Many years ago - when I was a freshman at BYU - I was lucky enough to have Brent Yorgason as my Family Science 160 professor (just to give you a clue to how long ago - there is no Family Science department anymore :). He is a marriage and family therapist and the class covered a lot about family systems and how they affect us and other systems. I remember one lecture he gave about self-esteem. I think it is a rare advantage to have someone that is a therapist and a member of the LDS church. He said - The world would have you believe that you must turn inward and focus on yourself to increase and improve your self-esteem. You must focus on "me". The Lord would have you know that to improve your self-esteem you should forget yourself and serve others. For in losing yourself, you will find yourself.
It reminds me of the story of Gordon B. Hinckley when he was on his mission and was feeling sorry for himself. He sent a letter home complaining that he was sick and felt like he was wasting his time. His father told him, "Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself, and go to work."
This is the lesson I needed to be taught . . . to be reminded of. To forget myself and go to work. To lose myself in service to those around me and in turn, to find myself.
President Spencer W. Kimball said,
“It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves!
“Not only do we ‘find’ ourselves in terms of acknowledging guidance in our lives but, the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our soul. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to find ourselves because there is more of us to find.
“George McDonald observed that ‘it is by loving and not by being loved that one can come nearest to the soul of another.’ Of course, we all need to be loved, but we must be giving and not always receiving if we want to have wholeness in our lives and a reinforced sense of purpose.
“Sometimes the solution is not to change our circumstance but to change our attitude about that circumstance; difficulties are often opportunities for service. …
“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.’ (D&C 81:5.) 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.
The lesson comes up many times in the scriptures:
Matt. 10: 39 (34-39)
Mark 8: 35.
D&C 98: 13 (13-14)
It's a lesson I've heard before. It's a lesson I've given before. It's a lesson I've learned before. However, I had let it run through my fingers because I haven't been working at it. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to prepare this lesson today. I feel blessed to be reminded to forget myself, and go to work. To serve. To find myself through losing myself in service to the Lord.
Yes, we are His,
Oh what a privilege
To know we are His own,
to offer all to Him!
Our lives become a blessing as He teaches us to give.
So may we serve.
So may we give.
("He Teaches Us to Give" by Vickey Pahnke from EFY Serving with Strength)