Conference Questions – Purpose for Serving

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

On Sunday morning of conference weekend, Sister Linda K. Burton, the new General Relief Society President, gave a great talk entitled, “First Observe, Then Serve”. It focused on seeing the needs of those around us and serving in Christ-like ways to fill those needs. It reminded me a lot of one of the cartoons that I have watched many times with my kids. In the movie Robots, there is a phrase that is used throughout and is a main point for the film. It is, “See a need, fill a need.” Ever since I first saw that movie, that thought has often come to mind as I have tried to serve others. Anyway, the thought is along the same line as the message of Sister Burton’s talk. In her talk she said the following:

Sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. When Elder Robert D. Hales taught the principle of provident living, he shared the example of buying a gift for his wife. She asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” If we adapt that question to ourselves as we serve and ask, “Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?” our service will more likely resemble the ministry of the Savior. The Savior asked, and so should we, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”

My next question in this series is do I serve for the Savior or myself? I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into this question before hearing this. Then I was talking to a friend afterwards and she said that she had been feeling selfish in her service, because she wanted to serve to make herself feel better. I had never thought one way or the other about it, but I know now that it is a great question to ask ourselves. True Christ-like service is not done to help us with our own issues. It is true that we can be greatly blessed because of our service and the blessings may be that our own problems seem easier to bear, but we cannot choose to do service with that as the goal. Rather the goal of service, should be to help another without expecting anything in return.

I love the scripture found in Mosiah 2:17, which reads, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When we choose to do service for God, our entire perspective changes. We will begin to ask ourselves if this thing we are doing is something that God would do if He were standing there in that moment. We will open our hearts to greater direction from the spirit as well. When we do this, we will learn to have charity, or the pure love of Christ, for those we choose to serve. That is because we cannot serve as God would serve, without becoming more like God.

As I pondered this question, I was reminded of Matthew 6:24 when it says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” Usually when I think of this scripture, I am focused on serving the Lord or Satan. However, I think it applies here as well. If we are serving to get something out of it for ourselves, we are serving ourselves. We are the master then. This verse teaches us that we cannot be serving God as well as another master, even if it is us. If our focus is doing good so that we can get something out of it, we leave no room for service to or for God. It’s in moments like these that I feel the Savior would say to us what he taught his disciples many times during his ministry. It would sound something like, “You wanted this to be the outcome, well then, you have your reward.” If only we would recognize the greatness of the blessings that the Lord will give us for serving for Him instead of for us. If we truly knew what could come as a result of serving for the right reason, I am sure there would not be this desire to do things for ourselves.

I know that sometimes we get caught up in life and as we repent we desire to do the things that God has asked of us. It can be difficult to jump right in with the perfect perspective on service to others. At times like these, we need to leave ourselves out of it, and make our service a matter of acting in faith to God. In Mosiah 7:33 we read, “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” We need to be diligent and do our best, then the Lord will provide for our needs.

Our service to God, is how we show Him that we love him. In Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 we read, “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me. . .”. This thought is found all throughout the scriptures. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” I know that I will be serving for the right reasons if I am doing it out of love for the Lord. In Deuteronomy 10 we read the following:

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (emphasis added)

We worship God, when we love and serve Him. I know that as we strive to serve and love God, the desire to serve others will come naturally to us. I am far from great at this, but I know that even service to those in our own homes is of great importance and should not be overlooked. This is where most of my service happens on a daily basis. I know now that I should really think about the reasons I choose to serve those in my home. If I am doing it to make myself feel better, then it is not being done for the right reasons. If we can be more mindful of the real needs of those around us, we will do better to serve them the way the Lord would have us serve. I hope that more of us can find a way to take the natural selfishness out of our daily acts of service, so that we can truly make this world a better place.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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