“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, strengthen you in everything you do or say” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

As we seek to fulfil the purpose of life – the creation of happiness and the avoidance of pain – we would do well to draw on the example of Jesus Christ who is the quintessence of selflessness and humility which then manifests itself as service to others. We too must direct our minds to being of service to others.

This concept is epitomised in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualisation at the top. Maslow describes these needs as: physiological; safety; love and belonging; esteem; and self-actualisation.

For the most part, physiological needs are obvious — they are the literal requirements for human survival e.g. air, water, food, clothing and housing. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. We must look after our basic needs first.

Next is the individual’s safety as manifested by: personal security; financial security; health and well-being; and insurance. We must build on physical survival and work towards a higher quality of life.

After the physiological and safety needs are fulfilled we must pursue relationship building in the form of friendship, intimacy and family.  We must aim for good relationships.  Then this is reinforced by the need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance in our social setting. We need to love and be loved by others to thwart loneliness, social anxiety and clinical depression. This reinforces the physiological and security needs. We must become self-confident and ambitious.

All humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel self-valued, be it in a profession or hobby. We need to avoid a feeling of inferiority or an inferiority complex. Finally there is the need for self-actualisation which means aspiring to realise a person’s full potential. We must strive for success.

When this package of needs: physiological; safety; love; and esteem, is mastered then one has done the best that one can do for oneself. What about others? While pursuing this process of building a tower of strength, we are at the same time preparing ourselves to engage in service to others who may be less fortunate than ourselves in one way or another.  We do not have to wait on the end to help others, we can indeed engage in parallel operations where we help others at each step on the journey through life.

I was fortunate to have been introduced to the concept of “service to others” by my parents early in life when I became a wolf cub scout, then continued in the scouting fraternity and even became a Sunday School teacher before I went off to University.  So much so that my mother used to say that the way to get JOY out of life is to put Jesus first, Others and Yourself last.  I have argued above, however, that in order to help others effectively and efficiently one must ensure first that you are in good shape lest it be an exercise in futility. The sustainable principle is service to others.

Then there was service to the Barbados Cancer Society and Rotary International (25 years each); the Heart and Stroke Foundation (5 years); the international Smart Partnership movement (15 years); and more recently to the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation where we are trying, as volunteers after securing and executing our “day job” or as retirees, to promote economic development, one successful entrepreneur after another.

The Rotary Club of Barbados South in partnership with the Rotary Club of Barbados West has embarked on an ambitious project to create an “Inclusive Play” facility where children of all abilities will play, learn, explore, discover and imagine together in an environment where their common experiences make a more lasting impression than their different abilities.

We are in the throes of conducting a series of fundraisers to construct and manage this physical facility, thus creating an opportunity for the general public to be of service to others by contributing from their pockets or their foundations.  In return for these contributions, Rotary will be providing services. An upcoming fundraiser is at the Barbados Museum on Saturday November 05 2011 at 7pm. The extravaganza will be an evening of: interaction, a movie “Calypso Dreams”, an after party with live entertainment and a silent auction. Drinks and finger food will be complimentary. The movie is a full length feature on the history of Calypso from the beginning right up to the first decade of the 21st century. It should be a nostalgic evening for the older folk and very informative for the younger brigade.

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is hosting its tenth monthly Forum on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 6.00 pm on the topic, “Cultural Industries – BIM’s Intellectual Gold”, presented by Dr. Jo-Anne Tull at the Plantation Garden Theatre. These monthly Fora have been heralded by the entrepreneurship community as a very valuable service.  The annual BEF SUMMIT, a wow event, will take place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on 17/18 November 2011. Join us at these events and connect to someone else.