In a recent Church News podcast with JustServe Global Manager Heath Bradley, he remarked on how the youth of the Church are using the JustServe website to serve the community and share their faith. Bradley said, “Young people are in love with JustServe…because it’s a launchpad to find out: What are my interests in serving? What are the things that I like to do.”
This episode of the Church News podcast features two young adults who have found joy through service using JustServe. McKaylee Burton, 22, is a stake Relief Society president who has helped spearhead several service activities. Austin Bradley is a senior in high school and serves as student body president. Both join the podcast to talk about their JustServe experiences and how they have seen that service bless their lives and others.
Austin Bradley: One of the biggest reasons why I love to serve is because I feel closer to God. I’m a senior in high school right now, and so I’m preparing to serve a mission. And my dad has always had my family be service-oriented. And going through ninth and 10th grade, I lost a little bit; you know, it’s hard growing up and everything. But my parents were still there to help me and there to encourage me, and one of the biggest ways that they helped me come back to Heavenly Father and come back to the Savior and really get to know Them was through service. I’m just so grateful for that, and so I like to apply that same principle as I’m getting ready to serve a mission.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In a recent Church News podcast with JustServe Global Manager Heath Bradley, he remarked about the youth of the Church and how they’re using the JustServe website to serve the community, share their faith and point their futures towards Christ.
This episode of the Church News podcast features two young adults who have found joy through serving using JustServe. McKaylee Burton is a stake Relief Society president in her young single adult stake. Along with her Church peers, she’s helped spearhead activities like a food collection and toy donation for the Layton [Utah] Temple construction workers, families, and socks for the homeless. Austin Bradley is a senior at Woods Cross [Utah] High School and is a student body officer, and has brought JustServe from his family to his school, encouraging service by adding the JustServe widget to [the school’s] website. Both are here to talk to us today about their JustServe experiences and how they have seen the blessing of service in their own lives.
Welcome, both of you, to the Church News podcast.
McKaylee Burton: Thank you for having us.
Austin Bradley: I’m glad to be here. Thank you.
Sarah Jane Weaver: McKaylee, why don’t we start with you and have you just tell us how you first became familiar with JustServe and how you found it to be a tool that is a great blessing to you and others.
McKaylee Burton: Honestly, I didn’t know about JustServe really until I got involved in my YSA ward. And I remember when they were explaining the concept of it to me, I was so disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it before then, because it’s just so easy and convenient, and a great way for anybody of any comfort level to find a service project that kind of fits their personality and what they like to do. And it gives you the opportunity to explore different things and allows you to stay within your comfort level. So the more that I got to know it through different Church activities, the more I fell in love with it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Great, and Austin, why don’t you tell us how you became familiar with JustServe?
Austin Bradley: Service allows you to find your interests, and what you want to do with your life and how you want to serve, how you want to help out other people in your community. And so that’s something I was trying to figure out: How can I serve in ways that are easiest and most simple for me, but also to go out of my way to help others, and I became familiar with JustServe through my father. He introduced JustServe to me and to our family, and we have gone from there, participating in writing letters to veterans and the JustServe Day of Service and all the other unique opportunities that JustServe has.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and we should say that Austin is the son of Heath Bradley, who is the global manager of JustServe. And so that may be something you really had no choice to embrace. Right?
Austin Bradley: Exactly. He introduced it to us, and you know, no choice, but it’s been one of the greatest things he’s ever introduced to our family, and we found a lot of joy through it. So it’s definitely been a blessing.
Church News podcast, Episode 62: Service at Christmas and beyond, with JustServe Global Manager Heath Bradley
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I want to shift a little bit and talk now about why do you want to serve. What is it about service that is something that you want to focus on? McKaylee, tell me what motivates you to serve others?
McKaylee Burton: I think, for me, whenever I serve, that’s a feeling that I get that the adversary cannot mimic, right? The peace that I get from serving. And I grew up in a family, very service-oriented, my parents taught me the importance of helping others, and it’s all in our actions towards others that really help us become the type of person that we want to be, and for me, it just always brings me joy.
And I’ve always told YSAs that I feel like service is one of the main focuses of the Church, because once you serve, you cannot fight that good feeling that comes. You can be a little ornery or a little annoyed when you’re on your way to the service project, but once you leave, I’ve never seen someone leave serving someone else without a smile on their face, and that motivates me to just keep going, it’s because I want to have that smile on my face always. And I want to put that smile on everybody else’s face if I can.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Before we jump to Austin, I want to do a follow-up question with one of the things you just said. It’s not always easy, right?
