This was too good not to share. Excerpts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell's book "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience." No coincidence that I'm reading it now.
There are direct, obvious, and traditional services to be performed, such as providing food, clothing, shelter, and physical care. But there are also more subtle needs to be met that are no less real for not being quite so visible.
So often what parched and thirsty people need is to be nourished by the drinking of true doctrines and to be revived by the food of fellowship. Giving genuine companionship to the malnourished mortals who have known so little love and so few friends is as vital as food for the starving.
So often we can serve by bathing the wounded and bruised egos of others in the warm waters of deserved commendation.
So often what people need is to be enveloped in the raiment of real response.
So often what people need so much is to be sheltered from the storms of life in the sanctuary of belonging.
Frequently, we busily search for group service projects, which are surely needed and commendable, when quiet personal service is also urgently needed. Sometimes the completing of an occasional group service project ironically salves our consciences when, in fact, we are constantly surrounded by a multitude of opportunities for individual service. In serving, as in true worship, we need to do some things together and some things personally. Our spiritual symmetry is our own responsibility, and balance is so important.
We should balance the service we give as between, for instance, the young, pretty, and handsome and the old who are worn and frail.
We should balance our service between those who give us immediate response and gracious appreciation and those who are grumpy—so grumpy they almost dare us to love them.
As we strive to render significant, though often quiet service, we should avoid life patterns in which the seeming pressures can make for superficial service and rushed relationships. What C.S. Lewis said of our reception-oriented social gatherings is often true: meeting people in such settings is like reading only the first page of one hundred different books—very unfulfilling! All of us should strive, therefore, to have some friendships that are deep and solid—so solid, for instance, that if they were interrupted, the unfinished conversation could be resumed months later almost in mid-sentence, just as if we had never been apart.
You and I are believers in and preachers of a glorious gospel that can deepen all human relationships now as well as projecting all relationships into eternity. Friendships, as well as families, are forever.
When we see "things as they really are," we shall see others and ourselves as we really are.
Let us, therefore, define service to others as including genuine listening—a listening that is more than just being patient until it is our turn to speak; rather, a listening that includes real response, not simply nodding absorption.
Let us think of service not only as giving, but also as receiving righteously. Parenthetically, one of the many reasons some of today's children have not learned to give is that some parents do not know how to receive.
Let our service, at times, include a willingness to hold back in conversation when what we would have said has already been said—and perhaps better. To contribute not money, but time and space, so that another can expand is to reflect a quiet nobility. There are so many times when to forgo is to make way for another.
We can serve by giving deserved, specific praise.
Genuine responsiveness to the achievements of others is a noble, though subtle, way to serve. It means, of course, that there will be times when we applaud and no one notices our pair of happy hands, and no one even hears our added decibels—except us and the Lord. There are so many times when genuine human service means giving graciously our little grain of sand, placing it reverently to build the beach of brotherhood. We get no receipt, and our little grain of sand carries no brand; its identity is lost, except to the Lord.