Selfless Service

Reading: “Unselfish Service,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

Recently I was listening to a podcast of an American History class from a prominent secular university and was surprised to hear a commentary on the role Mormon settlers played in colonization of the western United States.  The professor explained that before the West came known as “the West” it was known as the Great American Desert.  This was land not naturally suited for agriculture.  She said that only the Mormons, a group who would willingly follow a leader without complaint and work for the good of the group could have started settling the West.  It was the only way to accomplish the incredible back-breaking labor of setting up an irrigation system.  Once the Mormons got a system working other groups were able to come in and work off of that to further colonize the western United States.

In his talk Elder Oaks also observed that Latter Day Saints continue to be admired for their ability to work together as a group to accomplish large tasks, and explains what it is that gives Latter Day Saints this ability:

Some attribute our members’ willingness to sacrifice and their skills in cooperative efforts to our effective Church organization or to what skeptics mistakenly call “blind obedience.” Neither explanation is correct. No outside copying of our organization and no application of blind obedience could duplicate the record of this Church or the performance of its members. Our willingness to sacrifice and our skills in cooperative efforts come from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, from the inspired teachings of our leaders, and from the commitments and covenants we knowingly make.

Elder Oaks then encourages each of us to make greater efforts to lose ourselves in the service of others.  As we do so we gain happiness and joy beyond that what we can get from selfish obedience.

Recently in a time of feeling a little overwhelmed by all that I have going on in my life I wondered if I should continue posting in my scripture blog.  I thought, I am too busy, and don’t always get that much out of it.  As I read this talk I realized that I forgot that I don’t only write in my blog for myself, I also do it for others who might be able to gain some small help or encouragement from my writing.  When I think only of my own gains it become a bit of a hollow pursuit, but when I think of the service I can give it helps me to feel more fulfilled and happy about what I am doing.

Today is our wedding anniversary, and instead of thinking about how I will enjoy our celebrations I am going to do all I can to just make sure my husband has a great day, in honor of all that he does for me.

Do you have any personal experiences where someone’s selfless service (perhaps yours) made a difference?  How do you feel differently when you are thinking about what you will get versus what you can give?

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1 comment so far

  1. Michaela Stephens on

    “I forgot that I don’t only write in my blog for myself, I also do it for others who might be able to gain some small help or encouragement from my writing. When I think only of my own gains it become a bit of a hollow pursuit, but when I think of the service I can give it helps me to feel more fulfilled and happy about what I am doing.”

    Preach it, sister! I am totally and completely of your mind. If I was blogging only for myself, it would be full of frustrations. There are many more blogs more popular, and more commented, but the prospect of helping somebody makes the struggle worthwhile.

    Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling somewhat depressed because I’ve been wondering if I really make a difference or not, wondering if the Lord has been working through me. Then last night I printed out the 34 pages of journal entries I had typed over the last 3 months and when I read through them I was astonished at how many spiritual experiences I had had and how many times I had helped people. I had forgotten. I had forgotten so quickly. We have to write these things down and then every once in a while we have to go back and read over them.

    Keep writing!!


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