The Platinum Rule

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: ethics, Mormon Life, Mormon women, religion, spirituality | Tags: , , |

by Alisa

“Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever reasonable, as they want to be done by.” – Karl Popper

“If the cat were you, and you were the cat, would you like that to be smashed flat, flat as a mat by a great big cat? The Golden Rule says no!” – Carol Lynn Pearson, My Turn on Earth

Ever since I was a little girl singing along to the My Turn on Earth records, I’ve loved the Golden Rule. But recently I’ve been thinking about how the Golden Rule alone can be misguided and produce less-than-desirable results. Two recent experiences illustrate this.

1. My visiting teaching companion loves to be challenged. She wakes up every morning and runs a couple of miles through rain, snow, or below-freezing temperatures. She eats up General Conference addresses and is always refining her list of goals. At one visit to a sister who is married to a member of the Catholic faith, my companion surprised me by challenging the sister to go to the temple and get her endowment. She then proceeded to ask this sister if she hadn’t done so before because her husband might not like the garment. This sister seemed caught off guard by the challenge and didn’t want to discuss the underwear issue. She was always much more guarded with us on subsequent visits.

2. This same companion later challenged another one of our sisters to pay a generous fast offering, telling her that there really is no sufficient tithe that is not accompanied by a substantial sacrifice in fast offerings. This might be an OK message for many members of the Church, but this sister had previously confided to us that she earned less that $15,000 a year and was the sole provider for her family of six. The sister quietly responded to my companion that she wasn’t ready to pay a generous fast offering yet, and that her goal was to eventually stop taking fast offering funds to support her family and to be able to pay tithing so she could regain her temple recommend. This sister replied with much more confidence than the first sister and seemed to forgive us right away, but I still ached that she was put in the situation to explain such private needs to us in her defense of rejecting the initial misplaced but well-meaning challenge.

I don’t bring these up to criticize my companion (and therefore thwart the Golden Rule as I write this). She is an amazing woman and good friend. I believe both of these instances occurred because she was following the Golden Rule and treating our sisters how she would want to be treated, challenging them how she would want to be challenged. These instances are just examples of something I observe from time to time in the Church, where the standards we set for ourselves might not be right at the time for someone else.

People are different. They are in different places in their lives and they have different circumstances. Treating them like ourselves without adding in the element of empathy and accounting for personality differences can take something that started with good intentions but eventually ends up causing awkwardness, pain, or offense. What’s that they say about good intentions anyway? To an extrovert, being asked to skooch in and sit closer to everyone else in the room may help her feel like part of a group, but to an introvert who likes to take the back row in Relief Society, the physical proximity to so many others can be, ironically, more alienating than allowing her to sit where she chooses.

Some non-extensive research on Wikipedia introduced me to the Platinum Rule, which is essentially taking the Golden Rule but instead of treating others how you want to be treated, you treat others how they want to be treated.

I have seen many Church members acting in accordance with the Platinum Rule. For example, my father has been involved in missionary-related callings for almost as long as I can remember. When I was younger, he was involved in huge reactivation efforts that were very stats driven, and I remember him making a difference in the lives of several people our Utah ward. Now he’s serving as ward mission leader again, but I was surprised to see that his approach has changed over the years. He recently showed me his current ward mission plan. The first item read, “Reach out in friendship to all those living within our ward boundaries with no other agenda.” I think he’s on to something. Living in Utah can sometimes be a socially isolating experience for those who are not LDS, and he wants to focus on letting all of his neighbors have a positive experience with the Mormons they live with. His second point was also amazing: “Allow those of other faiths to teach us about their beliefs. Be humble and willing to learn from their beliefs.”

Don’t mistake my dad’s testimony. If he were to strictly do unto others as he would have done unto him, he’d definitely be more forceful in sharing the gospel that he treasures and believes is the only road to salvation, exaltation, and eternal families. But that kind of zealousness from “knowing the truth” and wanting everyone else to see it your way can be off-putting, and I respect his willingness to pause and listen to his friends of other faiths. Remember that scripture in Alma 38:12 on bridling one’s passions? I find it interesting that it pertains to not being too overbearing with one’s own certainty of the truth.

