Followers of Jesus Christ have long known that He expects us to serve others in His name. The Savior showed us an example of how to give unselfish service because He devoted His life to serving Heavenly Father and all of His Father’s children. He works unitedly with His Father to give the gift of immortality and the blessing of eternal life to all of us. (See Moses 1:39.)
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency reminded his listeners that “Jesus went about teaching His gospel and doing good (see Acts 10:38). He healed the sick. He raised the dead. With His power He fed thousands when they were hungry and without food (see Matthew 14:14-21; John 6:2-13). After His Resurrection He gave food to several of His Apostles as they came ashore at the Sea of Galilee (see John 21:12-13). In the Americas, He healed the sick and blessed the children one by one (see Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 17:7-9, 21).
We can find numerous references in the scriptures that admonish us to serve. The Apostle Paul taught, “By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
An ancient prophet known as King Benjamin exhorted: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:17)
Modern-day prophets and apostles also teach the importance of service to the needy, poor, sick, widows, and fatherless. Just a month ago, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were admonished to reach out and help the refugees in our communities.
President Thomas S. Monson told the story of Jack McConnell who “grew up in the hills of southwest Virginia in the United States as one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mother. Their circumstances were very humble. He recounted that during his childhood, every day as the family sat around the dinner table, his father would ask each one in turn, `And what did you do for someone today?’ The children were determined to do a good turn every day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone. Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives. As they grew and matured, their motivation for providing service changed to an inner desire to help others.
“Besides Dr. McConnell’s distinguished medical career – where he directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI – he created an organization he calls Volunteers in Medicine, which gives retired medical personnel a chance to volunteer at free clinics serving the working uninsured. Dr. McConnell said his leisure time since he retired has `evaporated into 60-hour weeks of unpaid work, but [his] energy level has increased and there is a satisfaction in [his] life that wasn’t there before.’ He made this statement: `In one of those paradoxes of life, I have benefited more from Volunteers in Medicine than my patients have.’ There are now over 90 such clinics across the United States.
“Of course, we can’t all be Dr. McConnells, establishing medical clinics to help the poor; however, the needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.”
President Monson quoted the Savior as saying, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24); he then added the following statement.
“I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, which those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish – and in effect save their lives.
“I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to `bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light’ (Mosiah 18:8). How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that `oh, surely someone will take care of that need.’
“You may lament: I can barely make it through each day, doing all that I need to do. How can I provide service for others? What can I possibly do?” (See Thomas S. Monson, “Lose Yourself in Service,” New Era, August 2015.)
President Eyring taught that service to other will help to qualify us for eternal life. “One of the assurances that you are being purified is an increasing desire to serve others for the Savior. Home teaching and visiting teaching become more of a joy and less of a chore. You find yourself volunteering more often in a local school or helping care for the poor in your community. Even though you may have little money to give to those who have less, you wish you had more so that you could give more (see Mosiah 4:24). You find yourself eager to serve your children and to show them how to serve others.
“As your nature changes, you will feel a desire to give greater service without recognition. I know disciples of the Savior who have given great gifts of money and service with a determination that no one but God and their children would know about it. God has recognized their service by blessing them in this life, and He will bless them in the eternal life to come (see Matthew 6:1-4; 3 Nephi 13:1-4). …
“The Savior teaches us how we can learn to serve others. He served perfectly, and we must learn to serve as He learned – line upon line (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-13). Through the service we give, we can become more like Him. We will pray with all the energy of our hearts to love our enemies as He loves them (see Matthew 5:43-44; Moroni 7:48). Then we may at last become fitted for eternal life with Him and our Heavenly Father.” (See Henry B. Eyring, “Service and Eternal Life,” Liahona, March 2014.)
There is something we can all do to help someone else. We must be wise in our service and not attempt to do more than we have strength, and we must remember that some of the greatest service we can give is given within the walls of our own homes and for members of our own families. The question asked by the father of Dr. McConnell’s father is one that we should ask ourselves every day: “And what did you do for someone today?” The best way to know where our service would do the most good is to ask Heavenly Father each morning where He would like us to serve. We cannot do everything, but we can do something!