Lesson 14: Serving Others

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 45–48


Objective

Each young man will express his love for others by serving them.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Materials needed: scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Prepare a poster of King Benjamin’s message in Mosiah 2:17.

  3. 3.

    Prepare a handout with the phrase Do It! printed on it for each young man.

  4. 4.

    Review the counsel about service given on page 38 of For the Strength of Youth.

Note to the adviser

Consider giving this lesson to encourage the young men to plan a service project. You could plan a brainstorming session to choose a project for the class members.

Suggested Lesson Development

True Service Is an Opportunity, Not a Burden

Story

Read the following story:

“The sudden jerk about knee height on my pant leg told me I was in trouble. Caught in a power take-off shaft that powered a hammering hay baler, I scarcely had time to realize what had happened when I was pulled in tight against the machine and thrown around it. …

“Completely overpowered by the strength and persistence of the machine, I found myself defenseless as it twisted my ankle until the heavy work shoe shredded loose. I hardly remember being thrown by my foot across the menacing shaft, eventually landing on the short alfalfa stubbed ground.

“Fortunately, my shoe had torn loose, and though my ankle was dangling disjointed on the end of my leg, I was free of the still spinning machine.

“I limped to the nearest fence post and clung to it. As a truck rounded the curve and headed down the road not far away, I waved frantically, and the driver, my neighbor, saw me and stopped.

“I was conscious throughout the painful, ten-mile ride to the hospital. …

“The operations that followed, the plaster casts, and the awkward crutches are but a few of the memories of that tragic experience. However, the greater memory is not one of pain and hardship, but rather one of gratitude to the young men in an LDS priests quorum whose service in a moment of misfortune was remarkable.

“Recognizing that I wouldn’t be able to return to my carpentry job of building a house, the priests quorum, whom I serve with as an adviser … , responded with the ambition of youth, determined that they could provide the manpower to complete the house-building project if someone with experience would offer the direction. …

“And so, with some help from Bishop Stanton Barrett, who is also a building contractor, a spirited quorum of priests, armed with hammers and saws, undertook to finish the framing of a 1,200-square-foot home.

“‘As fast as the bishop laid it out, we’d nail it together,’ Michael [one of the organizers of the project] stated in explaining afterwards how the group succeeded in framing the complete house, from foundation to roof trusses, in only two days. …

“The owners of the home in progress, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Findlay, helped out too. ‘Bob was in there working with the rest of us, and his wife brought us lunch. That kept a hungry crew going,’ Michael said. ‘Sure, there were a few bruises and some thumbnails got whacked, but there was just a special spirit there despite the hard work. …

“Bishop Barrett suggested one reason for the success of the undertaking when he said, ‘The young men were working not because their adviser had planned a service project for them but because they had planned one for him … and that made all the difference.’

“As the last nail went into the roof late Saturday, the physical work was done, but the surprise in announcing their accomplishment was still to come.

“An unusually quiet quorum of teenage boys greeted me as I met with them the first Sunday after being released from the hospital. A shy and somewhat out-of-character member of the quorum stepped forward and said, ‘We’ve got something for you … because we wanted to help.’ He handed me a homemade, booklike get-well card consisting of a set of photographs that documented their construction work. The room was silent as they anxiously watched me thumb through the pictures.

“In the powerful moments of silence that followed, my mind went back to the many times before, when, in the same classroom, I had unconvincingly talked from the lesson manual on the subject of service. Suddenly we were experiencing that joy which before was only a subject of discussion. The lesson that day wasn’t expressed in words.

“Finally, I broke the silence by saying, ‘Now you know the real joys of service—but let’s leave the hay baler out of the next project!’” (Paul Willie, “A Service Project with a Special Meaning,” New Era, May 1976, pp. 16, 18).

Discussion

  • What made this service project different from many less-successful projects of this kind?

To help answer this question, ask a class member to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.

  • According to this scripture, what should we do of our own free will?

  • What is the difference between serving because we have to and serving because we want to?

Service Is Any Act That Uplifts, Encourages, or Helps Another Person

Poster

Display the poster on which you have printed the words from Mosiah 2:17. Underline the word service in both places it appears.

Ask the young men to define service. Use their ideas and formulate on the chalkboard a definition similar to the following:

“Service is any act that uplifts, encourages, enlightens, or helps another person.”

Story

Relate the following story about a man who was uplifted and encouraged at a difficult time in his life because of the service of a young man.

“After sacrament meeting the bishop called me into his office for a talk. Here it comes, I thought, I’m going to be the new teachers quorum president, I’ll bet. I was filled with pride and excitement. Wow, is the ward ever going to heap handshakes on me. Mom will be so proud!

“I sat in the big chair across from the bishop. He was a pleasant man, smiling as always, but I felt that even so, this conversation was going to be an important one.

“‘Steve, we have an assignment for you,’ he said. My heart raced!

“‘This is a special “good neighbor” assignment. We’re concerned about Hasty McFarlan. He’s a pretty sad old man, you know. He needs someone to befriend him. He’s not a member of the Church, but God’s love reaches to all people, and we as members of his church have the responsibility to show it. Maybe I should say we have the privilege of showing that love.’

“I guess I must have looked stunned.

“‘You know Hasty, don’t you, Steve?’ asked the bishop.

“My memory jumped back a couple of weeks to when some friends and I had made fun of the old man by singing jingles and shouting the jokes we had made up about him.

“‘Yes, I know him,’ I said, choking down my disappointment and guilt. ‘He’s the old hermit who lives outside of town.’

