Lesson 35: Give Yourself Away

Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual, (1998), 203–208


Purpose

To encourage class members to give of themselves through service.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study Matthew 25:34–40; Mosiah 2:17.

  2. 2.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      A piece of paper and a pen or pencil for each class member.

    2. b.

      A set of scriptures and a scripture marking pencil for each class member. Continue to encourage class members to bring their own scriptures to class each week.

Note to the teacher

Charity, the pure love of Christ, involves a desire to serve. For us to become more Christlike, each of us must be willing to serve others. Jesus taught, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27). Help class members understand that they have the ability to serve, and encourage them to look for opportunities to help others.

Suggested Lesson Development

The Results of Service Can Be Far-Reaching

Story and discussion

Read or tell the following story:

“A young mother on an overnight flight with a two-year-old daughter was stranded by bad weather in [the] Chicago airport without food or clean clothing for the child and without money. She was two months pregnant and threatened with miscarriage, so she was under doctor’s instructions not to carry the child unless it was essential. Hour after hour she stood in one line after another, trying to get a flight to Michigan. The terminal was noisy, full of tired, frustrated, grumpy passengers, and she heard critical references to her crying child and to her sliding her child along the floor with her foot as the line moved forward. No one offered to help with the soaked, hungry, exhausted child. Then, the woman later reported, ‘Someone came towards us and with a kindly smile said, “Is there something I could do to help you?” With a grateful sigh I accepted his offer. He lifted my sobbing little daughter from the cold floor and lovingly held her to him while he patted her gently on the back. He asked if she could chew a piece of gum. When she was settled down, he carried her with him and said something kindly to the others in the line ahead of me, about how I needed their help. They seemed to agree and then he went up to the ticket counter [at the front of the line] and made arrangements with the clerk for me to be put on a flight leaving shortly. He walked with us to a bench, where we chatted a moment, until he was assured that I would be fine. He went on his way. About a week later I saw a picture of Apostle Spencer W. Kimball and recognized him as the stranger in the airport’” (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball [1977], 334).

  • What were the immediate effects of President Kimball’s service? (The mother and her daughter were comforted and able to board the plane more quickly.)

Draw a simple stick figure on the left-hand side of the chalkboard. Label the figure President Kimball. Draw two more stick figures immediately to the right of that figure. Explain that they represent the mother and her daughter.

stick figures

Explain that acts of service can also have far-reaching effects. Then ask a class member to read the following letter, which was sent to President Kimball many years after he helped the woman at the airport:

“Dear President Kimball:

“I am a student at Brigham Young University. I have just returned from my mission in Munich West Germany. I had a lovely mission and learned much. …

“I was sitting in priesthood meeting last week, when a story was told of a loving service which you performed some 21 years ago in the Chicago airport. The story told of how you met a young pregnant mother with a young screaming child in … a [condition of] distress waiting in a long line for her tickets. She was threatening miscarriage and therefore couldn’t lift her child to comfort her. She had experienced four previous miscarriages which gave added reason for the doctor’s orders not to bend or lift.

“… You comforted the crying child, and explained the dilemma to the other passengers in line. This act of love took the strain and tension off of my mother. I was born a few months later in Flint, Michigan.

“I just want to thank you for your love. Thank you for your example!” (quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley, in Christmas Devotional address, 18 Dec. 1983).

Chalkboard discussion

  • When Elder Kimball helped the woman in the airport, the person who wrote this letter had not yet been born. How did Elder Kimball’s act of service influence this person’s life?

Ask a class member to draw on the chalkboard a simple figure representing the young man who wrote the letter. Then ask:

  • Who else might have been influenced by this act of kindness?

For each person or group of people mentioned, have the class member at the chalkboard add another figure to the diagram. Discuss how the people mentioned might have been influenced by President Kimball’s service. Answers may include the following:

  • The other people who were standing in line at the airport

  • The employees at the ticket counter

  • Family members and friends of the mother and her daughter

  • People in Germany who were taught the gospel by the young man who wrote the letter

  • President Kimball and his family (note that the first story was recorded by a son and a grandson of President Kimball)

  • Members of this class and others who have heard this story

Point out that one act of service has the potential to influence the lives of many people.

Service to Others Is Service to the Lord

Story

Have someone read the following story told about Emma Somerville McConkie, a widow who, despite her own illness, found time and energy to serve others who were suffering (the experience was related by Oscar McConkie, Sister McConkie’s son):

“Mother was president of the [ward] Relief Society. … [A nonmember who opposed the Church] had married a Mormon girl. They had several children; now they had a new baby. They were very poor and Mother was going day by day to care for the child and to take them baskets of food. … Mother herself was ill, and more than once was hardly able to get home after doing the work at [this family’s] home.

