You feel the Spirit prompt you and give you an answer. A few times in my life when I have really been seeking to know something I have had amazing answers. This ‘service’ was that moment when new light comes in.
I really wanted to know if I had a spiritual report card what would be my grade. I wanted to know if I was getting there. I needed a measuring stick. I wanted to know ‘what do I need to do if I wanted to take that next step up?’ I wanted a report card even if I didn’t like what it said. I wanted to know how to change. I was seeking how I could be more Christ-like. The answer came in what I’m going to share with you today. I hope as you ponder it, it will become profound to you. I hope that you can see how to move forward and to judge myself.
I think the key to becoming like Christ is in ‘service’. It’s how we serve other people.
“There is nothing left for us to gain on our own if we receive and possess all that the Father has. He is the sole source of all authentic gifts, acquisitions, powers, and satisfactions. As we obtain all that it is possible to obtain through the Father’s promised blessings, the only option for more joy is to bless others with caring service. Once we have the gift of charity, once we have received all ordinances, and once we have claim on all blessings and all things from the Father, our only possible work and glory is to serve and bless others. To serve is our ultimate and eternal destiny.”
(Elder V. Dallas Merrell, Ensign, December 1996)
Once we have charity, and ordinance, and claim to the blessings….I think we are all in that. We have gone through the ordinance do we really understand it so that it is ‘through’ us. We are in the process of learning to have charity.
Service is the process of becoming holy.
You take a dinner over to someone that just had surgery. It didn’t make you feel holy it made you feel stressed. I feel like it’s just another thing on my to-do list. The key for service is the condition of your heart when you do the service. It’s not the act of service. Your self grading is on the condition of the heart when you do the service.
Look at this Service Continuum and see where you are on it.
A continuum is a none ending line. It’s continuous. When we talk about the Service Continuum because of what it represents. On this continuum we will NEVER get there in this life. Our goal it to get closer. Our process is to see where we are and where our children are and to help them move forward.
When we are in the influence of Satan he doesn’t care if you think too much of yourself or you think too little of yourself. He wants you to always be thinking of yourself. The Service Continuum is a way to see how sucked into Satan’s plan you are into thinking about yourself. We aren’t in depression or pride thinking about ourselves. This helps you see maybe where you are.
This is NOT an event is a process. You cannot go from being lousy to being really good. You just need to change percentages and go up the next step and then the next step. As you seek to do that you will be empowered to make those next steps. Just because you aren’t perfect doesn’t mean that you aren’t making process.
Will you take dinner to someone? Nope!
Will you be the nursery leader? Nope!
I won’t is…don’t ask me to. Why would you ask me to donate to Humanitarian I’m barely making it here.
All you see is you and your needs and why it’s an imposition. This person lives by praise. Self value comes from what someone else gives to you, but they feel entitled to receive that. This is really pride and it’s I won’t.
What is your first response?
These people are quick to take offense and blame other people. They live in self pity mode. I want you to see that. Most of you aren’t like that. You are seeking to become and be better. You probably know people who are there.
I Have to/I Need to…
I need to be better at visiting teaching.
I have to do temple work.
This is Laman & Lemuel. They DID do it, but they complained the entire way. Everything is a burden.
We look at joy as being “conditional”. When my kids are in school I’ll be happy.
“I need to do that….”
These people are not always dependable. Guilt! These people may not show up. They feel overwhelmed with life and procrastinate a lot. Some of you go there occasionally, but don’t live there.
I have to do it, no one else will.
These next 2 levels are more of a mental thing. You have to change the words you say in your mind.
I Will (I’ll try)…
The cop out is ‘I’ll try’. It’s your way of saying ‘no I won’t’.
I will accept that calling because I’m not supposed to turn down a calling. This person really does desire to be good. Life is heavy. They carry a lot of guilt.
Your kids will keep score…I will do that, but I want to be sure everyone else is doing their part too. I don’t want to do any more than anyone else.
