Sitting on the Sidelines for My Priests
August 1978

“Sitting on the Sidelines for My Priests,” Ensign, Aug. 1978, 66–67

Sitting on the Sidelines for My Priests

“If you want to love God, you must learn to love his children and to love serving his children. No person loves God unless he loves his service and unless he loves our Heavenly Father’s children.” (Harold B. Lee, Provo Temple Dedication Services, 1972.)

These words mean much to me now as I think back on my assignment as priests’ quorum adviser in a new ward. After being called, I tried to remember a strong priesthood leader to emulate. The most obvious example, next to my father, was a former bishop at Brigham Young University, Bishop Gordon M. Low.

That bishop had influenced me because he cared about me, and I knew it. Because I knew he had my best interests at heart, I was willing to listen to him. I decided that to have any influence on the priests in my stewardship, I would need to let each one know that I sincerely cared about him. That was the challenge.

I hardly knew any of them, so it was difficult enough just remembering their names. I realized that to care about them I would first need to know them. I started following the example of my former bishop; my wife and I invited the priests over for dinner, usually one at a time. The priests thought we were crazy.

I remembered being impressed by the knowledge my former bishop had of each person in his ward. He had taken the time to learn the full name and the hometown of each ward member. So I tried to collect as much information about each priest as I could. Since there were only thirteen, I was able to gather quite a lot. They were all impressed with how much I knew and curious about my sources.

I still faced the challenge of helping these young men feel that I cared. Some of them doubted my motives. Others didn’t seem to want interest from anyone outside their immediate families. Nevertheless, I attended as many of their extra-curricular activities as I could—football games, basketball games, wrestling and swimming meets, school musical programs, and stake dances.

At first it was a sacrifice, and some of the young men were a challenge. But gradually I noticed a change. No, the priests didn’t change—I did. I began to look forward to their school activities, to priesthood lessons and to Mutual.

The principle I learned is that with sacrifice comes love, though not in the way I had thought. The person receiving the service does not necessarily love the person making the sacrifice. In fact, the one receiving the service may not even realize that a sacrifice is being made. However, the person giving the service gains love for those he serves. The more he serves, the more he loves and the more he loves to serve.

After a time, my sacrifices ceased to be sacrifices. I did many of the same things I had done before, but it was out of pleasure. I felt a genuine love for each of those young men! When they were called on missions, I felt as proud and excited as their own parents.

Then I realized how my former bishop was able to show me that he cared. A person cannot hide his feelings. The bishop sacrificed for others: as a result he had a great love for those he served, and they felt that love even if they did not recognize the sacrifice.

President Lee’s point is clear: If you want to truly love another person, you must sacrifice for and serve that person. That is why parents love their children. That is why missionaries love their missions and the people they have served.

The Savior can love all mankind because he has truly sacrificed for each of us. We do not necessarily love him because of that sacrifice. To be able to love him, we must be willing to sacrifice for him. This means service to others.

  • Roger L. Rice, a computer systems analyst, serves as chairman of the Missionary Preparation Committee in the Walnut Creek California Stake.

Illustrated by Glen Edwards