Much obliged

I would like to say a few words on behalf of obligation. And guilt. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Last month a member of our ward passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was a pillar of the community; her husband had been bishop when the ward was first formed, she had later served as the Relief Society president, and they were currently working as Primary teachers. Everyone knew her. Everyone loved her. The loss is still fresh, and the ward is still mourning.

On that first Sunday, when they asked for volunteers to bring the family meals, help with the funeral service and offer other support, the list of those who signed up filled two pages. It was a testament to how beloved this woman was and how much service she had given over the years to so many people. It was heart-warming, but at the same time, it made me think about other people in the ward–people I probably haven’t even met yet, and may never–who go largely unnoticed most of the time but whose needs are just as genuine. People don’t line up to bring those folks casseroles. They’re the type for whom the Compassionate Service Leader has to scour the ward list to find someone willing and able to lend a hand.

It isn’t “wrong” that so many people are ready to serve the more “popular” (for want of a better word) ward members. Of course the people who give so much naturally receive our affection and admiration; they make us want to do things for them. That is beautiful and inspiring. It’s the way things are supposed to work, and it should work that way more often.

However, a lot of the service we render in the church is not necessarily borne of inspirational affection and admiration. We do it because we feel obligated to do it and guilty if we don’t. It’s the kind of service we like to complain about. We complain about giving it, and sometimes we even complain about receiving it. No one wants to feel like an assignment or a project. Service performed out of mere duty usually feels less warm and fuzzy than service performed out of pure charity. (Charity never faileth; duty sometimes bloweth.) But without assignments and projects and an unrelenting sense of duty, much of the service that needs to be done simply wouldn’t happen.

When my husband was in graduate school, we lived in one of those “transient” wards. People were always moving in and moving out. Many of these members were not particularly active in church, but they all had needs–a lot of them moving-related. My husband was in the elders quorum presidency, and I think that nine out of ten Saturdays he spent just helping people move. It got to be very tiresome. For me, anyway. We had two little kids, my husband spent a lot of hours in the lab, and I would have strongly preferred that he spend Saturdays at home with us, not helping random strangers who owned a lot of cats and didn’t know how to pack their own belongings.

One evening the elders quorum president called and asked for my husband, who happened to be in the lab (as usual). The EQP said he was looking for people to help with a move that upcoming Saturday–surprise, surprise–and wondered if my husband would be available. Then he added something else: “I’m sorry to keep calling you guys, but it’s hard to find people who will say yes. I know that if I ask, Brother J will always say yes. I appreciate that he says yes, but I still feel bad asking.” I told him Brother J would certainly help with the move. (He always said yes.) The EQP then thanked me for sacrificing my husband for another Saturday. I appreciated his appreciation, but knowing what I knew–that if Brother J didn’t show up, it would most likely be only the EQP and possibly (if he was lucky) one other elder doing the work–I could not and would not have done otherwise.

Sometimes obligation just doesn’t feel good. When I was a youth, I heard some EFY speaker say that our mantra should be, “If I don’t do it, who should?” The should is very important. It may well be that if I don’t do it, someone else will, but who should? It was a profound question to me then, and it would actually be my mantra for several years, all the time I was single and had nothing better to do than serve others. Note: I am hardly implying, God forbid, that all single people have so much time on their hands. I am saying that I did, and I was a much better person when I was using it to do things other people couldn’t–or wouldn’t–do. When I got married and started having children and therefore had immediate family obligations that did not factor into my joyful service earlier, the mantra became a little less endearing. There are many wards where only a handful of people do the lion’s share of the work. (I say “many” because I don’t have proof positive that it is “most,” although I wouldn’t bet against that.) There came a point in my life when I asked myself, “If I don’t do it [or if my husband doesn't do it], who should?” and found myself answering, “Well, I know exactly who should. I can think of about twenty people who should. And none of them is us!”

I’m sure this is not my unique experience.

