Bahá’u’lláh placed such a high value on service that He elevated work to an act of worship when it is done in the spirit of service. We are enjoined by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to “think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race.” We also believe that moral leadership requires an attitude of service.
In 1989 the Bahá’í International Community submitted a written statement to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights entitled, Right to Development. In that document they stated that “at the heart of the Bahá’í perspective on popular participation in development is an equally challenging conception of the nature and purpose of human existence. In the Bahá’í view, man is neither a fallen creature nor merely the product of socio-economic forces. The rational soul, in the Bahá’í view, is a phenomenon with limitless potentialities: intellectual, spiritual, emotional and moral. Service to humanity is among the primary influences unlocking individual capacity.”
Whether teaching children’s classes; animating junior youth groups; hosting devotional gatherings, study groups, or firesides; serving on elected bodies or in appointed positions; or performing home visits for the ill or home-bound or for purposes of simple acts of prayer, you’ll find ample opportunities to be of service within the Bahá’í community. Study circles are offered using Ruhi Institute materials. The basic concept underlying all units, irrespective of the particular emphasis of each, is that of “walking a path of service”. Those who enter this program of study set out on a path of personal spiritual growth and service to others. It is hoped that this will set the stage for a life in which personal growth and service to others are seen as an integrated whole, and not as separate and sometimes conflicting ends.
However, because service is viewed as an integrated whole, we strive to exemplify it in every aspect of our lives. Service is not merely limited to serving a faith community. Whether in our personal or work lives, we carry the concept of work done in service to humanity as an act of worship offered to God.
In a prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that is read at his shrine and used in private prayer, he implores, “O Lord, my God! Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones, strengthen me in my servitude to Thee, illumine my brow with the light of adoration in Thy court of holiness, and of prayer to Thy kingdom of grandeur. help me to be selfless at the heavenly entrance of Thy gate, and aid me to be detached from all things within Thy holy precincts. Lord! Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me.”