Service is something from which the wealthiest people, the poorest people, and everyone in between can benefit. The benefits of giving are typically not dependent on quantity, but instead on attitude and frequency. In order to live a truly rich life, we must be generous with our time and resources, give habitually, and serve others regularly.
When we give, we experience a paradigm shift. Instead of thinking about things we need or wants we have, we recognize the wants, needs, and plights of others.
I remember one day as a teen I was just struggling with life. It was a hard day and I felt like my world was falling apart. My mom invited me to go weed an elderly widow’s garden with other women in the Relief Society group in our church congregation. I didn’t really want to go but decided to anyway.
I remember that at first pulling the weeds was a drag. As I continued working, however, I realized I was blessed to still have the ability to pull weeds—something the elderly widow we were doing this for didn’t have. I began to be grateful for my health, for my youth, and for the physical abilities I enjoyed!
I visited with my mother and the other women helping. I learned about a few struggles some of them were going through. As I did this, I realized I wasn’t the only one in the world at that time who was suffering, and I found some comfort in that.
The women I was working alongside were kind to me, which, naturally, made me feel better. When we finished up, the widow was extremely grateful and showed genuine happiness and gratitude.
I remember trying to figure out why doing such a simple thing helped me feel uplifted, grateful, and less self-centered. I had always known helping others made me feel good, but through this experience, I realized why.
When we help others, we are forced to look outside of our own problems and difficulties. We face reality head on: most people around us are also suffering. As we work to relieve some of their suffering, we feel better and some of the weight of our own burden is lifted. By looking outside of ourselves and helping others, we can heal more fully within.
There are many ways to serve. Giving money is one way of serving. You may serve through anonymous donations, fundraisers, gifts, or by offering other monetary help. A donation can be a million dollar sum or the widow’s mite. As long as it comes from the heart, it is meaningful.
Service does not have to involve money. I have seen countless acts of service that were free: a phone call, a note, a listening ear, someone who takes care of sick kids when the mom is ill herself, etc.
Regardless of what we do—and whether we give money, talent, or time—when we serve others we become better ourselves.
I encourage anyone who is having a difficult time, to find someone they can help. Even if it is done reluctantly or skeptically, do it anyway. Once you begin, and if you allow your attitude to change as you go along, you will feel better when you are done.
We should not try to give beyond our strength or resources. However, most of us can do something. Here are ideas and ways to help and serve others:
- Help Refugees: There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people, worldwide. Half of those are children. For more information on how you can help them, click here and scroll down to “Getting Involved.”
- Listen to someone who is going through something difficult.
- Give a compliment or kind remark.
- Donate a regular tithe.
- Call your friends and tell them you have time to help them with something. Don’t ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Tell them, “I’ve been thinking of you and really would like to help in any way I can.” Then offer suggestions of ways you think you could help them, and if accepted, do it.
- Give to a GoFundMe and/or a YouCaring fund.
- Find a widow or someone in your neighborhood who is handicapped and help them with yard work.
- Look for community fundraisers.
- Donate time at a local school.
- Volunteer at a shelter or hospital.
- Make and donate quilts, beanies, hats to those in need.
- Donate used baby clothing and items to an expecting mother in need.
- Parenting—service in its finest form!
- Invite someone who might be lonely to a family dinner or holiday party.
- Write letters to armed servicemen.
- Write letters to humanitarian and church missionaries.
- Send flowers to someone in need.
- Join a service organization: The Relief Society for the LDS Church, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
- Pray for others.
- Babysit someone else’s kids for free.
- Take dinner to a new mother in the neighborhood or someone who is struggling.
- Volunteer a talent you have to someone who can’t afford what you do.
- Call someone who may need some social interaction.
- Donate to a legitimate/reputable charity. I personally prefer to donate to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ Humanitarian fund because I know 100% of my donation will be used to bless others and not to pay for administration and other fees.
- Be a friend.
- Attend a funeral to support someone you know.
- Be kind, sympathetic, and empathetic.
- Help someone fix/repair something.
- Send a text or social media message.
- Throw a birthday, retirement, or surprise party or shower for someone.
My brother took a girl to Prom who had down syndrome. During Prom, he and all of his popular buddies surrounded her and another handicapped girl who my brother’s best friend took, and sang them a song. Later his date was nominated and chosen to become Homecoming Queen! She was on the Donny and Marie show with her parents, highlighting her nomination to homecoming queen due to my brother’s and other’s acts of service. The story was in a popular magazine, and this act of service was also mentioned in a General Conference broadcast. I remember my brother being embarrassed to receive so much recognition for this act of service. I was taught and touched by his example to prefer to not be recognized for his kindness.
When we serve it should be with the intent of helping another and not to be ‘seen and praised’ for it.
I have noticed those who have created a truly ‘rich’ life serve and help others and usually try to do so anonymously. Let’s do our best to be generous with our time and resources, give habitually, and serve others regularly.