Fall 2012

How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

07 Aug. 2012


How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Life is full of races – of all kinds – some short and seemingly easy – some very long and extremely difficult—some not even planned for—and ALL most likely have hurdles to try to trip you up.

Most of us spend too much time “looking beyond the mark.” We tend to focus on comparing ourselves to others—always matching their greatest strengths with our greatest weaknesses.

In the movie Forever Strong, Coach Gelwix tells his rugby players, “Don’t waste a lot of time comparing yourself to someone else. You will always find someone who is bigger, faster, stronger, or smarter than you. Focus on “you”—where you are and where you want to be tomorrow—in life.”

Our students come from many walks of life—many areas of the world with varied cultural and educational backgrounds. If you look you can always find those who are more prepared, smarter, quicker to learn, and more spiritual than you. However, you are NOT alone. Despite your differences, each of you is a child of God with unique gifts—some that you are not even aware of yet.

Jesse Casillas had no plans to attend school after he graduated from high school. His goal in life was to become a professional motocrosser. In his words, he lived, ate and slept motocross. He began his professional career in 2004, where he found himself as a top-10 contender in the Lites class.

In 2006, Casillas realized there were other things in the world aside from dirt bikes, and he spent two years in Australia on a mission for his church. When he got back, he wanted to go to college so he started school in San Diego, but he admits that it was a struggle. He heard about LDSBC and decided to apply.

Once we recognize which race we want to run—which life path we think we should follow—that’s a good start; however, Heavenly Father may have other plans. In addition, there is almost always a gap between our natural ability and what is necessary to reach that desired goal—that gap can be pretty wide!

If we are lucky, we recognize that early on and learn to rely on our Heavenly Father to provide the added strength that we need. There is a lot of stumbling until we learn to take his hand.

We all have different gifts—different strengths and weaknesses. As a result, some tasks come easily and can be completed without “breaking a sweat.” Many times we are completely overwhelmed and can see no way to accomplish what we are expected to do. At these times, we are so blessed to have so many great “coaches” available to guide, direct, and encourage us: the scriptures, our prophet, the twelve apostles, and many others. In Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s words:
“I speak to . . . those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart. Whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us, that he does not hear our prayers.

As the scriptures remind us, “he has engraven us upon the palms of his hands.”

The Savior of the world said to everyone in Matthew Chapter 11:28-29:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

We all face disappointment and discouragement in our lives. The Lord knows your abilities before he ever puts an obstacle in your path. He wants you to know that he is there for you and that he can help you through any difficult thing. He will provide the additional guidance and direction as well as the strength and ability that you need to reach the finish line, provided you give heed to his promptings and are diligent, obedient, and humble.

As we have all learned, however, we DO need to ask but then do our very best to move forward with diligence.
“Without labor neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.”
“Most footprints on the sands of time were probably left by work shoes.”
Hey, even a mosquito didn’t get a slap on the back until he started to work.

However, even when we try, at times the workload just seems too heavy, and you convince yourself that you “just can’t win.” At that point, giving up almost always crosses our minds.

Let me make a suggestion: Lift your eyes outward, be prayerful, and ask Heavenly Father to help you find someone else who might also feel discouraged and alone. Take courage and reach out to them. Reach out with nothing more than a smile if that is all that you have in your “well of water” at the moment. Satan knows that one of his best tools of discouragement is to “get us alone” “to speak words of discouragement in our ears,” and to convince us that “we just can’t do it.” There is a miracle in reaching out when we are lost within ourselves. Service brings the power we need to lift ourselves up—to refill our “well of water.” President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that those who reach out to lift and serve others will “come to know a happiness … never known before.

In D&C Section 84 we have great counsel:
“And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together.”

Boyd K. Packer said:
“Life will teach us some things we didn’t think we wanted to know. These hard lessons can be the most valuable ones.”

On the morning of April 17, 1999, 16-year-old Emily Jensen was driving to a state high school drama competition and was broadsided by a 15-passenger van. Rescue workers arrived on the scene and began to cut away the top of the mangled car. They found Emily, barely alive, with severe brain trauma and numerous other injuries. She was in a deep coma, hovering between life and death. She remained in the coma for three months.

When she awoke she began the slow process of recovery. It took her months just to learn to hold her head up. She had to learn to sit and crawl and stand and walk. After six months in the hospital, Emily returned home and started school again during her junior year. Despite many obstacles, she graduated with her class on 31 May 2001. Following her senior year in high school, Emily was awarded the “National Yoshiyama Service Award” in Washington, D.C., the only handicapped person to receive the award, which is given annually to about 10 high school graduating seniors, in recognition of outstanding service to their communities.

Since then Emily continues to accomplish amazing feats! Emily graduated from LDS Business College; in fact, she received a standing ovation as she slowly crossed the stage alone to receive her diploma. Emily’s mother told Emily on that day, “On those days when life is extra hard, Emily, I want you to hold on to this moment and remember it."
Her time at the business college meant everything to her. The fact that she was there is remarkable. She was determined to get the skills to put her in a position in life to help kids who had been through what she had been through.

Emily's barely discernible words come slowly, formed one syllable at a time as she struggles to communicate. Emily continues to reach the masses through her inspired talks and other simple acts of service. She has inspired all those who know her.

Emily says, “I’m not going through this life to endure, I’m going through this life to help others endure.”

Emily’s mother shared how, during the long months Emily was in the hospital, she would pray for Emily’s full recovery.
“I knew that our family had every bit as much faith as the people in the New Testament that Christ healed…. I knew that God could heal Emily if He chose to, and restore her just as she was before the accident. But He did not.

And in those horrible, painful moments of prayer, the thought occurred to me that perhaps sometimes in life, it takes more faith to accept things as they are than it does to change them. Trusting that our Father in Heaven knows best . . . that He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between, that He sees things we do not, that He understands His mission for Emily . . . in ways that I do not.
And as hard as it is for me to [imagine], I realize that He loves Emily more than I do. I know that Heavenly Father would never deny Emily anything that would help her to fulfil the mission she was sent to earth to fulfil."

Sister Jensen related that less than two years after Emily’s accident, she herself was involved in an accident that killed her mother and left her badly injured. She worked hard to [get well enough to] return to the elementary school where she taught.