Sometimes we can’t help. Sometimes we technically could help, but seriously, we’d better not. For example, if your wife is in labor and the EQP asks you to help with a move, you should say no. (Note: My husband never had to make this choice. Fortunately for me.) We all have limitations, and here’s an ugly truth: there are people out there who are just plain shameless when it comes to requesting the service of others. (Note: If you’ve ever thought to ask yourself if you’re one of these people, trust me, you’re not.) There comes a point at which such “help” does more harm than good. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. The rule is that we’re obligated to serve, and we are not entitled to feel warm and fuzzy about it. Sometimes we will only serve because we feel guilty saying no, and sometimes we will resent that guilt–resent it with a vengeance–but serve we still do because we still must.

Of course service rendered with resentment does not count for as much righteousness as service rendered with a joyful heart. God loveth a cheerful giver (thus saith 2 Corinthians 9). And thus saith Moroni 7:6-8,

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift…except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

I have to say that in recent years I have had trouble with these verses. And not because I’m stewing in resentment over all the service I’ve had to give. We now live in an enormous ward, where I have to make a special effort to render service; I am rarely asked to do anything. (And it’s been ages since my husband had to help anyone move.) It’s actually from the perspective of recipient that I take issue with Moroni’s words here (albeit respectfully and humbly because I love Moroni, seriously).

I have been on the receiving end of service more times than I can count. I have needed a lot of service over the years. I have been in the position of having to ask for service–which, in case you’ve never experienced it, just isn’t that fun. (Really, wouldn’t it be so much easier if all of life were an Ensign article and the Holy Ghost just automatically told people when we needed their help? That would be so awesome.) And I’m going to be blunt with you kids: I didn’t care with what emotion the service was rendered nearly as much as I cared that it was rendered, period. If you’re helping me out and secretly resenting it, that’s okay by me. (But by all means, do keep it a secret. Openly resenting it would probably result in me cheerfully declining your help, and that would suck for me.) In fact, when it comes right down to brass tacks, as it were–when we are at the final judgment bar and someone says, “You offered Sister J a gift grudgingly, which doesn’t count for righteousness,” I am prepared to stand up and declare, “With all due respect, Lord, it would have been far easier for this person to just stay home and do something they would have enjoyed. But instead they dragged their resentful can out to my place and helped me out because they figured you’d want them to, and that counts for a crapload of righteousness in my book.” Okay, maybe I would not say “crapload,” given the audience. Maybe I would say “big fat gobs” instead, but the point remains: insofar as you have served me, I am grateful, because I needed that service. I don’t care what motivated you. I hope God blesses you anyway.

So, yeah, it’s fun and easy to complain about having to help people move. No one minds occasionally helping people out–especially if they’re your friends–but when you have to do this stuff again and again and again and sometimes for people you don’t even really know and maybe you don’t even like so much–that gets seriously tiresome. I remember the resentment over my husband spending every Saturday helping with yet another move. But that was Hypocrite Me because how many times has the elders quorum helped my family move? Lots Of Times. (Granted, we did not have seventeen cats and all of our stuff was already packed when they showed up and it only took an hour or two instead of all freaking day, but STILL. I mean, we had a piano, for gosh sake.) Moving sucks. When we help people move, we are doing God’s work. Even if we hate doing it, we’re still doing it, and that’s a good thing.

Does Satan really rejoice when we help someone out, even while we hate every minute of it? I should think he’d find it terribly frustrating, actually. Satan doesn’t want us to help each other. God does. Of course he wants us to do it joyfully because he wants us to find joy in doing good things. And I believe that eventually one can accumulate joy, even with a crapload of resentment along the way. If we stop doing good, it is easy not to start again. (All you have to do is nothing!) When we keep doing good, regardless of how it makes us feel (and it can’t always make us feel good), I believe God likes that. And Satan thinks, “Curses! Foiled again!”

Is there a time to say “no”? Yes. And resentment isn’t good for the soul; I’ve said that as often as anybody else. But I’d still much rather live in a ward where the members were seething with resentment while serving one another than in a ward where everyone happily served only their friends, and only when it was convenient.

