The Healing Power of Service

Many leaders throughout history have taught the importance of service both for our wellbeing and for the wellbeing of our relationships, communities, and world. Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and father of Taoism, taught that the fourth cardinal virtue for living is supportiveness, which includes being supportive and kind to ourselves and others1. Supporting others, giving what we can, and speaking kind words brings happiness, harmony, and meaning in life. Lao Tzu taught, “The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”2

Helping others is also a core teaching of Muhammad, who taught “Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allah will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a slave [of His] so long as the slave aids his brother. ”3

Jesus Christ also taught of the fulfillment and joy that comes from serving as well as the responsibility we have to do so. He spent His life on earth serving, helping, and loving others. Jesus taught that when we serve others, we are serving God and that we should always love those around us. He taught in a parable, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” Matthew 25:34–364

“We look to the Savior as our example of service. Although He came to earth as the Son of God, He humbly served those around Him. He blessed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life.” President Thomas S. Monson5

Other teachings of service come from Mahatma Gandhi who taught “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Martin Luther King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”. Dr. Dorothy Height stated, “Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop”. Barack Obama advised, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”6

These teachings help us see the importance of service and suggests that there are benefits and healing that come from serving others. When we put our attention towards others and make sure they are taken care of, our perspectives of our own selves change. Service brings gratitude and happiness that can help us overcome our own trials and hardships. When we give to others, we get things in return, like blessings, happiness, and strengthened relationships. There is power for healing in our own lives when we serve others and express kindness. Ezra Taft Benson taught, “If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter.”6

“The greatest joy comes from giving and serving, so replace your habit of focusing exclusively on yourself and what’s in it for you. When you make the shift to supporting others in your life, without expecting anything in return, you’ll think less about what you want and find comfort and joy in the act of giving and serving.” Wayne Dyer7