She said, that when she returned to school, Emily had taken a spiral notebook, and with her trembling hand, which still occurs because of the ataxia connected to her brain injury, formed letters that go every which way to write me a message . . . If you were to go to my classroom today, behind my desk in a picture frame, you would see that old crumpled piece of spiral notebook paper with scribbled handwriting on it, and you would read her words: ‘Mom, you can be greater than anything that happens to you. Have a great day. Love, Em.’ Emily has taught us to [not] let what’s happened to us in our past determine who we will be in the future. (Paraphrased)

Every one of us are handicapped in one way or another…. But we have an enormous responsibility as our Father’s children on His errand, to serve one another, to be sensitive to one another’s handicaps, to reach out to one another in love and compassion and caring. The greatest single thing we can do to help another person reach their potential is to love them unconditionally . . . And we reach out and we encircle them in the arms of our Savior’s love.

President Monson teaches us how to face challenges with courage:
“There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!

“Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.

“Have the determination to make the effort . . . and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Edgar A. Guest quote - “It Couldn't Be Done"
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.”

President Spencer W. Kimball reminds us that:
“The Savior could have taken highly trained minds from the temple porches for the builders of his kingdom. But he went to the seashore to get humble fishermen. He wanted followers who would not depend upon their own intellects alone to ferret out truths.”

In 1992, Elder Henry B. Eyring when speaking at LDSBC said:
“The Lord taught his people how they could learn with greater power, if they knew how learning came . . . If we wish to learn by receiving light, we must live so that the Atonement works in our lives to make us clean and able to receive light . . . Students and teachers, learners together, will work and live so that light may flow into their lives . . . (and) by their example, give others hope.”

He continues:
“Of all the acts of charity, none is greater than to give others hope that they too can learn, whatever their circumstances, if they will but live so that the light can flood into their lives.”
Some scriptures speak to our souls. For me, D&C Section 6 speaks to me personally and helps me understand the power that we have to be able to get through difficult times with his help.

DvC 6: 14-16, 20-21, 36
14 - Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
15 - Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
16 - Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
20 - . . . therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
21 - Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. . . . I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
36 - Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

I pray that we will go forward toward the finish line with the realization that we never need to be alone—that we have a Heavenly Father who is on our side, and we can win:

All of life is like a race
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win,
Is rise each time you fall.

Seek Diligently to Be Endowed with Power

11 Sep. 2012


Seek Diligently to Be Endowed with Power

How are you? You look good for a Tuesday. You look good for Day Two of the semester.  This is Day One for how many of you? Well, look to your left and your right—if the student next to you looks tired they’re on Day Two. You can tell the Day Ones because they still look a little bewildered. The Day Twos have it all down now, including how not to use the elevators—this is the first time in the history of the College there was actually a traffic jam in the stairwells coming down this morning. You should know there are two sets of stairwells, one on the east and one on the west. Some of us went to the east stairwell and glided all the way down.


No matter which stairwell you used, you’ve made the right decision to be here in the Assembly Hall for the start of  Winter Semester.  I worried about your reaction to cold weather and your decision to come to devotional. We are blessed with a wonderful campus with all of our classes in one building. So the thought of actually having to wear a coat and walk two blocks up the street -- I worried whether you would do it. The exciting thing for me would be to stay in my office and watch about 900 people walking across two intersections in downtown Salt Lake City. I have a vision of a Trax car right out front for those not wanting to walk, packed full of students looking the way you do, riding up the street singing “I Am a Child of God.” And then watching all those who are not one of us on the Trax train, going, “Whoa.”


At first they may seek to get off. But then they will look at you, and they will see something in you that is attractive beyond your physical appearance. They will see in you something they wish they had and   cannot explain. They will feel something, maybe for some, it will be the first time they have felt it. Maybe for others, your presence, your action and your demeanor will spark back into their lives something they had felt on a previous occasion in a season of their life, they have now turned from or rejected.  So you will bless them in a very subtle but very profound way. Thanks be to God if you never know you blessed them. That’s the best kind of influence we can have.


Now, to Adam [Fisher, student body president], don’t let him kid you. He knows exactly why he is here. But it’s cute to say you don’t know. And so Adam is cute. But he knows exactly why, and the why is very personal. But it is imbedded in the basic “why” of this institution, and I want to explain it to you. I have a talk that I have written, and we’ll post it somewhere, because it’s probably not too bad of a one, but I don’t think it’s the one I’m supposed to give. . So I ask you to pray for me as I pray for you, that the Spirit will be in attendance and will touch our hearts, quicken my voice and quicken your understanding, as D&C 50 says, that all may be edified of all. (See verse 22)


Now, the “why” of this institution. Then-Elder Henry B. Eyring stated the “why.” I’m going to paraphrase it. I should memorize it. I just found this quote a couple of months ago, but it is at the heart of our institutional “why.” You can decide why it is that you’re here, and how it fits, and the degree to which your “why” fits our “why.”  To the degree it doesn’t align, repent and get on board, because Father in Heaven has something here for you that is magnificent uplifting, and it can  set the course for the rest of your life. So here is our collective “why.” Elder Eyring said we are not in the business of education. We are not in the business of granting degrees. He said, “We are in the business of [endowing students] with power.” (at LDS Business College 2008)


Now some of you may reject the notion of power. I invite you to set your own definition of power aside for a minute, and grasp onto it as something good. Because you are all of the generation which, when you played soccer, everybody got a trophy, right? If you were on the swim team, everybody got a ribbon, no matter where you placed. So this idea of having power may be something you reject a little bit, because it suggests one person having something good someone else does not.  It’s not popular, except when power is used in inappropriate ways, and then for some it becomes attractive just like it did in the Book of Mormon, for people who sought power.


The power I am talking about is the power that comes from the principles in the 43rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 16, that ye may be “taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, [to] give even as I have spoken.”


The power that you are entitled to here is the power to give. To give what? To give of your very best. To give of what you learn here. To give of your talents, like Amy did today. That takes a lot of guts to stand in front of this crowd, and with that accompaniment, which didn’t exactly follow the way it is in the hymnbook, and belt out this song containing such a powerful message. It is the power to see the right things. It’s the power to do the right things. It is the power to stand, girded with righteousness and faith. It is the power to be true when being true is not popular. It is the power to know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph was indeed a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is a Second Witness for Christ. That is the kind of power I speak.


