Do you want a donut? A lesson on the atonement.

by Rusty Lindquist on January 25, 2011 · 10 comments

The following story came to me in email today.  If you happen to know who originally wrote it, please let me know so I can give them credit.  Until then, thanks… somebody.

Do you want a donut?

There was a boy by the name of Steve who was attending Seminary in Utah. In this Seminary classes are held during school hours. Brother Christianson taught Seminary at this particular school. He had an open-door policy and would take in any student that had been thrown out of another class as long as they would abide by his rules. Steve had been kicked out of his sixth period and no other teacher wanted him, so he went into Brother Christianson’s Seminary class.
 Steve was told that he could not be late, so he arrived just seconds before the bell rang and he would sit in the very back of the room. He would also be the first to leave after the class was over.
 One day, Brother Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. After class, Bro.
 Christianson pulled Steve aside and said, ‘You think you’re pretty tough, don’t you?’
 Steve’s answer was, ‘Yeah, I do.’
 Then Brother Christianson asked, ‘How many push-ups can you do?’
 Steve said, ‘I do about 200 every night.’
 ‘200? That’s pretty good, Steve,’ Brother Christianson said. ‘Do you think you could do 300?’
 Steve replied, ‘I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.’
 ‘Do you think you could?’ Again asked Brother Christianson.
 ‘Well, I can try,’ said Steve.
 ‘Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I need you to do 300 in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,’ Brother Christianson said. Steve said, ‘Well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.’
 Brother Christianson said, ‘Good! I need you to do this on Friday.’
 Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the ro om. When class started, Brother Christianson pulled out a big box of donuts. Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited-it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend.
 Bro. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, ‘Cynthia, do you want a donut?’
 Cynthia said, ‘Yes.’
 Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, ‘Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?’
 Steve said, ‘Sure,’ and jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Bro. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.
 Bro. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, ‘Joe do you want a donut?’
 Joe said, ‘Yes.’ Bro. Christianson asked, ‘Steve would you do ten push- ups so Joe can have a donut?’ Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.
 And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut. And down the second aisle, till Bro. Christianson came to Scott.
 Scott was captain of the football team and center of the basketball team. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. Then Bro. Christianson asked, ‘Scott do you want a donut?’
 Scott’s reply was, ‘Well, can I do my own pushups?’
 Bro. Christianson said, ‘No, Steve has to do them.’
 Then Scott said, ‘Well, I don’t want one then.’
 Bro. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, ‘Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?’
 Steve started to do ten pushups. Scott said, ‘HEY! I said I didn’t want one!’
 < BR> Bro. Christianson said, ‘Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.’ And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.
 Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Bro. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.
 Bro. Christianson asked Jenny, ‘Jenny, do you want a donut?’
 Jenny said, ‘No.’
 Then Bro. Christianson asked Steve, ‘Steve, would you do ten pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?’ Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.
 By now, the students were beginning to say ‘No’ and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was also having to really put forth a lot of eff ort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
 Bro. Christianson asked Robert to watch Steve to make sure he did ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. So Robert began to watch Steve closely. Bro. Christianson started down the fourth row.
 During his class, however, some students had wandered in and sat along the heaters along the sides of the room. When Bro. Christianson realized this; he did a quick count and saw 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
 Bro. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
 Steve asked Bro. Christianson, ‘Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?’
 Bro. Christianson thought for a moment, ‘Well, they’re your pushups. You can do them any way that you want.’ And Bro. Christianson went on.
 A few moments later, Jason came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled, ‘NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!’
 Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, ‘No, let him come.’
 Bro. Christianson said, ‘You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him.’
 Steve said, ‘Yes, let him come in.’
 Bro. Christianson said, ‘Okay, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?’
 ‘Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?’ Steve did ten pushups very slowly an d with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
 Bro. Christianson finished the fourth row, then started on those seated on the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was not a dry eye in the room.
 The very last two girls in the room were cheerleaders and very popular. Bro. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, ‘Linda, do you want a doughnut?
 Linda said, very sadly, ‘No, thank you.’
 Bro. Christianson asked Steve, ‘Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?’
 Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda. Then Bro. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. ‘Susan, do you want a donut?’
 Susan, with tears flowing down her face, asked , ‘Bro. Christianson , can I help him?’
 Bro. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, ‘No, he has to do it alone, Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?’
 As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
 Brother Christianson turned to the room and said. ‘And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, plead to the Father, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he collapsed on the cross and died. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.’ .
 When everyone in the classroom heard what the teacher meant by it and realized everything. Steve smiled on the ground where he laid in his own sweat and began to cry.

(Again, thanks for whoever wrote this)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yvonne May 3, 2008 at 6:33 PM

Wow, what a great story/message. TFS!


2 Sara June 29, 2008 at 1:02 AM

Thanks so much for reprinting this. I got it as an email and wanted to use it in a class but had lost the last page. Thank You!! Thank You!! Thank You!!


3 Diane L R Smith November 16, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Dear Rusty,
I’ve been looking for this story and do not remember the author, but I have personally heard this story given by the author, a seminary teacher, at a “Know Your Religion” talk in Kimberly, Idaho Stake.. I do not remember when. I have lived here for the past 15 years. . I believe the author was from either Utah or Idaho?
Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
Thank you for posting it. Maybe this will help with your search of the author. Diane


4 Rebecca March 3, 2011 at 9:43 AM

In case anyone needs to know…..This is a true story, however, some of the facts have been enhanced (it was candy bars not donuts, it happened at Timpanogos Seminary, He hadn’t been kicked out of other classes and was actually a good student. However he did have a cavalier attitude usually.)


5 Rusty Lindquist March 3, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Ah, thanks for that. Always nice to have some accuracy!


6 Lindsey April 24, 2011 at 9:28 PM

A guy in my ward told this story today. He said the story was about his son. He did say it was candy bars but the teacher had a different name.


7 Sana February 28, 2013 at 5:33 PM

My seminary teacher acted this story out with her son ,Joseph, this morning for seminary. She had four boxes of Krispy Kreme Donuts. There are 25 of us and Joseph is only 15 yrs old. We all sat down and my teacher asked my friend next to me if she wanted a donut and said yes and the teacher told her son to do ten pushups. We all stared at her and Joseph in shocked. This story really is amazing and it helps you realize a lot of things that Jesus and Heavenly Father has done for us.
Thank you for this. =D


8 Melony March 11, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Thank you for sharing! My daughter told me about the story, so I googled it and found your blog. I’m planning on using it Sunday in my YW lesson on the Atonement. Thanks again!!


9 Shauna April 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Thank you for sharing this experience. It was a very effective activity to teach my Seminary class the doctrines of the Atonement, Justification, Sanctification, Salvation, Mercy, and Grace.


10 Michelle P. February 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

I was in a class at Timpanogos Seminary where we did this with donuts. It was a lesson I will never forget.


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