A man I’ve never met feels more support today at his wife’s funeral because I came to work today. As I realized this morning that that would be the case today it got me thinking about what I call secondary service – that is, service which makes possible a more direct or primary act of service. In my case today my service of staying at work and taking over the on-call duties allowed all my coworkers to support the man who retired from this team before I was hired on. If I were unwilling or unable to do that then one of the team members would have been required to skip the funeral in order to perform on-call duties during that time.
I don’t mention this to pat myself on the back, but rather to recognize how ordinary actions that we don’t even think of as significant can be very significant to others. Sometimes the person being served doesn’t even know of the service being rendered. It reminds me of something that Spencer W. Kimball taught years ago that I have heard repeated in recent General Conference addresses:
God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other. (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Abundant Life,” Ensign, July 1978, 4)
I’ve seen and noted this type of service before in my own life and in the lives of others. As noted above, sometimes the recipient of the service is unaware of the service being rendered. Sometimes the giver of the service is unaware of the effect of their service such as when a neighbor volunteers to babysit on virtually no notice without knowing that her babysitting was enabling a worn out mother to visit with a counselor to save her sanity or when someone came to babysit for a friend of ours and that friend then took the opportunity to come visit my wife and help her catch up on some dishes and laundry as my wife was still operating at less than full strength after a serious infection.
I have even seen an example where the person giving the secondary service was unaware of the service they were rendering and the beneficiary of the primary service was equally unaware of the service that made the direct and much-needed service possible. Truly, God is able to meet our needs through other people as He watches over us. We can rest assured that if we heed the counsel to count our blessings our count will be incomplete at best.