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Give – Day 5 – What selfless service immersion will teach you about true joy.

So why the heck are we building this Selfless Service habit?

Why is it so important in our life?

In 1999 I was 19 years old. The world might end the next year (ahh the ‘ol Y2K scare, good times) and I had the honor and privilege of serving a two year volunteer mission trip for my church in the area of central Texas in the USA

3 months before leaving, my thoughts and time were consumed with staying up late playing pranks on the girls in the dorms with my college buddies, and sleeping through most of my classes.

Fun. My top priority by far.

3 weeks before I was scheduled to leave, my dear Mother died after discovering just six weeks prior that cancer was filling her entire stomach.

Pain. Life was changing fast.

3 days before my departure week my band and I finished recording our full album and on the same day printed 200 copies and sold them all out that night to our little tribe of fans at our final show.

We rocked 😉 Epic day.

Fun, achievement, friendship.  An amazing climax to my youth – but time to move on.

Suddenly I found myself thrust into a rigid routine – awake at 6:30 AM sharp and lights out at 10:30 PM – a rude awakening daily for many weeks.

Then over the next two years my life was transformed.

I left home a boy who loved fun, music, and friendship.

I came home a young man – changed from the inside with a profoundly deep knowledge that there is much more to life than just having fun.

That there are millions of people who need help.

That I can do something to help others be happier.

That there is a profound peace, joy, and fulfillment in devoting one’s life to serving others – at a level that no amount of fun or personal achievement can comprehend.

As I prepared to depart for home after two years of 12 hours per day, 6.5 days per week of selfless service, a fellow missionary friend gave me this note:

(Picture a laid back, happy teenager with long bleached hair who months earlier spent all his waking hours surfing, skating and doing street fighting competitions.)


“Querido Elder Kennard, (spanish for ‘Dear’)

Happy birthday my friend.You have become an old, old man.How do you maintain that six pack at your old age?

Well, my friend, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you so much. You had a very powerful impact on my life. Your example and the talks we had changed my heart again and again.

I am amazed at your ability to always strive to be better.I have begun to gain this by being around you.

I am so grateful for this mission.

Before the mission, we had anything we wanted. We had a simple relaxed life full of things we wanted. The mission has brought me to realize that there is a joy so much greater than relaxed fun.

The joy of sacrifice.

The joy of loving so much that you would do anything, no matter how hard or painful.

What a blessing it has been to serve with you.Have a blessed life.

I’ll show up at your door step someday when you least expect it.So when you see a super fat guy knocking on your door…don’t be afraid. It will be me.Ha ha.

– Love, Elder Carnohan”


It’s impossible to convey the profoundly impactful feeling of selfless service in words because it is something that can only be experienced.

But I believe most of us have tasted it at one time or another.

Some call it the love of God.

Others call it profound peace.

Whatever you call it – its the most delicious thing your soul will ever feel.

Selfless Service is the tree where that fruit grows year-round.

I am deeply grateful for that ‘total immersion’ experience with service – because I discovered where I can always find true joy.

It was the longest, most consistent period of profound joy in my life

But it wasn’t easy. By far the most challenging experience I had ever had. Intense. A refiner’s fire. Purifying.

Don’t expect service to be all blissful and happy in the moment.

It’s called sacrifice for a reason.

But what you can expect is this: when you lose yourself, you find profound peace and joy at some point.

Remember – you can deliberately choose to serve others selflessly today. And this is one of the surest ways of creating a life of joy right now…a Truly Amazing Life.

There are people all around who need your loving service…you are the gift that someone yearns for.

Slow down for a moment, be still, and open your heart.

Listen to the still, small voice within.

Write down one thing you will do for someone and then take action.

And don’t be afraid to commit to a BIG ACT of service today or this week.

It’s never convenient to sacrifice – just commit and you’ll find a way.

Make Today Amazing!