Choir Notes

Just Do What You Can
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

We can’t do everything for everyone, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing something for someone. Noted author and religious leader Neal A. Maxwell was a very compassionate but busy man. He had on his office wall a useful reminder of this reality of life by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds."1 That’s not so much an excuse to ignore the needs of others as it is a perceptive statement about pace and wisely doing what we can.2

We serve no one well when we try to run faster than we have strength or do more than is wise. We can’t do all things or be all things to all people. If we feel burdened by the demands of others, we just do what we can. If we feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and duties, we just do what we can. If we regret that we can’t do more for more people, we just do what we can.

The question comes down to “What can I do?” And that is best answered by each person individually, according to our situation and circumstances. Not only is it different for every person, but it also changes over time. During certain seasons of life, perhaps we can do more—giving of our means, our unhurried time, our resources. At others, perhaps our offering is more simple—a prayer, a phone call, a smile, a kind word. If we genuinely offer what we can, we will be comforted with the joy and peace that come from knowing our offering was authentic and sincere.

The same principle applies to our health and happiness, our well-being and goals, our obligations, expectations, and relationships. If we just sincerely do what we can, then little by little, our honest efforts, our wholehearted contribution—even if it doesn’t seem like much—can make all the difference.

1 Gift from the Sea (2011), 116.
2 See Deposition of a Disciple (1976), 5.

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