Gospel Principles 28: Service

Is any topic more connected to the core of Christianity?  Think of the John 1:27: “Pure religion…is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

This lesson has 5 sections with a key thought question beneath each.

  1. How we can serve? Think about ways people have served you and your family members.
  2. Why the Savior wants us to serve others Why does the Lord want us to serve others?
  3. We receive blessings through service What blessings do we receive through service to others?
  4. Opportunities to serve  How can we give enough time to our family, even with our many opportunities to give service in the Church and community?
  5. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of service What are some of your favorite scripture stories in which the Savior sets an example of service?

In truth, just asking these five questions and opening up space for women to share should fill most of the lesson!  These are compelling topics to discuss.

Here are a few additional ideas and resources — because stories provide great inspiration on a topic like this:

First, I’d begin at the end.

What are your favorite examples of service from the life of Jesus?

Begin to generate a list of the types of service Jesus performed – from the “small” (making sure there was enough to drink at the wedding and feeding bread to the hungry) to the astonishing (healing the leper, raising people from the dead).  Look, too, at private acts of service – paying attention to Martha’s concerns, spending time with the woman at the well.

Based on this discussion/list, what can we learn about service?

(One thought: Jesus was concerned with healing on every level – physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs – at any given time in our lives, we experience at least one of these needs).

Luke 7:36-50 is a compelling story of a woman rendering service to the savior, a service that is misunderstood by the men at dinner.  They “see” a sinner, but Jesus asks “Do you see this woman?” and proceeds to describe the service she is rendering through washing his feet with devotion and love.  The story ends with this stunning pronouncement from Jesus: Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.

What does this tell us about the relationship between service and repentance, between love and the atonement? How does this story relate to another teaching of the Savior’s: Matthew 25:34 – 40?

  • What comes first: love or service?
  • Do you have personal examples of occasions where what started as service (out of a sense of duty) developed into love?
  • How has love motivated you to serve?
  • How have you found the motivation to serve when it was inconvenient, taxing, or unpleasant to do so?  What have you learned about yourself or about God while engaging in service?

For the last two questions, you might want to take a look at this beautiful essay by Dora, “A Visit With Cordelia” Another great essay (that was also referenced out our lesson on Work) is Heather’s “Service With a Smile” (or, “Scrubbing Toilets for Jesus”)

When you have found yourself in need, what types of service and love from others made a difference for you?

Two more fabulous articles about service and the example of the savior:

From Chieko Okazaki:  “Spit, Mud, and Kigatsuku”

From Ann Tanner (in this past January Ensign): “Carrying Others to the Pool of Bethesda” – you could actually use this article to frame much of your lesson! So worth a read.

Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.


  1. Lila, I taught this lesson a few weeks ago. I didn’t have an object lesson, but I did have the following on my table : a fresh baked loaf of bread, a plate of cookies (I passed them around during the lesson), a bowl of green jello, and a crockpot. I talked about this stereotypes of service and told the sisters we were going to discuss other ways to serve than just the kind where we feel we always need to have something in our hands. I then told them one of the best gifts they can take is their time (and I then placed a clock in the center of my table).

  2. I also had the sisters sing this song — it got a lot of laughs and emphasized the importance of having fun while we serve one another:

    (Sung to the Tune of Called to Serve)
    Here’s our motto – strive to serve each other,
    Sound the call and to your aid we’ll troop
    Like the mailman rain and snow won’t stop us
    Faithful with our pot of soup, soup, soup, soup.
    Service – render service, if it’s flu or gout or croup
    Service – render service, if you’re hurt and you can’t stoop
    Service – render service , if your spirits tend to droop
    We can fix it here – sweet sister dear
    With our Pot of Soup.

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