I was twelve years old when my grandfather died. To me he was the epitome of a saint—kindly, gentle, purely good.
His death was difficult for me to believe, and it made me very sad. I had not only lost a friend but I was also convinced that somehow heaven had allowed him to die too early. In my childish (though enthusiastic) understanding of the gospel, I had been sure that he was destined to be a great leader in the Church before he left this world. He was a man of great charity, who had literally given his shoes to a beggar knocking at the door, his coat to another man who was colder than he. I was sure that his death came too early. He had too much more service to give.
As I look back now, I see that I equated service with high callings. So many of the Saints have a basic goodness, a charity that qualifies them to be disciples. But serving is not synonymous with position. Whether serving in a visible calling or in secluded corners, disciples follow the example of the Christ. A calling may formalize our work for him, but serving is a blessing available to all of us, whether officially called through the Church organization or in our daily association with others.
The way to become great by the Lord’s assessment is simply to serve. Chauncey Riddle, dean of Brigham Young University Graduate School, said, “Whereas people of the world concern themselves with those who have more wealth, talent, prestige, or athletic ability, true servants of Christ care about those who have less … For the lesser to help the greater is not really service but slavery … The person who has the superiority must place himself in a position of inferiority; he must become the servant of the needy.”
How do we become the servant of others? Through genuinely caring about them, through praying for the pure love of Christ to motivate us to serve (see Moro. 7:47–48), and by taking the initiative to bless the lives of others.
My grandfather tried to copy the Savior’s life. My grandfather’s life was not wasted. I was deeply affected by his life, and I’m sure many other people were also influenced by him. I will tell my own children about the patterns of goodness that emerged in his life in simple yet powerful ways. Any one of us can become a disciple by following examples of goodness as he did.