The Powerful Impact of Quiet Service

In the aftermath of the Aurora, CO shootings last week, a campaign began on Facebook and possibly elsewhere to get Christian Bale to come to Colorado and visit the victims in costume as Batman. The powerful impact of this, those behind the grassroots campaign claimed, would be not only to invigorate the victims and lift their spirits but also to send a message to the world that the good guys (presumably in the person of Batman) always win.

Christian Bale

Image by THE DENVER POST | Hyoung Chang

A Better Idea

Tuesday afternoon, Christian Bale, with no fanfare at all, arrived in Aurora and visited the makeshift memorial to the victims. With his wife, he laid flowers alongside those from all the other mourners. He joined hands with strangers and prayed for the victims.

He visited the survivors in the hospital, taking time to pose with them for snapshots and talk about their recoveries. He specifically asked hospital administrators not to notify the media so that his visit could be low-key, and just between him and those he was there to see.

Quiet Service

Service is not about being subservient or being beneath someone else. It's about placing someone else's needs ahead of your own. It's about recognizing someone else's needs as being above your own. It's about realizing that you have the capacity to satisfy someone else's needs and that, by being willing to stand in service to another, you can satisfy their needs.

Interestingly, that does not make you lower -- it raises you up.

Just ask anyone who encountered Mr. Bale in Denver on Tuesday, or anyone who now associates the actor with this selfless act of kindness.

Did he benefit as well? Sure. Who remembers his recorded tirade on set or other tantrums now? One good, noble act, selflessly executed without a hint of agenda has wiped his slate clean.

But the real benefactors are still those whose paths he crossed, and whose lives he bettered, if even just for a few minutes on a hot Tuesday afternoon, before their pain medication wore off and the drudging routine of recovery became reality once more.

Your Turn

With our own teams, in our own business, how can we apply this lesson? How can we move quietly with small gestures that have great impact?

  • Catch someone doing something right and thank them for it.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Think about someone on your team who's recently had something difficult happen in their life and go ask them about how they've been doing. Dedicate five minutes to do nothing but focus on them and listen with complete attention to them.
  • Give grace. Remember that God forgives your mistakes without explanation or condition.
  • Think about the recognition you've always wanted to receive and find a way to give that same recognition to someone today.

When have you seen a small gesture of service make a huge impact?