What Have I Done for Someone Today? by Thomas S. Monson


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The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.

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What Have I Done for Someone Today? by Thomas S. Monson

  1. 1. What Have I Done for Someone Today? P R E S I D E N T T H O M A S S. M O N S O N The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone. every day as the family sat around the dinner table, his father would ask each one in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”1 The children were determined to do a good turn every day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone. Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives. As they grew and matured, their motiva- tion for providing service changed to an inner desire to help others. Besides Dr. McConnell’s distin- guished medical career—where he M y beloved brothers and sis- directed the development of the tuber- ters, I greet you this morning culosis tine test, participated in the with love in my heart for the early development of the polio vac- gospel of Jesus Christ and for each of cine, supervised the development of you. I am grateful for the privilege to Tylenol, and was instrumental in stand before you, and I pray that I developing the magnetic resonance might effectively communicate to you imaging procedure, or MRI—he that which I have felt prompted to say. created an organization he calls A few years ago I read an article Volunteers in Medicine, which gives written by Jack McConnell, MD. He retired medical personnel a chance to grew up in the hills of southwest volunteer at free clinics serving the Virginia in the United States as one of working uninsured. Dr. McConnell seven children of a Methodist minis- said his leisure time since he retired ter and a stay-at-home mother. Their has “evaporated into 60-hour weeks of circumstances were very humble. He unpaid work, but [his] energy level has recounted that during his childhood, increased and there is a satisfaction in84
  2. 2. [his] life that wasn’t there before.” He others, there is little purpose to our How many times has your heart beenmade this statement: “In one of those own lives. Those who live only for touched as you have witnessed theparadoxes of life, I have benefited themselves eventually shrivel up and need of another? How often have youmore from Volunteers in Medicine figuratively lose their lives, while intended to be the one to help? Andthan my patients have.”2 There are those who lose themselves in service yet how often has day-to-day livingnow over 70 such clinics across the to others grow and flourish—and in interfered and you’ve left it for othersUnited States. effect save their lives. to help, feeling that “oh, surely some- Of course, we can’t all be Dr. In the October 1963 general con- one will take care of that need.”McConnells, establishing medical clin- ference—the conference at which I We become so caught up in theics to help the poor; however, the was sustained as a member of the busyness of our lives. Were we to stepneeds of others are ever present, and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles— back, however, and take a good lookeach of us can do something to help President David O. McKay made this at what we’re doing, we may find thatsomeone. statement: “Man’s greatest happiness we have immersed ourselves in the The Apostle Paul admonished, comes from losing himself for the “thick of thin things.” In other words,“By love serve one another.”3 Recall good of others.”6 too often we spend most of our timewith me the familiar words of King Often we live side by side but taking care of the things which do notBenjamin in the Book of Mormon: do not communicate heart to heart. really matter much at all in the grand“When ye are in the service of your There are those within the sphere of scheme of things, neglecting thosefellow beings ye are only in the serv- our own influence who, with out- more important causes.ice of your God.”4 stretched hands, cry out, “Is there no Many years ago I heard a poem The Savior taught His disciples, balm in Gilead?”7 which has stayed with me, by which I“For whosoever will save his life shall I am confident it is the intention of have tried to guide my life. It’s one oflose it: but whosoever will lose his life each member of the Church to serve my favorites:for my sake, the same shall save it.”5 and to help those in need. At baptism I believe the Savior is telling us that we covenanted to “bear one another’s I have wept in the nightunless we lose ourselves in service to burdens, that they may be light.”8 For the shortness of sight NOVEMBER 2009 85
  3. 3. That to somebody’s need made me inside!” And another: “I played with a blind; lonely kid.” But I never have yet From an 11-year-old boy: “I went Felt a tinge of regret to a lady’s house and asked her ques- For being a little too kind.9 tions and sang her a song. It felt good to visit her. She was happy because My brothers and sisters, we are she never gets visitors.” Reading this surrounded by those in need of our particular note reminded me of attention, our encouragement, our words penned long ago by Elder support, our comfort, our kindness— Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of be they family members, friends, the Twelve. Said he: “It is difficult for acquaintances, or strangers. We are those who are young to understand the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, the loneliness that comes when life with the mandate to serve and to lift changes from a time of preparation His children. He is dependent upon and performance to a time of putting each of us. things away. . . . To be so long the You may lament: I can barely make São Paulo, Brazil center of a home, so much sought it through each day, doing all that I after, and then, almost suddenly to be need to do. How can I provide service the Primary. I can only imagine the on the sidelines watching the proces- for others? What can I possibly do? happiness these children experienced sion pass by—this is living into loneli- Just over a year ago, I was inter- as they told of their service and