Lesson 25: Serving the Community and the Nation

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 184–90


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand our responsibilities to our community and nation.

Introduction

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we should feel a brotherhood and love for all people in all nations of the world, and especially for those in our own neighborhood, community, and nation. We should be loyal to our own country and people and do all we can to help our government meet the needs of the people.

“We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man,” proclaims the Doctrine and Covenants, “and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them” (D&C 134:1).

Our Individual Responsibilities

Many of society’s problems come because some individuals and families do not live honest and moral lives, or do not work to support themselves. Before we can be of service to our community or nation, we must live honest and good lives ourselves. We must first take care of ourselves and our own families and try to overcome any problems that affect us.

Our greatest responsibility is to live the gospel, which will help both ourselves and others. The example of our lives can influence others more than anything we might say. In the Book of Mormon, for example, the people of a wicked city were told that the Lord had spared them only because of the prayers of the righteous who were in the land.

The Lord will sometimes bless an entire community because of the righteousness of a few people. Elder David O. McKay spoke of the need for members of the Church to set good examples: “All should take pride in making ‘Mormonism’ a synonym for trustworthiness, temperance, chastity, honesty, justice—these are fundamental principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and by exemplifying them in our lives we contribute to the transformation of society, we translate our religion into better social conditions and bring salvation and peace to men here and now” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1927, 14).

We can give great strength to our community and country by living honest and good lives, taking care of our own families, and praying for strength to be proper examples.

Our Neighborhood and Community Responsibilities

  • Show visual 25-a, “Our responsibility to God includes service to others.”

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    25-a, Our responsibility to God includes service to others.

Our community has a great need for dependable and honest citizens who are willing to help. The Lord expects us to love and serve our neighbors and friends. This does not require great acts of sacrifice; friendship is often based on small acts of kindness. Part of being a good neighbor is watching out for the needs of others, including widows and orphans. The greatest service we can perform for our neighbors is to introduce the gospel to them. But no matter how they react, we should love them and serve them.

  • Ask a class member to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–28. Consider for a moment some of the problems facing the people in our community. What are some of the “good causes” we could support in our city or town?

Education

In some places, schools need to be built or expanded. In other places, schools need better textbooks, teaching aids, and courses of study. The following story tells how some Latter-day Saints improved the quality of education offered at their children’s schools:

“One of the features of our favorite city, Seattle, Washington, was the excellent neighborhood public school system. During the twenty years we lived there, we were occasionally tempted to move to the suburbs but always finally decided to stay in the city, partly because of our high regard for the educational opportunities afforded our three children in the public schools. …

“In the more recent years, however, we saw a changing school administration begin to depart from the former sound and tested fiscal and educational policies. … They began to make radical changes in methods and curriculum. … Other policies ruined student morale, fostering serious problems of security, morality, and drug abuse.

“This alarming deterioration motivated many of us to increase our activity and service in the Parent Teacher Association and the elected school advisory councils. In a large high school area, roughly corresponding to our ward boundaries, concerned parents and friends [elected] some of us to positions in both organizations.

“With a Church background for getting things done cooperatively in meetings, the LDS members began to exert influence upon the school administration. While supportive of the good programs, we were able to win an optional return to the traditional curriculum and teaching methods. To reduce student intimidation and manhandling assaults in halls and schoolgrounds, and to cut down drug and morality abuses, we obtained increased security. We won greater parent interest and involvement and added [the students to our organization]. … [We] proved to the citizens that they had an actual voice in the decisions of their elected officials. …

“These experiences again proved that Latter-day Saints, when they are cooperatively united and when they actually assert themselves, provide power to leaven a great populace.

“This testimony has led me toward other areas of community, business, political, and constitutional [involvement]. It has convinced me that Latter-day Saints not only must, but can help produce the social changes we so desperately need” (David L. Tomlinson, “We Changed Our Children’s Schools,” Ensign, June 1976, 52–53).

  • What educational needs does our community have? What can we as individuals and as a priesthood group do to help?

