The Three Questions: An Introduction to Service


To help students become aware of people and needs around them and the importance of service as a response to the needs of others.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty at Westminster


Print25 minutes

Students will:

  • Understand the importance of identifying needs.
  • Be introduced to the concept of service.

One copy of The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth (for the teacher)


Service, agency, allegory, impact, being present


Muth, Jon J. (2002). The Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy). Scholastic, Inc.


  1. Give the students the three questions that are the center of this story and that you will ask them to answer during the lesson. They are: (1) Who is the most important person; (2) What is the most important thing to do; and, (3) When is the time to do it?

  2. Ask students to think through how they would answer each of these questions and to formulate written responses.

  3. Read the story, The Three Questions, aloud to the class. Stop halfway, asking students to discuss the answers to the three questions given by the story’s characters. 

  4. Ask students to quietly identify an example from their own life that matches the ideas of service related to the three questions. Follow with asking for volunteers to share their examples. Help students see that (1) The most important person is the one you are with and for whom you can do something; (2) The most important thing to do is what is needed; and, (3) The right time to do something is when it is needed.