Comments

  1. Rebecca~
    C.S. Lewis wrote (and I paraphrase, because it’s late and I’m not sure the C/ S. Lewis book I need is unpacked from the move here five years ago): “When a man no longer DESIRES, but is still DETERMINED, to follow the commandments, he then may make some of the greatest spiritual growth of his life.”

    Thank you for “Much Obliged.” Much obliged here.

  2. Thanks, Rebecca J. I am also a huge fan of doing things out of duty.

  3. Mommie Dearest says:

    I think there is merit in struggling to do the right thing even when your heart fails you.

  4. Well put, Rebecca. I agree that Moroni’s comments bug me. I figure he was just being hyperbolic when he said it profited someone “nothing.” What he would have said if he weren’t the last survivor of his people and didn’t feel the need to state things so strongly was “less.” I would guess.

    when it comes right down to brass tacks, as it were–when we are at the final judgment bar and someone says, “You offered Sister J a gift grudgingly, which doesn’t count for righteousness,” I am prepared to stand up and declare, “With all due respect, Lord, it would have been far easier for this person to just stay home and do something they would have enjoyed. But instead they dragged their resentful can out to my place and helped me out because they figured you’d want them to, and that counts for a crapload of righteousness in my book.”

    Hilarious and an excellent point. I think maybe a good light to read Moroni in would be Jesus in Matthew 25 saying that people were counted as sheep at the judgment because they had given him (i.e., others) meat and drink, taken him in, clothed him, and visited him in distress. He doesn’t say they enjoyed it. He just says they did it.

  5. RJ, as always, you rock.

  6. Is there a time to say “no”?

    Definitely. Right now I’m extremely unreliable. Far worse than giving grudgingly would be to say you will and then forget about it.

  7. Excellent post–seems like every Elder’s Quorum has three or four guys that can’t/won’t say no, and a whole bunch of guys who will. Few hands make a heavy load (especially for the wives of the three or four righteous pushovers).

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    What about Matthew 21, the parable of the two sons? That’s always struck me as the primary teaching regarding the giving of service.

    The saviour’s parable is laden with all manner of psychological drivers yet focuses neatly, and rightly, on the outcome.

    I’ve always thought Moroni’s comment applies primarily to financial gifts, particularly those expected of worthy members. Articles concerning tithing and fast offerings in the Ensign often cite these verses or refer to their theme indirectly.

    I’m inclined to think this is reasonable. Paying tithing out of duty is good, but if you resent it you are avoiding its primary purpose. You.

    I don’t get the sarcastic/flippant bit, but each to their own. This is clearly something you feel strongly about.

  9. I have always felt that service rendered despite a lack of desire to serve is far more likely to soften my heart than no service at all. And it’s a dangerous kind of perfectionism that keeps us from doing the right thing until we think we’re doing it for the most pure and correct reason. It’s living a lower law, sure. But most people have to start with the lower law.

  10. My wife and I live in an area with a many transient college students, but when it comes to moving, most of the moves are between June and August. There are occasional moves scattered here and there, but the numbers grow immensely during these.

    On the day we moved out of our first home, there were six other moves happening at the same time. (Apparently everyone wants to start the move around 8 or 9 am to avoid both the heat and the rush of moving.) We were both incredibly grateful to the brethren who came to help us move, and even more so when it was brought up that they had just come from one move and were going to another after they finished. This small army of six brethren (one of whom brought his 11-year-old son) moved three families in one day.

    I don’t know if they felt obliged to do it or not, but I do know that they helped and we were grateful. I, too, will stand by them on the Judgment Day if the Lord questions their motives. Heck, I’d stand by them if they had only helped us move our library of not-quite-2000 books!

    My dad spent his professional career in sales and often told me of the mantra that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this were true in church service, too. There have been times when I really would have rather stayed home instead of going to help out in one capacity or another, but I can’t think of any time that I finished helping and thought that I’d really have rather stayed home to watch movies on Netflix or post comments at BCC.

  11. I believe in the principle that, “They have their reward.” Generally speaking, this means we get out of something whatever is the object of our motivation.

