In the capacity to which I am currently called in the church, I was recently visiting with our good bishop. In the course of our conversation, we talked briefly about sundry individuals. Our discussion turned to a mature, middle-aged couple in the ward.  Bishop shared with me what this couple had once told him.

After a day of work, this family had made the distant drive to the appointed campsite to join the ward family campout. It was dark by the time they arrived. They saw a sign that indicated no dogs were allowed. This posed a problem for them, as they had brought along their little puppy. They consulted with the bishop who affirmed the camp rules. This couple turned their vehicle around and drove home.

Before they left, Bishop said to them, “I’m afraid that we’ve offended you.”

This good brother, speaking on behalf of himself and his family, said, “Bishop, if you offend us, we will still come back…People can try to offend us all day long, but we will still come back.” 1

After relaying this to me, bishop looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I wish every member of our ward would say that.” 2

I promptly agreed.

This couple happens to serve in the church auxiliary where I also presently serve. They are a cool couple! They cheerfully serve where they are called. They accept changes without murmuring. They show up when they are counted on, and they offer their support to causes that benefit from such support.

And one of their mantra’s is: “If you offend us, we will still come back.” What a powerful position they have taken! If their feelings get hurt, they get over it. If it isn’t exactly what they had hoped for, they adapt and overcome. If it is less than ideal, they jump in anyway. If they don’t know about a restrictive rule, oh well, they obey it and get on with living.

They choose not to let unintended or intended offenses keep them away from their sacramental covenants, from their fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters, from their chance to make meaningful contributions in the kingdom of God, and from upward spiritual progress. More impressively, they choose not to be offended.

While serving as stake president, Elder Bednar would regularly accompany ward bishops to homes of members who were presently away from the church. He made hundreds of visits and as he did, he noticed an evolving theme: offense. People had been offended by someone or something and as a result, had made the decision to stop attending church.

After listening to people share their reasons for not attending, Elder Bednar would say something akin to this:

Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.” 3

Then this powerful moment of epiphany would emerge as many people would confess:

I have never thought about it that way. 4

What a great way to think about offense! Should we choose offense and consequently distance ourselves from our covenants of belonging and doing, look what we stand to lose! Meaningful Sunday reconciliation with the supreme Grace Giver! Loss of a God literally by our sides to comfort, inspire, and teach! The infusion of priesthood power! The richness of the temple experience! The binding to God through heaven sent ordinances! Needed chances for growth! Lots of opportunities for sanctifying service! And how truly tragic to throw up obstinate barriers that block growth and progress for unborn generations!

Elder Bednar made this wise observation:

In many instances, choosing to be offended is a symptom of a much deeper and more serious spiritual malady. 5

In times when I’ve entertained the idea of taking offense or more tragically, in times when I’ve chosen to be offended, if I’ve looked deep into my soul in the self-searching kind of uncomfortable way, always I have found a spiritual disease in need of my attention, one that can only be eradicated by sincere repentance, and one in desperate need of His redeeming grace and pardon.

The couple I referenced previously attends church for themselves, not for the bishop, and not for anyone else. That’s part of why they can’t be offended. They don’t drape offense binoculars around their necks as they don Sunday attire and head out the door for Sunday meetings. And they certainly don’t pick up any such binoculars for close up offense examination should an offense threaten them.


They find themselves walking with purpose and meaning through those chapel doors every Sunday for an anticipated experience for which their souls yearn. They are interested in renewing their sacred covenants, being edified and instructed, shouldering their crosses, and strengthening their Christian witness. Even if they are offended, in their words, “all day long,” you will find them on the pews come every Sunday.

I deeply admire such saints. They inspire me. And I can tell you one thing: our bishops would love to hear those sweet words: “If you offend us, we will still come back.”


  1. Personal correspondence with John and Shannon Ferrin, used with permission
  2. Personal correspondence with Jason Romriell, used with permission
  3. Bednar, D., “And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” Ensign, October 2006, 89.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.