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Jesus Christ said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). This doesn't mean we have to die to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else's needs before our own. (And the "friends" mentioned in the scripture above can be understood to be everyone we meet, since Jesus also commanded us to "love one another.")
We lay down our lives through service. Church members have many opportunities to serve. We can do small acts of kindness for our neighbors, take part in community service, fulfill responsibilities within our local congregations or contribute to the Church's large-scale humanitarian efforts. These actions, whether great or small, let us feel the happiness of connecting with our brothers and sisters and remind us that God often allows us to be the answer to someone else’s prayers.
A neighbor couple came out to help when they saw a single mother moving into the small home next door. They ended up spending their whole Saturday carrying boxes, cleaning floors and entertaining the woman's two young children. When all the work was done, the mother invited her new neighbors over for dinner the following week to show her appreciation. At first they refused since it was clear she didn't have much to spare, but she insisted with tears welling in her eyes. The couple realized that accepting her hospitality would do more to foster a sense of friendship and respect than their well-meaning courtesy ever could have.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that because everything we have comes from God, we should be willing to share it all—from our possessions and money to our time and talents—in order to help others who are in need (And it's important to remember that we're all needy in one way or another). When we serve others we are reminded that nothing in this life lasts as long as the bonds we form with other people, and there's no better way to connect ourselves to others than by working together for our common good. Spencer W. Kimball, a former prophet, explained: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs" ("The Abundant Life," Tambuli, Jun 1979, 3). God has the power to do His work by Himself, but He allows us to help because of the fantastic feeling we get when we serve.
Think of someone who seems to be completely self-sufficient—someone who has a good job, a nice house and is in general happy. Can we still offer service to this person? Do we need to, since they don’t seem to need any help? The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that everyone benefits from serving and being served by others. Service is not only about filling a need but it is also about showing love to our brothers and sisters.
A person would be pretty hard-pressed to call himself a Christian without feeling a deep obligation and desire to serve his fellow human beings. Jesus Christ taught us to "love one another" while He was on earth, and He also said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The way to show our love for God is to serve each other. Luckily, the different ways we can bear one another's burdens are almost limitless. Think of all the financial, emotional, physical and spiritual help we can offer others. Think of your own talents. Maybe you're good with numbers, you're very creative, you don't get angry easily—whatever. Think how much those talents mean when you share them with someone who needs your particular brand of expertise. Even the little things we do, like helping someone in their garden or holding open a door, can make life a little easier for someone else. A person doesn't have to look far to find opportunities to donate their time and energy. The beauty of following Christ's example is that we don't need to evaluate who, when or how we serve, we just act. Service can be planned or spontaneous, for someone we know or a stranger. Christian service shies away from recognition, accepts no reward and its only motivation is love.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates numerous home storage centers, canneries, and processing facilities that offer a variety of volunteer and service opportunities. For more information on Church affiliated service facilities and opportunities, please click on the attached PDF document.
United Way is a worldwide network that advances the common good, and creates opportunities for a better life for all, by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. For service and volunteer opportunities provided though The United Way in your area, please go to:
In addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers compassionate services in five other areas: community services that help the needy; support and comfort for military members and their families; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; and international relief and development programs. For volunteer opportunities provided by the American Red Cross in your area, please go to:
Are you looking for ways to give back to your community? All for Good makes it simple to find and share volunteer activities with friends and family. Inspired by the call of the President of the United States to engage more Americans in service, a group of individuals from the technology, marketing and public sectors came together to build an open source application that allows you to find and share volunteer activities. To find service and volunteer opportunities in your area, please go to:
After His last supper here on earth, Jesus Christ sat with His disciples, knowing His mortal life would soon be taken. He knew that He would suffer for the sins of the world. He knew that one of His apostles would betray Him to the mob that would crucify Him. Though He must have felt the weight of all of these heavy thoughts, Jesus Christ humbly knelt and washed His disciples' feet before He left them. The Son of God, who had lived a perfect life, had power to heal the sick and raise the dead, and change water to wine, performed this simple and lowly act of service. No one mightier or more worthy of devotion ever lived, but He knelt and cleansed the feet of His disciples. The Savior provided the perfect example of service. Every minute of His ministry here on earth was spent in service of His fellow human beings.
He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He blessed those in need. He served by teaching. Even as a twelve-year-old boy, he was "about [His] father's business" (Luke 2:49). It may be overwhelming to try to live up to Christ's perfect example of service, but we can remember that even our smallest actions show our determination to be like Him. When we visit the sick or the lonely, we are being like Jesus. When we help our neighbors fix their roof, when we serve a meal to someone who needs it, when we donate to disaster relief, when we forgive those who offend us, we are serving as He would serve. Serving like Jesus Christ has a cleansing effect on us. It helps us understand the idea that our time, talents and possessions are not just our own.
All the work done running local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is done voluntarily. Bishops and other leaders have separate professions and do not receive payment for their Church service. Every member of the Church is given the chance to serve within his or her congregation, too. Mormons (members of the Church) contribute by organizing activities for groups of young men and women, teaching Sunday School lessons to children and adults, leading the music in Church, cleaning the chapel, working in the library, and in many other ways. Outside of the local congregation, some are called to work in temples, others to help people find jobs, others to go on service missions, and so on. Members are "called" to these areas of service by their local leaders, but they can choose whether or not they want to or are able to accept them. Church service is not done for recognition or only out of a sense of duty, but also because members want to enrich those around them and give back some of the time and talents the Lord has blessed them with.
In addition to small, personal acts of service, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give large, organized assistance to areas in need. The Church has donated more than $1 billion in cash and material assistance to 167 different countries in need of humanitarian aid since it started keeping track in 1985. It sent an airlift of tents, tarps, diapers and other supplies to the areas of Chile hit by the February 2010 earthquake, and two planes with over 80,000 pounds each of food and emergency resources to Haiti in January 2010. The local, national and international organization of the Church allows it to coordinate relief efforts quickly so that food, supplies and workers can arrive when they are needed most.