So, here’s my case for adding empathy to the Golden Rule. While we’re at it, a dash of personal revelation might help us meditate on what others want. Personal revelation and discernment allow us to find what’s best for a given situation, and sometimes what is right for your situation is not right for others. Giving them that right to be different from you might be the most ethical treatment of all.

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Relief Society Lesson 5: The Creation

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , |

by Vada

The Creation

I love the opening of this lesson, and would probably read it verbatim. Say that we’re talking about God’s plan for us, and ask the follow-up question about why we needed to come to the earth. You’ll probably get the standard answers of needing to receive bodies and needing to progress and learn so we could be like our Heavenly Parents. Then go on to read the paragraph that follows, as well as its follow-up question.

God’s Plan for Us

• Why did we need to come to the earth?

When we lived as spirit children with our heavenly parents, our Heavenly Father told us about His plan for us to become more like Him. We shouted for joy when we heard His plan (see Job 38:7). We were eager for new experiences. In order for these things to happen, we needed to leave our Father’s presence and receive mortal bodies. We needed another place to live where we could prepare to become like Him. Our new home was called earth.

• Why do you think we shouted for joy when we learned of the plan of salvation?

We were eager to come to the earth. We wanted a chance to grow and progress, and we wanted a chance to prove ourselves. Just as teenagers preparing to go to college, we were ready to leave our parents’ house and set off on our own. We wanted to show that we were able and capable. Ask class members to share their own experiences and stories of when they left home or when their children left home. This gives us an interesting insight into our Heavenly Parents’ perspective on all of this. They obviously want us to live up to our potential and grow to be a wonderful contributing adult capable of taking care of ourselves. On the other hand, it’s hard to watch a child strike out on their own. You’re nervous you haven’t prepared them well enough, or that others will influence them to do things they shouldn’t and you won’t be around to curb the influence. Our Heavenly Parents must have been proud of us for choosing to come to the Earth and to grow and be like them, but they must also have been nervous about the choices we would make when given the opportunity.

I don’t have much to share about the next section, but I’ll leave it in here for those who want to go over it. I have always liked the idea that there are more worlds out there just like ours, with people on them doing the same kinds of things we’re doing.

Jesus Created the Earth

Jesus Christ created this world and everything in it. He also created many other worlds. He did so through the power of the priesthood, under the direction of our Heavenly Father. God the Father said, “Worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33). We have other testimonies of this truth. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Jesus Christ in a vision. They testified “that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).

This section gets to the core of the lesson with the first question.

Carrying Out the Creation

• What are the purposes of the Creation?

Obviously you’ll have already talked about how we were created to get bodies, to prove ourselves worthy to return to live with our Heavenly Parents. I would ask the question anyway. After listening to what your class has to say, I would point out that we humans were not the only things created. Then I would read the next two paragraphs.

The earth and everything on it were created spiritually before they were created physically (see Moses 3:5). In planning to create the physical earth, Christ said to those who were with Him, “We will go down, for there is space there, … and we will make an earth whereon these [the spirit children of our Father in Heaven] may dwell” (Abraham 3:24).

Under the direction of the Father, Christ formed and organized the earth. He divided light from darkness to make day and night. He formed the sun, moon, and stars. He divided the waters from the dry land to make seas, rivers, and lakes. He made the earth beautiful and productive. He made grass, trees, flowers, and other plants of all kinds. These plants contained seeds from which new plants could grow. Then He created the animals—fish, cattle, insects, and birds of all kinds. These animals had the ability to reproduce their own kind.

I would pause here and ask the class about the purposes of creating the earth and everything else (besides humans) on it. After listening to their answers, I would use the opportunity to transition to the last section in the manual. You could first read the last paragraph of this section about how humans were the crowning creation, but then move on to point out that everything else was created because our Heavenly Parents wanted to show their love for us.

Now the earth was ready for the greatest creation of all—mankind. Our spirits would be given bodies of flesh and blood so they could live on earth. “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so” (Moses 2:26). And so the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were formed and given bodies that resembled those of our heavenly parents. “In the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). When the Lord finished His creations, He was pleased and knew that His work was good, and He rested for a time.

God’s Creations Show His Love

• How do God’s creations show that He loves us?

This is another great place to open things up for class discussion. Hopefully some class members will have insights they want to share, but if not, go on and read the next two paragraphs.

