The question is simple. Independence is good, right? We are taught as children that we should be self-sufficient and autonomous. Standing on your own two feet isn’t as easy as it sounds, however—like many things.


We moved to the country when I was a young boy, so I claim to have grown up on a farm.


In addition to learning lessons of milking, gardening, and raising animals, my father attempted to instruct his family in the art of building and construction. None of us became carpenters or contractors, but we all learned hard work and other life lessons.


beams support structure

Buildings (or bridges) cannot stand without support — and neither can we.

One of the principles that became very apparent was the importance of support. Buildings can’t stand without the proper foundations, and a roof without beams and joists is temporary at best. The principle of that lesson also applies to other instances in life, and it’s especially true with volunteer and non-profit organizations. We too depend on altruistic contributions of our supporters.


Alone we would fail, but together we can conquer significant challenges. I have heard a story and related it so many times that I cannot remember its author. Nevertheless, the message teaches a true principle today as always, so I will share this anecdote with you:


While walking down the beach, a man came upon a boy vigorously picking up starfish that had been washed up on the sand and throwing them back into the ocean — but he had his work cut out for him, because these little creatures littered the beach. Nonetheless, the boy ran from one to the next returning each to its haven in the water. The man surveyed the situation, realizing the immensity of this undertaking. Try as he might, this boy’s efforts were hopeless when compared to the overwhelming task at hand.


So the man approached him and said, “Son, your ambitions are commendable, and I see your efforts are sincere; but you must know you can’t save all these starfish. This beach alone extends miles more in both directions, and there are countless beaches on this coastline, let alone all across the world. This situation repeats every day when the tide goes out. You simply can’t make a difference.”


The boy stopped for a moment to consider the man’s words. He placed his hand on his chin briefly as he contemplated this claim. But then with a renewed look of determination, he stooped down to pick up a starfish at his feet and with all his might, threw it back into the ocean wake. Then, turning to his detractor, he smiled and said, “I made a difference to that one.”


And so it is with us. Though our task at hand often seems overwhelming, we must remember this lesson:


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No one can do everything, but we all can do something.


Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our best is good enough. We don’t have to complete this task of life on our own. In fact, we cannot do it alone. All men depend on Jesus Christ and His mercy. We have numerous resources at our disposal, yet without Him, our efforts and good intentions are vain.


Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6


Independence has a place, but when it comes to our relationship with God, perhaps better words might include humble, meek, submissive, teachable, or even poor in spirit and contrite of heart. These terms imply relying on God and listening to and following His counsel.


Hard as we try, we can’t do it alone.


Fortunately, we don’t have to.




About Walter Penning
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.

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