Wednesday, January 14, 2009

True Service Brings Love

This last Sunday I was asked to share an experience that related to the topic "Leaders in the Lord's Kingdom Love those they Serve". I quickly was reminded of this simple yet profound experience I had while in college. So I shared it on Sunday and thought I would share it here.

I was doing my student teaching in a preschool setting. At the beginning I was to help out here and there but mostly observe the teachers and how the class was run. There was one particular boy named Simon in the class that was the little "trouble-maker", every class seems to have at least one. :) He caused some frustration to all of us teachers, understandably I thought. But as I continued to watch I began to notice that the only attention this little boy got was negative. When hearing others speak to him it would always begin with a don't, stop, no, etc. It almost seemed to me that a few of the teachers quite certainly dis-liked and almost despised having this little boy in the class.

The Spirit pricked my heart and guided to me to know what to do. I was guided in knowing what to say to this little boy and how to react in certain situations. I made a commitment with myself that I would make a very big effort to focus on the good things that Simon did, even if it was as simple as standing in line for 30 seconds or following a direction given.

It did not take long for this little boy to change and to change a lot. He began sitting in circle time. He began picking up after himself. He stopped hitting the other children. He became my little buddy. He started wanting to be around me all of the time and sought for my approval and praise. He did not become perfect -he still tested me and the other teachers but he improved drastically.

Although he changed, the more profound change may have been in myself. I like the other teachers started out quite frustrated and irritated with Simon. He made it difficult to teach. But as I saw the good in him and spent my time focusing on it by giving praise, compliments, and little acts of service I began to love this little boy. I grew so far from frustrated that I cared very deeply for him.

Soon after all of this took place I found out that Simon would be moving. It was a sudden move and I remember feeling a little distraught about the whole idea. I hadn't come into my student teaching expecting to create such an incredibly strong bond with anyone and suddenly my best little man was going to be gone. I remember I cried every day for about a week.

I know that has we serve others and as we see the potential in others we can grow to love them and we can grow to see them more as our Heavenly Father sees them. I also know that as we lead through love, service, and expectations others will have a greater desire and determination to be better.

Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ are perfect examples of this. They love us and serve us and have great expectations of us. When we can see that and feel that love we truly can and should have a greater desire to be better and do more.

I hope that we all will strive to look for the good in others - in our spouses, in our children, in our neighbors, in our fellow church members, in strangers - and strive to serve them and buoy them up. I know that has we do so they will have a greater desire to follow our examples and become better and we will have a heightened ability to love more fully. I also know that as we serve and gain a greater capacity to love we will feel the love of our Savior and draw closer to Him.

Do any of you have experiences where service brought greater love?


Rachel said...

You know, I wish I had learned that lesson sooner! About a year ago, I was teaching English abroad, and I had a few Simons in my classes. I wish I had tried your method. Looking back on it, I probably wasn't a horrible, negative teacher, but I also wasn't as positive as I should have been.

Thanks for your post!

Stephanie said...

I am the Primary president and I about died when I got the calling. Almost 2 years later, I actually love all those kids instead of dreading them. I'd have to say service + prayer has been the key.

When I was EFY counselor, I was surprised how much I loved some of those kids even after just a few days.