“‘Right,’ said the bishop. ‘I would like you to go out and visit him two or three times a week.’

“‘Okay,’ was the only answer I could manage. The bishop must have detected my crestfallenness, because he leaned forward in his chair and looked at me carefully.

“‘Now, if this assignment will be too much, don’t be afraid to say so.’

“I sighed. ‘Oh, I’ll do it, sir,’ I said.

“‘Good,’ said the bishop with a smile, and before I could catch my breath, he went on. ‘You can chop wood for the fire and get him food, blankets—whatever he needs to help him feel wanted. Be a friend. Your father is aware of the assignment, and he told me he would help you. Your Heavenly Father will be prompting you, too.’

“‘Yes sir,’ I said.

“… On the long hike to his cabin after school that first afternoon, it seemed to me that every pine along the trail whispered Hasty’s loneliness. …

“… Most of the kids and even some of the townspeople had the habit of making unkind remarks or doing something ‘clever’ whenever Hasty was around. Would he remember me as one of the tricksters? By the time I reached the cabin, I was genuinely frightened.

“I knocked. No answer. I knocked again. I knew he had to be in there. Where else could he go?

“‘Hasty, are you there?’

“Hearing a rustling, I poked my head in as far as I dared and peeked around the door. It was cold in Hasty’s cabin and very dark. I could just make out the figure of a man on the bed. He was all slouched down. … He looked like he was slouching because there was no reason to do anything else. I noticed that the soiled, mildewed blanket he was sitting on was more hole than blanket. …

“‘Hasty, is there anything I can do for you?’ I managed to blurt out.

“I told him my name and that the bishop from the LDS Church had sent me to see how he was doing and to help out. He said nothing. …

“‘Hasty, your fire is out.’ No reply. ‘Can I chop some wood?’ No reply.

“I went outside, found an axe and some stacked stumps, and began chopping kindling. With every strike of the axe my brain pounded. What am I doing out here? Why me? Why?

“‘Quit grumbling,’ a voice inside me said. ‘The old man is cold and lonely, and you can help him.’

“I got a fire going and tried to talk to him, but after a few minutes I decided he wasn’t really listening. He needed a new blanket, so I told him I would get a thick, clean comfortable one, and the next day I did. After that I came every other day. Slowly, over the next several weeks, he began talking.

“One day after we had talked some he said, ‘Boy, why do you come? I’m sure a kid your age can find better things to do than visit a sick old varmint like me. But I’m glad you come.’ And then he smiled.

“At Thanksgiving I invited Hasty to our house for dinner. He didn’t come, but our family took part of the dinner to him. There were tears in his eyes as he tried to thank us.

“I discovered as our visits continued that Hasty had been a sheepherder. Once he had had a wife and children, but they had gotten a terrible fever and died of it.

“Feeling in his grief that his life had been shattered, Hasty wandered the country as a vagabond. A diseased growth on the side of his face made one eye blind. And the teasing and practical joking had begun.

“But to me the old man didn’t seem as ugly and frightening anymore. In fact, after school I hurried to his cabin to help him and to listen to his stories.

“When Christmas arrived, we invited him to dinner once again. This time he came, and what’s more, he came in a suit, all cleaned and handsome. He looked great. A smile curved his lips. Hasty was happy because we showed him he was needed.

“As we finished dinner, the old man bowed his head for a second, and then raised it and said, ‘You people sure are wonderful. My life has been a shambles for a long time, but the love you’ve shown is making me a different person. I’m very grateful.’

“As he said that, I could feel a little fire in my chest getting big. It felt good” (Terry Dale, “Hasty,” New Era, Jan.–Feb. 1981, pp. 10–11).

Discussion

  • How would Hasty’s life have been different if Steve, his bishop, and his family had not taken an interest in him?

  • Do you know someone you could make happier by serving in some way?

Poster and discussion

Have a young man read the poster of Mosiah 2:17.

  • Whom does this scripture say we should help?

  • Why is an act of service to someone an act of service to God?

Help the young men understand that Heavenly Father loves all of his children and appreciates everything we do to help them.

Explain that sometimes we think that for our service to be worthwhile, it must be some large and impressive service. However, small acts of service are important, too. Often, small but deliberate deeds can bring tremendous blessings both to us and to those we serve.

  • How can we serve others every day? You may wish to list the young men’s suggestions on the chalkboard.

Scripture

Have the young men turn to Matthew 7:21 and ask them to read the scripture to themselves.

  • According to this verse, what is the key to being of service? (The young men should discover the word doeth.)

Adviser presentation and handout

Tell the young men that President Spencer W. Kimball always kept on his desk a small plaque that read simply, “Do it!”

  • Why do you think the prophet of the Lord would put this slogan on his desk? Distribute the Do It! handouts.

Conclusion

Challenge

Review the counsel about service given on page 38 of For the Strength of Youth. Challenge each Aaronic Priesthood holder to look for specific ways he can serve others.

Promise the young men that as they serve the Lord by serving others, not only will they make others happy, but they will be happier, feel more satisfied with life, and forget many of their own problems. Encourage each young man to help or encourage someone each day and to record both the act and his feelings about it in his journal.

Allow time for the young men to choose a class service project. Select a project, and obtain the bishop’s approval. Have the quorum presidency organize and plan the project. The young men may consider giving service regularly through an organized charity, such as a homeless shelter.

Follow-up

Before next week’s lesson, you may want to take a few minutes to let the young men tell about the service they have given during the week.