We humans are so in love with ourselves that oftentimes, we will add the prequel phrase “manmade” to things like bridges, skyscrapers, roads, and old-world structures. Why the need, well it’s our inability to never stop promoting ourselves. Of recently I was reminded of a certain type of pure and absolute type of self-promotion…martyrdom. Muslims and Christians have had many martyrs, and nothing has caused either movement to be built more effectively than martyrdom. However, martyrdom comes at a cost, one’s very own life. I myself am a Christian, and understand the costs of martyrdom. The problem though that I’ve found is that there is never a shortage of living martyrs. You know the ones. They are the first to tell you how much they’ve given or sacrificed. I was once told by a Chinese restaurant chain manager during training that I should use “I statements” with the guests. These included but weren’t limited to saying things like, “I brought you another Coke,” or “I’ve brought you a clean plate” or “can I bring you more rice.” My philosophy as a server and in life has always been if I’m doing my job, then I don’t need to tell you that I’m doing so. My actions should speak louder than the words out of my mouth. Living martyrs have a grossly perverse understanding of what it means to serve. Possibly in part to some of the training that has been passed along from managers like the one I had, or possibly because of our growing infatuation with ourselves. Self-martyrdom is a disease that quickly spreads and kills any environment. Everyone starts to see themselves as crucial, un-expendable, and extremely important, they see themselves as living martyrs. Oh they are first tell you about the cross and the burden that they carry. Anything that they do above and beyond the call of duty is worn on their chest, and like a shiny new badge that they gave themselves. When the truth is the exact opposite, if they were crucial to the survival of an organization, they’d have the humility to not to be in a state of self-promotion. Service however is always at the bequest of the one they serve. To go above and beyond is merely fulfilling ones duty. I think of Mother Theresa…how much self-promoting did she do? Well, to my knowledge, absolutely none. She didn’t go to the media…the media came to her. She in turn used that opportunity not to promote herself, but to promote the cause. It’s sad to me that so many people are willing to constantly compete at being a “manmade” martyr. In fact in most cases those that continue down that self-destructing path will in some instances never excel in life. They’ll always feel used and a victim, rather than sacrificing and freely giving of themselves what has freely been given to them. Jesus never went around saying, “here I am…God…King of the Jews.” That’s preposterous and contrary to what Christians believe. So maybe it’s time we put down our OWN cross, stop being a living martyr, and serve at the bequest of the one we serve.