I will be a good wife. I gave him a treat last time so it’s your turn to do it for me. It’s a score keeping.
I Want To…
I want to have a calling. I don’t care what it is. I want to be a mother. I want to have these children. I want to be a wife. I want to make other people’s lives better.
(From a Conference talk) What is the difference between the Humanitarian Services the world has and the church’s Humanitarian Services? Humanitarian Services in the world ‘want’ to help. They are living right there wanting to help and do and be. The difference is the next level. The next level is that you want all of that because of gratitude for what the Lord gave to you.
Most of us live on the “I want” level
May I…I Am Thankful…
We do this because we appreciate the Atonement and serve out of love for the Savior. We serve because we love Him. I don’t think you can get in that last category without consciously studying the Savior and his life.
We need to teach our children to serve like this. How do we get there by serving because we are thankful for.
We provide service opportunities for our children, but they have to learn gratitude. They won’t jump levels if they are doing it out of obedience to you. It won’t change their heart. Gratitude is what softens the heart for them or you.
Gratitude is more than teaching your children to say ‘thank you’. Gratitude is the way you look at life. The goal is that the Gratitude is focused on the Savior. So you see all life and life experiences through the window of the Savior.
“It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge. With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude we return evil for good.” (W. Eugene Hansen)
Think about that in relationship to Heavenly Father. When we are not grateful for these gifts…we return even for good. The reason Heavenly Father commanded us in all things to be grateful is not because he wants glory. The reason is because gratitude heals the heart.
In that experience the Lord commanded them they should have gratitude, sing, and give thanks in praise. When they were in the pit of despair the Lord says be grateful. Be grateful because gratitude heals the heart.
Vs. 15 inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance--
When we express gratitude it opens up the door.
The Roman Orator Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio, 54 b.c.)
President Faust ( Ensign, December 1996) said, “A grateful heart is the beginning of greatness. It is the expression of humility and the foundation for the development of:
- Sense of well being
How do you develop gratitude?
“O Remember Remember” President Eyring
“Tender Mercies” Elder Bednar
Keep a daily journal of how you see the hand of the Lord in your life daily.
Substituting the word “gratitude” for the word “faith”, James 2:17-18 would read:
“Even so “gratitude,” if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast “gratitude” and I have works: shew me thy “gratitude” without thy works, and I will shew thee my “gratitude” by my works.”
Saying ‘thank you’ is gratitude without works. This is only manners.
Write down 3 things you are thankful for…
Thanksgiving is made of 2 words….”thanks” and “giving”. The question is…because of what you have that you are thankful for what will you do. To give thanks is to do something
Feb 2004 “Small Experiences” by Steven A West
A fourth experience happened in 1957 in Portland, Oregon, where I served as a young missionary in the Northwestern States Mission. Several of us were walking from the mission home to the mission office a few blocks away. As we walked, a car stopped abruptly, and a man jumped out and ran toward us asking, “Are you preaching the gospel of Brigham?” We started to reply, “We are missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” when he handed us $9.00 and a box of saltwater taffy. Before we could give him back the money, he ran back to his car and drove away. We thought the experience was very unusual.
Some months later in a multizone conference, a missionary told about an experience he and his companion had while waiting at a bus stop. A man stopped his car, jumped out, and gave them $7.00 and a box of peanut brittle, then drove off. Another missionary related a similar experience while tracting in a suburb of Portland, this time with $14.00 and a box of chocolate mints. The pattern continued as one missionary after another told similar stories, each involving various amounts of money and different types of candy; in all instances, the man left before much discussion could ensue.