    To me, that means that every good service is rewarded, no matter the motivation – but it might not be rewarded by the receipt of what God would like to give. If it’s done grudgingly, there still can be good that is gained from it – but there also might be resentment and cynicism as a “reward”. If we do it for praise and recognition, we usually get it. If we do it out of a pure sense of love, we become a more loving person – and help others do so, as well.

    What others receive from our service is a different issue, and that is determined largely by how they perceive our motivation. That’s a topic all on its own.

    I believe that we and those we serve “become” our own reward – not that we “get” a reward in the classic sense.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Very timely, RJ, as service was the topic of our priesthood lesson and some of these tensions you describe so well here were the focus of our discussion.

    When i was EQP, our ward had just barely split, and I had maybe 7 active elders. I found myself often in the difficult position of trying to protect my charges from too many service requests. It seemed as though every PEC there were multiple assignments from the stake requiring 12 brethren each, so I regularly had to do battle in that sphere and try to impress upon people that we didn’t actually have 12 (active) elders and that the ones we had who said yes to everything deserved an occasional break. It was exhausting.

  13. Thanks RJ!

    Having lived in areas with few members, I’ve been on both ends as well. There was a time when I needed to move, and only one member showed up (3 kids and food storage can be a bear for 2 people to move). And there have been times when I’ve spent most Saturdays moving people.

    The recent Leadership broadcast on CHI2 included an interesting note: the quorums and auxiliaries will have to step up to the plate, take their work from off the bishop’s shoulders, and prioritize what they do. And it may mean not helping everyone move, so that the truly important work can be done instead.

    I agree there are some people we all love to serve. I think we miss the spiritual point when we forget those who quietly serve or struggle, and we don’t help because we haven’t gotten anything directly from them (they weren’t a bishop, EQP, or RS president). Or the shy sister, who is ignored because she isn’t as fun to be around as the vivacious sisters that run each clique.

    Again Rebecca, thanks for the reminder.

  14. Said differently, service given with secret resentment may still profit the recipient of the service, but it may not profit the giver.

    I know for me, my heart often turns in the act of giving service — halfway through that move I find I really enjoy being with my quorum members helping someone out. That’s not universally true, but often.

  15. Semi-Relevant Rant says:

    When I was in the hospital having a c-section with our first child, my MIL drove down from Idaho (primarily to see the baby) with her co-worker’s broken laptop in hand, and arrived in Utah with a request that my husband fix it before she returned to Idaho 36 hours later (the first 36 hours after my surgery). I had no idea this was going on until the day after my c-section, when my husband and MIL were in my room and my MIL said, “Did you fix P’s computer?” My husband said no, that he would not have time to get to it for another couple of weeks, (*what with his first child having just been born and his wife recovering from abdominal surgery* — not that he added that last part, but we were both thinking it). She then said, “Well, I told him you’d get it fixed this weekend. The whole reason I brought it down was so I could take it back to him tomorrow.”

    I was floored, but said nothing until she left the room. My husband is seriously the nicest person on the planet and everybody’s go-to guy for free computer repair. And he likes helping people with it because he’s capable, and well, just plain nice. I love this about him, but I would have been really resentful (mostly of my MIL and her co-worker) had he been coerced into leaving me alone in the hospital to go home and fix this dude’s computer (Depending on what is wrong, my husband can sometimes spend the bulk of an entire weekend on projects like this). Luckily, my husband was willing to say no (or, more precisely “Not this weekend. Sorry.”). When my MIL left I remarked on the balls it must take to make that kind of request. He explained that the co-worker, P, had 6 kids and so from his perspective, having a baby was probably just routine. I said, “Yeah, but that’s not us. This is our first, and it’s a big deal.” He agreed, but his assessment was more charitable than mine. He said that it probably didn’t occur to P (or my MIL, I guess) that there was anything presumptuous about the request.

    Anyway, in this case I think performing the service grudgingly would have been at too high a cost (especially since he wasn’t refusing to serve, but refusing to do it in the requested time frame). Also, this post makes me wonder if P is “just plain shameless when it comes to requesting the service of others” in his ward.