Morals

We have a responsibility to build communities with high standards and morals. If our communities are experiencing a decline in moral values, we can work together to solve these problems. Often, moral evils can be stopped only if a group of people act together.

  • What are the moral problems in our community? What can we do to help overcome these problems?

Health and Safety

Most communities could improve their health and safety conditions. Some cities need better traffic control or better safety regulations. Other places need better water or sanitary facilities.

In trying to serve our community, we must consider our community’s own special health and safety needs. Once we have decided which problems are the most urgent, we can then select one need and make a plan to help solve it. Members of the Church have been helpful in many community health and safety projects. Some Church members, for example, hold political offices, serve on committees, or do volunteer work to improve their communities.

Ted Brewerton, a priesthood holder in Calgary, Canada, is an example of what one person can do to improve his community. He was honored as the most outstanding pharmacist in his province for his work against drug abuse. He distributed pamphlets, gave lectures, visited schools, and helped government officials control the use of drugs. He truly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of people. (See Janice Smith, “Making a Difference,” Ensign, June 1976, 50.)

Some Latter-day Saints have excused themselves from devoting time to their communities by arguing that they couldn’t make a difference for good in society, or that they were too busy. We can all make a difference if we get involved and do something to improve community life.

  • Discuss the health and safety needs in our area. What can we as priesthood holders do to meet these needs?

Welfare Service

It is especially important that Latter-day Saints be willing to help others in times of emergency. A good example of such service occurred in 1976, when a dam broke and flooded several towns near Rexburg, Idaho. Members of the Church from all the surrounding states decided that they would help clean up the towns that had been destroyed or damaged. Young people and priesthood quorums rented buses and traveled to the flooded area. They helped clean out, repair, and build new homes. Several men and women tended children so that the parents could work on their own damaged homes. In a few weeks, most of the cleanup work was done, thanks to the volunteer work of Church members who wanted to serve their fellowmen.

Responsibilities to Our Country

President N. Eldon Tanner said, “We would expect every man to be loyal to his native land—the land in which he was born, the land in which he lives, works, and rears his family” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 73; or Ensign, May 1976, 48). We need to feel a love for our country and its people and want the best for them. Such love comes naturally as we learn to appreciate the history and sacrifices of those who helped build and strengthen our country.

Being loyal to our country does not mean that we must agree with all of the individuals who lead the government. Most government officials, however, sincerely try to do what is right, and we should give them our support. We should pray daily that they will make proper decisions and do the right things. President Harold B. Lee once had a meeting with the President of the United States in which he “assured him that no matter what his name or his political party, we [the Church] were frequently on our knees, praying God that he and the leaders of this nation and of the world would bring us through the [problems of our times]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 120; or Ensign, July 1972, 29).

Serving our nation also includes obeying its laws. Peace can exist only when everyone obeys the law. The twelfth article of faith states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

  • Discuss ways we can show respect for those in authority and obedience to the law. How can we help young men prepare themselves to serve their community and country?

Each country has a different way of making laws. Some countries allow citizens to vote for representatives who help make the laws. Especially in these countries, Latter-day Saints have a duty to be informed about matters of public interest and to support good people as candidates for office. In countries where public elections are held, every citizen should vote.

Some ways we can fulfill our duty to our country are:

  1. 1.

    Be loyal to our country and our people.

  2. 2.

    Pray for our leaders.

  3. 3.

    Obey the law.

  4. 4.

    Be informed about public issues.

  5. 5.

    Support honest and wise leaders.

Conclusion

As Latter-day Saints we have a responsibility to our community and to our country. We have a duty to live righteously and to help solve the problems and meet the needs of our entire society.

Challenges

Select one way you can help your neighborhood or community. Make an individual plan and begin to carry it out this week.

With your quorum, decide what your priesthood group might do to improve your community.

In your family prayers, pray for the leaders of the community and nation to lead you in righteousness.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Find out what good causes in your neighborhood and community could use the support of your quorum.

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.