Finally, a missionary stood and told how he and his companion happened to know this man. As the elders were preparing to enter a bus station, a man, seeing they were missionaries for the Church, asked where they were going and if they needed a ride. Those being simpler and safer days, the missionaries accepted the offer and rode with him south through Oregon. During the course of that ride, their newfound friend gave them some money and candy, then told them this story:
In 1932 he had been young and unemployed because of the Depression. While crossing the United States as a vagrant looking for work, he ventured to a town in the northern part of the Great Plains. Since it was Christmas Eve and he had no place to stay, he decided to crawl under a bridge to spend the night out of the snow. He found there were two people already there—two young men in coats and ties and white shirts with some packages on their laps. They were LDS missionaries who had just been to the post office to pick up Christmas packages sent to them by their families. Being too excited to wait until they arrived home, they had decided to get out of the snow and see what their families had sent.
The missionaries invited the vagrant to join them under the bridge as they opened their packages. One of the missionaries received cookies and hand-knit gloves. The other received brownies, homemade candy, and a hand-knit scarf. As they sat under the bridge, they shared their treats with this man and then sang Christmas carols together. When the elders were ready to leave, they asked the man if he had a place to sleep. He told them he was used to staying outdoors and would be all right. They then said, “If you are going to stay here, you should take our cookies and brownies to eat as well as the scarf and gloves to keep you warm.” He protested, but they persisted, so he happily accepted the cookies, brownies, scarf, and gloves. The missionaries then left to go to their lodgings.
The man told the two missionaries he was giving a ride to in 1957 that he had never forgotten that experience and had resolved to never pass LDS missionaries without giving them whatever cash he had in his pocket. And inasmuch as he was at that time a wholesale candy salesman, he could also share samples of his wares. He told the missionaries he had been doing this for years and years. When they asked if he was a member of the Church, he said he was not because his wife objected to it. But he added that if she ever consented, he would be most interested in joining. For 25 years, he had been sharing with our missionaries. Who knows how long thereafter he continued to do the same.
That is giving with out remember and receiving without forgetting. That is gratitude. Because he was thankful for what those 2 elder’s had done he gave whatever was in his pocket and a box of candy in his pocket. He DID something! That’s living in gratitude.
This is connected with service and gratitude and lesson on work. Ponder these 3 lessons. Do a Christmas Service Project.
- It has to involve your whole family. The family will plan it and execute it and review how they feel at the end.
- This project should hurt. If you have $100 in the bank it doesn’t hurt. There is no sacrifice. It doesn’t teach us to be grateful for the Savior when he gave all that he had. This project needs to be focused on the love of the Savior and how can we serve him by giving to someone else.
Example…if you pick a family to give Christmas to then your children need to work and earn the money and save it. If it means they have to go without ‘something’ at Christmas it’s worth it. They aren’t suffering. They are learning a valuable gift. I want this to take time. Think about it. Talk about it. Plan for it. I want you to live for the next 48 days until Christmas. You will have to discuss it as a family.
Example…it doesn’t have to cost money, but it has to cost heart. You may choose to adopt a Grandma in a nursing home. It’s the opportunity to overcome that fear. Go sing for her, make a gift for her, play the piano for her.
Example…serve several times in the soup kitchen.
Example…do a project for the homeless shelter.
If it’s not hard you won’t learn what there is to learn. I want it to be hard. Unless it is you won’t enjoy the sweetness of the blessing that will come after it is over.
These become very sacred personal experiences. You need to plan it and record it. You need to write about the process of it. You will have flack along the way. Kids don’t like to do hard things. In the end the joy will be exquisite.
Class member: When you asked us to write something every day that is the most helpful thing that has happened the last few days. It changes your heart and helps you. I was in the temple by myself. Lots of people come in with spouses. It’s very likely my husband may not be with me soon. I looked at all the little suitcases at the top and the Spirit said to be grateful for what you have. I understand more and more why that’s important. That is what I need and what my family needs right now is a grateful heart.
It will change your life. I testify to you. The greatest gift is the Savior and his Atonement. When we begin to understand and appreciate it and we live in gratitude we will learn about all our Father in Heaven gave to us through His Son.
I testify that if you accept this challenge it will be the sweetest experience you will have. It will be the greatest gift you can give your children and Him. Sacrifice beyond comfort to someone else.