McKaylee Burton: Yes, it definitely is not always easy,
Sarah Jane Weaver: Or convenient, or anything else that we wish.
McKaylee Burton: Exactly.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Austin, tell us what motivates you.
Austin Bradley: Yeah, so I agree 100% on what McKaylee said about service and what it does for you and how you’re happy, and the blessings you get from it.
And one of the biggest reasons why I love to serve is because I feel closer to God. And I’m a senior in high school right now, and so I’m preparing to serve a mission, and I’ve been talking to my parents and thinking, “What can I do to prepare, become closer to God?” And so I think of Mosiah 2:17: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”
And I just love that, because one of the best ways that we can become close to God is to serve, and that is serving His children here on this earth, and so that’s one of my biggest reasons why I love to serve.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’d love to look exactly at what this looks like. Can you share an example of each of your service? And Austin, since you mentioned it, let’s start with you. But what have you done, and how has JustServe helped connect you to those opportunities?
Austin Bradley: When I was in eighth grade, me and my dad took a service trip to the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck the island, and they were devastated. There was no leaves on the trees. I was just shocked by the damage. And it wasn’t convenient, it was hard, and you had to put your heart into it, and you really had to commit to it. And that’s one thing I really love about service.
So I went down to Puerto Rico with my dad, and we were handing out lights because there was no power. And we came across this lady who just was the sweetest lady ever, and you could just feel the Spirit inside of her and how much she loved God and how much that she was grateful for us being there and being able to serve and help her. And so I think just the feeling you get, and the feeling that the other person gets when you’re serving, just connects you, and it’s just the best feeling you can get.
Sarah Jane Weaver: How about you, McKaylee?
McKaylee Burton: I think for me, I love the simplicity of service. I think that, a lot of times, we overcomplicate it, which we have the ability to do some really incredible things, but something that I wish I could get through to more people is that it really is those simple acts of kindness that go a long way, and we’ve heard prophets and apostles talk about that for years and years since the beginning of the Church, right?
And when my stake worked with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve [Apostles], he had this vision that he wanted to have five stakes work together to do some sort of service project, and we banded together, and my stake president and someone else and I were chatting and he told us that we needed to gather socks for the homeless shelters in Salt Lake City. So I had the opportunity to work with Sister Sharon Eubank, who’s part of the general Relief Society presidency, and being able to be there and just see how many YSAs were willing to come and give these socks was the first moment that I just was wowed in that opportunity.
And then I think the biggest takeaway for me was when we dropped those socks off at the homeless shelter. I remember seeing one of these homeless individuals walking into the shelter, and he looked, and I had this huge bin of socks in front of me. And he just said, “Oh, my goodness, is that for all of us?”
And I said, “Yeah, we gathered as many as we could for all of you.” And he said, “You know, you don’t have any idea how much this means to us,” and hearing that just made me realize, “Wow, something as simple as bringing some socks that was so convenient for us to get has made such a big impact on someone.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m so touched by your story. Sister Eubank has talked about this. In addition to her role in the Relief Society general presidency, she also has responsibilities now to lead JustServe, and she talks often about how it’s hard to do really meaningful service without a relationship. And so I’d love for each of you to talk about the relationships that have come from your opportunities to serve, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be relationships that were with someone that you were serving, although those happen as well; it could be things that happen as you serve with a friend or with your high school peers or with those in your Relief Society.
And so, McKaylee, let’s start with you.
McKaylee Burton: I think, to me, what’s standing out right now with that question — honestly, the biggest relationship that I have gained from this is my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
I have kind of a personal story that just makes my vision make more sense of answering this question. But my dad taught seminary for many, many years, and being his daughter, I was, you know, kind of well-known at my high school; all the seminary teachers knew him and loved him, and he was very popular in Davis County, and people had kind of this idea that as a righteous daughter, I should serve a mission. And I wanted to serve a mission very badly; that was my goal after I graduated high school. And as I got to the end of my senior year, the Lord and I had a conversation, and He just told me that that was not what my path was and that was not where He needed me to be. And I was very devastated.
And I got told, you know, just some very, not-so-encouraging things about my decisions to not serve a mission. And I went away from God for a little bit, knowing that He was there, but I was so angry, because I had thought: “I’m worthy to serve, why can’t I serve? And why do I have to endure this?” Which seems so silly to me now, because it’s really such a small thing on the grand scheme of things. And as I got more involved in YSA, the biggest thing that I thought to myself as I wanted to make my way back to Christ was I need to do something to get that relationship back with Him.