“One day she returned home especially tired and weary. She slept in her chair. She dreamed she was bathing a baby which she discovered was the Christ Child. She thought, Oh, what a great honor to thus serve the very Christ! As she held the baby in her lap, she was all but overcome. … Unspeakable joy filled her whole being. She was aflame with the glory of the Lord. It seemed that the very marrow in her bones would melt. Her joy was so great it awakened her. As she awoke, these words were spoken to her, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’” (quoted by Bruce R. McConkie, in “Charity Which Never Faileth,” Relief Society Magazine, Mar. 1970, 169).

Scripture discussion

Have class members read and mark Matthew 25:34–40. Make sure they understand that “the King” in these verses is Jesus Christ.

  • What did Jesus mean when he said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”?

If class members need help answering this question, have them read and mark Mosiah 2:17.

  • How is service to others also service to God?

Discussion

Refer back to the story about Sister McConkie, and ask the following questions:

  • Why do you think Sister McConkie served this young family so diligently? In what ways do her actions show that she was serving out of more than just duty as a Relief Society president? How did this service show her love for the Lord?

  • How do you think her actions influenced her feelings toward the family she served? How might they have affected her love for the Lord?

  • By helping the husband in the family, she showed that she was willing to serve someone who was antagonistic toward the Church. Why should our service and love not be limited to Church members, family, and friends?

Help class members understand that some people serve only those they enjoy being around and avoid all others, showing that their love for others is limited. Jesus commanded us to love and serve everyone. We show our willingness to give of ourselves when we love and care about all people.

Quotation

Read the following statement by Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy:

“We need to look around us, and if we cannot see poverty, illness, and despair in our own neighborhood or ward, then we have to look harder. And remember, we cannot be afraid to go beyond our own social and cultural circles. We have to rid ourselves of religious, racial, or social prejudices and expand the boundaries of our service. Service should never discriminate and is hardly ever easy. Did not Jesus Himself mingle with those who were branded unfit by the self-righteous Pharisees? And were not those people the ones who needed Him the most?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 33; or Ensign, May 1990, 26).

We Should Look for Opportunities to Serve

Quotation and discussion

Have someone read this statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom. The people of the Church need each other’s strength, support, and leadership. … So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane [ordinary] help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!” (“Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 5).

  • How do simple acts of service demonstrate love? What are some simple things we can do to show our love for others?

Quotation

Read the following statement made by Elder M. Russell Ballard in an address at general conference:

“We observe vast, sweeping world events; however, we must remember that the purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular.”

Later in the same talk, Elder Ballard spoke about small and simple things we can do to help others, concluding:

“We must never ignore or pass by the prompting of the Spirit to render service to one another” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1990, 4, 7; or Ensign, May 1990, 6, 8).

Activity

Give each class member a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Have each person privately list acts of service that he or she could perform at home, at school, in the neighborhood, at church, or in the community.

Testimony

Bear your testimony of the joy of service and the blessings of love and growth that come from serving others.

Ask class members to choose one item on their lists and perform the service they have identified. Encourage them to look for other opportunities to serve others.

Enrichment Activities

You may want to use one or more of these activities during the lesson.

  1. 1.

    Remind class members of lesson 33, which was about charity, the pure love of Christ. As was discussed in that lesson, one way to develop charity is to serve others. When we serve others we show our love for them and for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This increases our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus, and our desire to serve them increases. This desire manifests itself in greater desire to serve others. As we serve others, our love continues to grow.

    On separate pieces of paper, write the names of each member of your class, including the names of those who do not usually attend class. Put the pieces of paper in a bowl, and have each class member choose one and silently read the name written on it. (Instruct class members to select another name if they have chosen their own. If there are more pieces of paper than there are class members, some class members will need to choose more than one piece of paper.)

    Invite class members to do something kind in the coming week for the people whose names they have chosen. Testify that as they do so, their love for the people they serve and for Heavenly Father and Jesus will increase.

  2. 2.

    If Family Home Evening Video Supplement (53276) is available, show “Serving Others with Love,” a seven-minute segment.

  3. 3.

    Give each class member several paper hands, like those shown on page 208, to take home. Invite class members to look for opportunities to help their family members anonymously, leaving behind a helping hand when they have performed an act of service. They may be surprised at how quickly this activity catches on among family members.