When you couple power with value, something exciting happens in your life. I’m trying to get you to think about your own reason for being. You are here to be endowed with power, to be willing and able to receive all that Father has in store for you in this season of your life. But part of it is seeing your own value.


Let me try a little something. Can you see that? It’s a $100 bill. Now I’m going to the vice president of finance, and he’s going to attest it’s real. How many of you are interested in having this $100 bill. Thank you very much. The rest of you wake up, because you just missed the opportunity. Now I want you to think for a minute why you might be interested in that $100 bill. Just ponder it in your heart, okay?


Now watch closely [sound of crumpling]. How many are interested in that $100 bill? Well, that’s interesting, because I just crumpled it. Okay. [sound of stomping] How many are interested in that $100 bill? This is dirt.  How many are interested in that $100 bill? Okay. You learned a valuable lesson about value. There is nothing I can do short of destroying it that depletes its value. Some of you have come here this semester and you are a crisp $100 bill. Some of you are wadded up. Some of you are a soaking wet $100 bill. And others of you may have been dragged through the mud. But you are a $100 bill. In fact, you are more than that. I don’t know what your value is, but I know Heavenly Father knows your value, and I know you are here to increase that value. You can increase your value to yourself, and to your future family, or to your family now, to your community, to your professions, and to the Lord’s Church. Your value is increased by the degree to which you are willing and able to receive power and exercise it properly.


Now let me share a little story with you. Part of being willing and able to receive power is the fact that 1) you are here this semester and junk is going to happen to you. And if junk doesn’t happen, you may want to get down and ask Heavenly Father why He doesn’t trust you enough to give you a mountain. You too can be a Caleb: “Give me this mountain.” (See Joshua 14:12) Do you remember that story in the Old Testament? And you’re going to get some mountains, some trials, some tribulations.  You may be in the middle of a challenge or a burden or a bad experience right now. Even the righteous who followed Alma away from King Noah had a bad thing happen to them. They didn’t invite it and they didn’t want it. But the Lord eased their burdens until He was willing to remove it.


Now it has been said the Lord will not interfere with the consequences of other people’s actions in your life. But He will help you bear that burden. So part of the challenge of being willing and able to receive an endowment of power is being willing and able to go through the junk that’s going to happen and dealing with it effectively.


I think it was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin who said, in a talk in conference—it was entitled, “Come What May and Love It”(October 2008 general conference)—that’s good advice. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, someone else said. I’ve never taken a lot of comfort in that, but I share it with you because I believe there’s some truth in it. It is how you react to the challenges in front of you that will make all the difference in your being endowed with power. Satan has a great desire to use those experiences to pull you down. Heaven has a great desire to let you understand what a trial of faith really is. And let me suggest to you what it is.


I invite you to get out of your head the phrase “a trial of my faith.” It’s depressing. And replace it with “an experience where I may try my faith out.” Now that makes all the difference, doesn’t it, in the way that you view what happens to you. I have a daughter, and she has a friend, and this friend, every time something bad happened to her—a flat tire, they were all on a road trip together and a car broke down. And my daughter, she takes after her father—I’m a banker, and so I’m pessimistic. I’m just here to tell you. This girl would say, “Well, isn’t this going to be a wonderful adventure.” Come what may and love it.


About two years ago we had a student here at the College, a wonderful young man. He was bright. He was an excellent student. He had power to lift people. A light was in his eyes. I enjoyed every time I saw him in the hallways because he gave me a firm handshake and a great smile. Then he graduated, and he went on to another institution. I don’t know how social networks really work. I have a Facebook page, but I don’t even know how to get to it. But somehow I got connected to him through social media. But I saw his postings and I saw his pictures, and I read his comments. And the light was gone. The power he once had to give was greatly diminished.


So I wrote him a posting back. It was the first posting I had ever done. And I said to him, “I think you are better than that.” In fact, I suggested to him that, in different words, he was a $100 bill acting like a penny. And he wrote me back a note, and all he said in it was, “If you had experienced what I have now experienced, you’d be in the same place I am.”


The text I wrote back but did not send, which is a little piece of advice for another occasion—you can write wonderful texts, but choose what you send—it was going to be one word: “Boo.” That is not the case. Father in Heaven will give you experiences and put burdens on your back to give you an opportunity to try out your faith, and when you stand in those moments and you see it through and you are consistent and you go to your knees and you pray until and act and not wait to be acted upon, until relief comes, you will be endowed with power.


Now here’s another idea. Number 2) Be quick to take instruction and correction. President Eyring told us here at the College to be bold but expect correction. We only correct those who we love, and we correct those who we love with love. If it is done in any other way, or with any other desire than to help other people be better, to realize their value to be endowed with power—if we do it in any other way, the Spirit does not attend. And that goes for the person giving the correction and those people receiving the correction.


So let’s try a little experiment. The key to receiving and giving correction is humility, so I’m going to pull out my little humility dipstick, and I invite you to pull out your little humility dipstick. Okay? And let’s see if I can give correction in love and if you can receive it with love. This is Day Two. Brethren, there are too many unshaven faces. I have seen too much. It is not consistent with the covenant which you made, and I love you enough to correct you.


And sisters, it is Day Two. I have just seen too much. And I love those who are dressed properly; I love you enough to correct those who are not. Because I know how the Spirit attends when we do live up to that covenant that you made with your bishop and your stake president. And you’re going to say to yourself, “What does that have to do with education?” It has everything to do with covenants, and with covenants come power. And with power comes enlightenment, ennobling of your soul, and the elevation of your hope. I know that’s true. And so I invite you with all my heart to live consistent with that simple covenant of dress and grooming, because I love you. And I want to see Heaven just bless the socks off you.


