The character trait of Availability reminds me of the importance of focusing on time management and overcoming my tendency to procrastinate. If I don’t manage my time and have the self discipline to do things when they need to be done instead of procrastinating, then I may not be able to make myself available to those around me when they may need my help.
As friends, family members, and even collectively as a community, we can build availability by “finding a way to help.” The character trait of availability encourages us to discern what a person needs, and consider how we can best help. A good friend and co-worker was an example for me of “finding a way to help” during the December 2007 ice storm. Like many homes in Owasso, the electricity went out at my house around 1:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. The same power outage resulted in the closing of our workplace, and brought much of the community to a standstill.
The way my friend reached out to help impacted me in such a way that I still remember it vividly four years later. He had electricity, and he simply called and said, “I want you all to come to dinner at my house tonight.” He didn’t ask; he didn’t say, “If you would like to get out of the dark you can come to dinner at my house”; and he didn’t say, “If you would like to come by, you are more than welcome.” It was as if he knew that even though I like helping people and being there for people, it isn’t easy for me to accept assistance, and I don’t like to put people out. If he had asked any other way my response would probably have been “don’t worry about it,” “we’re fine,” or “you don’t have to do that.” But the nearly insistent way he worded the invitation made it almost impossible for me to say no. His discernment and availability provided my family with a warm place to spend the evening and a meal that didn’t have to be cooked in the dark. A twist to the story is that my friend’s electricity went out just as we were about to eat. We all ended up taking our cell phones and chargers to another friend’s house where we spent time with them and their electricity. During the three evenings my family was without power, we didn’t once eat dinner at home in the dark due to the availability of others.
What we need to remember about the character trait of availability is that being available is more than just providing assistance to someone when we have the extra time. Availability means being available to others when time allows and when it doesn’t, when it’s easy, and when it’s difficult, when it’s convenient and when it’s not. Availability is serving those around us—friends, family members, and strangers—with a servant’s heart.
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