I can honestly say that I never thought I would be in this position today talking to you but I am sooo thankful that I am. When me and my cousin Riley who was my roommate in college heard President Monsons announcement about the missionary age change we got pretty excited and that’s all we could think and talk about. It was pretty fun preparing together and opening our calls and all that. She’s actually been out for a little over a month now and is doing great. I can’t wait to get out there next! I have been called to serve in the Arizona Tempe mission and I will be speaking Spanish. I couldn’t be more excited! When I opened my call I can’t even describe the feeling that I felt when I read where I was assigned to labor. I’m sure those of you who have gotten a mission call or who will have felt and will feel similar. But when you realize that this is MY call, this is MY mission, and this is where the lord WANTS me and where he NEEDS me to be. It’s overwhelming how amazing and important you feel, and how ready you are to serve the Lord.
And that goes with what I have been assigned to speak on today. Which is Elder Russell M. Ballard’s talk from October conference entitled Be Anxiously Engaged. Which was probably good for me to review, because after that announcement my attention was a little in and out the rest of conference.
To start off he talks about honey bees and spoke of what they achieve as they each contribute in pollinating plants, and trees to make honey. I found it quite surprising that in the entirety of it’s a life a single honey bee will only contribute a mere one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey to the hive. Such a small amount! And yet without each little honey bee’s contribution there would not be any honey. Elder Ballard said “Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bees one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.” As members of the church we depend upon one another. “Imagine what the millions of latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the lord Jesus Christ. “ I think that the easiest way for us to do this is through service.
I find that quite often it is too easy for us to diminish our efforts to serve others. We either think that our small efforts aren’t enough, or we rationalize that it wouldn’t really make a difference anyway. This is NOT true. Small and simple things DO matter. You can make a big difference in someone’s life, and you can bring them up when others are fixed on tearing them down. I have a poem that John Bytheway shared in one of his talks, and I really liked it so I thought I would share it. If you haven’t read or listened to any of his talks I would highly recommend it. He’s a fantastic speaker. Definitely one of my favorites. He didn’t have a title for it but it goes like this.
I past one day through a lonely town, and saw men tearing a building down.
With a husky ho and a husky yell, they flung a beam and a side wall fell.
I asked the foremen are these one skilled? The kind you hire if you had to build?
Oh no he chuckled. No indeed! Common labor is all I need.
Why I can destroy in a day or two what builders have taken weeks to do.
I thought to myself as I went on my way, which of these rolls have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care, strengthening lives by rule and square?
Shaping my pears to a well-made plan. Helping them do the best they can.
Or am I a wrecker who walks around, content with the labors of tearing down.
You can’t be happy being a wrecker. Build people up instead of tearing them down. It takes a lot more to build someone up, but small things do matter and you can make a difference. In True to the Faith it says this on service “The savior invites you to give of yourself in the service of others. Your opportunities to do so are limitless. Each day, look for ways to gladden hearts, to say kind words, to perform labors for others that they cannot do for themselves, and to share the gospel. Be receptive to the whisperings of the spirit prompting you to serve. You will find that the true key to happiness is to labor for the happiness of others.”
I absolutely love that. And I know it’s true because I have found myself to be the happiest when I can make other people happy. If we fill our hearts with a capacity to love, a desire to serve, and energy to make a difference in someone’s life, I know we can find joy.
Elder Ballard says “We are to love god and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us. Our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.”
If it’s a smile we give to a stranger, the hug we give to someone in need, or the secret prayer we say for a friend. I love have Mormon morsels puts it “The size of the deed is not what matters but the size of the heart performing the deed. We all matter. We all contribute.” As elder Ballard puts it “These simple, daily acts of service may not seem like much in and of themselves, but when considered collectively they become just like the one-twelfth teaspoon of honey contributed by a single bee to the hive. There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness, it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of faith, hope, and charity.”
If we all work together we can make this world such a better more peaceful place to live. All we have to do is be anxiously engaged in a good cause. He then states “over time this would have the transformative effect upon all of our heavenly father’s children through the extension of his love to them through us. Our troubled world needs this love of Christ today more than ever, and will need it even more in the years ahead.” Think of how cool it would be to live in a world where we all did an act of service for someone else daily. We would actually want to watch the news because it would be full of the good deeds of the world.
A lot of the time heavenly father answers others prayers through us. How humbling is it to know that heavenly father uses you to show his love. As we are ready to serve and serve willingly, we will be blessed by the spirit to help those who need us. “Help pollinate the world with the pure love of Christ and his gospel.” Elder Ballard challenged us each to pray to our heavenly father daily to ask him to guide us to recognize an opportunity to serve one of his precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith, and love, looking for someone to help. I know that if we sincerely take elder Ballard up on this challenge heavenly father will direct us to those who are in need our help. And as we serve others we will become closer to our heavenly father who loves each and every one of us dearly.
Another way we can be anxiously engaged in a good cause is through sharing the gospel of Christ. I am so excited that I will be able to devote the next 18 months to doing just that. And I won’t be alone. Before president Monson announced the age change there were typically 700 new missionary applications a week. The weeks following general conference that number was increased to approximately 4,000 a week. Great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands anxiously engaged in a good cause. And they are now many many hands to help continue the work of bringing others unto Christ. Elder Ballard says “Remember that Honey contains all the substances necessary to sustain mortal life. And the doctrine and gospel of Christ is the only way to obtain eternal life.” Through Christ can all mankind be saved. We owe everything we have to our loving savior who suffered in the garden of gethsemane for each and every one of us. Elder Enzio Bushe said “In the awareness of the depth of gratitude for him, you appreciate every opportunity to show your love for him by diligently serving in his church.” We can all serve whether it’s big or small. Anything can make a difference. Just like the bees of a hive we all have a little to contribute in building the kingdom of god. For a time some of us will venture farther from the hive than others so that we can find others to bring back. Some of us will stay close and help the ones around us. But no matter where we are, we are all working towards the same goal and as long as we stay anxiously engaged in that we will find true happiness and will find ourselves in the loving arms of our heavenly father.