Service Above Self

Ruth explains how her passion for service above self led her to leave politics at the height of her influence.

Date of speech
Location
Rotary Gastonia

Service above self should impact us and all we do. Here are two quick stories from my life that reflect different ways SAS can play out.

You may know that I was in politics for close to 15 years. What you probably don't know is why I got in, why I got out, and how that relates to rotary.

  • I got in as a call to serve. Story
  • It was easier to keep the SAS perspective when in the minority because all you could do with serve. Example of helping Rick behind the scenes. Supporting a chair during debate.
  • When we won the majority and I moved into leadership that became more challenging. The demands of leadership and the expectations of others don’t naturally prompt one to place service above self, esp. in politics! Story of how others treat you in the building.

I decided to use the four-way test as a tool to keep me and my staff focused.

  • Posted in the office for reminder to me, staff and visitors.
  • Example of Democrats on sensitive bills. “Woman’s Right to Know”
  • Examples of lobbyist saying I could be trusted. “You listened to us, even when you disagreed. We never had to wonder how you were going to vote."

So if all that was working so well for me, why did I leave?

  • Background of parents
  • Growing families
  • Moral Monday example.

I began to see that while serving as the first female speaker of the house in North Carolina had its personal attractions, “Service above Self” indicated another option.

What does service above self in the four-way test look like now?

  • Relationship with parents, help moving into continuing care, relationship with siblings.
  • Time with adult children and their families.
  • EIG work helping high net worth families make things better in their communities and elsewhere. Can include public/private partnerships that build on my political experience.

As Rotarians, we need to reflect these things in our personal, work, and community lives.

As a club, we should reflect them with each other and in all our community service projects.

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