May 24th, 2015
When I asked Bishop what my topic would be for my talk in church today he told me to ponder and pray about what to speak on, I immediately took that as choose your own topic. Instantly I had an idea of what I Thought I should speak on today. However, after actually pondering and praying, reading many talks and spending time studying my scriptures I soon found that what I wanted to be speaking on was not at all what I needed to be speaking on. I kept coming back to the topic of service. So today that’s what I will be speaking on, selfless service. I am so grateful to be speaking on this. After spending much time researching talks, church media, and scriptures I have learned so much about service, and I now have a whole new appreciation for the big and small acts of service that are constantly being given to me and how important even the simplest acts of service are.
So why is service so important? Well for one, it is a commandment. We are taught to “love one another and lose ourselves in service” Our savior is the perfect example of selfless service, he taught us to follow his example by ignoring our selfish desires in order to give selfless service. Not only was Jesus Christ the most Selfless man to walk the earth, he was also the most humble and loving. Some of his greatest acts of service were in privacy, and for the people witnessing his acts of service he asked to tell no man. Our savior gave service not for the acceptance and praise of the world, but for the only sole purpose to serve our heavenly father because he truly loves him. This alone is the biggest and most important lesson I learned while preparing for this talk. This is why Service is SO important. Service is not about us. Service is not about getting a pat on the back for our good deeds; in fact service is not about being recognized at all. We give service to gods children because of the pure love we have for our heavenly father.
While reading a talk by Dallin H. Oaks on selfless service, I was reminded of a story I have heard many times about one of our prophets Gordon B Hinkley. While Gordon B Hinkley was serving his mission, he came across a time of trial and tribulation. He wrote home about his concerns and the hardships he was having. He told his father he felt that he was wasting his time. His wise father simply wrote a letter back saying; “Forget yourself and go to work.” These few simple words are something I hope to hold near to me on my own mission on those days where I am being selfish about the lord’s work. When I am in a “what’s in it for me” attitude. I know I will have days where I struggle. Where I feel like I too, like President Hinkley, am wasting my time. I will simply need to remember to forget myself and go to work. Because this work is not about me and it’s not about my needs. It’s about my love for my heavenly father and the love he has for his children. And about how much he wants us to return to him again. It’s all about selfless service.
I now want to tell a story I loved that Elder Michael T. Ringwood shared in his talk “Truly good and without guile” about his experience with service as a young missionary. He said: “Unfortunately, there was a time in my life when I was motivated by titles and authority. It really began innocently. As I was preparing to serve a full-time mission, my older brother was made a zone leader in his mission. I heard so many positive things said about him that I couldn’t help but want those things said about me. I hoped for and may have even prayed for a similar position
Perhaps my first lesson about truly good Saints without guile was learned when I was a young missionary. I moved into an area with an elder I didn’t know. I had heard other missionaries talk about how he had never received any leadership assignments and how he struggled with the Korean language despite having been in the country a long time. But as I got to know this elder, I found he was one of the most obedient and faithful missionaries I had known. He studied when it was time to study; he worked when it was time to work. He left the apartment on time and returned on time. He was diligent in studying Korean even though the language was especially difficult for him.
When I realized the comments I had heard were untrue, I felt like this missionary was being misjudged as unsuccessful. I wanted to tell the whole mission what I had discovered about this elder. I shared with my mission president my desire to correct this misunderstanding. His response was, “Heavenly Father knows this young man is a successful missionary, and so do I.” He added, “And now you know too, so who else really matters?” This wise mission president taught me what was important in service, and it wasn’t praise, position, power, honor, or authority. This was a great lesson for a young missionary who was too focused on titles.” Not only was this great lesson for elder Ringwood to learn as a young missionary, it is also such a great lesson for me to learn as a soon to be missionary in todays society. He taught me to be motivated by love for our heavenly father, not for the praise of the world. If we do service only for the sole purpose of a reward or a better reputation, our hearts our not in the right place. And the act of our service was out of selfish reasons, so it wouldn’t be considered service at all. A quote I read From Dallin H. Oak’s talk on unselfish service reads: “You can never love the lord until you serve him by serving his people.” We begin to love the people we give service too. We slowly see a glimpse of just how much our heavenly father loves each and every one of his children as we serve them. Our heavenly father cannot physically be here to give service to every person. So, he goes through us, his children, to give service to those in need. He trusts us with his work, and because we love him we will give 100% of our efforts to serve and to love one another.
Missionary work is just one example of selfless service, However on this memorial day weekend I would like to talk about a service that is very near and dear to my heart.