And the thing that I was taught growing up, that I knew the best, was to serve, and so I started trying to do as many things as I could, whether small or big, and the impact that that’s had on my relationship with my Savior is absolutely incredible. And I credit service, being the reason I feel so confident in my relationship with the Savior now. And over time, I’ve had many great friends and peers that I’ve been able to grow close to, but the one that has stayed the most consistent and that stands out the most and is the biggest blessing is the relationship that it gave me again with my Savior.
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Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, you know, and as you’re talking, I’m thinking of Matthew 25:40 where the Savior actually says, “Inasmuch as ye have done these unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” And so, what a beautiful manifestation of that promise from the Savior.
McKaylee Burton: Absolutely. You know, the interesting thing about what you said with that verse from Matthew is: I remember when I was doing the sock activity, Sister Sharon Eubank and I got talking, and she had said to me, “What’s your story?” And we had a little bit of a conversation, and she looked at me, and she said, “McKaylee, you’re going tell this story about a mission one day when you’re a Relief Society president.” And I remember just laughing, and I was like, “That’s really cute,” And then a few months later, I got my calling and I emailed her, and I just said to her, I was like, “Wow, you really were inspired.” And she said to me, she said, “We talked about this, this is part of your mission.”
And so that’s something that I’ve loved about service, is it’s a lifelong mission of serving the Lord. And it’s amazing that we get the opportunity as members of the Church to do that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: That really is beautiful. Austin, what are some of your thoughts as we’ve been talking about this idea that service can connect us not only with one another, but with the Savior?
Austin Bradley: Yeah, I agree 100% on what McKaylee said. I am on the same page as her when she has said that the biggest relationship that was strengthened through service was with her Heavenly Father, and for me through service, the biggest relationship is with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior.
My dad has always had my family to be service-oriented, similar to McKaylee’s, and going through ninth or 10th grade, I lost a little bit, you know; it’s hard growing up and everything, and I was in a little bit of a dark place. But my parents were still there to help me and there to encourage me. And one of the biggest ways that they helped me come back to Heavenly Father and come back to the Savior and really get to know them was through service, and I’m just so grateful for that. And so I love to apply that same principle as I’m getting ready to serve a mission.
On another level, not just with Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, at the school level: When you’re doing projects that you put together for the school, it doesn’t have to be through JustServe, but any service that you do as a school, you have to come together as a team, and you have to be one, one heart and one mind. Like, in Moses 7:18, you have to be together for it to work, and that’s what makes service so unique and that’s where relationships come.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You know, we mentioned this in the intro, but I love that you actually worked to get the widget for JustServe put on your school’s website.
Austin Bradley: Yeah, that was super, actually interesting for me to do. I’m very grateful I did it, and at first, when I had this idea, I talked about it with my dad. And I was a little nervous: “Can I do this? This seems like a huge task.”
But like McKaylee said: When we serve, we can see that we can do these things, and if we come together, it can happen. And so by being all in and being determined, I did add the JustServe widget to my high school’s web page. And it’s been an awesome, great way for students to find local opportunities, and interests that they like to serve.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I want to talk to each of you about your peers, because this is a crazy time, especially for those of us who grew up before social media, before cellphones. But it seems like so much of what you face is an opportunity to think inward. You know, when people post on social media, it’s often to bring attention to themselves, or to build up themselves. And it feels like service is just the opposite of that. It’s an opportunity to think outward. How do you deal with all of the pressure that’s hitting you in this social-media-driven world, and has service helped at all with that?
McKaylee Burton: Yeah, I think the pressure eventually gets to you. I think that especially youth and YSAs of today deal with a lot of comparison. We compare ourselves to people that we see on social media, because just like you said, it’s a very inward thing. And we wonder: “Oh, well, I’m not doing that. Am I doing enough? Am I enough?”
And I think one thing for me that has been such a blessing is the associations with people that I create that I end up following on social media that really dedicate a lot of their lives to Christ, and being able to go on and see good things happening in the world. I’m that person that I don’t love turning on the news, because I don’t like seeing all of the devastating things that are happening, but I feel like I have kind of finessed my social media to be to a place where I feel comfortable getting on there, and I love what I see, and I see people doing really great things. And also, I feel, it gives me an opportunity to reach out to people and band together with them in order to serve someone else, and that’s a really incredible thing that I think social media has done, is it’s made it so much easier and convenient for us to find those opportunities. So I’m very grateful for that. As much as the pressures come, I feel the blessings really outweigh the pressure that I feel.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I love that. I love that you can actually harness the power of social media for good instead of letting it drag you down. Austin, have you had any experiences that you can add to this?
