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Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 04:49
by SilentDawning
I'm up early today to do a service project in our Ward -- moving. A family that needs help. Desparate priesthood leader (I know the feeling, I was one) who can't raise enough volunteers....

I have to say, I'm going reluctantly. I have a health problem that I need to see the doctor about -- something new, and of course, it could be serious or who knows, it could be benign, but it makes me feel kind of sick and it's painful, but not debilitating. Kind of like a dull ache gnawing at oneself throughout the day physically with some degradation in the performance of my body here and there. I think I can move boxes and medium heavy things, but not much more.

But that's not all -- I don't really like moving anymore. I've moved scores of people over the last 25 years, and I have to confess, I've grown very weary of it. It's like it's expected that we do this, even if the family can afford a mover, and for this particular move, I was sort of begged to go because of typically low participation from my not-so-committed Ward. So, I expect to be one of only a small handful of people...based on the last minute cry for numbers.

As we've discussed other ideas in this forum that help a person find some liberation/personal "way" in the gospel, I've felt liberated at times, and a desire to simply go out and serve people came to the fore. I even signed up for a community service project that doesn't involve the Church at all. This was after making a decision that liberated me from one of the systemized approaches to living the gospel we learn at Church. It was a direct correlation -- decided to modify my behavior as it applied to a Church practice, and then, felt liberated and wanting to serve my fellow man in new ways that don't involve Church -- is that a strange connection?

Lately, I only seem intrinsically motivated to serve others when it's not part of the mechanistic "expectation' that you serve in ways the Church dictates, like setting up chairs, moving people, or taking that calling that perhaps you don't want right now.

Anyone ever find the mechanistic way we are expected to serve actually interferes with your desires to follow the Savior? Do you ever find that you just want to break free of the systemized service practices, and just do it your own way? Ever have a Frank Sinatra "I did it my way...." experience that helped you feel like you want to serve for its own sake, and not because it's expected or part of your duty?

Who knows, maybe I'll feel better after I'm done today, but right now, I think I'd rather have a tooth pulled...whenever I need help I usually pay someone because I don't want to inflict upon the Ward the kinds of dutiful reluctance that I feel myself when it comes to serving in these ways.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 11:50
by SamBee
I do have some sympathy for what you're saying SD. It can be a thankless task. I consider it a matter of give and take. Sometimes we have to do this kind of thing when we genuinely don't want to, so that in a way people can help us when they genuinely don't want to!

Brian (?) mentioned a horror story about moving. It's something which can be abused.

As for your health problem, I'm not going to ask for details, but I suspect you probably have an inkling of how serious it is. If it is causing you severe discomfort, you should probably mention this to others. You could be doing yourself damage.

I see what you mean by systemized. I believe systemization is a problem within the church, and impinges on many things. I don't like asking for help with certain things, but I have needed it on a few occasions recently. I don't always feel my gratitude is shown as well as it could be.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 13:05
by cwald
One of the sections I have highlighted in the How To StayLDS article says something to the effect, "only you can prevent organizational abuse. Only you can prevent the church from taking advantage of you." If the church is taking advantage of you - stop it. (easier said than done, right ;) )

That being said, I would much rather put my "shoulder to the wheel" and "sweat out a few sins" than say, go home teaching or the cub scout derby. I enjoy the ward service projects that I can really work up a sweat. Physical labor/service makes me feel good. In our branch, we cut a lot of firewood. I love it, and I cut several cords for the old folks here. it felt good. Last year, I pulled into my yard and discovered one of the families loading up their pickup from my "church pile" of wood. This family has a 40ish year old dad and three teenagers who are all perfectly healthy and capable. They claimed I was responsible to help them with their physical needs since I was the EQP. Needless to say - I told the BP that my church pile is no longer considered a "church pile", and I will call the cops if any one, including a church member shows up and steals from me. I feel bad for the old folks - but I'm not going to let "the church" take advantage of me "all in the name of god."

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 14:13
by SamBee
Certain service projects can be positive social bonding experiences, much like barn building amongst the Amish. I have heard people talk about the building of the local chapel here, for example...

Sorry to hear about your woodpile problem - that's cheeky!

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 19:26
by SilentDawning
I suffered throught the move today, but was glad I did it in the end. Apparently the family we moved was undergoing some bad stuff -- elderly, husband in the hospital, and the home teacher was an ever-so-supportive and good-hearted man who supported me to the hilt when I was a priesthood leader. He genuinely cared about the family and did all he could to make the move successful for them.

This was one time I felt like I was more than just a substitute for a paid moving company. The people really needed the help, and i also got to build a relationship with a famly that had offended me some time ago.....healing waters.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 19:35
by cwald
Glad it worked out.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 26 Jun 2010, 20:06
by Curt Sunshine
That's wonderful to hear. It would be nice if the system were never abused, and it's nice to be involved when it functions the way it was intended.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 27 Jun 2010, 01:07
by SamBee
It sounds like they needed it, which is good.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 27 Jun 2010, 06:50
by nightwalden
I think that we have all felt taken advantage of by our ward leaders asking too much of us at one time or another. I now try to limit myself to two moves a year. I usually try to help when friends ask me personally rather than going through the EQ. I tend to get resentful otherwise. But I'm very grateful for the people that can go and help more often and don't feel resentment.

I understand the urge to move away from the church expected service activities. I don't participate very much in them anymore. So probably the opinion of me from my general ward body is not that great. But if you asked any of my friends, they would tell you that I am one of the most helpful and reliable people that they know. I just don't believe in helping an organization as much as helping individuals. It just doesn't feel as good. But there is a huge overlap also. When I can see that someone is getting worn out or struggling trying to do what the church/ward has asked them to do, I will often try my best to help them. That individual needs the help with the burden of helping the organization. But I find myself focused on the person rather than the task.

Re: Service: Mechanized vs Intrinsic

Posted: 27 Jun 2010, 07:12
by SilentDawning
I agree with nightwalden -- and to extend the idea -- I think you can tell when someone finds the service a burden rather than a joy. They tend NOT to ask for help when they need it because they perceive themselves as being the same kind of burden THEY have felt from others.

So, when I move, I try to do it all myself, or pay someone outside the Church to come and help me. I only accept help if individuals offer it. And that's one reason I want to be financially self-reliant rather than ever having to go to the Church for help if I get into trouble.

I would like to "stand independent" of all other organizations just as the Church says it wants to be in D&C. That way I'm not a burden to anyone.

My current priesthood leader always tells me he feels badly about asking me to do things because he knows it can be a burden. He's another worn out priesthood leader -- and that attitude is a symptom of his feelings that he's worn out and finds service a burden the way its expected in the Church.

I like the idea of limiting my moves to two a year. I might do that.

But i want to up my community service projects substantially. The desire to serve is there; just not in the way the Church expects it.