Now, Peter. Let’s talk about Peter for just the last minute or two. On the topic of following instruction—you’re going to receive some assignments that you think are dopey. You are going to think they’re unnecessary. You’re going to get some advice on how to rewrite a paper, and you’re going to say, “It’s good enough for me; it ought to be good enough for you.” And you may get some counsel from a faculty member, from a staff member, and you don’t understand it, and you don’t want to understand it. You just want to get on. There is great power that comes from being willing and able to receive instruction. Had Peter not left the nets “straightway,” (Matthew 4:20) had he not been faithful like Nephi, son of Helaman, and stayed true to his duty to keep going when he was tired, had not Peter been “quick to observe,” (Mormon 1:1) he would have never stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and seen Moses and Elijah and heard the voice of the Living God.


If Nephi had not had the desire and [been] willing to pay the price and to hear and to know, through the power of the Holy Ghost, he never would have had the power to build a ship, “not after the manner of men,” nor to be prepared to lead a nation.

Brothers and sisters, accept instruction.


Oh, one more. After the Savior’s resurrection, Peter and a group of the apostles did what? They went fishing, back to what they knew. And “they fished all night,” says the 21st chapter of John. And how successful were they? Nada. On the left side of the boat. There should be fish on the right side of the boat. I’m not doing it, but what did Peter do? Peter and the rest of the Brethren dropped their nets, and the harvest was so great it almost split the nets.

Now brothers and sisters, in the words of Elder Packer, clear back in 1969 (October conference), he said, “You may be in the right sea, you may even be in the right boat,” but I invite you to fish on the other side. Take the instruction. Do your very best with it. You’ll be endowed with the power to give.


And that’s why the Church has this College, and that’s why you’re here. And we’re out of time, so here’s my testimony. I don’t know whether—oh, yes I do—I know that you’re worth more than a $100 bill sitting in muddy water, but I don’t know your full value. I know you’re precious. I know there are 2,200 of you here. Brother Williams, I’ve got a question for you. How many stripling warriors were there really? 2,060. Almost 2,200, weren’t there? I look at you and I see stripling warriors, blessed with all of the traits and all of the capabilities to carry off the Kingdom triumphantly. I am humbled that you are here and that those of us in the administration or the faculty and staff have some small degree of stewardship over you. You are as precious to me as my own children, because I know the blessings that God has in store for you, if you are willing and able to receive them. May He bless you with strength, may He bless you to accept correction and instruction. May He bless you with a willingness to bear the burdens that He will place upon your back. You will survive them. They will make you stronger. Come what may and love it.

May the Lord bless you this semester. May He bless the faculty and staff and the administration. May your testimonies deepen and strengthen, for that is job one. Without testimony there is little power. And I leave you that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Education Opens up Global Opportunities

