Being of service to others 

Sherry Farrell

Here it is Saturday morning, and I was struggling a little with what we should talk about this week, just as I thought this week might not be meant for “On The Road With Sherry.” As often happens, suddenly that changes, and a phrase or thought comes to mind.

I was making a little thank you Facebook post about two very special women in our area, Courtney Tanguay and Sharon Reed, that brightened my week with special Easter gifts that they took the time to bring to my office even. All of a sudden, I typed “Two women who live 'others before self' to describe them both.

I haven’t seen or used that phrase for a long time. Honestly, I thought of it as a military phrase: Service before self. But when I looked it up on Google, I learned its true origin.

I was shocked to learn that there are actually over 100 Bible verses that try to remind and teach us that we have to look beyond ourselves and, as often as we can, put others first. How beautiful is that!

Imagine if we all did that and really made an effort, the world and all of us would be a much happier healthy place.

It is also the idea of putting others' interests before our own — looking for the greater good. I think often we hold this standard for our leaders, presidents, politicians, bosses, but do we live it ourselves? That’s a good question.

Sadly, I think I had forgotten what a powerful book the Bible is! All the wisdom conveyed in one book thousands of years ago.

One source says that it is very hard for us to do this naturally. Another source says the complete opposite that we have to put ourselves first so that we can truly help others. Self-love, I guess. For some of us, the idea of putting others first is part of the air we breathe. Maybe it’s a genetic thing, who knows.

A precious memory is coming back to me as we are talking this morning. My mom Pearl would always actually get mad at me because she believed I put others first way too often.

I can picture her like it was yesterday saying, “Sharon, put yourself first and you will please everyone!” Better yet she would say, “You can’t please everyone!” I remember thinking “I can sure try!”

Pearl was a good, kind person and would help others, but she always put our little family, especially me, first. No matter what! Our apartment was small on the Derry-Londonderry line, but somehow, she stretched a truck driver’s paycheck and it sounds funny to type but I never went without.

Back in the '60s, apartment living wasn’t really a thing in New Hampshire yet. I had friends that had beautiful houses with land, say to me when we were 9 years old “Wow your family must be rich because you live in an apartment.” I remember thinking, “I guess we are.”

Now going along with this, it is so much a part of me to put others first that at times I have worried that I put others before my own small family. I know I did that often with my parents too. Wish I could have a re-do on that one, grab a little more time with them — not that I didn’t cherish the time helping others.

John is very thoughtful with his words and throughout our marriage this phrase has popped out — said in a loving way but also as a reminder too — “Treat me like one of the neighbors.”

In other words, sometimes you treat others or put them first over us. I guess that’s when this phrase gets a little sticky.

Another site called says that sometimes this can be misconstrued as people walking all over you. A phrase that I have used a lot over the last couple of weeks is, “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.” There is great power in kindness.

I love this part of the website, it says, “Don’t try to force everyone into your way of thinking. That is a sign that you are putting yourself first and not them.”

Powerful, and so many people do this, I believe, in good faith. They offer a few tips to help all of us with “others before self.”

Be compassionate, be empathetic, develop a servant’s heart, find ways to serve others. I would add be humble and kind always.

Our daughter Mackensie completed her preceptor program at the Elliot Hospital, which brings her one step closer to realizing her heart's desire to be a nurse. I don’t believe that everyone is cut out to be a nurse. It’s different than being a doctor. Nurses are the heart, the lifeline for a patient that is petrified of the unknown.

Nurses live "others before self" every day.

Sherry Farrell is the Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.

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