  16. Do you think that part of the problem is that so much of the service is inwardly focused (i.e., focused on members, as opposed to the community)?

    Admittedly, I’m a convert from a protestant background, but for me personally, there’s a big difference in motivation between volunteering for a food pantry that serves poor peoeple or something like housing repairs vs. helping able-bodied 20-somethings pack up a van. Plus, I never understood why people couldn’t drum up their own dang support for their moves. It seems like it takes up so much of our hubbie’s time when we’re in an area where people move a lot. Most people I know outside the church like from my hsuband’s grad school program just email around and offer up some pizza to those who come and help them load. It just seems strange to me still.

    But I do agree that we can’t always wait until our heart is in the right place. Sometimes stepping out in obedience is what we need in order to changge.

  17. Having been one of the worker bees who wouldn’t say no while serving in a couple of EQP’s, I understand the burden that such obligated service puts on individuals and families. And I do think that it would be better if those members able to arrange to move themselves would do that rather than use the EQ as a default. That is what I and my adult kids do now. But guess what? the implied promises in the baptismal covenant, and the explicit promises in the temple covenants to me make it clear that I am under obligation to serve when asked within the body of christ. And I have seen so many instances of obligated service that maybe was even done a little begrugingly turn into a beautiful thing for those who received it and who gave it. I’m glad that my kids memories of me from when they were young and at home where that I was out serving (and including them sometimes in this service) rather than saying no because I didn’t think it was fair or I was too busy. Even inconvenient, grudgingly-offered service can soften one’s heart and to great good.

  18. #16 Kayleigh, you’re right about arranging moves. Most people COULD arrange their own if they would just do it. We had an EQP in one ward who had a moving checklist — timing plan, truck size, boxes, etc. If the member hadn’t completed the checklist, his EQ member wouldn’t show for the move. (Did I mention he was ex-military?) He encouraged HTers to review the list with families, and then he suggested the family or the HT call specific quorum members to help, rather than just pass a list. I think those were steps in a good direction for the moves.

  19. Loved the post, RJ. You rule.

  20. I think we all need to review when we really/truly need assistance, before asking it of others. In the instance of fixing the computer: why? The computer owner wasn’t even a member of the family (that I can tell), or known by the husband. Second, no one asked the husband, but just assumed he would do it. That is crass. Was there an offer to pay him for the work? Or was he just being taken advantage of? Was the individual able to pay for repairs, or really in financial straits and looking for a freebie?

    When it comes to service, we need to prioritize. I have fixed many computers in my time. I’ve often done it for free for those who 1: cannot afford repairs, or 2: have done me favors in the past. It annoys me when someone asks for my help, who can afford to fix it but wants it free, or for just a few bucks. (Giving me $25 for something that would have cost $150 with the Geek Squad is not doing me a favor).

    I’m glad your husband said, ‘no.’ It will help your MIL realize that he is glad to help, but when it comes to charity, it needs to be according to his priorities, not hers.

  21. I heard in this month’s worldwide leadership training and also in November’s that maybe elders quorums should do fewer moves. Amen.

    Anyone with any EXPECTATION that someone else must help them has a misguided expectation, especially when he or she purposefully arranges his or her affairs premised on that expectation — there can be no expectation or demand or claim, maybe only some measure of hope — if twenty people come to help on a Saturday, the helped person loves all twenty — and if only one comes and nineteen don’t, he or she still loves all twenty when Sunday. And the one who did come help doesn’t hold a grudge against the nineteen.

  22. I really loved this post.

    I remember packing to move. My pregnant (with complications) wife simply couldn’t help and felt terrible about it. The RS sisters came in and organized, packed, and treated my wife so kindly it brought tears to my eyes. Nobody questioned why she seemed so out of it or why she was just standing there. The EQ helped us load the next day.

    Whoever was resenting us hid it well, and it was a truly a blessing and example to our family. We’ve tried to make sure we’re in the 20% doing 80% of the work, and I try to remember that day when I start feeling resentful.

  23. Chris Gordon says:

    Great post. Loved the thoughts and the points made.

