Are you willing to be third class, and serve?

Tiffany and baseball players

Tiffany Ervin with participants in a special needs baseball league her club sponsors.

By Tiffany Ervin, past president of the Rotary Club of Four Seasons – Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA

In the days of the American wild west, if you wanted to travel a great distance, you had to go by stagecoach and it was a very long trip. There were three different classes of passengers – first, second, and third class. The seats were all the same, but the prices were different. Here’s why…

  • First class meant you remained seated during the entire trip, no matter what happened or what conditions might be faced.
  • Second class meant you remained seated until there was a problem along the way, when you had to exit the stagecoach and walk alongside.
  • But third class passengers not only exited when there was a problem, they were also the ones who had to fix a broken wheel or even push the stagecoach along, through the mud, up the hills, no matter what came along.

So I began thinking about this when it comes to our involvement in Rotary. Let me ask you – what class ticket do you hold?

Pampered, or detached?
Too many of us hold first class tickets – we expect to be waited on and catered to – even pampered! We’re willing to ride, but not push. We just sit back and let the others do the work.

But there are also those in our organization who hold second class tickets – detached spectators who show up but don’t want to get too involved. Their name goes on the roster, they even include their membership on their resume…but that’s about it.

“Is success really remaining seated while others get out and push, or is it getting your hands and feet dirty? Is success being served or serving others?”

But thankfully, there are also a few who are willing to hold third class tickets – willing to get out and push when the going gets tough.

We tend to equate first class with privilege – exempt from doing any work. But is success really remaining seated while others get out and push, or is it getting your hands and feet dirty? Is success being served or serving others?

What it means to be third class
Third class ticket holders have a heart for service. They don’t mind working behind the scenes. They are people who have made a conscious decision to get involved or join an organization whose entire reason for existence is to change the world! They are people who are willing to get out and push!

If we just sit in our first class seat and expect everyone else to get behind and push, what will happen to Rotary? We’ll never reach our goals – to end polio, to prevent other diseases, to bring about world peace – every organization in the world already has too many first class passengers. We’re looking for a few more third class passengers!

What are you willing to do? Are you willing to be a leader instead of a spectator? Are YOU willing to be a third class passenger?

13 thoughts on “Are you willing to be third class, and serve?

  1. Excellent idea to represent 3rd class Dedicated service.
    Really now a day Rotarians become photogenic & forget real social services.
    All together we will serve the Huminity better & better with full of dedication to community.
    Proud to be part of 3rd class Dedicated Rotarian.


  2. Pingback: President’s Comment – 31 Jul 16 – Rotary E-Club of D9700

  3. Excellent article. Many of our clubs have plenty of 3rd class members (fortunately) but the challenge to the President is does your club have enough hands on projects to satisfy the willingness of the membership to do hands on work. How about a monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly service event. Visit children in Hospitals to read a story, or play a game. Could there be any Orphanages or Old Age homes where regular visits by Rotarians could improve the residents quality of life? Rotary clubs could help on a regular basis at Food kitchens, community centers, etc. etc.


  4. Wow….speaking of class. Now that is Third Class if I ever heard of it! Look forward to meeting Tiffny this weekend in Dublin. District 6920.


  5. This is the way to make your clubs stronger and more vibrant. Of all the clubs I see, the one that are full of “third class” members are the ones that are growing. Attract as many “third class” members as you can. The impact from this will be far greater than imagined.


  6. Pingback: Are you willing to be third class, and serve? | The Rotary Club of Carteret

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.