Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Serving Those Who Could Have Done It Themselves

I remember fondly a branch where I had the opportunity to serve as a missionary in Oklahoma. This was a fairly islolated area of Oklahoma up near the panhandle of the state, so this had been a branch for a long time with not a lot of prospect of getting a lot bigger. Shortly after I arrived, we were having dinner with one of the families in the ward and they were doing the usual game of 20 questions to learn about me. Somehow it came up that I played the piano.

A short while later, the mother in this family approached me. "I've been playing the piano for our congregation for 20 years and I never get to enjoy sitting with my family before and after the meeting. I wonder if you'd be willing to fill in as our pianist for a while."

"Sure," I replied, before giving it much thought. So for the next few months I played the songs for that branch--and that sister sat beaming with her family.

It was an odd bit of service, really, especially for a missionary. It is so outside the normal boundaries of what a missionary might be doing: finding people to teach, working with people who have forgotten what they once believed, or filling in where there is no one else to step in.

I've often defined service as "doing something for someone that they are unable to do for themselves." In this case, there was a sister who was perfectly capable of filling the role of pianist for the congregation. Yet I found that it was genuine service to relieve her of that responsibility for a short time. I feel good about that opportunity to serve and I hope I'm blessed with the gift of the spirit that will enable me to recognize other opportunities for similar service; service to the faithful saints that could just do with a little break now and then.


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  • For many of us there is a balance that is difficult to find. Our choices are often between competing goods that can not both be fulfilled simultaneously. Your talent allowed he for a time to do a different good. Well done.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 4/20/2006 5:41 AM  

  • Nice thoughts. I guess you could say that through your service she was able to do something that she couldn't have done otherwise. Very nice.

    By Blogger Rusty, at 4/20/2006 7:07 AM  

  • We are tasked with lifting up the hands that hang down. That sister knew she'd be back at the piano as soon as you were transferred, so you gave her a welcome temporary respite, helping to lift up her hands, as it were.

    As we go about lifting the hands that hang down, we have to be careful not to create an inappropriate dependency that could deprive others of the growth and joy that they should experience. It's a very delicate balance that requires frequent input from the Spirit.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 4/21/2006 9:51 AM  

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