The below post has been one of the most upvoted posts on our site. In this Year of Hindsight, we are revisiting several highly upvoted posts and are highlighting and updating them!
I admire those of you who speak Acts of Service. You not only appreciate help so much, but you are also quick to give practical assistance to those you love. Since Acts of Service is low on my personal love language list, it does not always occur to me to show love in this way. I can sit on my friend’s couch all day and talk to her, but sometimes she needs me to help her get water out of her basement or keep her dog. Watching an Acts of Service person at work is inspiring to me. Is it not so good of God to give us different personalities, temperaments, talents, interests, and even love languages?! Thank you, Lord.
One of my dear friends has a bit of a mystery love language. In one fell swoop, she will hug you, give you a gift, wash your dishes, clear her calendar to spend time with you, and tell you how wonderful you are. It is kind of hard to pinpoint which love language means the most to her! ~smile~
She knows I am not a fan of doing dishes. In our dorm room, I let dirty dishes stack for days unless given a little push to clean up. Now that I have an entire kitchen at my disposal, the temptation to let dishes pile up is even stronger! Because of her great heart and desire to please, my friend washes my dishes every time dog sits. Even if I leave her a note telling her not to worry about the dishes, I still come home to a sparkling clean kitchen (and it is awesome!). At first, I wondered why she felt compelled to clean my kitchen when I was gone, but soon I figured out that she was washing my dishes to show me love through Acts of Service (hereafter: “Service”). (Thank you, friend! You know who you are. ~wink~)
Service people love to help others out and love to have others help them out! Your Service friends will probably show up with enthusiasm on moving day and seem excited to do you a favor (e.g., make you chicken soup for when you are sick, etc.). These are also the friends who feel deeply loved and cared for when you serve them in some way.
If your sweetheart speaks Acts of Service, he or she is probably elated when you do an undesirable job such as cleaning bathrooms, filling cars with gas, or grocery shopping. Have you ever fixed an appliance or untangled a necklace only to get the world’s biggest “thank you” from your honey? A good number of us appreciate a thoughtful deed such as taking our car through a car wash, but we don’t necessarily feel loved after such a gesture.
When I was a kid, my family had chores divided into days of the week. Monday, I cleaned the hall bathroom; Tuesday, I cleaned the back bathroom; Wednesday, I dusted, etc. Well, for a while, my dad had vacuuming duty on Thursdays – and let me tell you, he hated it. One day, I decided to surprise him and vacuum before he got home from work. He opened the front door just as I was finishing and you would have thought the publisher’s clearinghouse crew was greeting him with a giant check. He was ecstatic! He had been dreading that chore all day and was so excited to have it taken off of his plate. He never officially taken a love language quiz, but I think it is safe to assume that Acts of Service was way up on his list. ~smile~
Recommendations for Showing Love to Someone Through Acts of Service
Help with Chores
This is pretty cut and dry. Help around the house, help in the yard, help with a project, help with a ministry, help with Christmas shopping – the sky is the limit to how much help you can give your Service sweetie. First, find out the chores he or she grossly despises and capitalize on them. Does she hate cleaning out the garage because she always runs into spiders? Be her valiant knight and kill the spiders (and clean the garage)! Is his shower black with filth? What an act of love it is to clean a single man’s shower! Can you fix computers? Then you always have a way to show love through Acts of Service. ~smile~ Can you bake a killer pineapple upside down cake? Oh yes, you have a serving talent to offer! (This could also double for someone who has the love language of Gifts!)
Look for Opportunities to Serve Him or Her
There are obvious ways to help your Service sweetheart, but there are more subtle ideas you can uncover if you pay careful attention. Maybe he always forgets to get a church bulletin on Sunday mornings. Slip out of the sanctuary and pick one up for him. He will appreciate the thought. Perhaps she is always forgetting her lipstick. Find out what brand and shade she wears and keep a stick in your car (in the cool weather only) or in your house. She will find it sweet that you paid attention and made her life a little easier.
Pamper Him or Her
It is raining and her car is across the parking lot. Take the keys, trudge through the puddles, and pick her up. He is feeling poorly; after three weeks of working sixteen-hour days, he is under the weather. Set him up on the couch with his favorite magazines, games (iPad, computer, etc.), and bring him the remote. Make him soup and fluff his pillow. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but he will eat it up!
Offer Help to Your Sweetheart When He or She is Feeling Insecure
Just as a Touch person needs a hug when he or she is down or a Words person needs a verbal pick me up, Service people need their sweethearts to serve them. If your girlfriend has a huge presentation to give at work the next day… help her organize her files, or bring her a favorite cup of herbal tea, or fill her gas tank so she does not have to worry about it in the morning. Tell her you will bring her lunch after the presentation to celebrate its completion! All this practical help shows your Service person that you highly value her.
Let Your Help Come from the Heart
Make sure you are helping and giving because you want to; however, do not overextend yourself and feel resentful for doing the lion’s share of the giving. Acts of Service lovers do not want people helping them out of obligation. They love a cheerful helper! A happy smile and a helping hand translates to, “You are the best and I love you!” And if your honey speaks the language of Acts of Service, he or she will probably be serving you a lot as well. After all, it comes naturally for them!
Make Doing Acts of Service a Habit
I am not an Acts of Service person. He could do chores all day for me – and while I would appreciate them, my love tank would not be filling. (For Eric, this language has risen over the years to his second-language spot; whereas, it used to be lower in his list.) Acts of Service may as well be speaking Chinese to me. Someone could speak it to me all day long and I would likely not catch what was intended to be communicated.
Had I married someone who needed me to show him Acts of Service as his primary language, I know it would have been a stretch for me – especially in the beginning. In such a case, I would have needed to make some chores a habit (e.g., surprise him with a favorite meal on the first and third Sundays of the month, etc.). At first, I may have needed a physical reminder (perhaps a statue of a woman vacuuming) to constantly remind me to serve him. Some days, I would have wanted to throw in the towel, but with each baby step, I know speaking Acts of Service would have become easier with habit.
Even the most tiresome jobs in life become easier the more we do them (largely because our competence in doing them increases). The faster we make something a habit, the sooner we can stop forcing ourselves to constantly think about it. If you need to show your honey Acts of Service, make yourself do it faithfully for a while. Before you know it, you will be serving without thinking twice!
What are some unconventional ways you can show your sweetheart love through acts of service?(Originally published Aug 12, 2013)