Selfless Service


(Adapted from an October 1987 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1987, pages 75–76.)
When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17).

The young people of a certain ward had worked to earn the large sum of money needed to go on an adventure trip. I had had some acquaintance with their bishop. He called and asked if I would help him get some news publicity so that these young people would be recognized for the fine things they were doing.

I said that I would not help him. He was surprised and asked why. I answered that although it was commendable that the young people had worked hard to earn this money, some things are interesting while other things are important, and that there might be a higher purpose for the funds they had obtained.

I explained that my ministry takes me into countries where the people are less privileged than where he lives. I explained that the amount of money these fine young people had earned would keep several missionaries from these areas in the field for their entire missions.

He said, “Are you asking me to have these young people donate their funds to the general missionary fund of the Church?”

I said, “No, I have not asked you to do that. I have just said that there are finer things to do.” I explained that I was not against the kind of project they were planning but that there must be a balance, and, by comparison, some things are interesting while other things are important.

Later the bishop said that he had talked to the young people and that they wanted to sacrifice their adventure trip and donate all the money to the general missionary fund. He asked if they could bring the check and have their picture taken with me as they made the donation and if they could have the picture and an article put into the news.

I said no. Then I said, “You might consider helping your young people learn a higher law of recognition. Let them feel the joy and gain the treasure in their heart and soul that come from silent, selfless service.”

Selfless service projects are the projects of the gospel. They are not one-time special events based on fun and games or the getting of public praise. The reward for doing selfless projects is a nearness to divinity, a worthiness for the companionship of the Spirit.

[photos] Photos by John Luke