28 September 2009

Conference Week: Unselfish Service

The week before conference is my favorite time of year. To get in the conference spirit, I shall highlight one talk from the April 2009 conference each day this week. Ooh, I can't wait for Saturday.

Unselfish Service
by Dallin H. Oaks

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:24-25, see also Matthew 10:39).

There were so many powerful points in this talk: the story of President Hinckley as a young missionary and his father's advice to forget himself and get to work; the amount of service given by members of the church; caring for children, aged parents, and disabled family members; entitlement and the gospel law of the harvest; Mother Teresa's opinion that "we can do no great things, only small things with great love." Read Unselfish Service in its entirety here.

The main idea for me was this simple statement: It is not easy to give up our personal priorities and desires.

I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal. I put everything I have into my work, whether it is as a mother, employee, student, chef, blogger--whatever. And since I have a lot of interests, aligning my priorities with my actions poses an enormous conflict of will. Now that Patrick is home during the day, the possibility to forgo some of my more undesirable motherhood tasks is ubiquitous and affords me more opportunity to pursue my personal priorities and desires. But for our family, this is a bad choice. Perhaps not for everyone, but definitely for us. In general, when I give up a little bit of my mothering responsibilities, I want to abandon even more responsibilities. Give an inch, take a mile. And contrary to logic, when I stop unselfishly serving my child (preparing food for him, changing diapers, getting him dressed), I find less joy in motherhood than if I just completed these undesirable tasks.

Mothers suffer pain and loss of personal priorities and comforts to bear and rear each child. It's true. We do. But when we give those up willingly rather than begrudgingly, our love for our family and for the Savior grows. We know we are doing His work. When my heart is in the right place, I find I don't want those personal priorities and comforts enough to give up serving my child. If anyone would have told me this before I had a child, I would have laughed in their face (thank goodness no one did or Lucy wouldn't be the only one with some 'splainin to do). Praise be to God who helps us grow and who opens our hearts through such unexpected ways.

And finally, some food for thought. I won't elaborate on this quote, but in light of my calling, it strikes a heavy chord.
Each of us should apply that principle to our attitude in attending church. Some say, "I didn't learn anything today" or "No one was friendly to me" or "I was offended" or "The Church is not filling my needs." All those answers are self-centered, and all retard spiritual growth.

In contrast, a wise friend wrote:

"Years ago, I changed my attitude about going to church. No longer do I go to church for my sake, but to think of others. I make a point of saying hello to people who sit alone, to welcome visitors,... to volunteer for an assignment....

"In short, I go to church each week with the intent of being active, not pasive, and making a positive difference in people's lives. Consequently, my attendance at Church meetings is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling."

All of this illustrates the eternal principle that we are happier and more fulfilled when we act and more serve for what we give, not for what we get.

1 comment:

Kirchner Family said...

I love conference too! You really know how to inspire others!