How do I serve others without feeling depleted?
Q: I have my focus on serving other people more than myself, but I have been feeling depleted. How do I continue to serve others selflessly while taking my own needs into consideration?
A: You are supposed to be focused on being selfless and serving others—that is noble and humble—but it cannot be at the expense of your existence. There are two primary causes of feeling depleted as a result of serving others. One is that individuals are not sourcing themselves; the other is because of serving with impure motives.
Your body is what houses your soul. If you let that go to ruin, then everybody loses. You lose, because you will expire. God loses, because then God does not have you as an instrument, a vessel, and a messenger of His love. And all the people whom you have been serving so selflessly and humbly will lose, because there will be no you to serve them. It is a question of balance. You have to drink from the wellspring and source yourself so that you can serve others. The same principle is used for emergency procedures on airplanes: secure your oxygen mask before securing them on your children. A dead parent is less able to help a child than a breathing parent, especially a child who is not able to help himself.
You have to source yourself in order to source others.
There is a second reason why some people feel depleted as a result of serving others. You have to honestly examine whether or not your motives for serving are truly selfless. If you are serving begrudgingly, without joy, with an expectation of something in return (reciprocity, a favor, money, recognition…), and/or while (silently) wishing you were doing something else, you would most definitely feel depleted.
The joy of serving is the reward for serving.