Monday, September 14, 2009

Unselfish Service

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Unselfish Service, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

While Maryann was at a Relief Society meeting on Saturday, the children and I stayed home enjoying the rain and working on crafts inside. David had a fun homework assignment titled “All About Me” where, in part, he was to involve his family in decorating a large picture of a boy to look like him. Because we had the craft materials out, he asked if we could take the time to make something for his classmates.

A few weeks ago we found a box containing hundreds (if not thousands) of beads at a yard sale for $0.75. David and Rebecca’s eyes glowed with excitement as they considered all of the fun crafts they could make for family and friends. Aside from making bracelets for each other and one other friend, the beads lay unused on top of or refrigerator gathering dust.

With the excitement of school and its associated new supplies, we made a backpack dangler using a safety pin, nylon string, and beads of David’s choosing. He hangs this little craft item on his backpack, and it has caught the eye of his fellow kindergartners. On Friday, David’s teacher told me that David was agreeing to make similar danglers for people in his class.

So, there we were, working on his crafty homework when he asked to put it aside and make backpack danglers for everyone in his class—all nineteen other students! With nothing but time on our hands, we went to work.

I noticed that after each successive girl dangler, David would say, “I want this one for Lauren.” Apparently she told David that she doesn’t like him, and this concerns him. He is convinced that if he goes out of his way to do something special for him, then they two can be friends. He didn’t “return railing for railing,” but wanted to show love to make a friend instead (see 3 Ne. 6:13).

As we started the “All About Me” homework assignment, I remembered the catchphrase in my high school, “It’s all about me,” that student’s used to draw attention to themselves and their selfishness. As innocuous as David’s assignment was, a part of me was piqued to the need to avoid selfishness. This all came rushing back as I reviewed Elder Oaks’ talk (and listened to it on my commute this morning):

The values of the world wrongly teach that “it’s all about me.” That corrupting attitude produces no change and no growth. It is contrary to eternal progress toward the destiny God has identified in His great plan for His children. The plan of the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us above our selfish desires and teaches us that this life is all about what we can become.

I learned from my son as I watched him work on his “All About Me” assignment. Instead of being selfish or self-centered at all, he instead turned his attention to others, paying particular attention to the girl who he thinks he unknowingly offended, and who he wants so badly to make reconciliation.

Elder Oaks quotes from Elder John A. Widtsoe:

We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it].

I think it great that “in a time when sacrifice is definitely out of fashion,” David showed loving sacrifice by making fashionable backpack danglers for his class. Both David and Elder Oaks reminded me that:

Our Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others. If we do, He promises us eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).

2 thoughts

justinrowe said...

What does piqued mean?

Clark Siler said...

To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity. link