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Allen K. Burgess

Service is not conditional. One of Satan's deceptive tools is to create counterfeits to the Lord's way of doing things.  We must be careful that we understand the difference between the kind of service the Lord teaches and the false service that Satan teaches. Satan's service disguises selfishness under the cloak of service.

For example, some serve with strings attached or because certain service is personally advantageous.  Some are offended if their service is not appreciated. Others serve only those they feel are worthy of such service or serve only out of obligation.  All of these kinds of service are conditional and are not accompanied by the blessings of true service.

On the other hand, service the Lord's way is given unconditionally.  Elder H. Burke Peterson explained the difference:   

"A selfless person is one who is more concerned about the happiness and well-being of another than about his or her own convenience or comfort, one who is willing to serve another when it is neither sought for nor appreciated, or one who is willing to serve even those whom he or she dislikes.

"A selfless person displays a willingness to sacrifice, a willingness to purge from his or her mind and heart personal wants, and needs, and feelings. Instead of reaching for and requiring praise and recognition for himself, or gratification of his or  her own wants, the selfless person will meet these very human needs for others." (Ensign, May 1985, p. 66)   

Great service is not always something big. Some of the greatest acts ever performed are the small and simple ones. It is the little daily acts of service that make the difference in people's lives. The Savior put it this way:  "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."  (D&C 64:33)   

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom... "So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks---but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!"

(Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.252)

Service is not always giving.  For many of us it is easier to give than to receive.  However, some of the greatest acts of service we will ever render will be the humble acceptance of service from someone else.  All of us need to learn to accept service from others. When we graciously receive these acts of service, we are also serving those who serve us.  By letting others do things for us, we build a bond of friendship and love, which is one of the greatest gifts that we could ever give.

Service is a privilege.  Real service is not something we have to do, but rather something we get to do. Our attitude is as important as the service: how we think of the service we give will directly influence the quality of our actions. Moroni understood well, for he taught:   

"For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. "For behold, it is not counted unto him for  righteousness. "For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God." (Moroni 7:6-8)   

To illustrate this principle, let us consider home teaching and visiting teaching.  Some view these calls as something that has to be done out of duty or obligation.  Others, however, see it as an opportunity to serve.  To them it is a privilege and honor to represent our Father in Heaven and his Son.  These two attitudes offer a wide variation in the type of teaching and visiting that will be done.

Service is a good way to solve personal problems.  When we serve others, not only do we help others but we are also able to see our own problems more clearly.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that only be serving do we learn how to serve:  "In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves.  Not only do we 'find' ourselves in terms of acknowledging guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 254)   

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"To lose yourself in righteous service to others can lift your sights and get your mind off personal problems, or at least put them in proper focus. 'When you find yourselves a little gloomy,' said President Lorenzo Snow, 'look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the   trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.'" (Conf. Report, April 6, 1899; Conf. Report, Oct. 1974).

Service is an eternal investment. The things of this world will rot and waste away, but the children of God are eternal. The time spent serving mankind will bring not only immediate blessings but also eternal joy in the world to come. The greatest service and most eternal investment of all is sharing the truths of the gospel with our brothers and sisters.  The Lord made this clear when he said:   

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;... "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! "And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (D&C 18:10, 15-16). As we lovingly serve others and God, we come to know the Savior better and become more like him.  King Benjamin emphasized this important truth when he stated, "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served." (Mosiah 5:13).      

(From the book Straight Talk About Gospel Principles, by Allan K. Burgess and Max H. Molgard, 1994)