    RE: Moroni’s comments, I’ve always reconciled feelings of “bugged” -ness by considering real intent to be more broad than it might initially appear. I might have the real and righteous intent to do my duty, to be a good example of service to my kids, to be a good example of the same to others in the ward, to not let down my leaders, etc., while I might curse the cat lady or the still-not-packed-all-the-way family or the home teachers that should have had this all figured out long ago. It may not be given with full cheer, but it is a sincere offering nonetheless, and I believe it to be counted as righteousness.

    The scriptures seem to come down hard on those who give for entirely the wrong reasons–to be up on the Rameumptum (sp?), to be recognized, to cover a sin, etc. I still think Heavenly Father is happy to make use of such folk, but in the spiritual accounting I’m not sure if it doesn’t do them more harm than good.

    RE: Moves generally, I give a hearty *harumph!* to all comments given. I’m fairly certain that all I gleaned from the last CHI training was that EQ’s may need to move less. :)

  24. In my ideal world, everyone would just stay put and never leave. (Also, never die–so no one would ever have to dispose of the belongings they’ve accumulated all their lives). Also, everyone would have enough money to hire all the help they needed. We can put a man on the moon, and yet we cannot accomplish these basic goals. Obviously, we just don’t want it badly enough.

  25. Our most reliable and enthusiastic EQ move helper was our resident ward pedophile (until he got arrested.)

    I appreciate Sister J championing of less than Christlike-motivations for service, and I think she has a very important point, particularly in a world full of desperate needs.

    However, let’s examine the counter arguments for the sake of discussion:

    Christ said “IF ye love me, then keep my commandments.” He could have added, “If not, don’t bother.” However, we often do the opposite. We keep the commandments to PROVE our love to God, not as the genuine expression of our love for God. It’s putting the cart before the horse. Love should come FIRST, then works flow out of that love. That is Christianity. Doing the works first, is the Law of Moses. Staying in the Law of Moses mode is better than nothing, but we must understand that it is merely a preparatory state to the gospel of Christ, which is the gospel of the heart, of pure, selfless motivations.

    All of you have to admit, we have a huge guilt problem in our church. Guilt is the motivation for a huge portion of the work we do, and don’t do in the church. (All the people who say they can’t help with the move usually feel guilty too.)

    Here is an experiment I did to try to stamp the guilt out of my life:

    A while ago, I stopped reading the scriptures when I realized that my whole life I had been doing it merely out of a sense of duty, and not out of a genuine desire. While I was not reading, I tried my hardest to stamp out the guilt, to simply tell myself I was partaking of the forbidden fruit, and that this was my right.

    Later, when I found my spirituality slacken, and my focus on God evaporating, I realized that the scriptures had been an anchor to my soul, and this understanding helped me to obtain a more pure motivation to study them again.

    This is an experiment I think others might benefit from: If you don’t feel like serving, don’t do it for a change, and don’t let your self feel guilty about it! It’s your right! It’s your agency! Or if you are lazy and wouldn’t do it anyway, try not feeling guilty about it. Take the forbidden fruit and see what happens!

    Then, after awhile, when your life falls apart, or when you feel empty and lost, crawl back to Christ and repent, and start loving him. That’s the only really important commandment. Love God, everything else flows from that.

  26. One more thought:

    I’ve heard several people here comment saying “Thank you Sister J for validating less than Christlike motivations!” Isn’t it a relief to hear someone validate our works when they have been less than pure.

    But why are we thankful for this? The answer is simple! Because Moroni’s call to have pure motivations makes us feel EVEN MORE GUILTY than we already are. And so many people in church lord it over us with these scriptures to make us feel terrible. Not only are we lazy and sinful, but our hearts are not in it. Woe unto us!

    But that is the opposite of Christ’s message! He wants to rid us of guilt, not heap more on us! He is releasing us from guilt, from the guilt-ridden bondage of a works based salvation! The last thing you should feel is more guilt because your heart is in the wrong place. You should feel LESS guilt if your heart is in the wrong place, because it just means that you are off the hook! Your works will mean nothing, no matter what.

