A Culture of Serving

Story from the book “Credibility”

Once there was a village in Nigeria where the people made their living by farming.  The village lay in a large green valley that was lined with palm trees and bushes.  Surrounding the village were fields with crops of yams, corn and other vegetables.  Just beyond the fields was a deep river that the villagers called “Baba.”  In the rainy season, the river  overflowed and the people were fearful of its power.  So, at a place were the river wound beyond the fields, they built a strong dam to hold back the water.

There was a man in the village named Modupe, which means “I am grateful.”  Modupe was a shy, quiet man whose wife had died and whose children were all married, so he moved to the top of the mountain overlooking the valley and lived alone.  There he built a small hut and cleared a small piece of land to grow his vegetables.  The people rarely saw Modupe but they respected and loved him.

One year at harvest time, the rains were unusually heavy, but the crops had done well and there was much to do, so no one paid it any mind.  As Modupe stood by his house on the mountain, he noticed that the river, swollen from the rains, was straining the dam.  He knew that by the time he could run down to the village to warn the people of the flood, it would be too late and all would be lost.  Even as Modupe watched, the wall of the dam begun to break and water started to seep through.

Modupe thought of his friends in the village.  Their crops, their homes, and their very lives were in danger if he did not find a way to warn them.  Then an idea came to him: he rushed to his small hut and set it afire.  When the people of the valley saw Modupe’s house burning they said, “Our friend is in trouble.  Let’s sound the alarm and go up to help him.” Then, according to custom, men, women, and children ran up the mountain to see what they could do.  When the reached the top of the hill, they did not have time to ask what had happened – a loud crashing noise behind them made them turn and look down.  Their houses, their temple, and their crops were being destroyed by the river, which had broken the dam and was flooding the valley.

The people began to cry and moan at their loss, but Modupe comforted them.  “Don’t worry,” he said “My crops are still here.  We can share them while we build a new village.”  Then all the people began to sing and give thanks because they remembered that, in coming to help a friend, they saved themselves.

Not sure if the story is true or not but what a great example of serving your neighbor.  There are many lessons we can take from this example but I would like to focus on two:  helping friends in trouble and a culture of serving.

When Modupe saw that his friends were in trouble he didn’t think, “Man, that’s too bad, I hope they figure out something, I wish there was something I could do, what if I burn my house and they don’t come up to help?   He immediately thought I have to help my friends and then he thought of a plan.  In life we see so many people who just turn a blind eye.  We could do something or we have information that could help but we don’t.  We are afraid of what that person might think.  We are afraid of what other people will think.  We are afraid of sacrificing something of our own.   Ninety nine percent of the negative things we think could happen, usually never do.  What usually does happen is we end up making a big impact in someones life.  If you see someone that you think you can help, be the good Samaritan.

The second lesson was they had a culture of serving each other.  Modupe wasn’t worried that burning his own house wouldn’t work because Modupe’s community had a culture of serving each other.  He knew they would come to help him and by helping him they ended up helping themselves.  There is an old statement that says, “If you help enough people get what they want you will always get what you want.”  If your organization has a culture of serving the customer, you cannot lose.  Even though you may not see the return, in the immediate, you will always see it in the long term.  Set your goals around how many people you need to serve to accomplish your goal.  Doing this accomplishes two great things.  You get to your goal but more importantly you model the serving attitude.  The compounding affect of a serving organization creates amazing results.

Are you serving your God, wife, kids, business partners?  If so are you serving them the way they want to be served or the way you like to be served?  What ways can you improve your service to your team? Can you be more patient, understanding, goal focused, give time, explain thought process, help overcome obstacles, give ideas or just listen.  Whatever it is, if you model the behavior I can guarantee that others will follow your lead.

Bill Lewis

20 thoughts on “A Culture of Serving”

  1. I love how this blog so embodies, and creates necessity for, the PDCA process. Modupe created a plan to help his village. He did that plan. When checking his results he realized his true service. He adjusted the people’s thinking by agreeing to share his crops and give them hope for a new future. PDCA means everything in service Bill. You taught me that. Awesome blog.

  2. What an amazing parable. Oh, that we all will grow in our community culture of serving, so that we to will default to a servant mind set that serves us all so very well. Thank you for sharing, Mr. Lewis.

  3. Bill – That is a terrific story of a serving culture! There is a Kikuyu saying that says…if you do good unto others, you have done it unti yourself since it always come back! This is a good reminder of how we need to create a culture of serving others regardless of what we may loose or gain! Thank you for sharing and for always leading by example!

  4. Phenomenal article Bill. Not only does the servant mindset ring true, I love how you take it a step further by asking yourself the right questions at the end. Asking “what can I do?” Does way more than “who’s helping me?, where is my ____?, ect”. Learning how to think is huge but learning how to ask the right questions of yourself is massive. What can I do to help? My house is burning. God Bless

    Mike Kolp

  5. I love the story Bill, it brings out exactly what we are doing in LIFE! Modupe sacrificed his day to day life to serve his community. If we serve God in the same way, by trusting him with all of our problems we face, he will in turn bless us with peace. Thanks Bill.

  6. Thanks Bill. That was a good reminder to think of others first. In an era when it seems it is all about me, me, me, the people that consider others first do stand out!

  7. Hey Bill, this is Ced…. I think this was your best post yet. I shared it on my facebook page, and Eric also liked that one. Yep.. this one I will have to use myself. I will give the credit to you for showing me the light on this one. Post another one when you get a chance.

  8. great thank you.it is true do many people will turn the other way. .True we in Life Leadership are Learning these exact principles. .in helping each other and giving. .Thank You Bill Lewis. .

  9. Bill,

    Great post man! It really hit home when you were talking about how we could have information to help and serve but we don’t because we’re afraid. And that “we’re afraid” came up about three or four times and it got me thinking about how many choices we make on a daily basis that we shy away from because we’re afraid. Especially since it’s not the kind of “afraid” that is life or death (just like you talk about in your Risk/Fear cd 🙂 Thanks for your service to others and most importantly, to Jesus Christ! 🙂

  10. Amazing story! This is how my husband and I wanna live our lives serving and helping communities. . God bless u all!!!

  11. Mr. Lewis,
    I am fortunate and blessed enough to have experienced you and Keisha this past Saturday night in California. Your teachings, vulnerability,honesty and service changed my life, for the better. I love LIfe Leadership and I love that your are our group’s Life Coach. Thank you.

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