then ness. . . . We have to live a long time viewed by the Church News prior to placed a “warm fuzzy” in the jar. to learn how empty a room can be my birthday. At the conclusion of the I share with you just a few of the that is filled only with furniture. It interview, the reporter asked what I countless notes contained in the takes someone . . . beyond mere would consider the ideal gift that many gifts I received. One small child hired service, beyond institutional members worldwide could give to wrote, “My grandpa had a stroke, and care or professional duty, to thaw out me. I replied, “Find someone who is I held his hand.” From an 8-year-old the memories of the past and keep having a hard time or is ill or lonely, girl: “My sister and I served my mom them warmly living in the present. . . . and do something for him or her.”10 and family by organizing and cleaning We cannot bring them back the I was overwhelmed when this year the toy closet. It took us a few hours morning hours of youth. But we can for my birthday I received hundreds and we had fun. The best part was help them live in the warm glow of a of cards and letters from members of that we surprised my mom and made sunset made more beautiful by our the Church around the world telling her happy because she didn’t even thoughtfulness . . . and unfeigned me how they had fulfilled that birth- ask us to do it.” An 11-year-old girl love.”11 day wish. The acts of service ranged wrote: “There was a family in my ward My birthday cards and notes came from assembling humanitarian kits to that did not have a lot of money. They also from teenagers in Young Men doing yard work. have three little girls. The mom and and Young Women classes who made Dozens and dozens of Primaries dad had to go somewhere, so I blankets for hospitals, served in food challenged the children to provide offered to watch the three girls. The pantries, were baptized for the dead, service, and then those acts of service dad was just about to hand me a $5 and performed numerous other acts were recorded and sent to me. I must bill. I said, ‘I can’t take [it].’ My service of service. say that the methods for recording was that I watched the girls for free.” Relief Societies, where help can them were creative. Many came in the A Primary child in Mongolia wrote always be found, provided service form of pages put together into vari- that he had brought in water from the above and beyond that which they ous shapes and sizes of books. Some well so his mother would not have to would normally have given. Priest- contained cards or pictures drawn or do so. From a 4-year-old boy, no hood groups did the same. colored by the children. One very cre- doubt written by a Primary teacher: My brothers and sisters, my heart ative Primary sent a large jar contain- “My dad is gone for army training for has seldom been as touched and ing hundreds of what they called a few weeks. My special job is to give grateful as it was when Sister “warm fuzzies,” each one represent- my mom hugs and kisses.” Wrote a Monson and I literally spent hours ing an act of service performed dur- 9-year-old girl: “I picked strawberries reading of these gifts. My heart is full ing the year by one of the children in for my great-grandma. I felt good now as I speak of the experience and86
  4. 4. contemplate the lives which havebeen blessed as a result, for both thegiver and the receiver. The words from the 25th chapterof Matthew come to mind: “Come, ye blessed of my Father,inherit the kingdom prepared for youfrom the foundation of the world: “For I was an hungred, and ye gaveme meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave medrink: I was a stranger, and ye tookme in: “Naked, and ye clothed me: I wassick, and ye visited me: I was inprison, and ye came unto me. “Then shall the righteous answerhim, saying, Lord, when saw we theean hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty,and gave thee drink? “When saw we thee a stranger,and took thee in? or naked, andclothed thee? “Or when saw we thee sick, or inprison, and came unto thee? “And the King shall answer and sayunto them, Verily I say unto you,Inasmuch as ye have done it unto oneof the least of these my brethren, yehave done it unto me.”12 My brothers and sisters, may weask ourselves the question whichgreeted Dr. Jack McConnell and his That service to which all of us have offer it in His name, even Jesus Christ,brothers and sisters each evening at been called is the service of the Lord our Savior, amen. ■dinnertime: “What have I done for Jesus Christ. NOTESsomeone today?” May the words of a As He enlists us to His cause, He 1. Jack McConnell, “And What Did You Do forfamiliar hymn penetrate our very invites us to draw close to Him. He Someone Today?” Newsweek, June 18, 2001, 13.souls and find lodgment in our speaks to you and to me: 2. Jack McConnell, “And What Did You Do forhearts: “Come unto me, all ye that labour Someone Today?” 13. and are heavy laden, and I will give 3. Galatians 5:13. 4. Mosiah 2:17.Have I done any good in the world you rest. 5. Luke 9:24. today? “Take my yoke upon you, and 6. David O. McKay, in Conference Report,Have I helped anyone in need? learn of me; for I am meek and lowly Oct. 1963, 8. 7. Jeremiah 8:22.Have I cheered up the sad and in heart: and ye shall find rest unto 8. Mosiah 18:8. made someone feel glad? your souls. 9. Anonymous, quoted in Richard L. Evans, “The Quality of Kindness,” ImprovementIf not, I have failed indeed. “For my yoke is easy, and my bur- Era, May 1960, 340.Has anyone’s burden been lighter den is light.”14 10. See Gerry Avant, “Prophet’s Birthday,” today If we truly listen, we may hear that Church News, Aug. 23, 2008, 4. 11. Richard L. Evans, “Living into Loneliness,”Because I was willing to share? voice from far away say to us, as it Improvement Era, July 1948, 445.Have the sick and the weary been spoke to another, “Well done, thou 12. Matthew 25:34–40. helped on their way? good and faithful servant.”15 That 13. “Have I Done Any Good?” Hymns, no. 223.When they needed my help was I each may qualify for this blessing 14. Matthew 11:28–30. there?13 from our Lord is my prayer, and I 15. Matthew 25:21. NOVEMBER 2009 87