It is “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass”, and I owe my conversion to this couple who supplied a small lesson, which led to a great, eternal blessing.
Ten years ago, a heaven-inspired couple chose to show a certain video during a class they were teaching at a church youth conference.
The video was of contestant Paul Potts singing Nessun Dorma on Britain’s Got Talent. In the classroom was 14-year-old me.
The clip begins with the host introducing Potts as an unconfident cell-phone salesman. He is nothing special to look at, and he certainly doesn’t seem one able to sing the protagonist’s solo from the opera Turandot.
But after the judges give him the go-ahead and the music begins, Potts opens his mouth, and out comes the most beautiful tenor voice! With passion, Potts sings the fervent aria until he climaxes on the sustained high B with the words, “Vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!” And then the audience swells into an overwhelming applause, the strings and brass of the orchestra play the final triumphant notes, the judges wipe away tears, and people stand and cheer while the studio cameras sweep around the now-majestic Potts, his arms outstretched to the side and head tilted toward heaven.
As I sat in that classroom at 14 years old and watched that clip, my heart filled with the Spirit of the Lord. For the first time in my life, I recognized what that Holy Ghost was. And I decided that I would learn how to regain that feeling so that I could keep it with me for the rest of my life.
This week, ten years later, I watched the same video again. I felt the same feeling that I had felt before.
However, now having ten more years of life experience since that day, I’ve come to recognize three other lessons in that clip that I hadn’t noticed before.
First, people can overcome the lack of self-confidence with the help of others. During his interview before his performance, Potts states, “I’ve always found it a little difficult to be completely confident in myself.” However, Potts developed his talent and then took the risk of sharing it with others. The audience did their part to encourage him, lift him, and praise him, their applause adding to the effect of his performance and thereby contributing to his eventual success. As I’ve written before, the power of a supportive family can transform someone struggling into someone majestic.
Second, good music has great spiritual power. It was Potts’s voice and the beautiful orchestration that allowed me to recognize the Spirit of God for the first time in my life. In Nessun Dorma, the music continues for several measures after the soloist’s last words, which can be translated as “I will win! I will win! I will win!”, and the rising notes of the final measure give the idea of conquer over an enemy, of triumph, of resolution, and of strength and joy.
Finally, cameras can be used as a tool to tell a story. I love the final spiraling shot around Potts, making him seem a small figure in the midst of a magnificent stage and an applauding audience. But this visual smallness is ironic, because in that moment of victory, Potts is larger than any enemy or any threat of death. The spiral reveals him from every angle, exposing him in pureness and humility, showing his dominance and power over all of his surroundings, and glorifying the fact of his triumph, which stands as a symbol of the triumph of the Savior.
In the past ten years, I’ve struggled with self-confidence but have found security in serving others and learning new skills (dance being one of them). I’ve also improved my musical skills by learning the organ (and learning improv jazz!), and I’ve now played for several apostles, in addition to playing every month in the temple. And finally, during my time at BYU, I’ve developed the skill of directing multi-camera shows, and I directed my first multicam on live television at the beginning of this year.
As I’ve considered all of these links between my life and the Paul Potts video, I have come to realize that the Lord hand-selected this specific clip to be my catalyst into conversion. He knew what struggles I would face, what talents I would improve, and what skills I would develop, so he inspired an unnamed couple—who I have searched in vain to identify—to show this specific video, just for my benefit.
Indeed, it is “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6), and I owe my conversion to this couple who supplied a small lesson at a youth conference, which led to a great, eternal blessing.
Nobody knows what a boy is worth,
We’ll have to wait and see.
But every man in a noble place,
A boy once used to be.
My praise goes to the Savior Jesus Christ, and I echo the words of the prophet Nephi, “I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell” (2 Nephi 33:6).
If you accept Him as your Savior, too, you will be able to sing in the final day, with an audience applauding, a full orchestra playing, and a camera spiraling around you,
“Vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!”