1 Samuel 3 teaches so many important principles. One idea that is particularly applicable to youth is that we need to be ready when called upon. Samuel heeded the voice of the Lord when called upon, but the two men who should have been ready to hear the voice of the Lord at Shiloh were Hophni and Phineas, the two sons of Eli. These two men had the example of their father and could have led Israel in righteousness, but were not able, due to their life choices, to hear the voice of the Lord (see 1 Samuel 2:12, 22-24).
There are many times when being ready and worthy to hear the voice of the Lord will change lives. Probably the first time when I really understood this was when I was on my mission. It was a cold dark night during the first winter of my mission. I was walking with my companion on the streets of Chicago when a dark van traveling at a high speed suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. The door slid open and a man rushed to my companion and I and asked that we give his wife a blessing. He was taking her to the hospital, and knew that we held the priesthood. This was totally unexpected. Who would have thought something like this could happen? I had the distinct impression come upon my mind that the power of the priesthood could be called upon anytime, under any circumstance – therefore it is so vital that we be ready at all times.
Readiness to act should not be gauged on its level of dramatic appeal or potential for accolades from an adoring audience.
One high school football player spent most of the season warming the bench, waiting for his moment of action to arrive. Unfortunately, he saw the season slipping by without the moment arriving. Late in one game, he finally gave up hope and decided to take off his tight, uncomfortable shoes. As he sat in his self-pity, the call came. To his chagrin, he heard the coach yell out the young man’s name, ordering him into action on the field. The game would not wait! There was no time for him to slip back into his shoes, and he ran onto the field stocking-footed. This foot soldier was unprepared for the moment he had so desperately desired (Hoyt W. Brewster, Defining Moments, p. 24-25. See also Jeffrey R. Holland, “Bind on Thy Sandals,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1969, 44).
The experience shared by Elder Holland can be compared to another experience related by Elder Rex Pinegar. The story relates a young man named Fred, who rarely was given the opportunity to play for his basketball team. He mostly sat the bench. On the night of the championship game his team was behind by one point and the other team had possession of the ball. With just a few seconds left in the game, Fred’s coach called on him to enter the game.
“It was at this critical moment that the coach turned to Fred and said, ‘Fred, get in there. I want you to do just one thing, get the ball!’ Fred’s heart sank. He knew he had trained; he had gone through wind sprints; he had been completely obedient to training rules and been to every practice. Yet there were only seconds left, and he had not yet played during the entire game.
He was, however, one who had stood by ready. So when the coach said, ‘Sprint, Fred. Get the ball,’ he was so used to being obedient that he just did it. He didn’t care about what had happened the rest of the game. It had been worth everything he had prepared for just those last three seconds.
When play resumed and the ball was inbounded, Fred was ready. He did exactly what he had been asked to do. He got the ball and quickly threw it to his teammate, who scored the winning basket (Rex D. Pinegar, Be a Winner, address at Salt Lake Institute of Religion, Jan. 22, 1976, 6 see also Hoyt Brewster, Defining Moments, p. 25-26).