Music and the Spoken Word: ‘The Art of Saying Yes’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Oct. 20, 2019.

The number of good causes in the world, the diversity of needs to meet, far exceed our abilities to give, even for the most generous among us. And there’s wisdom in the warning against taking on too many obligations. We can’t say yes to everyone in need.

On the other hand, we should also be careful not to make a habit of saying no. Most of the good in this world is done by people who make sacrifices. If we guard too carefully  our time and energy, we miss the sweet experiences that are found only in service to others. 

One woman was waiting in the hospital for her young daughter to have major surgery, and her anxiety was almost overwhelming. Only when she began reaching out to other families to comfort them did she find comfort of her own.

Studies have shown that helpfulness and altruism actually reduce stress and even help us live longer. By giving a bit of our time, we actually come out ahead: we connect with others, we see our own problems in greater perspective, and we feel better about ourselves.

And yet, if you ask generous people why they serve so selflessly, they typically don’t explain that they want to live longer or improve their quality of life. They don’t view service as if it were a financial investment, only giving if the long-term dividends outweigh the costs. Rather, they give because it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes we hesitate because we doubt how much good we can really accomplish. But as Neal A. Maxwell said, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability!”

We can begin with something as small as offering our seat to an elderly person, letting someone go ahead of us in line, or thanking someone for the work they do. Yes, there is a cost in time and energy, but isn’t this why we were given time and energy in the first place—not to hoard it but to share it? As one generous person once said, “It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), the Tabernacle Choir’s website and YouTube channel and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at