    But loving God, that you can do, and that’s the only thing you can do. Then, once you live him, IF you love him, keep is commandments. Before that, you are still living the Law of Moses.

  27. Its nice to know so many people are grounded in reality.

  28. #22, wonderful post Martin. And regarding the world-wide leadership trainings and comments about EQ’s not doing as much moving: I’ve been hearing this for years actually, but it doesn’t really trickle down into our culture. Same as with the suggestion that Bishop’s delegate more of the counseling work to quorom presidents (we had a thread on this a few weeks ago). These things just exist as they are. I will always error on the side of rendering service to those in need (or who think they are in need) if I am capable; it’s hard for me to judge what is a real need, what could have been avoided, and maybe it doesn’t matter. See Martin’s comment #22. Sometimes people are in real dire straits and no one on the outside has a clue. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. I think we will also always have the need for inconvenient and uncomfortable service with us as well; life is messy.

  29. Also: RJ, this post was terrific–very thought provoking. It stimulated a lost of honest dialogue, and I was edified reading all the comments.

  30. Sharon LDS in Tenn says:

    RJ: Kudos for this post……..which provoked our souls as well. My offering…..loved the comment about the “LIST” the military member asked the moving family to fill out, and PREPARE themselves as far as was possible !!!! Yahoo.
    Where, oh where is the addage….”Do ALL we can DO, then ask for help”. I’ve been part one of only two who showed to help on moving day and I was R.S.’s contribution ! I’ve been the receiver of MUCH needed help for service….inside house and outside house after the Nashville flood!. God Bless the EQ, HPG and everyone with a heart and tender place for struggling members……….
    That said, could we not solve part of the “problem” here with simply BETTER communication?…May I explain. Not only adopt the “list” idea of preparation, but kindly, firmly ..briefly interview the ones requesting help and GET MORE INFORMATION from them, coaching them in their responsibility to DO ALL THEY CAN DO TO PREPARE for their needs in assistance. That is help given in love and service, but it is much better when organized and participated in from all parties involved. My daughter & SIL just helped a family move who had NOT packed any boxes, moved anything, and had NO boxes to use….expected the EQ and HPG to DO EVERYTHING as they SAT and WATCHED. I say…..shame on the leaders for not lovingly and gently said something to inform the (lazy and ungrateful if you ask me)
    recipients when he saw the situation. They did not even volunteer water to drink or tape for the boxes.
    As Ken in #28 said “life is mess”…..is true that many times we cannot control certain situations, but we CAN get MORE information, CLUE in the family asking pertinent questions and suggesting what THEY can do…..yes, I know sometimes that is very little, but at least ASK….and TELL all the participants giving the service MORE details to prepare them for what they are getting into. COMMUNICATE !!!!!
    Eliminate the “loop holes” before everyone trips into them.
    quoting Ken again…..about ” it being hard to judge what is a real need” Don’t be afraid to kindly lovingly ASK MORE.
    None of us has every resented the “DIRE STRAITS” situations!

  31. I am on the side of Moroni – if you resent it and especially if you let me know you resent it, then please keep your help to yourself. I don’t want it.

    Granted, this is possibly because the kind of service I’ve needed have rarely been physical things, so the kind of service I’ve needed really is poisoned by the giver resenting it. There is nothing worse than being given along with a gift a lecture about what a hassle it was and how much it cost. No, thank you. You can keep it. I’d rather have fewer or no friends I can trust than false faces that despise me for the need.

  32. I was in a ward where the Elders Quorum had a checklist like the one Paul described. We had someone come and check on the family the day before the move to be sure they were ready. There were usually people in the ward who would help those who needed the help to get ready. I was about ten minutes late arriving to help with one move in that ward, and by the time I got there, they were closing up the truck and sweeping out the family’s apartment.

    Our current ward isn’t so organized. For the four years we’ve lived here, I haven’t even heard about the need for help in a move until the next day in church, when the EQP thanked everyone for their help. I’d be glad to help, but I’ve got to know about it.

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