02 Oct. 2012


Education Opens up Global Opportunities

It’s an honor to be here with President Richards. Most men would be very brave to invite their bishops to come speak, because I have about 40 minutes of stories of the Richardses that I’d love to share. But his wife’s here, and that’s a real treat for us as well, to have Sister Richards’ wonderful spirit.
President Richards has a special car that’s parked about three spaces down from me. It says “LDSBC” on it, and it’s not there very often. He’s usually here working hard for you, so I want you to know the great love that he shares with us for you. Congratulations on that. But if you do ever have concerns about him, just give me a call. I’m his bishop and I know where to find him.
Education is one of the very best investments you can ever make. It is clearly one of the best investments we in the older generation are making in you. You know, we’ve been hearing a lot lately about “you didn’t build this,” “yes, I built this.” Well, we didn’t necessarily build this building, and you didn’t necessarily build it, but you are building the future of the LDS Business College, and we’re very proud of you for doing that.
At the entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is a beautiful statue of a falcon—the Fighting Falcon of the U.S. Air Force Academy, a mascot. It says, “Man’s flight through life is powered by the strength of his knowledge.” Man’s and woman’s flight through life is powered by the strength of their knowledge. And that’s critical. Your education is the jet fuel for you succeeding in this world, in this Church, in this Kingdom, and in your family.
Alexandre Dumas, the famous French author, said one time, “The future of any country depends what is in the minds of their 19- to 25-year-olds at any given time.” I’m pleased to report that, from what I’ve observed, there are really good things in the minds of the 19- to 25-year-olds in this room. So congratulations as you continue that commitment and investment in education. You can foreclose on a mortgage, but you cannot foreclose on your education. You cannot foreclose on an investment that you have made in your mind. So keep making that investment.
My scriptural theme today is one that we know and think about a lot that pertains to the Church. As Joseph Smith received this from the Lord, it pertains to us in our own lives. Doctrine and Covenants 64:33: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” In this wonderful scripture, the Lord is speaking to the Church generally, but let us apply this today to your hard work in getting an education at LDS Business College, and laying that great foundation.
One of the great works you are personally laying is the foundation for your future. Every step, every class, every new insight, every late-night homework session is a small thing that is an important part of that foundation you are building for your career, for your family, for the kingdom of God, every single day. And life is a climb. We know that. You are facing it every day with your job on top of school, on top of a family, or trying to meet that special one so you have a family. I understand there are quite a few single adults still in this congregation. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
As Stacy mentioned, you are four weeks into the semester, and it’s early October. Midterms are looming, believe it or not. It’s getting a little bit cooler. Conference is arriving. You are settling into various challenges. Face it, it’s four weeks into the semester and the excitement is wearing off a little bit. That reading list is looking pretty daunting, and the homework is piling up. College should stretch you. It should be hard. But please do not weary in your well-doing—not today, not tomorrow, not this semester. Keep laying that foundation of a great work, every single day.
Today’s devotional is a chance for me to share some perspectives and advice from one who must appear to you as an Ancient of Days. I saw the sign out front about 125 years of achievement. Believe it or not, I was not present at that founding class 125 years ago, although I was present at the founding class of BYU Law School 40 years ago, and those kind of traditions and connections and experiences will make a difference to you as you meet and greet and grow closer to your classmates while you attend LDS Business College.
I’d like to give you a little advice, and it’s not even graduation day. But every day is judgment day, and we have to make the right kind of judgments as we go forward. Our six children are all out of college now, and not likely to listen to my advice right now about schooling. But I just love this opportunity to share some advice with some young men and women of college age. So allow me to do that.
Before I became a bishop, I spent most of the last decade serving in Young Single Adult wards here and in Washington, D.C. And I think I understand a bit about the concerns and the anxiety and happiness and plans you’re experiencing as you lay your own foundation for the great work of your life. And this foundation will prepare you to be great Relief Society presidents, bishops, fathers, mothers, home and visiting teachers, and serving your family, community, school, country, and the Lord’s kingdom.
There’s another reminder that I need to make about this investment you are making in the future—choosing the right mate. I said that education is one of the best investments you can make. I spent last week in Russia, and it’s two o’clock in the morning in Russia, and there aren’t many great talks given at two o’clock in the morning, with jet lag. But the very best investment that I ever made was the engagement ring I bought to ask my wonderful wife to marry me, a few blocks away at Temple Square. She is here on the stand today, and I get all emotional about that because most of my talks that I give around the world, she doesn’t get to hear. I usually don’t talk about her when I’m in Russia or other places. But Barbara’s been a wonderful support in everything that we do, and Barbara’s recently updating our family history records. And she was reviewing some of the things we were doing. We’re now in our fortieth year of marriage. I said, “Sweetheart, it’s been a wonderful 40 years.”
And she looked at me and said, “You’re in international business. I’ve been looking at your travel logs. It’s been a wonderful 30 years of marriage together.” So that’s the challenge that we have sometimes, if we get involved in international activities. And that’s day in and day out, I usually talk about international trade, business, and education. And since almost half the title of LDS Business College is about business, I’d like to talk a little bit about that and how that may impact your future career going forward.
Brother Nelson suggested about 17 percent of the students at LDS Business College are international. I would be willing to be that the number is more like 100 percent. Given the missionary experiences, given the second language skills, given the travel, given the other things that you’ve done, and given the fact that your generation knows that we need to prepare for a global and competitive world, I would say that there are probably 100 percent international students in this congregation.
In the world that we live in today, 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. The tsunami of globalization that’s sweeping the planet is not going to somehow bypass Salt Lake City. Utah, interestingly enough—if I were to ask you this, this very bright group—the A for today, which is the only state in America to double its exports in the last five years—its international exports to the world—would you guess a small, square state in the Rocky Mountains without a seaport? Utah leads the nation in international export growth, and there are many reasons for that. One of them is because of the talent that we have in congregations in this state, like this that is attending this school. We have more speakers of dual languages per capita in America, in Utah, than in any other state.
Export growth is critical, because last year in this state—again, a small state without a seaport—Utah exported over 19 billion dollars of merchandise exports to the world. International exports create international jobs. Utah exports are creating Utah jobs. Somewhere in that 19 billion dollars’ worth of exports, there is a job for you when you leave LDS Business College. And the reason why we push exports is because exports create jobs. Anybody can import. If you can speak English and write a check in dollars, somebody will sell you a product. You just go down to Wal-Mart and figure that out. We have a trade deficit in this country, and we know how to import. But what we don’t do well enough, and what we are pushing hard for the students at LDS Business College and BYU and others to learn, is creating services and products of value that somebody overseas wants to buy, in a language other than English and a currency other than dollars.