We are now living in this beautiful world. Think of the sun, which gives us warmth and light. Think of the rain, which makes plants grow and makes the world feel clean and fresh. Think of how good it is to hear a bird singing or a friend laughing. Think of how wonderful our bodies are—how we can work and play and rest. When we consider all of these creations, we begin to understand what wise, powerful, and loving beings Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father are. They have shown great love for us by providing for all of our needs.

Plant life and animal life were also made to give us joy. The Lord said, “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul” (D&C 59:18–19). Even though God’s creations are many, He knows and loves them all. He said, “All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35).

• What are some things you appreciate about God’s creations?

I love this as a closing question in the lesson, since I think it can easily take whatever class time you have remaining. If people are having a hard time getting into it, get them started by sharing some things you yourself appreciate. Here are a few things I might share:

• I have traveled across the country, and I have gone to many national parks. I love nature, and I love the beauty that can be found in so many different environments. I love the glistening white sand beaches and turquoise water I saw in Puerto Rico. I love the thick forests and waterfalls I got to see in western NC. I love the lakes around every bend in Minnesota. I love the barren yet colorful and beautiful rock formations in southern Utah. Every time I go out into nature I revel in it, and I come home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

• I love animals of all sorts, but I have a special fondness in my heart for dogs. I had a dog in my teenage years, and I loved that dog. We moved soon after we got the dog, and I was very lonely for a few years. I spent quite a bit of time hugging that dog, crying on her, and pouring out my sorrows to her. She obviously couldn’t fix anything, but she let me hug her all I wanted, and she continually showed that no matter who I was or what I was doing, she loved me. That simple and pure love was something that really helped me through a hard time.

• I love the mysteries of this world. I love the stars, and how we have no comprehension of the vastness of the universe. I love archaeology and geology and paleontology, and how we’re continually given new evidence to try to figure out who and what were on this earth before us. I love biology and physics, and that as we are able to see things in this world at a smaller and smaller level, those things continue to have form, function and structure for us to explore and try to understand better. I think our Heavenly Parents understood the vast curiosity we would have as we tried to grow and learn all the things they know, and possibly many things that we once knew. They provided so many areas for us to learn and explore and expand our minds as we strive to become like them.

I would end the lesson by testifying that everything in this world shows our Heavenly Parents’ great love and concern for us, their children, and that as we strive to understand and appreciate all of Their creations we will draw closer to Them.

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Exponent II Classics: The Public vs. the Private Image

Posted on November 25, 2009. Filed under: Classics, Mormon women | Tags: , , , , |

Originally uploaded by mira_foto

A piece by our very own Deborah’s mom.  Such fun!

The Public vs. the Private Image
Gladys Clark Farmer
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Spring 1981)

Recently a new set of visiting teachers came to my home. As one sister began the lesson, she became obviously embarrassed, hesitated, then said, “You don’t need this. You and your family already do these things.”

I blushed a little at her sincere compliment and reassured her that I did need and appreciate the Relief Society lessons. But as she left, I felt a little uneasy. I sensed that she and others in the ward based their impressions of me on the most visible part of my life, my public accomplishments. Would they feel differently about me if they could have a private view of our home life?

While I try to avoid hypocrisy, I am human. But I think that most of us are afraid to acknowledge our human side to each other. Perhaps we have created a situation similar to the culture so poignantly described by Edward Robinson in his poem about the rich young man, Richard Corey, whom everyone envied because he seemed to have everything, but who went home and put a bullet through his head. Robinson was making a perceptive commentary on how deceiving it is to judge by appearances. (more…)

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Relief Society Lesson 40: How Glorious Are Faithful, Just, and True Friends

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , |

“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’ … It unites the human family with its happy influence.” –Joseph Smith

When I’m preparing a lesson, I like to begin with the end in mind: when the women leave class today, what will they have to take with them?

This is a great topic for discussion among adult women.  By the end of 40 minutes, I would hope to help generate . . . memories of acts of friendship that have been sustaining, a discussion of the spiritual and practical nature of friendship, and a renewed desire to reach toward others and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” (more…)

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Relief Society Lesson Chp 39: Divine Organization of Women

Posted on August 5, 2009. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , |

by Lynette at Zelophehad’s Daughters

This is a lesson I find rather challenging, so I’m going to suggest a couple of ways to approach it.

