“When I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 35, one of the many things I quickly learned was that I needed to be willing to serve others. Whether it was to help someone move, offer lawn care, do repairs, or provide transportation, I tried as much as possible to respond to requests for service from my quorum or from individuals. I felt that I was serving in a good way. In retrospect, however, I realize that I was serving out of a sense of duty and not out of a sense of love for those who needed help. I didn’t really view my service as trying to become the Lord’s hands. After I moved to central Missouri, USA, I had the opportunity to serve an older couple. Their small, old country home needed a lot of repairs, including its leaky roof. The couple, however, suffered from serious health challenges that prevented them from doing physical labor. On a hot day in July, my good friend Dallas Martin and I were up on the roof putting down new shingles. We were uncomfortable and dripping with sweat. Suddenly, Dallas stopped nailing, stood up, and looked at me.
‘Do you realize how blessed we are to be the ones capable of being up here doing this work and not the ones inside who can’t?’ he asked. His question hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was literally a life-changing moment. My whole perspective on service took on new meaning. I realized how blessed I was to be able to do all the things that I could do. At that moment, I felt that Dallas and I were not simply helping because of a sense of duty but were helping with a sense of gratitude. The Lord had blessed us with the ability to truly be His hands. With that realization, it was easy for me to feel love for those we were helping.
Since that day, whenever I have helped with a service project, or whenever someone has needed assistance that I was capable of providing, I have tried to keep that perspective in mind. I have not always been successful, but that perspective has been a huge blessing in my life. It has truly helped me keep a positive attitude about service.
When I have problems or challenges, I try to think of people who face more serious trials than I do. Then I express my thanks to the Lord for all the blessings He has given me.
If we put our service in the proper perspective, it takes on new meaning. Two statements on service by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) stand out to me.
- ‘The most effective medicine for the sickness of self-pity is to lose ourselves in the service of others.’
- ‘The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.’
That will be true if we approach service to others with the proper attitude. If we truly strive to help because we feel love for our brothers and sisters, and because we sincerely want to be the Lord’s hands, our service will bless us not only in this life but also in the life to come.” (Larry Jespersen article “How I learned to serve with Love” in December, 2021 Liahona Magazine)
The Blessings of Service
When we help one another we serve God. An ancient prophet taught, “…When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God…” (Mosiah 2: 17 in the Book of Mormon)
When we serve others we gain important blessings. Through service we increase our ability to love. We become less selfish. As we think of the problems of others, our own problems seem less serious. We must serve others to gain eternal life. God has said that those who live with Him must love and serve His children (Matthew 25:34–40 in the Bible).
The Savior Set the Perfect Example of Service
He explained that He didn’t come to earth to be served but to serve and to give His life for us.
(Matthew 20:28 in the Bible) When He was on earth He served the poor, the ignorant, the sinner, the despised. He taught the gospel to all who would listen, fed crowds of hungry people who came to hear Him, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He is the Creator of the earth and our Savior, yet He did many humble acts of service. Just before His Crucifixion He met with His disciples. After teaching them, He took a basin of water and a towel and washed their feet (John 13:4–10 in the Bible) In those days washing a visitor’s feet was a sign of honor and was usually done by a servant. Jesus did it as an example of love and service. When we willingly serve others in the spirit of love, we become more like Jesus Christ.