All good actions deserve a reward, right? Yes and no…
Take for example, studying hard for a test. It is my assumption that anyone who studies intensely for an exam expects a rewarding score. In this case the person doing the studying is acting in accordance to a result that he or she expects to be desirable. However, take service for an example. Whether that means holding a door for a teacher, working at a soup kitchen, or travelling to a third world country to administer aid, we must look at the intention of the action in order to fully understand the action.
Are you performing the service so you can pad your resume, or do you have a desire to make a positive difference in a community?
This is a question that Lynsey Addario and almost all people struggle with. In part three of her novel It’s What I Do, she says that she is “conflicted about making money from images of people who were so desperate” (146). She is concerned not about her actions but about the intent of her actions. This is something that I struggle with myself; moreover, creating new, creative service initiatives in my high school was valued very highly, and obviously, looked great when applying to colleges.
I had to learn to ask myself why I was doing what I was doing, and I have used this method ever since. This simple question helped me make key discoveries in my life. Moreover, I found that I was only playing Varsity baseball because I wanted to say I was a “Varsity athlete” and so I would be looked upon positively by my father and my friends; I did not actually love playing the sport anymore. In addition, I was able to accept that I loved the feeling that community/ Christian service provided me.
This has allowed me to understand that actions can still be rewarding even without recognition, because if you’re doing something you love to do, the simple act is enough to satiate your desires; the monetary or material reward is just a bonus.