The Empty Cart


President James E. Faust
From an October 2006 general conference address.

The Empty Cart

President Faust shows how selfless service made an empty cart full and a full cart empty.

Some years ago a priests quorum decided to gather food for the needy as a service project. Jim, one of the priests, was excited to participate and was determined to collect more food than anyone else. The time arrived when the priests met at the chapel. They all went out at the same time and returned at a specified time later in the evening. To everyone’s surprise, Jim’s cart was empty. He seemed rather quiet, and some of the young men made fun of him. Seeing this and knowing that Jim had an interest in cars, the adviser said, “Come outside, Jim. I want you to look at my car. It’s giving me some trouble.”

When they got outside, the adviser asked Jim if he was upset. Jim said, “No, not really. But when I went out to collect the food, I really got a lot. My cart was full. As I was returning to the chapel, I stopped at the home of a nonmember woman who is divorced and lives within our ward boundaries. I knocked on the door and explained what we were doing, and she invited me in. She began to look for something to give me. She opened the refrigerator, and I could see there was hardly anything in it. The cupboards were bare. Finally, she found a small can of peaches.

“I could hardly believe it. There were all these little kids running around that needed to be fed, and she handed me this can of peaches. I took it and put it in my cart and went on up the street. I got about halfway up the block when I just felt warm all over and knew I needed to go back to that house. I gave her all the food.”

The adviser said, “Jim, don’t you ever forget the way you feel tonight, because that’s what it is all about.” Jim had tasted the nutrient of selfless service.

Things to Think About

  1. 1.

    When Jim felt “warm all over” and knew that he should go back, what do you think was happening to Jim?

  2. 2.

    The adviser said that the way Jim felt was “what it is all about.” What do you think he meant?

  3. 3.

    What was Jim’s purpose when he set out to collect food? What was his purpose by the end of the evening? How can this apply to your own life?

  4. 4.

    What else do you think about Jim’s experience?

[illustration] Illustration by Michael T. Malm