18 August 2009

Never Suppress a Generous Thought

Understanding and acting upon promptings from the Holy Ghost is sometimes difficult for me; I have such a tendency to talk myself out of doing something for someone because I think, "Who am I to do something like this?" or "This person probably doesn't even need my help; I'm just forcing myself into his/her life." Or I think that someone else is probably "better qualified" to help, so I convince myself that my effort would be futile.

In her BYU Devotional entitled "Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious," Sister Bonnie D. Parkin shared a story about her daughter-in-law's mother who faced this same mental battle.

My daughter-in-law’s mother, Susan, was a wonderful seamstress. President Kimball lived in their ward. One Sunday, Susan noticed that he had a new suit. Her father had recently returned from a trip to New York and had brought her some exquisite silk fabric. Susan thought that fabric would make a handsome tie to go with President Kimball’s new suit. So on Monday she made the tie. She wrapped it in tissue paper and walked up the block to President Kimball’s home.

On her way to the front door, she suddenly stopped and thought, “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them.” Deciding she had made a mistake, she turned to leave.

Just then Sister Kimball opened the front door and said, “Oh, Susan!”

Stumbling all over herself, Susan said, “I saw President Kimball in his new suit on Sunday. Dad just brought me some silk from New York . . . and so I made him a tie.”

Before Susan could continue, Sister Kimball stopped her, took hold of her shoulders, and said: “Susan, never suppress a generous thought.”

Susan didn’t have an assignment to make that tie. She wasn’t hired to do so. Despite feeling a bit hesitant, she did it because it felt right. Susan had a quiet sense of mission to serve others. I was also the beneficiary of such service. Her service went beyond any calling because it lasted throughout her life. Never suppressing a generous thought became a part of her personal ministry.

-- Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, "Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious," BYU Devotionl, 13 February 2007 (emphasis added).

In another BYU Devotional, Professor James D. Stice taught that small and simple things (lending a listening ear, looking for small things, and erring on the side of action) can enable us to serve others and fulfill our personal ministry.

First, lend a listening ear…. Listening is a shady spot on the trail of life. I don't need you to take my burdens. After all, how I handle my burdens is going to help develop celestial qualities within me. What I need is for you to, on occasion, hold them for me for just a moment while I rest and gather my strength.

Second, look for small things. Too often we look for huge things to do to lighten someone's load. Then, not finding big things to do, we often do nothing, thinking that the little things won't make a difference. But for me it is often the multitude of little things that gets me down. If someone would help me with those little things, I could then harness my energies for the big challenges….Look for small things. To you they may not seem a big deal. But to the recipient your small deed may make a difference.

Here is my final suggestion: Err on the side of action. Have you ever found yourself face-to-face with an opportunity to help someone and said something like, "Surely someone else will help" or "I don't have the time right now" or "I have my own problems to worry about"? When it comes to helping others, when in doubt, get in the game. If there is help that needs to be given, give it. If you can make a difference for good, make it. Don't wait for an engraved invitation. Don't worry about what others might think. If the Spirit whispers to you that something needs to be done, do it.
-- Professor James D. Stice, "The Weight of the World," BYU Devotional, 2 October 2001 (emphasis added).


  1. Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful post. I really appreciate your testimony and how your light shines in this world! :)