And so I’m urging you, as part of your education, to focus on those global opportunities that are out there. Goldman Sachs recently put out a study saying that in the next decade, 60 percent of the economic growth on this planet will be outside of North America, Japan, and Europe. It’s in the emerging markets. And I know many of you have come from those emerging markets, have had experience in those emerging markets, and want to lay a foundation so you can compete in those markets going forward.
Interestingly enough, one-third of all the Mandarin immersion classes taught, the dual-immersion classes, taught in America, are taught in Utah. Last year, we had four provincial governors visit us, representing about 180 million Chinese—they are like state governors. They had an event up at the Capitol where first- and second-graders from the Granite school district sang in Mandarin, who were graduates of this program, participating in this program, and it just brought them to tears. They had the mayors of the three largest cities in Utah speak to them. Mayor Becker did a really good job in English, but the next two mayors both had served missions in Taiwan and spoke fluent Mandarin—Mayor Curtis from Provo, and Mayor Winder from West Valley City. The Chinese governor sitting next to me said, “Does everybody in Utah speak Mandarin?”
I said, “Pretty much. Come on back.”
So we don’t call China the Far East; we call it the Near West in this state. And Governor Huntsman is a fluent Mandarin speaker, and Governor Herbert [is] an international trade warrior who is planning now a trade mission to Israel in December. He just came back from a trade mission in Canada; there was a trade mission to China last year. We are seeing the advantage of this going forward.
Interestingly enough, some of the things that you would think people around the world think about Utah are not always what is the top of their minds. We’re working hard at getting the Utah concept and brand and image out there, and we think it’s the Olympics and the snow and the five National Parks and what’s happening in Zion and Bryce. Interestingly enough, most people in this world know Utah by the Utah Jazz, so right across the street you are next to one of the catalysts for the international opportunities we have in this state.
Well, why are you studying some of these things so that you can participate in this world? Peter Drucker, a great business guru, said several years ago [that] in the future there would only be two types of CEOs—those that are international and those that are unemployed. We know which side we want to be on in that equation.
It’s good to be here and think about the kinds of preparations that would allow us to do this. I first began doing international about 30 years ago, and a very interesting afternoon—my former law partner and brother-in-law Don Pearson is here—we were practicing law in L.A. Late on a Friday afternoon, on a beautiful day like this in Los Angeles, we probably had tickets to the Dodgers, whatever it was—one of our law partners came in and said, “We have to get something done—it’s Friday afternoon, on Monday, we have to file a license application for this new product in Europe, where we can’t sell it without having it be counterfeited.”
I said, “What’s the product?”
One of our partners said, “Well, I have a friend that loves to surf, and he loves to sail. He put a sail on top of a surfboard, and he calls it a windsurfer.”
So that was the first time I’d ever heard of that, and we wanted to sell this in Holland on Monday, it was a Friday afternoon, and nobody else was willing to volunteer to do it. They said, “Lew, you’re the youngest guy in the room; you’ve got to work on this application.”
So, I called my wonderful wife and said, “Sweetheart, yet again, those five kids are going to have only a mother this weekend.” I worked hard, got the application done, Windsurfer became a huge success story in Europe after that, and from then on, I was the international guy in our law firm. Somebody called up and they couldn’t understand them? “Hey, give them to Cramer; must be an international thing.”
So from that kind of a beginning, where preparation met interest and interest met an opportunity, an international career was born. And from then I had the opportunity, as the president said, to do some fabulous experiences around the world, initially putting cell phones in about 30 countries around the planet—and all that time being a representative of the Church, because whenever a conversation would start in the Czech Republic or the middle of the Soviet Union, or whatever, they would say, “Now, where are you from?”
And I would say, “I went to BYU. Ever heard of BYU?” And invariably they had heard of BYU. You carry that brand on your soul for the rest of your life. And even if I hadn’t been from BYU, I’d probably have said it, because it’s an easy way to start a conversation about the kingdom of God.
So doing international is a blessing in so many ways. It’s another way to continue that superb missionary experience that most of us have enjoyed already. I have found that the three best hours I ever spend in a country is showing up at church. We were in Russia last week, went to the Moscow Ward, met a half dozen men and women who work at the U.S. Embassy there, which was one of the reasons I was there. So making those kinds of connections is a critical part of being a representative, whether it’s LDS Business College, BYU, or wherever.
In Utah, in this 19 billion dollars worth of exports last year, most of them came—the majority, say 55 percent—came from the mines in the western hills: Kennecott, the gold, the primary metals. That’s been for a hundred years, and will probably be for the next hundred years—mines. But we are proud of saying that, in this great state, the future is not in the mines of the western hills, but in the minds of the eastern hills, being the University of Utah, BYU, the LDS Business College. That’s where the real growth is.
Our second-highest export area is in the high-tech products—medical devices, information technology, flash chips from IM Flash. Those things are the kind of preparation that will allow you to be involved in this international opportunity going forward.
Well, that’s how I laid some of the bricks in my foundation of trying to get this work going forward, and just as a reminder, this will not be new information to you, but ever so often, as it says in the Book of Mormon—remember, remember, remember. When I was in the Army, they used to say, “If you only have to tell a soldier something ten times, he’s a genius.” You’re more than geniuses, because I’ll only have to tell you a few times. But just a reminder—some items to focus on as you continue to build your building of steps toward your great work going forward.
President Monson has said repeatedly: “When the time of action arrives, the time for preparation is past.” He was the visiting authority when I was a young missionary in Germany, and he was a brand new apostle, so you know how long ago that was. And I can still remember those words of counsel. And he also said—he would go up on the board and write “WWWWW…”—“working wins when wishy-washy wishing won’t.”
 That is the value of preparing. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” The Doctrine and Covenants [see 38:30] reminds us of that repeatedly.
I loved President Uchtdorf’s talk recently about “Stop it.” Remember that? Everybody knows that one. Correct? How well are we doing it? Stopping it. We know what we need to stop, whether it’s too many video games, too much soda, too much credit card debt, maybe—CCD. My kids grew up knowing CCD. It sounded like a social disease. They did not want credit card debt. Is it too many potato chips? Too much complaining? Too much not exercising? Too much staying up late? Stop it. Now is the time. Stacy reminded us. We’re getting ready to hear conference this week. Prepare for conference by stopping the things we shouldn’t be doing.
As a bishop and as a father, I’ve learned that each of us pretty much knows what we need to stop. So stop it, please.
Now, after you’ve stopped it, what are you going to start? What are you going to replace some of these things with? What can we start replacing it with? Well, one thing that I have…some counsel that I got from Dean Rex Lee, who was the founding dean of the BYU Law School, a great mentor to many of us, president of BYU, solicitor general of the United States, he said, “I made a commitment as a young student that I would always give ten percent more than anybody else. If they were working 40 hours a week, I’d work 44. If they were working 50, I’d do 55. Always ten percent more than the competition.” And that’s paid off in many ways in my life, for me to work more than the competition—ten percent more.
So what other things can we start? We can start doing more service, more mentoring, more just being nice. I remember Hartman Rector said one time, “If you’re interested in getting to the celestial kingdom, a really good place to start is just by being nice.”
