Friday, March 5, 2010

Lift Where You Stand: A New Perspective on Service

Photo by Michelle L. See her other brilliant works here.

I have been thinking a lot this past school year about service and what kind of service Heavenly Father wants me to perform in my life.

My roommate is going into International Development and is very passionate about Africa. She has gone there several times to serve and do research, and plans to return many times in the future. Last night I attended BYU's Hunger Banquet and visited the booths of many Non-Governmental Organizations who are doing amazing things to help impoverished people throughout the world. The evening's theme was "Celebrating Human Dignity." The Students for International Development who ran this event proclaimed that the poor people of the world have just as much ability and tenacity as the rest of us. Those who wish to help them should do so in a way that does not diminish their dignity. But I left feeling that my dignity had been diminished.

For some reason I have developed this notion in the last few months that lack worth because I have never left the country. This statement sounds ridiculous, but this feeling has been very subtle and difficult for me to identify. Seeing all of those NGOs and people seeking careers in international development made me feel guilty. And then I felt frustrated because it is not possible for me to go abroad at this point in my life. And then I felt ignorant and useless. What should have been an uplifting event turned out to be a huge struggle for me because of this strange attitude I had picked up.

But, as always, the Lord was there to show me His will for me, to remind me of who I really am and what He has called me to do.

Sometimes we do not hear the rest of what the Lord is telling us. "Although you are worthy to serve in this position," He may say, "this is not my calling for you. It is my desire instead that you lift where you stand." God knows what is best for us. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

While big service projects, NGOs and international trips are wonderful, I truly believe that the best service we can do is to lift where we stand. Sometimes we focus so much on the needs of the world that we fail to notice the needs of those in our communities and even our own homes. Heavenly Father has placed people in our everyday lives for a reason.

My main goal this school year has been to lift where I stand, or in other words, to find ways to serve people in the tasks I do every day. It has changed my life. When I am extra friendly to customer at work, they leave happier than before. When I choose to respond lovingly to those who irritate me, I am able to save my relationships and have the Spirit with me. When I put enough time and energy into my scripture study, I am able to spread sunshine rather than dark clouds. When I choose to introduce myself to someone who is sitting alone, I am blessed with new friends. When I call up an old friend to see how they are doing, I am remind them of how much their Savior loves them.

See how much good you can do in your own little world every day?

I think one of the biggest ways to serve people is to just be kind. I am astonished sometimes at how people rudely people talk to each other (there's another post in the works about this topic). We forget that our quick, hurtful words can create wounds that will take a lifetime to heal. Marjorie Pay Hinckley said it best. "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors....Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. -C.S. Lewis

Let us remember than human beings are the most valuable thing on this earth, because they last forever.
Let us remember that we all need saving. Let us remember that it is truly possible to serve in our everyday lives. Let us remember the Master's example and have the courage to follow it by serving in ways that are not loudly praised, but have echoes that will be felt throughout the eternities.

You may not be a genius. You may not be exceptionally smart. But you can be good, and you can try. And you will be amazed at what might happen when in faith you take a step forward. - Gordon B. Hinckley


  1. Tasha you are the BEST EVER!! I needed this so much! I have been thinking about doing out-of-the-country service things, but for all the wrong reasons. Thanks for this post! You are wonderful!

  2. I definitely agree with you Tasha! I'm in the same predicament, there's so much I'd love to do abroad, I'd love to go to Jerusalem and gain a better understanding of not only my religion but other religions as well...however the funds are not there and its inconvenient with me moving to texas and all. That doesn't make you any less of a person though, or any less willing to help! My mission prep professor says the real question to ask yourself is "have you left any footprints in the sands of time?" have you done anything to help others and contribute to your community, state, country and world in a positive way? I believe you have left many footprints and you have nothing to worry about. The fact that you're such a dedicated member of this church is amazing in itself and you inspire me to be a better member :)

  3. Thanks for your sweet comments! I appreciate them so much. I needed that reassurance.