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Faith

Devotional: Being Christ's compassionate hands

Steve Smith, executive director of Student Development Services, delivered Tuesday’s devotional address. He spoke on the responsibility we have to lift others and act as the compassionate hands of Christ.

Smith testified of the "humbling duty we have as disciples of Christ [to]... be His hands." As we "learn the healer's art," he believes that the love of Christ will aid us in mending the broken hearts of others, and even ourselves.

Smith learned about Christ-like service early in his life from his loving older brother, Thales. One night while asleep, Smith rolled off his bunk bed and crashed to the floor.

“[Thales] heard the crash, rushed upstairs and found me winded and tearful on the floor,” Smith recounted. “I do not remember what he said, but I remember him lifting me and gently putting me back into bed.”

Steve Smith, BYU Student Development Services executive director, delivers a devotional address to campus.

This tender memory became a foundation of Smith’s testimony of Christ as our older Brother and of the duty we have to help others.

“I wish everyone had an older brother like mine, someone on whom you can always depend when you fall,” he stated.

However, from his work as a psychologist, Smith realizes that many lack the “older brother” or support system they need. Having counseled many lonely, heartbroken and lost individuals, he heartily believes that “our duty as disciples of Christ … [is] to engage with those who are suffering.”

Nevertheless, Smith recognized that it can be challenging to serve others. Especially when we “perceive ourselves as being inadequate,” he said.

However, Smith firmly stated that relieving the pain of others can transform us into more grateful, compassionate and empathetic servants of the Lord.

To empower us in this sometimes intimidating duty, Smith offered four points of advice:

Let go of human rating
“One of the most common and debilitating irrational beliefs,” Smith stated, “is [our] tendency to engage in human rating.”

Human rating is a byproduct of our instinctive tendency to judge and compare. While this habit helps us make decisions, it can be problematic when applied to people because we falsely judge them on a scale of adequate or inadequate.

Smith recognizes this tendency in advertising, social media and even certain people in the Book of Mormon.

“The truth is that we are weak, just like every other human,” Smith explained. “However, the greater truth is that our efforts to love and lift, though given by a fallible human, will be enhanced through Heavenly Father’s loving guidance and influence.”

Show patience and respect
Smith told a story of two women — one recently widowed — and a ministering assignment. Their first visit went poorly. But through showing gentle patience and respect, the sister assigned to minister was able to support the grieving widow and console her during the next visit.

Smith used this story to assert that patience and respect are crucial when serving someone with a rough exterior, reminding us that “the expressed emotion is not necessarily the primary emotion an individual is experiencing.”

Develop compassion and empathy
Drawing from the Apostle Peter’s counsel in the New Testament and therapist Dr. Paul Gilbert, Smith agreed that we should develop compassionate thinking for ourselves and others. Though “compassion and empathy require real work,” Smith believes that “a willingness to enter and understand suffering can be one of the most healing things we can do.”

Remember that we are all in this together
Smith has learned a lot about group empathy and companionship through his friend Dr. Gary Weaver, a survival trip guide. By accompanying Weaver on many of his trips, Smith watched many metaphorically wounded individuals experience healing and feel the love of their Savior.

“I am humbled when they bear one another’s burdens and comfort one another, sending the message that they are in life together, that they are not alone,” Smith recounted.

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“A fundamental and profoundly personal doctrine of the Atonement is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — our Elder Brother — is there to pick us up, dry our tears and heal the wounds we have received while living in a fallen world.”
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While our service may be flawed, Christ will magnify our efforts and help us—and those we serve—experience peace and love.

Next Address
Melissa F. Western, associate professor of accounting, will deliver the next devotional address on July 13 at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.

Western's remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM and SiriusXM 143.

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