I remember just about a year ago while sitting at a senior end of year assembly at my high school, many groups of students were being called to the stage to be praised for their goods works. Some of the groups consisted of seniors receiving scholarships, people who are planning service trips, and soon to be missionaries. Kids were cheering on their fellow classmates for their achievements and service. However, when about 4 young men and women were announced for going into the military the cheers slowly dwindled down and the excitement in the room was not nearly as noticeable as it had been before for the other groups that had been announced earlier. This completely broke my heart. I remember our 4 classmates standing on stage in military attire with heads tall even though they were not being given the respect and excitement they deserved. Coming from a military family I could somewhat relate to and appreciate the sacrifice these students were giving. These 4 students swore into the military, knowing very well that they could possible one day give their lives let alone their time to our country.
We owe our freedom to these soldiers who truly know what selfless service means. I love hearing stories about my family here today along with my ancestors military experiences. One of my favorite stories my Grandma shares with me is a story of my great great uncle buck from World War 2. My uncle buck was a teacher during this time; he had no military experience or training and was drafted into World War 2. Not long after giving all he had for our countries freedom he was captured by the Germans and sent to be a prisoner of war. At this time food was scarce, the Germans didn’t have enough food to feed their own men let alone our American soldiers. The Americans were hardly fed and many of them were dying from starvation. After being a prisoner for 6 months Uncle buck was trusted enough to peel potatoes for the German soldier’s meals. He began to sneak the peels from the potatoes to feed the American soldiers. Knowing that if he were caught feeding the soldiers he would surely be killed. Uncle Buck easily could have snacked on the potato peels himself to save his own life and become strong and healthy again without sharing any with the other American soldiers. However, he was a selfless man who had pure love for God’s children. He risked his own life and health, to help feed men he hardly knew. Even during a time of trial and tribulation, he forgot himself and went to work. he put the needs of others before his. He himself was starving but he knew they needed the food just as much as he did. Many of the soldiers may not have even known it was him that was doing such a great act of service. He didn’t do it for the reward; he didn’t do it to gain some sort of reputation. He did it because he knew what selfless service truly is. In fact, he never told the story once he got home. He never boasted or bragged about his service. It wasn’t until he was 90 years old that he humbly told his stories of being a soldier for the US military many years ago. I am so grateful for our American soldiers who risk their lives for our freedom. They are the perfect example of people giving selfless service.
I have learned that every act of service is so important, whether it be volunteer work, service trips, bringing a meal to a sick neighbor, missionary work or Military service. All are equally important. In fact some of the smallest acts of service make the biggest difference. An amazing quote by mother Teresa explains this perfectly; “we can do no great things, only small things with great love.” As I think of someone who changes life’s through little acts of service I think of one of my past young women leaders, sister Lisa Howard. She is a true example of someone who loves our heavenly father and follows Christ’s example by giving selfless service. She faithfully gives service to god by giving service to the young women in this ward. I remember one Sunday in my sophomore year of high school she could tell I was having a hard week. The next day I got a text from her saying she wanted to take me out to go get a Jamba juice. This half hour out of her day to take me to get a smoothie made my entire week. It may have been a simple task for her, but for me it was huge. She went above and beyond her title of young women’s president. It was her small acts of kindness that meant the most to me. I remember getting texts from her asking how a test went, or that she was thinking of me, or asking how a date went. She always paid attention to my life and specific details. She truly cared and she showed that. She always came to support my softball games, even if it was for half an hour, she was there cheering me on. Rain or shine. No one asked her to do these things; she was getting no reward or praise for doings these things. No one even knew she was doing this. Besides heavenly father and me. She wasn’t doing it because of her calling in church, in fact to this day even though I’m out of young women’s I still get texts asking about little things in my life and how I’m doing. She did them completely out of love. She showed me, along with all the other young women what selfless acts of service mean and how much they can impact someone’s life for the better. They may have seemed simple to her, but to me and the other young women they meant everything. I will forever be grateful for the example she has been to me. She has helped me in more ways than she will ever fully understand. She is a true, humble, loving, hard working disciple of Chirst.
I am so grateful I had to opportunity to speak today. I have been taught so much about selfless service from our scriptures, the spirit, and our loving prophets. I have a new appreciation for all the big and small acts of service that has been given to me throughout my entire life. I am especially grateful for my loving mom, step dad, and dad who are constantly serving me and making me a better person. I will miss them along with the rest of my family and friends more than I can put into words. However, I know that a mission is what I need to do and where I need to be. I am so blessed and so excited to serve for 18 months the people of Florianopolis Brazil. I know without a doubt that this is the true and restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Joseph smith was a true prophet and President Monson is our living prophet today here on earth. I know Jesus Chirst is our savior and died for our sins, because of him we will be able to live with our loving heavenly father again. I know that through service our trials can seem lighter, and we can show our love for our heavenly father and gain love for his children. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
May 24th, 2015