Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone’s burden been lighter today Because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?
It doesn’t matter what church you attend, the STP are in full force. I was introduced to the term STP during an activity planning meeting. As we discussed who we could ask to put up chairs, one of the ladies said. “Well, we’ll ask the STP, then maybe they can announce it in Priesthood.” “What’s STP?” I asked. “STP stands for Same Ten People. It’s always the Same Ten People that volunteer to help or clean or bring stuff.”
Hmm. I had to think about it. Was it always the same ten people that did everything? For the most part, I had to admit that, yeah, the setting up and taking down, planning, bringing food to events was often the same 10 to 20 people. The same handful of people showed up at service projects and community events. We have hundreds in our ward yet only the STP show up to do anything.
It’s no secret that one of the foundational beliefs of the church is service. God answers the prayers of people mostly through the actions of other people. When was the last time God knocked on a door and handed someone money? That doesn’t happen. But, when was the last time someone was prompted to help a neighbor find a job, or refer them to a jobs program or helped them get work in some way? About twenty seconds ago!
Dragging your feet through the gospel doesn’t really further your testimony or understanding. My greatest moments of testimony are obtained by pushing to magnify callings and performing service. I’ve never said no to a calling, even callings that were not my favorite. We show up early to events to set up, when we can, and we almost always stay late to clean up. That’s who we have become. If a neighbor needs anything, we are there. If a friend needs childcare, we are there. Nothing beats the satisfying feeling of performing service. So, if you are not one of the STP, then why not? Lets explore (like we do here at Mormon-a-Go-GO) the reasons.
- Age: I want to say that this is a good reason but it’s not. Many of our STP members are in their eighties pushing cows around by day, and still are there Saturday to pick up trash on the highway with the ward, help plan activities and perform daily acts of service for their neighbors. So, no, age shouldn’t hinder you.
- Health: Here we go, health is a good reason not to be one of the STP. Many folks can’t drive at night, or drive at all. They can’t set up tables or put up chairs, or bend over to pick up trash or lift boxes at the Food Bank. However, if you are still alive and breathing, then God still has a purpose for you. Even the most unhealthy can be of some kind of service. If you want to serve but feel you can’t do anything because of your health, don’t assume. Ask! Telling the Relief Society president that you want to help but you aren’t sure about your abilities, allows her an opportunity to work with you. Maybe the first few chores she asks you to do won’t work out. The point it to keep trying. Even a person bound to a wheelchair or scooter can tie quilts, or make phone calls.
- Homelife: Maybe your home is not conducive to cooking for potlucks. Maybe you’re a hoarder, or you’re unsanitary, or you simply don’t know how to cook. Maybe, your husband isn’t a member and doesn’t want you doing anything with the church. Maybe you are overwhelmed by addiction, unemployment, or depression. In all of these instances, you might want to speak to the bishop about getting help. And, when your life is crap and you are ready to throw in the towel, hard service might just do the trick.
- Not organized: Maybe you aren’t organized enough to even know what is going on. If you are always missing activities at the church and passing up callings, but not sports events or Facebook posts, then your priority isn’t the church, is it? Some might say that participating in church events isn’t necessary. But they are. YOU need to be connected to fellow members and the service opportunities fellowshipping affords you. Yes, the church is filled with imperfect people, and if you are too good to be with them, then look in the mirror.
- Disdain for the People: Yup, I’ve met too many of these folks. Yes, the church, any church, is filled with unruly children. Yes, people, all people say offensive things, though usually not on purpose. Yes, kids are loud and sticky, they will grow out of it. Yes, maybe the RS president drives you nuts. But, remember, YOU took upon you the name of Christ so you are supposed to be above that kind of thinking, anyway.
- Work: With both parents working it is difficult to make events. I agree, this may be the best excuse not to participate. But, if you show up to eat then stay to clean up. It doesn’t matter what the kids’ bedtime is. Using the “kids’ bedtime” as an excuse is often so the parents can leave quickly after they eat and watch the end of the ballgame or Game of Thrones.
- FEAR: Perhaps you feel that you aren’t welcome and that somehow there is a clique or club of the STP to which you haven’t been invited. I can tell you that I have never been in a ward where seeing new faces to help with planning a ward activity or showing up to a service project wasn’t met with relief. Show up and act like you are one of the STP, ready to help and serve.
Think I’m being harsh? Judgmental? Blah? Blah? When our children were very young, we could strap them on our backs and go plant trees, or pick up trash on trails. Sometimes I would sit in the car with my kids strapped in their car seats and let the husband and oldest son do the activity. If me and my 5 kids can show up, put up and take down, maybe one of your family can, too. I would never have thought I could do as much as we have been able to do if I hadn’t watched other families in more dire circumstances than ours perform service.