Everyday ways to serve

"Everyday ways to serve" by Lara Patangan (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2018 Lara Patangan. All rights reserved.

I am trying to be a list person. Typically, my lists get left behind on the kitchen counter, or if they are more goal-oriented, require me to breathe into a paper bag. Instead, I am a do-one-hard-thing-a-day-and-act-peppy-about-it kind of girl.

Lists are an important way to keep focused. Works of Mercy are a list of 14 ways we can worship God by serving our neighbor. Part of their appeal is they offer specific ways to practice our faith.

We know service is a core component of Christianity, but we don’t always know how to implement it in daily life. We think to serve legitimately, we must forgo designer jeans, join the Peace Corps, and live in a mud hut. We don’t understand the everywoman/everyman way of living our faith.

I’m as well suited to the everywoman perspective as any woman since I’ve always been quite ordinary. I know that sounds braggy, which is not even a word, but in my ordinariness, I am making it one because I am Queen Everywoman, from the land of all things ordinary, and I can do what I want.

I have to stop the everywoman talk. That’s Oprah’s thing. She took “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan and made it her theme song. She may sue me if I keep using it. Besides, my theme song has always been a little more “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

Still, here’s a list to help you practice your faith without having to take malaria prevention pills.

5 Everyday Ways To Serve:

 – Do one hard thing a day. I know I sounded like an underachiever when I wrote that earlier, but it’s an important way to mindfully serve. There’s almost always something we need to do that we put off, avoid, minimize, or act like Scarlet O’Hara by thinking, “Tomorrow is another day.” I am not talking about your taxes. Call an old friend, visit a lonely neighbor, or read an extra bedtime story even though you would rather boil Froggy than read one more book about him. Tomorrow is another day, until it’s not.

 – Pray. You don’t have to fast or kneel on a concrete floor for hours. Just integrate it into your day. Talk to God while you drive, brush your teeth, or cook supper. Tell him a genuine struggle. You may be surprised how much better you feel.

 – Apologize. Forgiveness is a work of mercy, and it is work, no doubt. But we are called to do it. Rarely is there something to forgive that we can’t take some responsibility for. Apologize and accept someone else’s apology.

 – Gratitude. There’s so much we take for granted. By doing so, we forsake the satisfaction of our blessings. Pause and be thankful.

 – Stop rushing. One of the things I love about Jesus is he never seemed to hurry when he talked to people. He made everyone feel special. I love to think of what that was like for the people he encountered. They had his undivided attention. Even though we can’t see him, we do, too. What a gift it would be to make others feel this way.

While I want to continue with this list, I already did my one hard thing today. So I am going to rest. Resting is good, too. Remember, God rested on the seventh day.

I like to think he was the original everyman. I wonder what his theme song would have been.

What would you add to this list? Do you have any suggestions of easy ways to serve right where you are?

Copyright 2018 Lara Patangan


About Author

Lara Patangan is a freelance writer and mother of two boys. She is a cat-lover and a catastrophic cook. Her work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and blogs. She is currently working on publishing her first book about her experiences doing works of mercy. Please visit MercyMatters.net to join this community that believes in the power of mercy to change the world.


  1. LOVE THIS! it’s the simple, ordinary things in life that lead to holiness. I would add spend time outside everyday regardless the weather. Embrace God’s beauty in all it’s elements. I’ll try to do something hard today.

  2. Thank you, Jenny! And I am sure you do something hard everyday anyways. Today getting out of bed felt hard for me! I love your suggestion about spending time outside. It’s true that it always refreshes and renews me. Several times a day I just walk the patio in our yard and look at all the plants, and wonder if my neighbor thinks I am nuts! But yes, so much divine beauty in nature!

  3. Jenny, I try to call people by name, which is so ironic for me since I am absolutely awful at remembering names. For example, when I am in the grocery store, I try to greet the clerk personally which is easy to do since they have a name tag. It catches them off guard but seems to often times create a much different dynamic and experience. God knows each of us by name. I believe taking the time to acknowledge someone personally, especially those that are providing a service to us, gives them a sense that someone cares enough to know them.

  4. LOVE THIS! I too am terrible with names but I agree that it could totally change the dynamic. It makes things more personal and humanizing. I am going to make more of an effort to do this. Thank you for the suggestion!

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.