I’d like to tell you a story about someone. We all know this person—or at least someone like him. As I tell you about him, picture the face of the man or woman in your life that is just like the man I’m going to tell you about.
I’ll give this man a name. Let’s call him Jake. Jake is smart, but doesn’t have a lot of formal education. His education came from the school of hard knocks. He’s a little rough around the edges. He’s not comfortable in formal situations. When he’s nervous, he has a tendency to talk a little too much and with a tad too much volume. Everyone likes Jake, but only those very close to him take him seriously.
Jake would have made a wonderful bishop because he has so much compassion for others. His organizational skills are difficult to beat. He works hard at everything he does, never complains, and doesn’t need a pat on the back or an award for proficiency. This man loves service. Jake would rather be serving someone than doing anything else. I believe he would give up eating if he could spend more time with a shut-in, or mow someone else’s lawn.
He was never taken seriously at work, so promotions never came. He was content to sit in the background in various organizations and be the worker bee when someone needed something. His potential was lost on those who had stewardship over him at Church, but he fulfilled each calling he was given without complaint. When he felt he was capable of doing more for the ward than his calling allowed, he notched out his own little service projects and served quietly on his own.
Jake moved more people in and out of the ward than I can count—sometimes being the only one to show up from the ward to help. If there was a service project, he was the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. There’s a story told about a clogged toilet at a wedding reception. Everyone stood around the men’s room wondering what to do. Jake took off his suit coat, rolled up his sleeves, and went to work solving the problem. He gained respect in more than a few eyes that day.
I asked Jake once if he ever spent time studying his patriarchal blessing, and he admitted to me that it had been many years since he had read it. He went looking for it, and we read it together. It’s no wonder he never spent much time reading it, because there wasn’t much to it—or so I thought. Then I realized that Jake had totally embodied his whole patriarchal blessing by being a humble servant in the kingdom of God. His whole blessing was about service—something he does every single day without even thinking about it.
I thought about Jake during the April 2015 General Conference when Elder Michael T. Ringwood, Of the Seventy, was speaking. Elder Ringwood talked about being “truly good and without guile.”
Today there are some who would have us believe our search for relevance can be satisfied only by obtaining position and power. Yet, thankfully, there are many who are uninfluenced by this perspective. They find relevance in seeking to be truly good and without guile. I have found them in all walks of life and in many faith traditions. And I find them in large numbers among the truly converted followers of Christ.
I honor those who selflessly serve each week in wards and branches around the world by going above and beyond in fulfilling callings. But callings come and go. Even more impressive to me are the many who without formal callings find ways to consistently serve and lift others. One brother shows up early for church to set up chairs and stays after to straighten up the chapel. One sister purposely selects a seat near a blind sister in her ward not only so she can greet her but also so she can sing the hymns loudly enough that the blind sister can hear the words and sing along. If you look closely in your ward or branch, you will find examples like these. There are always members who seem to know who needs help and when to offer it (Michael T. Ringwood, Truly Good and without Guile, Apr. 2015 General Conference).
Jake may never serve in a bishopric or a stake presidency. He may not be known as a leader in the ward. He may not be remembered in the ward history or stake history. He may never know what power and position feel like. Twenty years after his death there may only be a few who even remember his name. That’s just fine with Jake. God knows who he is. His family loves him. Those who were served by him personally won’t soon forget him. I’m convinced that when he leaves here, there will be trumpets in heaven—because they will gain a true disciple of Christ and servant of God. Angels will sing, and rainbows will abound. I have no doubt he will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:23).