Wednesday, August 4, 2010


A couple of days ago, a sister called me and asked if I could take dinner to a family in our ward that night. I hesitated. Not necessarily because I'm unwilling to help--granted, I was quite tired and had had a rather long morning, busy constantly while accomplishing little, but that wouldn't have stopped me from doing a lot of other things. I don't think of myself as much of a cook, so I always feel like I should apologize when I take someone dinner. I quickly realized that this was ridiculous--cooking may not be one of my specialties, but I'm certainly not bad at it. They're not looking for a gourmet meal, its just a bunch of kids who have a sick mom and not a lot of food in the house at the moment. My chicken stir fry is probably much appreciated. I was tempted to have her keep making phone calls, certain that someone else would do it. I was the only person she'd reached all morning, getting nothing but answering machines and voice mails all day.

It made me wonder how many opportunities to serve I've missed in life because I didn't feel adequate and/or was sure someone else would do it. How many times was service not done at all because I noticed a need and decided someone else would be better at meeting it?

When I think back on the acts of service that have meant the most in my life, they don't seem obvious or huge on the surface--there was no overt reason that that person gave that act of service to me at that moment, yet it made all the difference in my life. An unexpected phone call from an unexpected person, a well-timed question from someone who wouldn't seem to need to know, a couple of hours spent sitting on my couch and talking to me. These are acts of kindness from three different individuals that had a monumental impact on my life, and there was really no way that they or I could've guessed that at the time. How grateful I am that they didn't ignore that impulse because it seemed like a small thing, or because they didn't feel like they were the right person to do it.

How often do we miss opportunities to shine a light in someone else's life because we feel inadequate, or overqualified, or tired? Its easy to forget why we serve sometimes--be it in an official calling, or in little everyday acts. We don't serve to demonstrate our skills (though hopefully we are willing and able to use our talents in the service of others), or to be stretched and humbled (though hopefully that's a side effect of service). We serve because there's a need to be met and for whatever wise purpose, the Lord has asked us to be the one to meet it. Its easy, particularly in the Church, to just say, "Someone else will do it". But will they? And if you've been asked to do it, perhaps someone stepping into your shoes won't have the same insights you would have if you had stepped forth willingly.

The Lord tells us that we can be instruments in his hands. What we often don't realize is that on any given day that can mean anything from first chair violin to back up snare drum, and anything in between. Perhaps we are tempted to feel overwhelmed and under-qualified for our current position in the orchestra, or perhaps we feel bored or insignificant. The Lord is trying to create a world-class symphony using rank amateurs. But the absolutely amazing thing is that if we really try very hard and the play the notes he asks us to play when he asks us to play them, it can be glorious and near-perfect. He really is that good a teacher, that skilled a conductor. In order for it to work, we have the trust him, trust that the part he is asking us to play at any given moment, if played with all our hearts, is the best place for us to be, for the whole symphony, and ultimately, for each of us.

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