An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Commentary Search

September Chaplain's Reflections

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christina Pittman
  • 169th Fighter Wing

"Service to Others as a Measure of Success"

When attending an award or promotion ceremony one aspect which stands out is the presence of family members and friends supporting the one receiving the recognition.  There is no doubt the achievement is directly related to the mutual support of the attendees and the recipient. What makes this correlation transforming is the amount of selfless "Service before self" the recipient displays.  Though the culture of America may ring the bell of freedom and success at the hands of one's self-ambition and determination, true success and leadership is found in the heart of service to others. 

The phrase, "Master of one's own Destiny," can be deceiving as one finds his/her true destiny of success lies in the people he/she serves.  Viktor E. Frankle expands on this theory of success measured in finding purpose through service to others in his book Man's Search For Meaning. During his confinement in a German Nazi Camp, he studied self-exploration and observation of others with the ability to survive.  He writes in the book "Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself." 

Success at the hands of surrender to another is hardly a concept easily grasped.  Through Frankle's self-reflection he discovered giving himself away fed the soul with purpose and added to his personal resiliency.  His realization was experienced through personal suffering, selfless service and kindness of others.  In the Bible, Jesus, recognized as the ultimate servant through his sacrifice on the cross, embodied service in his response to the Sadducee's question on the Greatest Law,  " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)

Service before self is a proven Air Force theme of good Airman character as well as personal success and happiness.  When leaders care for their people, they rise to the top and strengthen their own resiliency as well as the resiliency of others.  May we all be inspired by the leadership of Viktor Frankle's personal reflection of success through surrender to a greater purpose and personal surrender through serving and loving one another.  If you need more resources on leadership and service, the Chaplain Corps staff is here to help you. Stop by our office on UTA weekends or call us at 647-8265. We look forward to serving you!