“Giving More Than Just Money,” New Era, Nov. 2014, 28–29
Does it seem like you’re always having lessons and discussions about how you can help the poor and needy? You know it’s important, but as a teenager you don’t have much money to give to the poor, and you’re always stretching to find ideas for service projects. After all, there are only so many widows in your ward who need help weeding or mowing the lawn!
When we think of people who are poor and needy, we often think about those who have temporal needs—things like a lack of food or clothing or the physical ability to take care of themselves or their things. But there are also people who are poor in spirit or who have other needs. President Thomas S. Monson says that we are “surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, [and] our kindness” (“What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 86). So helping the needy is not just about giving people money or raking their leaves.
Sometimes the best way you can help someone is just by listening, smiling, or sharing the gospel. The person you may be best able to serve could be that young woman in your class who is feeling alone or the young man in your quorum who needs to be invited to an activity.
One young woman decided after reading her patriarchal blessing that she wanted to do something grand to help the poor and needy. After unsuccessfully trying to give aid to some people she saw on the street, she thought she’d failed. Then she got home and found her brother crying because he’d been teased at school. After taking him out for ice cream and listening to his troubles, she learned a lesson. “The poor are just as likely to be in your home as on the streets,” she says. “There are all sorts of needy people in the world—those who need food and shelter, of course—but also those who need love, counsel, and encouragement.” (Read the rest of her story at lds.org/go/needyNE11.)
Have you had experiences like that? President Monson says that those needing our help can be “family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers” (“What Have I Done?” 86). Is there a person who could use your attention, encouragement, or other help? How can you know who it is and when help is needed? And what can you do to help?
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggests: “In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you 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. … If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible” (“Be Anxiously Engaged,” Ensign, Nov. 2012, 31).
Those opportunities to serve may include helping with financial or temporal needs, but they may also include simple acts of kindness. The important thing is that you have a sincere desire to serve and that you keep your eyes, ears, and heart open so that you can recognize your opportunities to help the poor and needy, whatever their needs may be.