My favorite calling in all the church is Primary Chorister. After years of vying for this calling, I finally got the honor of being the “gospel doctrine teacher for the children.” But of all the doctrine I taught the primary children during the years I served, I doubt I ever taught a lesson as profound as the one a child taught me.

One of the little boys in my primary loves to sing. He closes his eyes and lifts his chin and sings from deep within his soul. When you can barely hear the rest of the children in the primary, you can always hear my little Kaden.

One day I was teaching a song to the children and Kaden, as was his wont, was singing with all his heart. His soprano voice belted out the words and held all the notes right on key. On this day, an adult happened to be in Primary that was not aware of Kaden’s proclivity for volume. Suddenly, the adult yelled across the room, “That’s not funny. You’re trying to get attention and you can’t hear anybody else sing. I know you think it’s funny but it’s not.” My little musician was shocked.

I continued singing with the rest of the children while the adult walked around the chairs and squatted down in front of this little boy’s face to justify the chastisement. “Your voice is just too loud,” the adult explained. “You need to sing softer.” Tears instantly flooded the child’s eyes and streamed down his face. Red blotches covered his cheeks. He wiped his nose on the sleeve of his white button-up shirt.

Cold ice flooded my chest and I felt ill as I watched what was happening. I didn’t dare correct an adult in front of all those children, after all, I was just the chorister, and the adult had more authority than I did. Neither did I want to add to the distraction by adding my voice.

Not knowing what else to do, I began teaching the children another song. My eyes darted around the room to assess the mood of the other children, but repeatedly returned to Kaden. If I had been corrected that brazenly, in public no less, I am certain I would never sing again. I might not even return to church again. I fully expected Kaden to fold his arms across his chest, bury his chin in his buttons and pout.

Barely daring to peek, I watched Kaden intently as the pianist played the introduction to our next song. To my utter amazement Kaden took a deep breath, and soon his sweet soprano softly joined in with the rest of the children. He sang beautifully, voicing each word, and hitting each note, in a mellow pianissimo.

Warmth filled my chest and melted the ice block that had been frozen there. In the middle of the song I leaned over, wrapped my arm around the little guy’s neck and kissed him on the top of the head. “You sing beautifully,” I whispered in his ear. “I love to hear your voice.” My little rock star, perhaps a future virtuoso, still comes to Primary and continues to sing with all his heart–a little softer now, but loud enough to hear his beautiful spirit.

To this day I don’t know if Kaden resisted the urge to bury his face into his chest simply because he loved singing and refused to let anybody keep him from enjoying what he loved, or because he was truly humble and able to accept chastisement. In either case, I think he taught a profound lesson.

When we get offended by someone in church, how wonderful it would be if we loved the gospel so much that we would refuse to let anybody keep us from enjoying what we love. Rather than retreating, and refusing to participate, if we could be like this little child, we would dry our tears, take a deep breath and continue to participate.

JeaNette Goates Smith is the author of the newly released, Unsteady Dating: Resisting the Rush to Romance. Contact the author at