Austin Bradley: Yeah, to piggyback off of what McKaylee said: social media is a great tool. You see missionaries using it out in the mission field nowadays. They use Facebook, and it’s a way to connect with people. And I believe that social media is — you’ll get out of social media what you put in. So if you’re looking for good and things about service and inspirational quotes, and that’s what you’re searching, it’ll give you what you’re searching. And so, using it correctly, and how you want to use it, to help yourself to connect with others, to bless others. That’s what you’ll get out of it, and that’s one of the most unique things about social media, like McKaylee said, the relationships that you make on there that lead to future opportunities. I think that’s very big.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Austin, while we’ve got you, let’s have you follow up here. We may have some listeners that don’t know what JustServe or how to use it. Can you give us an overview of what this tool is, where they can find it, and what it can do for them?
Austin Bradley: Yeah, so JustServe is one of the neatest tools, in my opinion, that has come to be in the past few years. JustServe is a platform where you can download it on your phone, and there’s also a website, and you get on JustServe, and there’s different ways to search. But the most common way you can search is by your ZIP code, and it will go to pull up opportunities to serve within that ZIP code, and it has so many different projects that you can do.
For example, there’s English conversation labs with refugees that are trying to learn English. You can just go to this lab and just talk with these refugees and get to know about them, and it helps them practice their English. There’s feeding the homeless, and there’s summer camps for kids with cancer. There’s so many different opportunities and ways to serve. JustServe is the perfect way for kids to find their interests, and what they like to do so they know how they can most effectively serve and get their friends to join with them.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Yeah, and McKaylee, I suspect sometimes people have a desire to serve but don’t really know how to serve or where to start.
McKaylee Burton: Yes, I think that’s a really big problem, and that’s actually one of the things that I love about being introduced to JustServe, especially within my stake, because at first all they ask of you is they say, “Can you come on this day and help us serve?” And it’s easy for people to just show up. So they show up, you get instructed, “OK, this is what you do,” and that is so easy, and pretty much everyone can do it, right? And with JustServe, it allows the flexibility that if that’s something that you want to participate with the Church, then you can do that. If you want to do it on your own, you can do that. But it’s laid out so that you know what you need to do, and I love that about it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m gonna share another scripture with you and have each of you comment on it. It’s one of my favorites. It’s found also in Matthew 20:27, and in this verse, the Savior teaches, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” And I’m interested in having each of you just talk about how service impacts your opportunities to be good leaders. McKaylee, you’re a Relief Society president; and Austin, you’re in student government in your high school. And so how has service made you a better leader?
Austin Bradley: For me, I love that scripture because it says, “And whosoever will be chief among you.” And so when I think of that: Chief is like a leader, someone who’s in charge, but the most interesting thing about service is you don’t have to be in a set position to lead, you don’t have to have a title. You don’t have to be someone that everyone knows. You can serve, and be your own leader and get people to join with you, and even if you are in a unique position, or if you’re not, service is the best way to step up and to really be a leader and be a servant to our Heavenly Father and to bring forth the gospel. I just think that’s the biggest thing, because this is an opportunity for kids to step up and really find who they are in the service of our God.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Great. And McKaylee, how has it helped your leadership?
McKaylee Burton: I have to admit, when I first got extended my calling, I was absolutely terrified. I felt so underqualified. My stake had never had a YSA as the stake Relief Society president until me, and I remember just being so overwhelmed, and as I kind of started getting in the groove of things, I realized how much service was a part of my calling. And, genuinely, if I did not have a testimony of service, I would not be able to have the calling that I do and have the opportunity to serve the Lord in the capacity that I am, because what Relief Society, I feel, is, it is serving and supporting and loving, and it’s doing all of those things that Jesus Christ did when He was on earth, and all of those small and simple things that Heavenly Father asks us to do to show our love for Him. And without service, I just don’t think that, not only my calling, and my leadership, but I don’t think the Church would be the same without it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I love that Austin said at the very beginning that service actually can be a preparation for something next, it can be a preparation for the Lord to use you in different ways. Certainly, McKaylee, you didn’t have any idea when you started participating in JustServe that you would be a Relief Society president.
McKaylee Burton: Yes, I never would have guessed.
Sarah Jane Weaver: So Austin, I’m interested in how you have used JustServe as mission prep.
