There are things we do because we have to, things we do because we are expected to, and things we do because we want to. Where does service fall in this continuum? Sometimes, I think, it happens because of all three.
When we are facing difficult challenges in our lives, or are in desperate need of a blessing from God it is appropriate to reach out to others. We give a piece of ourselves away, because we are asking the Lord to fill an even larger void. It may be a “have to” for us. We may give up the bonus check we’d been counting on so that a child can get braces to help them feel better about themselves. There are plenty of reasons service can occasionally be a “have to”.
Sometimes service comes from an expectation. Our friend calls with a need and we help, not necessarily because we have the time or feel a significant inner pull to do so, but because someone is counting on us.
In the best instances, we do it because we want to. We do it out of love.
Often, our motivations can change mid-stream. Beginning may have purely selfish motives, but the service softens and transforms our heart. No matter how it starts, service can be some of the sweetest experiences we will have on this earth. Those are the times we should seek out. When service comes from our very souls and we begin to understand the unconditional love of the Savior. We become more like Him.
So, the question becomes: how can we strive for this type of service more often? How do we draw closer to Him by reaching out to our fellow man?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an organization made up of volunteers, so there are a lot of opportunities to serve others within the church. Though this is not the only place we choose to volunteer, it generally offers ample and frequent opportunities to forget ourselves and serve the Lord. When we are asked by our leaders to fulfill some responsibility within the church it is generally referred to as receiving a calling, or in other words God is extending a call for us to serve Him.
Sometimes it’s something that seems small and easy for us to accomplish. Other times it seems to be something far beyond our capabilities. In any case, the most crucial part of accepting a call is confirming with the Lord, why He has chosen you to serve. The reasons behind our service can run the gamut of intentions, just like any other act of kindness. But, it’s always best if we turn ourselves over to the Lord, place ourselves in His hands and ask Him to help us do what He has asked.
No matter the task, when we invite the Lord into our heart and soul it will always end up being a service of love that draws us closer to the Savior. No matter the opportunity, place the Lord and the other person above yourself. Find out from Him how best to be His instrument. Then tune your spirit to listen for His guidance. The Savior’s love will flow through your soul and touch the heart of another. You’ll both grow in His love. And that’s what discipleship is all about.