The Five Love Languages: Acts of Service


This image of St. Francis is from a 16th-Century oil painting in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Sunday talk was “Acts of Service” which is the fourth love language from the work of Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages. Each week we look at a love language and how it fits with the commandment given to us by Jesus “to love one another.”

I am sharing a story about St. Francis of Assisi, who is known for making God’s love real in many different ways. He lived in Italy around 800 years ago. If you’ve ever seen a statue of a monk with birds and squirrels hanging around like they do for Disney princesses, you’ve probably seen a statue of Francis. He left his wealthy merchant family to live a simple life of nature, preaching, and good works. As you read this story look for ways that Francis practices these love languages.

Saint Francis of Assisi took a novice (monk in training) out for a day of preaching the gospel. As they left Assisi, they helped a farmer move his cart; down the road they talked with a merchant and listened to his problems; around noon they shared their meal with a hungry beggar; soon after lunch they prayed with a sick woman; on their way back, they helped a woman carry her heavy load.

When they returned to the monastery at dark, the novice commented that the day was gone and they hadn’t preached to anyone. “My son,” Francis responded, “we’ve been sharing the gospel all day long.”

Francis shared the gospel this way because this is how Jesus shared the Good News, through word and deed and time and gifts.

Jesus speaks of himself as one who comes not to be served but to serve. Jesus healed people. Jesus gave hungry people food, because he felt compassion. Jesus reached out to marginalized people however he also served those closest to him – remember how he washed his disciples’ feet.

If your love language is “Acts of Service,” everything you do is about the other person, not about you. It’s freely chosen and willingly performed. It imbues even the most ordinary task with a sense of the value of work and the sacredness of daily, ordinary things.

This quote from St. Teresa of Avila will speak loud and clear to one whose love language is “Acts of Service.”

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hand with which he is to bless now.”

To all of us no matter what your love language take this quote from Mother Teresa and apply it in your life “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

This week, let’s pay attention to the ways we can bless and love others by serving and helping both those we may not know and those who are closest to us.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

The Five Love Languages: Receiving Gifts

Rev. Pat Bessey

Rev. Pat Bessey

My heart is full as I pass the two year mark of being the Lead Minister here at Unity of Greater Portland. It has been an amazing journey and as we move toward the Annual Meeting on Sunday which for me represents the beginning of a new glorious year. We have so much to be thankful for as a community. The activities, classes, silent retreats and other events throughout the year give testimony to the amazing community here at Unity of Greater Portland. It is my greatest desire to celebrate the individual and collective spiritual transformation taking place in this community and that we embody our vision of “Centered in Divine Love we celebrate a spiritually transformed world.”

This past Sunday (yeah…no snow) I continued the series The 5 Love Languages and focused on “receiving gifts.” Gifts are tangible symbols of love.

What is one of the first thoughts you have when someone gives you a gift?

He was thinking of me…

She remembered me…

It is impossible to get a gift for someone without thinking of them or remembering them. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.

Three things make a great gift:

  • It’s Personal
  • It’s Thoughtful
  • It’s Generous


In our congregation we have a group of folks who make and give away handmade prayer shawls to people who are going through a rough time or who are ill. There are many who are active in the ministry even though they may not be actually knitting or crocheting the prayer shawls but donate the yarn. With every stitch the person knitting or crocheting is praying for the person who will receive the prayer shawl. The time, effort, skill and intention join together to wrap the recipient in the warmth of God’s love and the love of our congregation. You can see that this ministry fulfills the three things that make a great gift.

When we turn our attention to Spirit we also we are given the greatest gift of all the Love of God and from that we give love. Scripture reminds us “We love because God first loved us”. (1 John 4:19)

God is the ultimate Gift Giver.

The sunshine to welcome us into a new day.

A blanket of stars to settle us for sleep.

Needed rain and the fruit of good earth and the gift of life itself.

So if someone special to you has receiving gifts as their love language you are pretty lucky…this is one of the easiest love languages to learn.

A Gift For You
by Rumi

You’ve no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So – I’ve brought you a mirror.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

The Five Love Languages: Quality Time

heartWe continued this week with the series The Five Love Languages and I spoke about “quality time.” I used the biblical story of Martha and Mary to identify what your tendency might be.  Do you have a Mary tendency to spend quality time with the one you love or a Martha tendency to be distracted by the tasks at hand?  One is not better than the other; actually both are needed to have a balanced life.

What is Quality Time?

Quality time is when you give someone your undivided attention! Quality Time has to do  with focused attention.