The first part of this lesson talks about the founding of the Relief Society.  One way to focus the lesson could be historical—most Latter-day Saints are familiar with (and can possibly even recite) all the presidents of the church, but we don’t generally know as much about what different Relief Society presidents have done, and I think that could be fun to learn.  A possible source could be Derr, Cannon, and Beecher’s Women of Covenant—please feel free to mention other possible resources in the comments.  To tie this back to the lesson, you could bring in this kind of historical material as illustration of some of the ideals outlined here, as a way of understanding better what they meant to earlier generations of women in the church. (more…)

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Guest Post: Why We Need a Sotomayor in the General Relief Society Presidency

Posted on June 3, 2009. Filed under: guest post, leadership, Mormon Life, women | Tags: , , |

by Bored in Vernal

(Our thanks to BIV for letting us crosspost this timely piece. You can also find this post on her personal blog, Hieing to Kolob.)

United States citizens have lately been regaled with the tale of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina from the South Bronx who got diabetes at age 8, lost her father at 9, and fought her way to Princeton with the encouragement of her strong-willed mother. Her future influence on the Supreme Court remains to be seen. But President Obama believes that Sotomayor’s qualities and qualifications will add empathy to the judicial philosophy of the nation’s highest court. She has “a common touch and a sense of compassion, an understanding of how the world works and how ordinary people live,” he said.

In a 2001 speech at UC Berkeley, Sotomayor expounded her belief that her gender and ethnic identity affect her ability to make fair decisions in the courtroom:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

This statement may rankle some few of those in the higher echelons of authority in the LDS Church. The Presidency of the Church and the Council of the Twelve continue to be dominated by older white males from privileged backgrounds who consider themselves capable of making decisions addressing the needs of a worldwide ethnic Church. Though I do not wish to quibble with the current established order of succession in Church leadership, I strongly believe that an underprivileged woman of color has the potential for making a quantifiable positive difference in decisions coming from the highest councils of the Church.

Since such a situation is moot, however, let us look at the effect of the inclusion of such women at the highest levels of women’s service in the Church. The first champion for diversity in the Relief Society General Presidency of whom I am aware was Chieko Okazaki. Just prior to this time, efforts had been focused upon unity, uniformity and correlation, beginning with the presidencies of Belle S. Spafford and Barbara B. Smith. (Sister Smith spearheaded opposition by LDS women to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 1980’s.)

Chieko Nishimura Okazaki served as a counselor in the General RS Presidency from 1990 to 1997. She was born and raised in Hawaii as a Buddhist, the daughter of a Hawaiian-born Japanese plantation laborer. At the age of fifteen she converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was the first non-Caucasian to serve on a general board of the Church. She came from a professional career as an elementary school teacher and principal. Throughout her service in the General RS Presidency she was an advocate for diversity among LDS women. She often told groups of women that cookie cutters are for cookies, not for human beings, and we should not try to live someone else’s life. Her messages were much beloved by LDS women who felt a bit out of place, for they celebrated diversity:

“…look around the room you are in. Do you see women of different ages, races, or different backgrounds in the Church? Of different educational, marital, and professional experiences? Women with children? Women without children? Women of vigorous health and those who are limited by chronic illness or handicaps? Rejoice in the diversity of our sisterhood! It is the diversity of colors in a spectrum that makes a rainbow. It is the diversity in our circumstances that gives us compassionate hearts. It is the diversity of our spiritual gifts that benefits the Church.” (Chieko N. Okazaki, “‘Rejoice in Every Good Thing’,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 88)

When Sister Okazaki was called into the Relief Society general presidency, President Hinckley counseled her that she represented an outreach across the world to members of the Church in many lands, who would see in her a representation of their oneness with the Church. He then gave her a blessing that her tongue might be loosed as she spoke to the people. When she received assignments to go among the sisters in lands where Korean, Spanish or Tongan was spoken, she spent hours working with the Church Translation Department and coaches who helped her to deliver addresses in those languages. She once gave the following example to show the difference between the doctrines of the Church and the cultural packaging:

“Here is a bottle of Utah peaches, prepared by a Utah homemaker to feed her family during a snowy season. Hawaiian homemakers don’t bottle fruit. They pick enough fruit for a few days and store it in baskets like this for their families. This basket contains a mango, bananas, a pineapple, and a papaya…they might have been picked by a Polynesian homemaker to feed her family in a climate where fruit ripens all year round.

