I recently watched Mr. Holland’s Opus again, a 1995 classic staged in the era of 60s starring Richard Dreyfuss. You may or may not like this flick. I was surprised how partial I was to it—I really enjoyed the movie, and the memories. I don’t recall appreciating it so much the first occasion, but I did this time. Corny? Perhaps, but it teaches a great lesson. So I arranged to get a copy to view with my family.
This also reminded me of another story on the silver screen about a young man who envisions himself directing the philharmonic orchestra. His fondest dream comes true in the end. I have always wanted to be a composer.
Auspicious occasions happen all around us every day: babies are born, children attend school, youth learn lessons, families come together and love is nurtured and endures cataclysmic obstacles.
The point is that life is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and exciting. These are not off limits or taboo. Men were created to have joy, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the pathway to happiness in this life and enduring joy in the next. Even in the face of hardship we can have peace. Could it be that it’s really simple after all? Bear another’s burdens, serve the Lord, and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was never meant to be complicated. It really isn’t hard.
What’s classic about this concept is that happiness is truly what we all want for ourselves, our families, and mankind. The world seeks pleasure and often looks for happiness in all the wrong places. We find joy when we strive to ensure the happiness of others.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to be fun. It is the pathway to the bliss we are all looking for and more. But too often we think of it as another burden—another item we have to check off our list so we can get to the more important things that are fun and will ultimately make us happy. But that’s just it…the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the key. It helps us amid hardship, buoys us up when we are weighed down, and is the answer to our immediate and long-term problems, whatever they may be.
I have a favorite quote from Thomas Edison I read often “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I think it would be accurate to extrapolate from that quote the message “Happiness is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like service.”
The Savior Jesus Christ taught the importance of service to our fellowmen. He taught the following:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40
After his crucifixion and resurrection, the Savior taught people in ancient America a discourse similar to the Sermon on the Mount, where he stressed the importance of serving our fellowmen and explained the way to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 3 Nephi 12
He also counseled the prophet Alma and instructed him to bring people to the waters of baptism to enable them to qualify for the blessings of eternal life by entering into and keeping this covenant.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Mosiah 18:8
Service is profound as we often discover our finest moments when we focus on the welfare of others. Admittedly, life has its fair share of hurdles as well, yet we can be optimistic despite that.
Joy happens on missions, in neighborhoods, with our families, and all around us when we apply the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to serve others and share its joy with the world.
Sharing the joy of the gospel is not just for me and you; it’s where all our fondest dreams can come true.
That is my opus and yours.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.