Here are some key points to help us understand about Quality Time.  Quality time is spending time together and engaging in quality conversation.  It is important to stay present to each other and don’t be multitasking while you are having quality time.  Listen attentively to what is being said and watch for feelings that are being shared.  This is a time to acknowledge without advising.  For some of us this is not easy to do.

What is important to know about all of the love languages is that the giving and receiving has to be present for each.  What I mean by this is that if your love language is “quality time” your love tank is being filled when you are sharing quality time with someone who is special to you as well as when that special person is being present to you and sharing quality time.

If your love language is not “quality time” then you also have to be sharing in the good coming from the time together.  For you it may be recognizing how you are willing to find out what matters to your partner, child or friend and be present to them and not be distracted. Also you receive when that person acknowledges how grateful they are for your willingness to participate in whatever the activity is as they know it is not your love language and they see you making a real effort to fill their love tank.

I know it is true that we need to spend quality time together, in order to strengthen the emotional connections we have with one another.  So if it is true for us – on a human level – it is also true for us on a spiritual level.

We can also develop our relationship with God as we spend quality time in prayer and meditation in God’s Presence.  Many of the mystics of the past have been people who just delighted in spending countless hours in God’s presence.  I would guess their love language might have been quality time.

If quality time is your love language – then you will feel emotionally and spiritually satisfied as you spend time in God’s presence – just being quiet.  I bet your love tank will be filled as a result.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

The Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

The Five Love LanguagesAs I continue with the series The Five Love Languages on Sunday based on the book by the same name written by Gary Chapman, we looked at “words of affirmation.”

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” If we take Mark Twain literally, six compliments a year would have kept his emotional “love-tank” at the operational level. You, or your spouse, and I, will probably need many more than that!

Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Haven’t we all, at some time or other, felt that we just weren’t being appreciated – that we were simply being taken for granted?

Let’s look at the word “affirmation.” To affirm something means to confirm its truth and to strengthen it. So when we says words of affirmation to someone whose love language is Words of Affirmation they are feeling loved and appreciated. Their love tank is being filled. Words of affirmation may be as simple as “you look great today.”

There are other types of affirmations. Words of appreciation…to appreciate something means to put extra value in it. When we say words of appreciation we are adding value to that person’s life – the value they have for themselves and the value they add to our lives. Words of appreciation also fill the love tank of those whose love language is words of affirmation.

There is another type of words also which we should be speaking to those whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation and they are encouraging words. The word ‘en-courage’ means ‘ to make courageous’. When we speak encouraging words we are putting courage into the other. And most of us need courage, don’t we? Life has a way of draining it out of us! We get our knocks and bruises in life – and it’s easy to withdraw from the challenging edge of life, and take shelter on the sideline. When we speak words of encouragement we are giving the other that extra energy – extra courage – to do something, to release some untapped potential in some area of their life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words which they otherwise probably would never do, without your support. That extra courage will make them feel loved – and their love-tank level will rise.

Thoughts for you to ponder this week might be:

  • How might I ‘learn’ to speak another “Love Language”?
  • On a scale of 0 – 10 how important is it to receive words of affirmation from someone you care about?


Join me next Sunday as we explore the love language of “Quality Time.”

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

The Five Love Languages: Keeping Your Love Tank Full

The Five Love LanguagesToday I began a new series based on the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The Five Love Languages is a revolutionary concept, because, once grasped, people begin to express and experience love like they never have before.

Marriages, families, and friendships can be healed and reach new heights by paying attention to and applying the principles of the five love languages.

This revolutionary concept helps people understand how to keep their “love tank” filled up. It also helps them understand how to effectively and appropriately love those they relate to according to the love language preferences of others.

Chapman says: Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings, which becomes our primary or native language. Later we learn additional languages – but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary languages. We speak and understand best our native language. We feel most comfortable speaking that language.

He goes on to say…

If we speak only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication will be limited. We must rely on pointing, grunting, drawing pictures, or acting out our ideas. We can communicate, but it is awkward. Language differences are part and parcel of human culture. If we are to communicate effectively across cultural lines, we must learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate.

Like human languages, love is a language that we must learn and communicate. For us to have the kind of relationships that nurture and fill us it is important to learn the love language of our partners, children, and co-workers. Once we learn them the next step is to communicate with them in their love language.

Dr. Chapman has identified five different love languages. They are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Receiving gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch


For the next five weeks I will be sharing on each of these so that you can identify your own love language and hopefully begin to see the love language of those in your life who matter to you.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat