How to Serve the Poor and Needy Even When You Are Poor and Needy

Heavenly Father knows and cares about each person’s needs. If we prayerfully seek guidance, then we’ll know how to fulfill these needs.

As Latter-day Saints, we know that God asks us to care for the poor and needy. Though this commandment is important, it can also be overwhelming at times—especially for young adults who are struggling to provide for themselves.

So how can we serve the poor? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland answers this question in his talk “Are We Not All Beggars?” Referring to the teachings of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, Elder Holland explains that the first step to serving the poor and needy is to “cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves.” We can withhold judgment and lovingly offer what we have, even if it’s small.

We should "cease withholding our means because we see the poor as having brought their misery upon themselves" Jeffrey R. Holland

Photo by John Tyson

Next, Elder Holland advises that we pray and fast for the needy. In our prayers, we can ask to be directed to those who need our help, and then we should act upon the inspiration we receive. And when we fast, we can give a fast offering, even if it’s not much.  

I’ve realized that so many young adults—roommates, neighbors, ward members, and classmates—are in need, whether spiritually or physically. If we become friends with those around us, we can better recognize their needs and find ways to help them.

There are also many opportunities in the community to help the homeless and needy. Simply look up local community efforts. Many require only a little sacrifice of time to help others, such as by volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Even if we’re poor ourselves, we still have opportunities to help people financially. For example, one time on a road trip, my friend and I were leaving a rest stop when we saw a homeless man at the corner. My friend stopped, pulled out something from under his seat, and gave it to the man. It was a gallon-size bag full of simple things—such as granola bars and bandaids—yet these basic items still helped someone who was in need.

The best way to know how we can serve is through following the Spirit. Elder Holland says, “I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.”

Heavenly Father knows and cares about each person’s needs. If we prayerfully seek guidance, then we’ll know how to fulfill these needs.

To learn more about how to help the poor and needy, read Elder Holland’s full article: “Are We Not All Beggars?”

Source: LDS General Conference

—Jessica L. Reschke, Mormon Insights

feature image by tom parson

Find more insights

For more ideas on how you can serve the poor and needy, read the New Era article “Can I Care for the Poor and Needy?”

To gain further insight, read the general conference talk “The Law of the Fast: A Personal Responsibility to Care for the Poor and Needy,” by Bishop Dean M. Davies.

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