Austin Bradley: Yeah. So I feel like service is the best way that I’ve been able to come closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior. That, along with prayer. Service and prayer for me has just been so big, and as I’m preparing for a mission, I’ve just been thinking, “What’s the best way that I can be a servant of my Heavenly Father and my Savior and represent them?” And in seminary, as a class, we were talking about the Spirit and how we show up differently when we have the Spirit and when we don’t, and that’s been a big focus in my life recently: How am I living, the things that I’m doing, that keeps the Spirit with me. And with the Spirit, I feel like I’ve just been much more alert and focused and allowed me to come closer to my Heavenly Father. And I like to look at D&C 4:2. It says, “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” And so when I’m putting all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength, and all my heart into service, it’s been one of the best ways that I’ve come closer to my Heavenly Father, ultimately, prepping me to be a servant, that would worthily represent Him to people interested in learning about the gospel.
Sarah Jane Weaver: What a beautiful sentiment and way that we can utilize service. I’m also interested because shortly after becoming the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson made a call out to young people, and he enlisted them in a youth battalion.
Now, he wanted you to do a lot of things, including family history work and temple work, but ultimately, what he wanted you to do is not only focus on service here and now in this life, but on the other side of the veil. Austin, what did you learn from that invitation from President Nelson and how has it blessed your life?
Austin Bradley: I read a book called “Insights From a Prophet’s Life” about President Nelson, by Sheri Dew, and it was just so inspirational to me to read about President Russell M. Nelson’s life and the experiences that he’s learned, and I’ve taken what he’s learned in his life in lessons and starting to apply them to mine.
The most interesting thing that I’ve seen about President Nelson is that he is genuine, and he is loving, and he cares about the people that he’s with when he’s in the moment. And you can really feel that, even through the book that I read. When he’s talking at general conference, President Russell M. Nelson, is a man of God, and he’s a Prophet, and he truly cares about the people that he is with. And so when he invites us to do family history work and temple work and service, here on Earth and on the other side of the veil and heaven, he’s asking us to just be a genuine and a true friend, and look out for one another, and really show our love. And I think that’s one of the best ways that I’ve been able to express my love and to help serve others.
Sarah Jane Weaver: McKaylee, is there anything that you’ve learned from the Prophet’s example?
McKaylee Burton: Yes, I absolutely love what Austin has to say. I just — Austin, you’re going to be a great missionary. You’re doing — the insights that you have, I love everything that you have to say.
From President Nelson with this invitation — I remember I had recently lost my grandparents, both of my mom’s parents, and I remember how desperate they were to be on that other side and be able to help everyone and try their best that, when the time comes, make it to the celestial kingdom. And as he’s continuously invited the youth to work towards helping those on the other side and temple work and family history work, I just have appreciated how much effort he’s put into reminding us of the blessings that come from that, because not only do I get blessed from that, but someone else gets eternally blessed from that. And to me, there’s no greater blessing than that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Thank you so much for sharing that. It makes me emotional just thinking about all of the work that so many youth are doing all over the world. Really, it’s been great to have you both with us. Austin, I echo McKaylee in saying you are going to be a great missionary. And McKaylee, I’m sure we’re gonna cross paths again, and you’ll still be serving as a Relief Society president in a different capacity in a different ward, and blessing people in a different way.
But it’s been wonderful. And we have a tradition at the Church News podcast, and we ask everyone who comes on to answer the same question, and the question is, “What do you know now?” But what have each of you learned and what do each of you know now, after serving the Savior, and exemplifying Him, and doing your best to bless His children?
Austin Bradley: I would say now, I’ve learned that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us, and They just truly care about us. And relating to service, or anything else that I try to do in my life, and that we all try to do: we are the most successful when we involve Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ in our life. My father, Brother Bradley, has taught me that when you involve the Lord in your life, and you pray to Him, and you ask Him for strength, and you ask Him for His blessing, and you keep His commandments, and you represent Him in a worthy way, tenfold principle. He will increase your success in your opportunities, and just that He’s always looking out for us, and He loves us. He loves every single person on this earth and every single person on the other side of the veil, and we can emulate that to service and being genuinely kind to others here on earth.
McKaylee Burton: I’m trying not to get emotional. I think the biggest thing that I have learned is, to kind of also echo what Austin said, not only of the Savior’s love, but I think also the mercy that He extends, and just how merciful He is. I don’t think it was until I really started focusing on serving that I truly understood how perfect His love is, and how eager to forgive He is. And I am just so grateful for my Savior, and I am grateful for my Heavenly Father, and for the love that They have for me and for all of Their children, and the opportunity that I have to serve to grow closer to Them. Because every time that I serve, I feel as though I’ve done something in life that’s good, that has hopefully brought someone else closer to Christ, and that’s all I ever want to do. And I’m just so very thankful that the Lord has allowed me to do that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News Editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.