The basket and the bottle are different containers, but the content is the same: fruit for a family. Is the bottle right and the basket wrong? No, they are both right. They are containers appropriate to the culture and the needs of the people. And they are both appropriate for the content they carry, which is the fruit.” (Chieko N. Okazaki, “Baskets and Bottles,” Ensign, May 1996, 12)

Sister Okazaki, like Sonia Sotomayor, was someone whose gender and ethnic identity, as well as her personality, helped her to understand the world and the ordinary people who live therein. Because of this, she was able to contribute to Church policy accordingly.

Women who have missed the outspoken voice of Chieko Okasaki since her release 13 years ago were heartened to witness the calling of Silvia Henriquez Allred to the General RS Presidency in 2007. She is a native of El Salvador who served as a full-time missionary in the Central American Mission. She and her husband served as public affairs missionaries in Madrid, Spain. She also served with her husband when he presided over the Paraguay Asuncion Mission, and later over the Missionary Training Center in the Dominican Republic.

I am often discouraged by the lack of much of a public presence among our Relief Society Presidencies. What little public attention this new Presidency has been able to garner has centered around President Julie B. Beck’s 2007 General Conference address “Mothers Who Know,” which seemed to be a retrenchment in LDS thought concerning women. Recently I was mollified to hear of a fireside held in Utah for over 1500 Spanish-speaking women by Julie Beck and Silvia Allred. Both women delivered their talks in Spanish, Sister Allred speaking with native fluency, and Sister Beck aided by the fact that she learned as a child to speak Portuguese.

Surely Presidents Beck and Allred are doing much service among the women of the Church of which I am unaware. I simply wish that the few women who have higher echelon positions in the Mormon Church had more of a public voice. Just as Sonia Sotomayor is poised to make a difference in the judicial system of this country, our women leaders can potentially make a difference in the spiritual lives of LDS members. Instead, so many of the Relief Society General Presidents and their counselors fade into obscurity, and when they are released no one remembers their names or what their contributions were.

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Relief Society Lesson #34: The Power of Forgiving

Posted on May 14, 2009. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , , |

by Jana and EmilyCC

This lesson focuses primarily on forgiving others to bring about unity.  It doesn’t go into how or provide any other reasons for forgiving beyond unity.  So, we’ve filled in with some additional sections; these sections are notes with **’s.  (more…)

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Sister Stupid

Posted on June 26, 2008. Filed under: Mormon women | Tags: , , , , , |

by EmilyCC

I’ve noticed that I often feel uncomfortable using the word, “sister,” both in Church and online because I feel like the term is often used to by women to put other women in their place.

Some examples I’ve heard:

Well, that’s your opinion, sister.
This isn’t the way God works, sisters.
Sister, can I give you some advice? (and then, not waiting to hear if the advice is wanted)
Come on, sisters, we need to…(begin some type of instruction)


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Relief Society Lesson 10: Prayer and Personal Revelation

Posted on May 14, 2008. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , , |

by Jana

Because I am a book lover, I would begin with an object lesson about books that will tie into the JS quotation from the lesson.

I would set out a variety of my most favorite books on the table, including some of my very oldest books from the early 19th century. I would begin with a casual discussion about books, describing some of the books on the table, asking if anyone else has read them, asking what some of the sisters most prized books are, etc. I would then move to a discussion about the importance of books in our lives–the significance of literacy, the centrality of the scriptures, etc. Leading the discussion to the point where I felt that it was clearly established how seminal books are to our lives, our culture, our religion.

Then I would shift to reading the quotation from Joseph Smith that says:

“I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Latin, Hebrew, German and Greek languages. … I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have [not] got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. … The Holy Ghost … is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.”

