We are preparing for stake conference next week. We are getting a new Stake President. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be there to preside and to reorganize the stake presidency.
We are making musical preparations for stake conference. For the Saturday night adult session, we will have 8-10 men sing "O My Father" a cappella. On Sunday, a stake choir will be performing a couple of numbers as well. I will be participating with both groups.
As usual with most church choirs, anyone who wishes to participate is welcome. In fact we have practically begged for people to come participate -- especially men.
In our rehearsals, a rather delicate situation has emerged. We have a young man who just recently graduated from high school who is singing with both groups. Only trouble is -- he's tone deaf.
He has been to several of the practices, singing his heart out. I had hoped that as we got closer to the performances, that things would improve, but they have not. With the choir pieces, there is a sufficient number of voices, along with the piano accompaniment that his voice isn't too prominent. In the a cappella number however, it becomes more readily apparent.
So what do you do in a situation like this? We are all wanting to have everything as nice and close to perfect as possible for Elder Perry's visit. What is the right thing to do? The stake music chairman is singing with the a cappella group, and is doubtless aware of the situation.
What would the Savior want in this situation?
Well, here's what we did at this evening's rehearsal. Everyone there treated this young man as an equal member of the group. No one shunted him off to the side, or in any way made him feel any less a part of the group. We all just sang and smiled - grateful to participate together. I was so proud of the brethren there. It would have been so easy to let our pride get in the way and say or do something that would be hurtful to this young man. The eternal welfare of this young man's soul is far more important than a few missed notes in a song that will be over with in 5 minutes. We'll have plenty of chances to sing together, but this may be a pivotal time in this young man's life. I'm sure Elder Perry will understand too.
Things have not always been easy for this young man. His parents divorced when he was young. He grew up with out much positive influence from his father. His mother did a great job of holding her family together. But this young man seems to have been the odd-man out socially, in a lot of things. Recently, his mother married a wonderful man, who has been a positive influence. Like most young men, he has had his share of ups and downs growing up, but one senses that he may be more emotionally fragile than most.
Dis-inviting him to participate in these musical numbers would be exactly the wrong thing to do. The sense of rejection would be disastrous to this young man. Music is a great conduit for the Spirit of the Lord. Music is not only intended to bless those who hear it, but to bless those who perform it as well. Helping him to feel the Spirit, and to feel wanted, accepted and needed is especially important for him right now as he is preparing for missionary service. Being part of something worthy and good, and to be part of a brotherhood with good men, will help to strengthen, enrich, and bolster his life. I hope each of us takes the opportunity to put our arm around his shoulder, and make sure that he knows we care about him and appreciate his willingness to serve.
I think that is what the Savior would want us to do.