Chelsea Roff: Inspiring Quotes from Mother Teresa, MLK, & Raindranath Tagore on Service

This week I’m at the Omega Institute in New York for the 1st annual Yoga Service Council Conference — an event that brings together individuals and organizations from around the nation that are using yoga and mindfulness practices to serve in-need communities. I’ve spent the day listening to leaders talk about the work they do in prisons, juvenile detention centers, hospitals and more… and boy, I’m feeling inspired. I’ll have interviews and reflections from the conference coming later this week.

In the mean time, I wanted to share a few inspirational words from leaders past… men and women who, in my mind, embodied what true service really means through their life’s work. Because really, in the end, it’s not our words that have an impact… it’s the deeds, the actions that ripple out from our intentions.

Here are a few quotes abou service that have been on my mind today. If you have favorites, I would love for you to share them in the comments section below.

“There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

“The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.”  ~ Laurence Leamer

“I slept and dreamt that life was all joy, I awoke and understood life was but service, I served and realized service is joy.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Everybody can be great.  Because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.”  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

“There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves.  You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.”  ~ Andrew Carnegie


  1. Absolutely awe-inspiring suggestion. I think a lot of not being able to feel that "generosity" and "giving" has to do with not being able to see ourselves in others, or believing of others as separate from ourselves. The aspect of "mine" is so taught at a young age and continues onto adulthood in most societies these days. Once these barriers break I think people will begin to see that sharing and caring go hand in hand with evolving, will begin to fully embrace the concept of "Oneness". That would also lead to the acts of division and discrimination at various levels to end, the sex, color, race, physical appearace, sexual orientation etc kind of discrimination. It was a thought provoking article. Thank you so much for posting about it.