking / Swim / Run / Bike / Shuffleboard (go to park, etc.)
- Support Groups
- Education – mentoring / tutors / translating
- Child Care
- Last minute Child Care
- Nursing homes / Care Centers / Rehab Centers
- Mentoring young people in certain “career” paths / curriculums
- Adult Care Relief – 1 to 4 hours / evenings / etc.
“Physical action” Serving Activities
Transporting People to their destinations and/or or sharing your time at camaraderie-building events
- Transporting people: to and fro events, functions, destinations: local needs, park, museum, fishing, church, country drive, car shows, hobby shows, art and music events, take someone on a mission – local, Grocery shopping, errands, pharmacy, hair appointments, mass, church activities, garage sales, airplanes, factories and construction, sports, entertainment, plays, concerts, Volunteer for any kind of event or function – but take the next step – connect with someone, break out of your security zone of friends, etc.
Physical exertion endeavors
- Help neighbors and others care for their homes and do repairs
- Yard work and landscaping
- Shoveling snow
- Cleaning a home, apartment, garage, windows, rooms
- Wash a car, pet, personal belongings
- Work on cars, hobbies
- Painting, house maintenance, etc.
- Cooking and serving the homeless, shelters, home-bound, gravely sick, etc.
- Volunteer during natural disasters
Mentoring and Caring endeavors
- Temporarily host a needy person or family
- Music – teach, play, interact
- Child care – last minute, occasional, free
- Adult care relief – 1-4 hours, evenings, mornings, over lunch
- Education – tutoring, resource support, career path support, job training and networking
- Cooking, teaching, and collaborating on projects related to cooking
- Visit – Nursing homes, care centers, rehab centers, detention centers, high schools
- Visit – grieving, lonely, strangers, home-bound, incarcerated people, esp. loved ones, people in the hospital and in hospice, (check our resources section for books on the appropriate
- language for grieving people, etc.)
- Relieve those providing in-home care to others
- Share your talents – accounting, technology, handyman, entertainment
- Call and talk to a relative or friend, esp. if estranged from them
- Attentive Listening: Stepping out of my world; and into your world. Sensing your deepest feelings. Giving an adequate response. The Good Listener by James E. Sullivan
Practical suggestions for practicing the corporal works of mercy:
Feed the hungry
- See to the proper nutrition of your own children.
- Support and volunteer for food pantries, soup kitchens, and agencies that feed the hungry.
- Make a few sandwiches to hand out as you are two areas where you might encounter people in need.
- Educate yourself about world hungry; avoid wasting food.
- Share your meals with others.
Shelter the homeless
- Help neighbors care for their homes and do repairs.
- Support and/or volunteer every homeless shelter.
- Support and/or volunteer for charitable agencies who care for the homeless, build homes, and provide support in the wake of natural disasters.
- Advocate for public policies and legislation that provide housing for low income people.
- Consider becoming a foster parent.
Clothe the naked
- Go through your drawers and closets and find good condition clothes and shoes to donate to agencies that provide assistance for those in need.
- Participate in programs that provide towels and linens or hospitals in distressed areas.
Visit the sick
- Spend quality time with those who are sick or home-bound.
- Take the time to call, send a card or an e-mail to someone who is sick.
- Volunteer to drive patients to medical appointments and treatment facilities.
- Volunteer at a hospital.
- Assist those who are full-time caregiver for family members.
- Cook and deliver meals to the sick and home-bound.
Visit the imprisoned
- Support and/or participate in ministries to those who are incarcerated; support programs monster by agencies that advocate on behalf of those who are unjustly imprisoned.
- Support job training and educational programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners.
- Pray for the families of inmates.
- Support programs that provide holiday gifts for prisoners and their families.
- Support efforts that seek the abolition of the death penalty.
Give to the poor
- Take some small bills with you handout to people you encounter who are in need.
- Throw your coin change into a jar and periodically donate to a charity.
- If possible make an offering or monetary donation to a charity that tends to the needs of the poor.
Bury the dead
- Be faithful about attending wakes and visitations.
- Support or volunteer at a hospice.
- Participate in a bereavement ministry.
- Spend time with widows and widowers.
- Take friends and relatives to visit the cemetery.
- Support ministries that offer free Christian burials to those who are unable to afford one.
- Offer daily prayer for those with terminal illnesses and for those who have died.
- Send mass cards to families of those who have died.
Spiritual, Emotional, and Intellectual Connecting Activities
- Touch a sleeve or shoulder appropriately
- Smile at everyone, strangers
- Acknowledge a person’s unique spirit
- Greet with a welcoming smile and ask how you can assist them
- Compliment others as often as possible
- Laugh with them and at yourself
- Spend time connecting and be vulnerable
- Comfort and Care for their well-being
- Protect them
- Encourage, Empower and Support them
- Befriend a stranger, loner, unusual person
- Be curious – ask about: hopes, dreams, past, livelihood, education, region, interests.
- Be present to their struggling – mind, body, soul
- Build-up people in need – inspire, listen, compliment, accept, hope-filled language
- Practice patience
- Read mutual books, discuss, share ideas,
- Help others discern with attention, listening, direction, resources
- Discern what your gifts are, act with them to serve others
- Hospitality and welcoming gifts
- Make time to tutor: new parents, new job, new relatives, your skills and interests
- Introduce people and help them network
- Accept others ideas and discuss
- Cancel a debt
- Recognize when God calls you to serve
Practical suggestions for practicing this spiritual works of mercy:
- Commit yourself to learning about the catholic faith and share your understanding of the faith with your children and with those who welcome it.
- Share your insight, knowledge, and skills with others, especially coworkers.
- Take time to ‘tutor’ those who are just beginning tasks, such a parenting or a new job.
- Read good literature and encourage others to do the same.
- Be courageous yet compassionate in calling people and institutions and be faithful to gospel values.
- Intervene in situations in which people are clearly doing harm to themselves or others.
- Respond to negative and the judicial comments with positive statements.
- Put an end to gossip by walking away; set a good example for others.
- Work at being optimistic and avoiding cynicism;
- Respond to cynicism, skepticism, and doubt, with hope;
- Be articulate about your own hopes; as a people about their hopes and support them in trying to attain them.
- Walk with others through their pain;
- Offer words of encouragement to those who seem discouraged.
- Offer positive words to coworkers who are having a difficult time with their task.
- Be present to those who are struggling or in emotional pain or despair.
- Offer sympathy to those who are grieving.
Bearing wrongs patiently
- Work at being less critical of others.
- Overlook minor flaws and mistakes.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Assume that people who may have hurt you did so because they are enduring the pain of their own.
- Pray for those who have wronged you.
- Pray for those who have wronged you and pray for the courage to forgive.
- Ask forgiveness from others;
- Let go of grudges;
- Go out of your way to be positive with someone you are having a difficult time with.
Praying for the living and the dead
- When someone confides in you about a burden, assure them of your prayers.
- Begin and end your day by offering prayers for those in need and for those who have died.
- When you pray the Hail Mary, say, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for…name them… And for all of us sinners, now at the hour of our death, amen.