While reading, I would stress, even repeat, the portion in bold. I would then say:

“We’ve just spent 5 (10?) minutes talking about how important books are, yet Joseph is saying that the Holy Ghost is far more important, that is more significant than even the oldest, most rare scriptural text and he suggests that it is far more comprehensive than any of our written texts. What does this mean to you? How might it impact the way you teach others, such as your children, about personal revelation?” (more…)

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Relief Society Lesson 8: Selfless Service

Posted on April 10, 2007. Filed under: Relief Society Lessons | Tags: , , |

Opening Discussion

Question: What well-known women can you think of who have changed the world through service?

You might want to have some of these quotations written out on paper to post on the board, or perhaps you can read them out to the class as some of these names are mentioned as women who have changed the world (you can certainly add a few of your favorite famous women to this list, too).

“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret MeadEvery individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. ~Jane Goodall

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. ~Mother Theresa

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
~ Emily Dickinson

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank


Question: How does the example of these women inspire you to want to serve others?
(Write replies on one side of the chalkboard)

Question: What are the realities of our lives that make it difficult for us to serve humanity as these notable women have?
(Write replies on other side of the chalkboard)

Spend some time discussing the responses on each side of the chalkboard. Do you see any connections or contradictions? Encourage class members to chime in with their reflections on the two lists.

Seeking Answers in the Scriptures

Suggest that we might find some ideas on how to reconcile our desires to serve and the realities of our lives by looking to the scriptures. Have class members read the following (you might want to hand these out on slips of paper beforehand):

In the Book of Mormon, in Mosiah, King Benjamin speaks of service as a necessary part of our belief in God. He explains that those who have a testimony of the Savior will feel a particular way towards their neighbors.
Read Mos 4:14

In addition, King Benjamin explains that our own sins will be forgiven as we participate in selfless service.
Read Mos 4:26.

This scripture gives us some a heavy list of duties: to give to the poor, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to lift others spiritually.

Question: Given the restraints that we already discussed (refer back to lists on the chalkboard), how can we do what the verse 26 asks of us? Is it humanly possible?
Read Mos 4:27

Question: Does verse 27 make you feel any better, knowing the Lord doesn’t expect you to “run faster than you have strength” or to serve more than you are able?

Advice from a modern-day Prophet

President Kimball’s words speak to the conflict many of us might feel between our desires to serve and the many limitations we might have in doing so as fully as we would like to.

Have a class member read the following sections from the lesson (you might want to assign this reading before class starts):

“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom. The people of the Church need each other’s strength, support, and leadership in a community of believers as an enclave of disciples. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read about how important it is to “… succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds! …”
“If we focus on simple principles and simple acts of service, we will see that organizational lines soon lose some of their significance. Too often in the past, organizational lines in the Church have become walls that have kept us from reaching out to individuals as completely as we should. We will also find as we become less concerned with getting organizational or individual credit that we will become more concerned with serving the one whom we are charged to reach. We will also find ourselves becoming less concerned with our organizational identity and more concerned with our true and ultimate identity as a son or daughter of our Father in heaven and helping others to achieve the same sense of belonging.”

Personal Stories of Selfless Service

Assign two or three sisters from your ward (perhaps calling them during the week before the lesson) to share an experience they had where they performed a small act of service, especially an act of service that was beyond the “organizational lines” that Pres. Kimball refers to in the quotation. Encourage them so speak of the benefits that they experienced from giving service. Suggest that they speak for 3-5 minutes each.

Affirm the importance of small acts of service by sharing this quotation from the lesson:

“Some observers might wonder why we concern ourselves with such simple things as service to others in a world surrounded by such dramatic problems. Yet, one of the advantages of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it gives us perspective about the people on this planet, including ourselves, so that we can see the things that truly matter and avoid getting caught up in the multiplicity of lesser causes that vie for the attention of mankind.”

At this point you might want to also repeat some of the statements from Mother Theresa or other well-known women that you shared in the beginning, as a way to reinforce the message that each person has the capability to make a difference in the world.


Close by paraphrasing the well-known story of Spencer Kimball and the woman at the airport, then read the letter from her missionary son. Share a personal experience of the way serving others has impacted your life and bear your testimony of selfless service.

Added Inspiration for the Teacher

Though it probably wouldn’t be possible or appropriate to share a music video in Relief Society, you might want to watch this one as you’re preparing, as an inspiration to you of the good that small efforts can do to change the world:

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