Archive for the ‘service’ Tag

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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No One Left Behind

Reading: “‘Man Down!’“, President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, April 2009 General Conference, Priesthood Session

One of my favorite television shows is Stargate SG-1.  A main theme that runs throughout the entire series is a commitment to never leave a friend or comrade behind in a bad situation.  In this talk Elder Eyring calls upon us to never leave a friend or fellow church member down when they are in need.

Although much of the talk is geared towards bishops and home teachers, each of us can also watch for those that need our help.  Elder Eyring tells us:

Out of loyalty they felt a duty to stand by their fellow soldiers, whatever the cost. The courage to act and their selfless service came from feeling that they were responsible for the lives, the happiness, and the safety of comrades.

Such a feeling of responsibility for others is at the heart of faithful priesthood service. Our comrades are being wounded in the spiritual conflict around us. So are the people we are called to serve and protect from harm. Spiritual wounds are not easily visible, except with inspired eyes. But bishops, branch presidents, and mission presidents sitting before fellow disciples of the Savior can see the wounded and the wounds.

This is not an easy talk to apply to myself because I am not in a position of leadership.  I am not even in a position of knowing the people around me, since I only just moved here.  Still, today I will pray for guidance to see when people around me need my help and for the courage to help them.

Have you ever known someone or been someone who needed some extra help?  How did getting that help (or not getting that help) affect you?  How can you better help others around you that need it?

Answer the Call

Reading: “This is Your Phone Call,” Bishop Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, April 2009 General Conference, Priesthood Session

Across the country thousands of people are currently out of work.  The current economic struggle has hit many at home as they struggle to find work in a climate where everyone is trying to find work.  In this talk Bishop Edgley asks the Priesthood, and all of us, to find way to help those in need.

Although Bishop Edgley was speaking directly to the Priesthood, he included everyone in his plea for help.  He said of the sisters:

Bishops, the sisters have a role in this effort. Because of the economy, many mothers are finding it necessary to make budget and other living adjustments. Some are even finding it necessary to leave the home to find work. The Relief Society sisters, with their specially endowed, compassionate hearts, can help. They can help identify the needy. They can teach. They can babysit, console, comfort, and encourage. They can make a difference.

I just moved into a ward full of students.  Most are still going to school, and many are just married with no children of their own yet.  Part of me thinks such a group would be largely buffered from the current economic crisis because they are busy getting educated instead of looking for jobs, but another part thinks they would be even more vulnerable since students have such a small margin to live inside financially.  Whatever the case, this week I am going to approach our relief society president and tell her that I would love to help where help is needed, and to not hesitate to ask me to help if needed.

Do you know anyone who is struggling right now to find employment and/or cover their expenses?  What can you do to help?  If you are in a position of need yourself, would you mind sharing how others can help you the best?

Give Even When Your Need Is Great

Reading: “Adversity,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the General Presidency, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the current hard times faced by many people across the world, it may be hard to think of giving.  After all, if you are suffering yourself then it seems as if you shouldn’t be required to also help others since you don’t have much to give.  In this talk, however, Elder Eyring encourages us to do just that:

That may seem much to ask of people in such great need themselves. But I know one young man who was inspired to do that very thing early in his marriage. He and his wife were barely getting by on a tiny budget. But he saw another couple even poorer than they were. To the surprise of his wife, he gave help to them from their scanty finances. A promised blessing of peace came while they were still in their poverty. The blessing of prosperity beyond their fondest dreams came later. And the pattern of seeing someone in need, someone with less or in pain, has never ceased.

Today when I was running errands a woman came to me and asked for cash to buy some gas to get home.  I hardly ever carry any cash with me, so while I would have been more than happy to give her some cash I didn’t have any.  After she left, as I was preparing to drive away, the thought came that I could offer to drive with her to the gas station and buy gas for her (she had said she only had just enough gas to get to the gas station).  However, I also thought of how my own husband was waiting for me to get home so I could let him into our apartment (his keys were locked inside) and how my one year old was very hungry and very tired, our errand having run long past lunch time and nap time.  In the end I decided to go ahead and go home, reasoning that surely she would find someone else who could help her.  As I read this talk I realized that I missed out on the opportunity to do real service for someone.  I now wish I would have chosen to offer my time, rather than running on my way.

Today I am going to pray for help recognizing need around me, and for help to have the courage and correct attitude to offer that help where I can.

Have you ever seen someone help others, even though their own suffering was great? How do you balance your own needs with your desire to help others?

Each Drop Counts

Reading: “Pray Always,” Elder David Bednar, Nov 2008, Ensign; Direct Relief International PSA; Alma 37:6

Yesterday in Relief Society we talked about Elder Bednar’s recent conference address on prayer.  In that conference address Elder Bednar encourages us to pray for others.  He says,

Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful.

Sometimes when I think about praying for others I feel like there is so much pain and suffering in the world that my little prayers won’t make a difference.  Recently, though, I saw this commercial that helped me see that the little things that I do, including prayer (as well as service), really can make a difference.

Today I’m going to take extra time in my evening prayer to think about all the people I know who could use some help, and then pray for them.

How do you incorporate requests for others into your prayers? Have you ever been blessed by someone else’s prayers that you know of, or seen someone blessed by the prayer of another?