In our church, the first speaker of the meeting is always a youth. I love that we have the opportunity each week to learn from the youth. It’s also pretty fantastic learning experience for the young speakers as they get practice in researching and preparing a talk and then present it in front of over 200 people…adults, children and their peers. I know I learn so much from these amazing kids.
Sela gave her first talk last year and was asked to speak again a couple weeks ago. It was an extremely busy week and she finally had time to work on her talk on Saturday. Zig and I heard it for the first time on Sunday as she stood in front of the congregation. She did an absolutely fantastic job sharing her thoughts on service. She engaged with the audience and made eye contact frequently. All those things that take many of us years to learn. I can tell she actually enjoys speaking. She is so calm. Much less nervous than I am on the rare occasion I have to speak. Most people assumed she had help in writing her talk, but it was her efforts 100%. I gave her one suggestion before she started preparing, but she didn’t even include that.
The girls and I went to a service project a week later to help do some yard work for an elderly couple. There were lots of the older men from the church there, many of them grandparent age and one-by-one they kept coming up to Sela to compliment her. They recognized her. They knew her name and they were so sincere in their comments. It made my heart swell with gratitude for this wonderful supportive network we have in our church. A place where we learn from everyone, regardless of age. It’s pretty special.
This week she had to go up to the front to welcome a new young woman into her class and present her with a necklace. She actually had to put the necklace on her and she said she was so much more nervous to do that than to give a talk. She kept practicing with the little clasp as she was waiting to go up. Pretty funny.
My name is Sela Serafin and today I was asked to speak on the topic, “How Service brightens my life.” Everyday, we receive countless opportunities to serve others. Picture this past week in your head. How many times did you see someone struggling, stressed, worried or maybe just needing an extra hand? How many times did you choose to serve and how many opportunities did you walk away from?
About a year or two ago, the church posted a video about young Heber J. Grant, titled “The Coat.” The short story depicts a young boy, whose mother had sewn him a new red coat. Heber runs out into the snow to play. While he is playing he spots a small, poor boy who is shivering. Empowered by the spirit, Heber selflessly took off his coat and gave it to the cold boy. Heber acted as the savior would act. Matthew 25:40 reads, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me. When we serve our fellow brothers and sisters, we are doing nothing less than serving out lord.
Now, you don’t have to give up your coat or start up a whole fundraiser to effectively serve, the smallest things can brighten someone’s day, even just a smile or a simple, “hello.” I have noticed that when I serve in small ways like thanking someone, giving a compliment, helping carry something, or showing my appreciation for a person, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when someone else does a small act of service towards me, I remember it and it means a lot. So how hard is it to show a little bit of Christ like love, when you know what an impact it could have on someone?
Often, service towards certain people can be easier than others. For example, it’s easy to be willing to help out a friend on a job than perhaps a sibling. However, once you serve, you feel a stronger love towards that person. Why do we feel this way? Happiness comes when we obey God’s commandments. Jesus Christ taught the first and the second commandments. He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” Then He said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). We can obey these commandments by serving others. That means we do something kind for them or simply BE kind to them. When we serve others we can be happy. We realize that we have the power to make a difference. The key to being happy is service. Jesus Christ served everyone and he loved everyone, he is a perfect example of how selfless service leads to true happiness.
So when you find it difficult to love someone, the solution is simple; serve them.
We often fall into a trap of thinking a new car, having the best clothes, a job promotion, beauty makeover or fame can make us happy. And often they do—for a time. But it never lasts… because wealth, power, beauty and fame simply can’t bring happiness, as much as we wish it would. Like myself, we are often tempted to aspire towards worldly things which we believe can brighten our life, and are unhappy when we fail to reach them or even when we do reach them but fail to have that happiness.
Michael Steger, a psychologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, conducted a study to see which behavior makes people happier—seeking pleasure or doing good? To find out, he and his colleagues asked a group of 65 undergraduates to complete an online survey each day for three weeks that assessed how many times they participated in pleasure-seeking behaviors, versus meaningful activities, such as helping others, listening to friends’ problems or service.
The surveys asked the subjects how much purpose they felt their lives had each day– and whether they felt happy or sad. The subjects also completed two sets of questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study to assess how they felt about their lives more generally.
They found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt. Pleasure-seeking behaviors, on the other hand, did not make people happier.
“A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself,” mentioned Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester. But “it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.”
Happiness and a brighter life isn’t rocket science, Jesus Christ is proof. If we follow his example of selfless service it will lead to new feelings, love, and a stronger testimony. To serve, you aren’t limited to donating your clothes, money, and food. One of the most effective acts of service is your time, time is precious and when it is spend serving others, not a minute is wasted. It’s easy to drop a plate of cookies by someone’s door, but to spend your time with and get to know that person, that’s pure Christ like behavior and love.
Recently, I went to my first BYC meeting to plan for youth Conference and it was eye opening to see all the hard work and service that our leaders put into that short weekend, this has given me a new perspective on service. Often times, service is hidden and we don’t recognize all the hard work that is put into something that might appear small. The planning that goes into each little detail of that weekend was remarkable, from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes to sleep. This made me think about when I went to Girls Camp last summer, how much work all of the leaders must have put into that week, they chose to serve the lord, knowing that he was proud. Not once did I hear any of them say how hard they worked and all the time they had put into it, it didn’t matter to them if they were praised by us, but that heavenly was proud. When we serve for others, we are serving for our God.
I know that Jesus was a true example of what can happen when we serve others. I know that a brighter, happier life is truly possible if we follow Him.
I love you so much, Sela, and I feel beyond blessed to share this life with you.