Recently, I was rereading my notes from the October 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Previously, I highlighted my notes according to different topics. As I studied my notes, I kept seeing the word “serve” and the word “service.” Curious, I did a search for both words in my notes. The word “serve” appears 13 times, and the word “service” is written 5 times. Those are only my notes. How many times were those words spoken in conference that I didn’t write in my notes? Obviously, this is a matter of importance.
We all serve each other every day. We serve our spouse, our children, our neighbors, our coworkers, and our community. What struck me is that our leaders are asking us to analyze how we serve and why we serve. It is the quality of our service that we need to be concerned with in these last days. Have we stepped it up? Are we serving in the manner that Heavenly Father expects? Are we serving as Christ served? Jesus Christ is our example in all things.
I heard a story a while back (before home teaching and visiting teaching became ministering) about a man who appeared on someone’s doorstep faithfully the last day of every month to deliver a spiritual message while leaving the engine running in his car. He had no idea what was going on with the family he visited, nor did he care. The family was undergoing a lot of stress and heartache. In addition to regular routine stress from busy work schedules and raising children, extended family members were ill, requiring them to travel frequently over a snowy mountain pass.
After one particularly stressful trip driving through the snow with hours of delays, the home teacher appeared on the doorstep quite late at night, engine running. He made the mistake of asking the mother at the door how she was doing, and got an earful. He had no clue what this family was going through and he didn’t care. He was just going through the motions of delivering a message at the door in order to report a percentage of people visited during the month.
People are more than numbers. We are not being asked to serve more, but to serve better. It is the quality of our service that is in need of an overhaul.
“When we focus on all that God has done for us, our service flows from a heart of gratitude. As we become less concerned about our service magnifying us, we realize instead that the focus of our service will be on putting God first. … We can make each item on our to-do list become a way to glorify Him. We can see each task as a privilege and opportunity to serve Him, even when we are in the midst of deadlines, duties, or dirty diapers. … When serving our God becomes our main priority in life, we lose ourselves, and in due course, we find ourselves” (Sister Joy D. Jones, “For Him,” Oct. 2018 General Conference).
This all leads to some self-scrutiny. I’m left thinking about the quality of my own service. Am I serving for the right reasons?
Unfortunately, however, we live in a selfish world where people constantly ask, “What’s in it for me?” instead of asking, “Whom can I help today?” or “How can I better serve the Lord in my calling?” or “Am I giving my all to the Lord?” (Sister Cristina B. Franco, “The Joy of Unselfish Service,” Oct. 2018 General Conference)
Sister Franco told the story of a kind Primary teacher who chose between bus fare to take herself and her children to Primary each week and the ingredients for a chocolate cake for her Primary class. She chose every week to make the chocolate cake for her Primary children. She loved Heavenly Father’s children enough to sacrifice a two-mile walk for the opportunity to bring a chocolate cake to them. The secret ingredient was love.
The secret ingredient to all service is love. We’ve been asked to serve in a more holy way—to serve as the Savior served. Some have been confused by that and have shaken their heads thinking this is just a name change for the old home teaching and visiting teaching programs. They lack the vision to see the possibilities if they look through the eyes of the Savior. We need eternal perspective—and that comes through prayer and the Holy Ghost. Until we learn to live our lives in companionship with the Holy Ghost, we’ll never “get it.” Living our lives in a holier way will strengthen our relationship with the Holy Ghost, as well as the Savior and our Heavenly Father.
In order to step up the quality of my service, I need to live closer to the Holy Ghost. Yes, life style changes are in order. Serving others as the Savior served is really the essence of my commitment to Him. I’m grateful that I’m being challenged at this time to serve in a holier way.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.