“If My Life Is Of No Value To My Friends…”


There is a bond forged while in church service that is not found in this world. Perhaps the armed services comes the closest to forming such feellings of love and closeness.  This brotherhood or sisterhood  is forged because of the nature of the work. At times it can be hard, with joy and discouragement neatly intertwined so that neither is gained without the other. In such circumstances you develop great love and devotion to those you serve with.  So it is that both small and large compliments mean so much. A word of encouragement by a fellow church member is so important. It is therefore imperative that we be generous in our praise of our fellow workers. A word of praise really can turn a day of darkness and discouragement into a day of light and hope. Even though this is the work of the Lord, criticism said to others can be so damaging.  Nothing stings quite so,  as words of criticism from those closest. False praise is not what I am encouraging, but the kind of praise that people earn and that are honest in nature. And if we look hard, good can be found in everyone.

I am reminded of the story of the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph Smith. Let us go back and examine what led to that fateful day in Carthage, Illinois. Why was he there? Well, the particulars of his arrest have been well documented. However, I want to go back as to why he surrendered himself to the authorities. He thought that the mob would leave the Saints alone if he fled. He crossed the Mississippi to safety where he received word that some of his own people were calling him a coward.  There he was, a man who had given his entire life to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been driven from state to state, jailed, tarred and feather, beaten and persecuted. Yet, nothing stung so deeply as to hear criticism from those closest.  I can imagine him standing on the banks of the Mississippi, feeling lonely and discouraged, but at least he had his friends. Or so he thought.  His reply of “If my life is of no value to my friends, then it is of none to myself,” echoes the importance of supporting and sustaining one another. He returned to face death at the hands of a mob. It speaks volumes of his character that he valued the opinion of the saints. No charlatan would have cared.

“There is a sad tendency in our world today for persons to depreciate each other. Did you ever realize that it does not take very much in the way of brainpower to make remarks that may wound another? Try the opposite of that. Try handing out compliments” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Strengthening Each Other,” Tambuli, Jun 1985, 1).

Recently I spoke at a baptismal service and a sister stopped me the next day to compliment me. I didn’t need it to continue serving, but it was nice to hear. This sister is very consistent in giving out compliments to others. Good for her! That is a wonderful quality to have. She is following the counsel of  generously”handing out compliments.” Be sincere, but look for the good in others service. It is a good feeling to be told that you are of value to others.

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