|Elder Kenneth Johnson |
taught me the difference
The night before his visit, my companion and I were at a church building in Colorado Springs setting up chairs for the meeting. We had a few minutes after finishing before heading back to our apartment. I sat down on the piano bench in the room and started playing through one of my favorite hymns, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." I shortly realized that it was in the same key and meter as a song I had written called "Snow Angels." Within minutes, I was able to connect the two songs in a new arrangement. I felt it was the best I could do, and we returned home.
The next day, we met as a group of around 40-50 missionaries. Elder Johnson delivered a powerful talk. As he concluded, I prayed silently that the Lord would allow me to invite the Spirit even more strongly. I felt at peace as I sat at the bench and began to play. Despite only arranging it the previous night, the song came freely and powerfully. The notes felt surprisingly familiar. After I finished and stood up to walk back to my seat, Elder Johnson walked up to me and gave me a hug. In front of the whole room, he looked at me and shared a poignant compliment:
“There’s a difference between performing and praising. You praised. When you perform, the center is you. When you praise, the center is God. Thank you.”
His words captured the feeling in my heart at that time — I wanted to praise the Lord and give the glory to Him, not myself. Those words have stuck with me, and I think about them every time I am asked to share a song in a sacred setting such as a church service or fireside. May we remember the difference between performing and praising not only in music, but in everything we do. And may we focus as much as we are able this weekend on the similarly inspired messages of modern-day apostles and prophets at General Conference.