When I started my freshman year of college, I quickly formed friendships with two other freshmen, one a rancher and the other a farmer. We made an unlikely threesome—two down-to-earth western US country boys and one fast-talking East Coast city slicker. After graduating from college, they returned home to ranch and farm, and I entered the corporate business world.
Annual Christmas cards and occasional phone calls kept us up to date as our lives advanced. By the time I was in my mid-30s, I had served twice as Scoutmaster. Later, as I finished my second “tour” as an assistant nursery leader, my two friends were serving in bishoprics. As time progressed, I fell into the trap of comparing my callings to my friends’ callings, and I began to feel unwanted and ignored.
By the time I was in my mid-40s, leadership callings extended to others would trouble my thoughts for days. Each time someone was called to a ward or stake leadership position, Satan would whisper to me that I was unworthy or lacked the faith necessary for such callings. I could intellectually fight off such thoughts through prayer and study, but I still struggled with my self-worth. Being “just an elder” and refereeing youth basketball games at age 50 while my friends were serving in stake presidencies was not what I had envisioned I would be doing at that age.
Then came an experience that changed my understanding of the gospel. I was assisting my wife one Sunday with her Primary class full of energetic seven-year-olds. As Primary sharing time started, I noticed one of the class members huddled on her chair and obviously not feeling well. The Spirit whispered to me that she needed comfort, so I sat by her and quietly asked what was wrong. She didn’t answer but seemed to be in real distress, so I began to sing softly to her.
The Primary was learning a new song, and when we sang, “If I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice,”1 I began to feel the most incredible light and warmth fill my soul. I felt wrapped in eternal arms of love. I understood that Heavenly Father had heard this young girl’s prayer and that I was there to provide the comfort He wanted to give her. My spiritual understanding was opened, and I received a personal testimony of our Savior’s love for her, for each of His children, and for me. I knew He trusted me to serve someone in need, and I was where He wanted me to be. I learned that we are His hands when we serve the one.
I rejoice in any opportunity to serve, and I try to remain worthy to feel the promptings of the Spirit and to be where Heavenly Father wants me to be when one of His children needs service.