Growing w/ Grace

The mindset behind giving should be without incentive


When Mrs. Ferguson emailed me asking for me to go down to her room on some random Thursday morning, I had no idea what to expect. But, to my surprise, she made me aware that the National Honors Society officers had nominated me to give the Character speech during the annual National Honor Society induction ceremony.
Getting nominated to do a speech regarding character has to be one of the most rewarding memories of my high school experience, because as I said while giving the speech “character is everything.” Character is what makes up our foundation, belief systems, the way we treat others, what we get out of life and so much more. Character is something that I believe comes from my faith, so even getting considered for this, much less being chosen, was something so precious to my family and I.
Character is one of the four pillars that make up the NHS, along with scholarship, leadership and community service. These four pillars should work together. And as we are wrapping up this year in NHS and a new group of students are heading into this, I have noticed a very common theme that just seems to disappoint me. That students are looking at service hours as just another box to check off for incentive purposes. Students are giving, but only to benefit themselves.
Growing up, I went to a small church on the west side of Indianapolis. My family had been going there for over 30 years before 2020. And during this time, we would dedicate Saturdays or weeks during the summer where we could go out to neighborhoods miles away from the church to give back to the community. A community of extreme poverty, homelessness and one where kids aren’t always promised a meal outside of school. We would doorknock, deliver Angel Tree, help run a vacation bible school, donate clothes and more. There were some weeks where my mom and I would go serve dinners every night for those who didn’t have access to food in the surrounding neighborhoods. My dad would drive the church bus to pick up kids for Sunday school every week and perform in skits so that kids would understand that there’s a God who loves them, even when their parents don’t.
And looking back on these experiences, I am so thankful for parents who made giving to others a priority. Parents that carved it into my character to give without an incentive. And I’m not saying all of this to boast, that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish. But, I’m trying to express the importance of mindset. Before coming into junior year, I never thought once about using that service for personal gain in class rank. Not once did any of us think about leaving those days of outreach and logging our hours for validation or recognition.
Am I saying there’s anything wrong with the system NHS has to ensure students are giving back? Not at all. But, I am saying that students aren’t grasping the fact you need service, but you need to pair it with the other pillars as well. Character, leadership and scholarship have to be supporting the foundation of your life because without them, your foundation isn’t balanced, it isn’t fully supported.
Especially in the world we are living in today with greed, violence and addiction to power, we have to grasp in these formidable years the importance of humility and serving without anything to gain. We have to understand that the people we are serving should need us more than we need them, and that if we don’t help them, no one will.
And with this being the last “Growing w/ Grace,” I’ve never been so honored to document my senior year of growing in these pillars. These pillars don’t just stay in the NHS, but they are something that we have been learning and growing in all of our lives. I will continue to prioritize these qualities, even behind closed doors, and I encourage every senior or NHS member, to do the same.