Does service count if you hate every minute of it?
I had a friend who was asked by the Relief Society president to go and clean a rather unpleasant woman’s house. My friend described the rather horrific condition of the bathrooms, and then, she said something I often think of when there’s an act of service I need to do but don’t really want to do.
She said, “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m cleanin’ toilets for Jesus, cleanin’ toilets for Jesus.”
There have been times in my life when my life has been easy—put together, uncomplicated, busy, but not too busy. During these times, I love offering service. I know I’ve been blessed, and I’ll perform acts of service quite willingly.
Those periods in my life last two, three months tops. It’s when I start feeling too busy, overworked, and/or underappreciated that it gets difficult to give service, in my callings, for my family, for my “ward family.”
I believe that it is precisely during these times I need to continue doing service even though I don’t enjoy it—ok, sometimes, I flat out hate it. I can sing a hymn in my head, quote a scripture or two and think of Jesus to help me do a little better, but it’s still tough for me.
Now, I should explain that I’m not talking about giving service when I’m already overextended, and there is not much of me to give. <a href=” http://segullah.org/blog/?p=36
” target=”_blank”> Herrick on the Segullah blog wrote an excellent post about trying to give service when feeling completely overwhelmed and learning when to say, “no.”
I’m talking about giving service when I’m feeling lazy and like I don’t have the time when I probably do. Perhaps, I’m just an inherently selfish person, but it’s often tricky for me. And, if I’m asked on the fly…ugh, it’s even worse. I like to be able to schedule in my Christ-like charity, thank you very much.
My DH, Harijans, asks why I give service if I can’t give it willingly. He thinks it doesn’t count if we’re not giving it with a willing heart. When I grumble, he gets exasperated and asks why I volunteered (and yes, I’m usually volunteering) in the first place.
I argue that if I only gave service when I had a willing heart, I’d be doing at least 80% less service than I do now (hmmm…can you measure service in percentages?). I maintain that by doing service when I’m disgruntled, I’m working on getting better at giving service more willingly.
Harijans, on the other hand, never complains about service. He does it quite willingly and probably more often than I do. He’ll report quite matter-of-factly and without the least bit of outrage bad Elder’s Quorum moves (including the last one, when he and another guy found a used condom while they were dismantling a kitchen shelving unit). He’s never annoyed by the family that clears out before the EQ gets there, leaving the elders to pack the boxes and the truck, forcing them to loose a whole Saturday.
Our very different attitudes make me wonder what makes it easy for some people to give service while others struggle. Is it just a matter of practicing a lot? Is it a spiritual gift that some are blessed with?
Some of my favorite scriptures are the ones about charity (see Moroni 7:44-47 and 1 Corinthians 13) and I am quick to talk about the importance of having charity and giving service. It just seems hard for me to completely internalize this concept.
I do believe that by giving service when I don’t necessarily want to, it has gotten easier. Giving up a morning or afternoon for someone else doesn’t feel as burdensome as it once did, and I can whip up a dinner pretty quickly. I don’t think I’d be any better at either if I hadn’t been doing it when I didn’t necessarily want to. So, perhaps there is hope for me, if I have another 70-80 years to keep working on it…