We talk a lot about connecting. I can’t remember a whole lot of what I learned in law school many, many years later. But I sure do remember the marvelous classmates that I had. And you all are having that same opportunity, meeting people, building friendships, making connections, enhancing your network of friends that you will be with the rest of your life and perhaps the rest of eternity. It’s important to do that. It’s important to realize, not just on Tuesdays, but every day, this good-looking group is full of friends that you want to participate with, pray with, stop having excess video games, stop drinking too many sodas with, setting each other up, and exhorting them to righteousness.
In the world of international trade, connections are critical. We say that in international business, the most important distance is the last three feet, where you meet somebody, look them in the eye, shake their hand, get a business card, and decide, “Can I do business with this person?” Those kinds of connections are what we did in the mission field, it’s what we do in our Church service; it’s what we should do in our interaction with our fellow students here at the LDS Business College. You will never be disappointed by being too nice, by being too friendly, being too helpful, giving too much service.
Another reminder: integrity. Jacob and Esau—you remember, selling the birthright for a mess of pottage? It was a bad deal 4,000 years ago, and it hasn’t gotten any better with time. Keep that integrity. As I said, I was in Russia last week, and the Russians like to toast. You know, lots of “vodka by the Volga.” They like to enjoy their vodka. The good thing is vodka looks a lot like water. But in all these toasts, these meetings I was in, there was never a question of, “Well, how come you’re not drinking with us?” Because they knew that I, for religious reasons, was not interested in joining in those toasts, but it didn’t matter to them, because whether or not—I remember as a young man seeing all these stories about the Word of Wisdom, and all these temptations, and in my business experience, now going on 40 years, I have never, ever had a problem with the Word of Wisdom. It was always an opening to talk about the Church, and BYU and health.
About 30 years ago I led a trade mission to China, and before the wall … before the opening of China and the Chinese in a much broader way. And the deputy assistant secretary of commerce at that time, leading an official presidential mission there, said, “Well, you’re the leader; you’re going to have to drink all these toasts with the Chinese. That’s the rule.”
I said, “Well, guess what? I’m the boss for this group, and the rule for me is I’m not drinking it.”
They said, “Well, diplomatically you’re going to embarrass us.”
I said, “Trust me; we can make this work.” And we did. I simply said to the Chinese hosts, through an interpreter, “For religious reasons, and for health reasons, I would rather drink an orange soda.” This is in the days when orange soda was pretty tough to get in China.
And they said, “Sure. Religious and health, you’ve got to have that.” And it was very interesting because the first time or two, the other members of my delegation said, “Wait a minute. What are you doing drinking orange soda and we’re drinking this stuff.” About four days into that mission, every single one of the members of my group had had enough of the Chinese alcohol, and they all had religious and health reasons for not drinking anything but orange soda.
So it’s great to be an example and it’s great to stand up for what is right.
Warren Buffett, a great business leader, one of the richest men in the world and a smart business executive, said, “There are three things required for a successful business to succeed: integrity, energy, and intelligence.” But he said, “Without the first—integrity—the last two will kill an organization.” You can have some real energetic, real smart people, but without integrity, you haven’t got a business.
I began by talking about how important lifelong learning is—taking the long view, and not just saying, “Oh, I’ve got my degree from LDS Business College; thank goodness I’ll never have to open a book again.” Believe me, that’s just the start of the climb. That’s where the excitement begins. I love the words that were on the BYU Library, that we saw every day back long ago, from Doctrine and Covenants 88:118: “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” By study, by faith. And it didn’t say “seek as long as you are going to school,” or “seek until you’re married,” or “seek until your children have left home,” but it said “seek ye out of the best books.”
Another word of counsel: in D&C 92:2, Frederick Williams is encouraged to be “a lively member” of this order. I have found that the best employees, the best colleagues, the most exciting friends to travel with, are those who are curious about the world, who are always, “Hey, what’s around the corner?” “Have you thought about this?” “Have you looked at these other sides of this opportunity.” And it’s important to do that. In the world that we live in now—you’ve probably heard of Professor Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School talking about “disruptive technology.” This world is being disrupted and changed in so many ways. And those who can stay ahead of this tsunami going forward are going to prosper in this new world.
In business, your job will often be to disturb the peace. Too many employees have a “Do Not Disturb” sign on them. You know, you just, “We don’t want to make a change.” That’s not the way the graduates of the LDS Business College are going to be.
A great leader once said, “Very few great things in this world were ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” It’s important to be enthusiastic about the opportunities around you. It makes folks want to be part of your team. They want to work with you together. They want to have orange soda in that Chinese toasting time instead of doing something else. So you may be looking about how you can be a disturber of the peace going forward. As you may recall, the Prophet Joseph Smith, in his story telling about the temptations of the devil coming to him, he said in Joseph Smith—History 1:20, “I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of [Satan’s] kingdom.” So we need to be a disturber and annoyers of the devil’s kingdom.
Going along with enthusiasm, I appreciate so much the words of the scriptures. They are a strength going forward. In D&C 123:17, from the depths of the Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph, remember, said these kind words to his brother: “dearly beloved brethren [and sisters], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Doing things cheerfully in His kingdom make a difference. And those of you have children know that, if you ask them to do a chore, and they answer cheerfully, that’s worth everything to you. Those of you who are students, if you are cheerful to your professors, that’s worth a lot, too.
I had the privilege of teaching at some interesting universities over the years, and the students who had integrity, who were enthusiastic, were cheerful, who were curious, made a big difference going forward. It’s fun to track their successes since then.
We said at the beginning, it’s been kind of a phrase this political campaign—you didn’t build this. Well, we altogether in the cumulative have built LDS Business College. We’ve been part of this. We have invested—even though I’m not a student or an alumnus of this great institution—I’m invested in this. I’m grateful that you have such wonderful leadership. I saw our dear friend Judd King—I hope that you’re all taking Institute classes from Brother King, if you really want to get your value out of your experience here at LDS Business College, don’t miss Brother King’s classes. But we are standing on the shoulders of giants, as Isaac Newton said about his work, when people were praising him for being such a smart leader. He said, “I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.”
And you are standing on the shoulders of 125 years of giants at LDS Business College, and I’m honored to be here, also standing on the shoulders of President Richards and others, these wonderful teachers that you have. I bear you my testimony that the Lord wants you to succeed, that He wants us each to make great things out of small things, going forward, that as we work together to do this, we will be blessed in doing that, because He wants you to be part of His kingdom, serving throughout the world, making a difference, building lives, cheerfully disturbing the peace, doing those kinds of things that the Lord expects of His servants. As Stacy said, as we listen to our prophet’s voice this week, and feel the Lord’s Spirit, we will be blessed going forward. I bear you my testimony that this is His work and we are blessed to be part of it, and we’ll be united together as friends someday in that kingdom. And I say this gratefully, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Strive to Live Without Regret

