“Service: The Heart of Relief Society,” Tambuli, Feb. 1987, 9
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34.) One of the great purposes of the Relief Society is to give women opportunities to love and bless one another. Through Relief Society, sisters visit the sick, provide service, comfort the troubled, and help one another become more like the Savior. At one of the early meetings of the Relief Society, Joseph Smith emphasized the Savior’s instruction.
“Ye shall do the work, which ye see me do.”
Mary Stark Pratt was the wife of Elder Rey L. Pratt, a member of the First Council of the Seventy and president of the Mexican Mission during the first decades of this century. This remarkable woman was the mother of thirteen children and, in addition to her family and mission responsibilities, served as the mission Relief Society president. She was an outstanding example of the ways Relief Society allows women to serve and bless others.
Mary gave homemaking lessons in which she taught unskilled sisters how to clean house quickly, mending and darning techniques, and sewing ideas so that they could make their homes places in which they could take pride. But she realized that the greatest need of any person is to feel a sense of self-worth. She encouraged the sisters to become skilled in native Mexican embroidery and make embroidered clothing and household items. People came so enthusiastically from all over the city to buy the handworked items that the sisters took great pride in their work and redoubled their efforts to perfect their skills.
Mary also radiated love and concern to those around her, giving spontaneous service without waiting for the assignment to do so. Many shy, insecure missionaries far from home found in Mary an encouraging, understanding heart that assured them of their great value and helped them develop their potential as emissaries of God.
“Some of the needs we may find may be different than those of the early Saints, but the spirit of the work is the same,” says Barbara Winder, Relief Society general president. “Many can make visits, but because of the covenants we have made as members of the Lord’s church to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and to bear one another’s burdens (see D&C 20:77; Mosiah 18:8–10) we go in his name. And we are blessed to say and do those things that we would not otherwise know to say and do.”
Relief Society truly blesses us with an expanded perspective of service, placing us in a position to love and serve “according to the sympathies God has planted in [our] bosom[s].”
1. Discuss the opportunities for service the sister has had through Relief Society—such as visiting teaching, a Relief Society calling, or compassionate service. How have these opportunities blessed her and the lives of others?
2. Discuss how the Relief Society lessons or the association with other sisters has strengthened the sister so she is better able to serve those around her.