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Teaching Lessons You Don’t Even Know

July 12, 2022

I didn’t realize I was teaching. And if I was, I thought I it was a completely different lesson.

Several years ago, before Covid hit, my son went on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most young men go when they are 18 or 19 years old. And they typically serve for two years. My son has some health issues. And in a classic case of “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” he was only able to server for about a week.

This was very discouraging for him. He’d worked very hard to prepare to serve a mission. He prepared spiritually. He saved his money. He’d literally been looking forward to it his entire life.

And after a week on a bike, his body just wouldn’t keep up.

I felt terrible for him.

I had an opportunity to speak in front of our congregation the Sunday he came back. And I told a story.

My brother was called on a mission to serve two years. While he was a missionary the period for missions was cut from 24 months to 18 months. My brother was called to serve 24 months but he served eighteen months. Two years later I was called on a mission for a period of 18 months. While I was a missionary the period for missions was changed back to from 18 months to 24 months. I was called to serve 18 months but ended up serving 24 months.

The Lord changed the length of my mission call, just like he changed the length of my brother’s mission call. And just like he changed the length of my son’s mission call.

I wanted my son to know that I was proud of the work he’d done even if it was only for a short time. I was speaking for him and for me.

But, others were listening.

There was a young man in the congregation that day who would later be called on a mission to Peru for a period of 24 months. And then Covid hit. This young man was forced to return home as many of the missionaries for the church were. He was devastated. And frustrated.

This young man approached me during the time he was at home because of the Covid restrictions. He explained that he remembered those words I’d shared in church. And as he was trying to come to terms with a mission-interrupted, my words gave him comfort.

I hadn’t even considered how my example and my words might have affected others.

Sometimes the best lessons are taught when we don’t even know we are teaching.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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