Service Lessons

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One of the most boring and/or predictable topics for sacrament talks or Sunday school/priesthood/Relief Society lessons is “service”. Often , the idea behind the message is that service brings one closer to Jesus or makes one humble or helps us develop love for our neighbours.

Surely there must be more unique, more insightful ways to present the topic of service in order to help others think about it more.

19 thoughts on “Service Lessons

  1. our Bishop held a special “meeting” on service as so many of our ward members seem to keep away from doing any.. and not the extra service but the every day kind like HT and VT and compassionate service and helping others and fullfilling your callings etc etc. Those that needed the lesson did not show up and left early to go home (this meeting was supposed to be held during the combined PH and RS meeting). Those that did show up were those that always do the volunteering for events, always there on moving day, always get their HT and VT done…. the ones that needed the lesson the most were the absentees. Who knows what the answer is.

  2. Sort of unrelated, but Bill just turned 59. We had a backhoe in to move our woodpile (we have a five year supply of wood, he loves to use the chainsaw) when we sold the lot adjacent to our house, and a member of the bishopric wanted to use us as a service project and have the scouts stack the wood.

    Bill said no because the backhoe picked up a lot of dirt with the wood and he wanted to make sure it was all clean when it got stacked. And so it is. All clean wood.

    This is what I live with. He’s good for the service project, though. It’s sort of funny to become one.

  3. Ok, for your lesson, my suggestion is, have some family/sister whoever come in and explain the impact a HT’s service has had on them.

    Then maybe they will do their home teaching. I’m not holding my breath though.

    But then this topic isn’t strictly about home teaching, but service.

    Hey, annegb, maybe you could use those scouts for something..hmmm….clean your house?? That’s what I would do (or actually maybe let them lay our living room floor!!) I have found in late years that the young men are a bit choosy about their service projects now.

  4. What about talks in which service does not lead to closer relationships and love? I think we could use negative examples more in general, but only if the person providing them can then give some reason why to serve.

    Also, what about broadening the scope of what “service” entails. It’s not, shockingly, just cleaning up yards, bringing meals to the indisposed and the other typical ones we hear. What about some new, fresh ways that people serve. Not that I can think of any, but that’s just because I’m uncharitable to begin with.

  5. “I have found in late years that the young men are a bit choosy about their service projects now.”

    Maybe if the ward didn’t think of scouts as “free labor” they would be able to get into the spirit of service, rather than resenting being pushed into projects.

  6. Perhaps the most poignant sermon I’ve heard on service was received in Harvey, Louisiana in a 30 minute sacrament meeting before going out to work hurricance recovery.

    While all the brethren were gathered in the chapel on Sunday morning in their work clothes, our SP asked how many of us bore our testimonies the previous day. A few raised their hands. He then said that we should have raised our hands.

    He quoted Alma in Mosiah 18:8, and instructed that our service to those people was our testimony. It brought up a wellspring of emotion remembering the people we helped with small and large projects, and the gratitude they had.

    I had a glimpse of a life absolutely devoted to the Lord; “to be called his people, and … to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”

  7. Actually, Ariel, we have never used the scouts for service. As a matter of fact, we usually don’t ask anyone. It’s just what I have observed from other’s comments. The only free labour in our house is us.

    And I was seeing it also from the perspective of Kim when he was young men’s 2nd counselor.

  8. I wasn’t referring to individual families, but to larger groups. When any auxillary wants something done (at least in my family ward) one of the first comments is “we can get the scouts to do it.” I’ve never been a scout, but I’ve been surprised that no one takes into account that scouts have lives and may not appreciate being “asked” to set up chairs for the relief society super saturday every month.

  9. I’m the visiting teaching supervisor in (am I spelling that right?) our ward. This is my second round at that oh-so-special calling. I hate it. Honestly, I hate it. I hate a good one fourth of the ward most of the time and the rest of them the rest of the time. It brings out my inner witch like nothing else.

    I have also twice, for several years, been the compassionate service leader. That calling, that calling rocks. I mean I loved it and I loved everybody when I was compassionate service.

    I don’t understand the dichotomy of that. I’m not sure if dichotomy is the right word, but it’s an intelligent sounding one and I heard Sylvestre Stallone use it once and I thought, “I must find out what that word means.”

    But there is something to service. I love those I serve, honestly, not to sound hokey. I’ve seen a lot of families around this ward where I’ve lived 25 years through birth and death and sickness and divorce and house floodings and you know, thank God those people finally moved.

    I was filled with love then. And I don’t know why I’m not now. I love visiting teaching, it’s not that, it’s just hard to be the ward nag. And my very best friends all started out as my visiting teacher or vice versa.

    When we were first married, Bill was an absolute butthole about helping others. He’s down with it now. But I bet moving people could get real old real quick. I remember going over to help a lady pack and she had done nothing. Not even her dishes. Oh, the stories I could tell.

    In the long run, if you have to choose, choose to serve. And you know, those scouts, heck, they are young and their youth is wasted on them. They should be stacking somebody’s woodpile. If I felt as good now as I did when I was 14, I could so kick butt. At serving.

  10. annegb

    I know exactly what you mean. I too enjoy visiting teaching, but I know what you mean about “nagging”. Actually I have an ex-companion (last ward) who took great offense to me phoning her to see when she could go VT. Honestly, I didn’t care if she came or not, all she had to do was tell me, but she decided I was the horrible person, proceeded to gossip about me and it took me forever to find out why (because I do not go out of my way to be mean to anyone, actually I go out of my way NOT to).

    Kim could tell you stories about moving too, lol. Actually one I remember (this was back in BC) was someone who had packed everything in garbage bags. Including the TV. And then, yep, the ones who hadn’t even started packing.

  11. I think it’s great for scouts to do service. I think it’s great to provide them with opportunities for service. But what I see in the church isn’t really “providing opportunities.” The scouts either do it, or get branded as uncharitable and chastized in priesthood meeting, or they go inactive entirely to avoid the first two options. And the third happens more than we would like to think. But I’m done ranting about it.

  12. Ariel

    Maybe it’s different where we are, but this doesn’t happen here. Truly it is the EQ that ias expected to do the most, but even then I don’t see any branding happening here. Too bad it happens that way in your area.

  13. If you want to teach young adults about service, ask them to take care of children during sacrament meeting.

    If that’s not a helpful service, I don’t know what is.

    If you want to teach adults about service have them swap yard-care duties with each other for the summer (probably easiest if you match family sizes).

    It will act as both a fellowshipping tool and may encourage non-Sunday socializing of adults in a not-a-church-activity sort of way.

    Never underestimate the ability of neighbours acting neighbourly as a method of social enrichment.

  14. Ariel, how many scouts have you known to be traumatized by service?

    You’re either exaggerating the problem or you live in a really sucky ward.

    Rick, I totally agree with everything you said. My daughter is so spoiled I think it would have been good for her. She’s clueless.

  15. Annegb, I’ve seen several scouts go inactive (or reactivate and then change their mind) because of that; I’d estimate 5-10 in 6 years. And, yes, it is a “really sucky” ward, with lots of problems you wouldn’t believe, and it’s in Jelloville. Thankfully, I don’t live in that ward during the school year.

  16. I’ve been a convert now for almost 30 years and I have seen that members willingness to provide “service” has declined – not in all cases of course, but as a general rule – I’ve have also seen that the SAME PEOPLE provide much needed “service” over and over again –
    Old Testament lesson here – the children of Israel were quite quick to “forget the Lord who had led them from Egypt” and repented only after they were afflicted (or as I put it “knocked upside the head”) – it is NOT an accident that messages-that-are-obvious are repeated continually :D

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