16 Oct. 2012


Strive to Live Without Regret

Some of you may not be old enough to remember him well, but some of you are, I suspect. I remember him very well, President James E. Faust. What a wonderful, beautiful human being. Every year after the First Presidency fireside, Christmas devotional, our families would get together, the Hinckleys and the Monsons and the Fausts, in a little social with all of the kids and grandkids, and we’d have a few light refreshments—mostly celery sticks and carrot sticks—and just talk and get together and have a good time together. President Faust, when it was time to leave, was nowhere to be found. And this happened every year. And we would walk in this little, itty-bitty kitchen which had no more room than for a refrigerator and microwave and sink, and he would be in there doing dishes, all by himself. And that’s just the kind of man he was.
This is a very interesting configuration, President Richards. My wife, who grew up playing competitive tennis, said, “I feel that I’m at a tennis match, sitting here.” We’ll make the best of it, and we’re so happy to be here. I think, President Richards, that I’ll turn the tables on you just a little bit, and our family will take full credit for what this college is today, because of the good work my grandparents did here.
Let me just say a word about my grandfather, Bryant S. Hinckley. He was born in 1867, ten years before the death of the Prophet Brigham Young, two years after the end of the Civil War, and he died in 1961 while I was a missionary. So I grew up for 20 years, 19 years, almost in his backyard, seeing him multiple times every week. What an interesting era of our history his life spanned. And he would talk to me as a little boy about his experiences on the frontier—Cove Fort, central Utah and elsewhere—and I think he probably instilled greater faith in my heart than almost any person who ever lived. He was just a wonderful man. I would sit on his lap—I was just a little fellow. (By the way, he sat on Brigham Young’s lap as a little fellow.) And he would just start to chuckle. 
I’d say, “What’s so funny, Grandpa?”
He’d say, “You.”
And I’d say, “I haven’t said anything.”
And he’d say, “No, but you’re just funny.” Just great, great memories.
I’m just delighted to be here today. You come from all over the world and all over the United States, and let me just tell you how wonderful it is that you have chosen to be here at this institution. You are learning skills that will be invaluable to you. You are learning to weave the gospel into your daily lives. You are learning skills that hopefully will help you to secure employment in a competitive world, in a profession you love, and that will support your family and yourselves. I hope that you will make good use of every minute of your time here. I hope that you will live up to the divine potential within you, and know that part of that divine potential is preparing yourselves to engage yourselves in honorable and productive work in this competitive world.
I have a little book with me today that I purchased in a bookstore on the last day of my mission in 1963 in Germany. Our mission president encouraged us, on our last day, to spend an hour or two and go into a bookstore and buy a few books to take home. And this was one of them. Among the half dozen or so that I purchased was this little book called Glaubiges Herze. How many of you speak German? Nobody? One hand? Glaubiges Herze, which means “faithful or believing heart.” It is a compilation of letters and writings by a man named Matheus Claudius, who lived in the 1700s and was a theologian/philosopher. 
It is a wonderful little book, containing a lot of wisdom. There is one little two-line rhyme that I am going to read in German, and then I’m going to attempt to translate it—because rhymes are difficult to translate into any language. But it reads like this:
Nichts ist zu Elend als der Mann
Der alles will und der nichts kann
So my interpretation, translation of that is “There is nothing so miserable as the man who wants everything, but nothing can.” In other words, miserable is he who would love to accomplish wonderful things but has no skills.
When I was your age, IBM was one of the fastest-growing companies on the planet. They had a very open policy, which they talked a great deal about, that when you went to work for IBM, you would never be fired, except of course for dishonesty or some other similar cause. And they lived by that credo for many, many years. Job security with them was a given. But, like all good things, that came to an end. Today, no company would dare to make that statement.
It has been my observation that there are just three things, if you boil it down to the simplest, that will provide job security for you in your generation: First, your work ethic. By that I don’t just mean putting in honest hours, but I also mean your integrity, your dedication, and your loyalty to your employer. Second is your ability to get along with others—that is, your interpersonal skills. And third, of course, is your competence; that is, your technical skills that you bring to the workplace.
You are at such a wonderful place in your lives, my dear young friends. Again, take advantage of this experience. Learn all you can. Learn to apply it. Look forward with optimism and faith, even in these difficult times. We are at a very unique time in our history, and a wonderful time, due to the candidacy of Mitt Romney. I don’t care which candidate you intend to vote for. That doesn’t matter. But having a member of the Church run for the highest office in the land has brought tremendous visibility to the Church, as never, ever before in our history.
My wife and I, when I went emeritus last year, were called in by President Uchtdorf, and he said, “What are your plans?”
I said, “I don’t know; I guess I’ll go fishing.”
And he said, “Not so fast.” And he extended the call on behalf of the First Presidency to both my wife and me to serve as directors of Church Hosting, VIP hosting. It’s been a very interesting year, this past year. Now, this is not about me or us, but I’m just going to tell you some of the things that have occupied my time and hers for the last month. Just to give you an idea of what the candidacy of a Mormon candidate is doing for the Church. We have hosted the ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, the ambassadors for Germany, Peru, South Africa, the Philippines. We had dinner last Saturday evening in Washington, D.C., as the guests of the minister counselor of education, Dr. Fong Maotian of China; we are preparing to host the ambassador to the United States from Spain tomorrow, the ambassador from Sri Lanka to the United Nations in two weeks. We just had the chaplain, the chief chaplain of the United States Air Force, Major General [Howard] Stendahl last week, just to name a few. 
In addition to that, the press has been so interested in the Church, as a result of Mitt Romney, that they are being overwhelmed by requests by journalists for interviews—so overwhelmed that they’ve asked me to help them with some spillover. Just in the last month or so I’ve had the following interviews: Al Jazeera Television English, with an audience of over 100 million; Dutch National Television; Austrian National Television; BBC; Norwegian National Television; Der Spiegel, which is Europe’s largest weekly magazine; Wirtschaftswoche, which is Germany’s equivalent of Businessweek; German Focus Television; British TV; Swiss TV; a French newspaper; nine Belgian journalists; CBN, which is the Christian Broadcasting Network; Al Arabia Television, with whom I spent almost three hours yesterday; and French TV, which will be later this afternoon.
Now, I mention this because you will soon be going out into the world. Some of you will find jobs right here in Utah, while most of you will find them elsewhere in the United States or abroad. Because of the things that I have just mentioned that are the result of the current presidential campaign, your coworkers will be more aware of the Church than ever before in our entire history, and by a wide margin. They will be watching you. Some will be curious enough to ask you about your faith. You will find opportunities to bring the subject up yourself. It is more important than ever before that you live your religion, that you let your light shine. And in so doing, you will at times feel alone—very alone, perhaps the only Latter-day Saint among your peers.
Exactly 43 years ago a week from now, my father in 1969 gave a talk at BYU which was titled, “The Loneliness of Leadership.” I’m going to cite a couple of lines from that because it has application to my theme today: 
“You are all [here] together… now [at BYU; at LDS Business College]. You are all of one kind; you are all of one mind. But you are training to go out into the world where you are not going to have about you [large numbers of] others like you. You will feel the loneliness of your faith.
“It is not easy, for instance, to be virtuous when all about you there are those who scoff at virtue.
“It is not easy to be honest when all about you there are those who are interested…in making ‘a fast buck.’
“It is not always easy to be temperate when all about you there are those who scoff at sobriety.
“It is not easy to be industrious when all about you there are those who do not believe in the value of work.
“It is not easy to be a [person] of integrity when all about you there are those who will forsake principle for expediency.”
He continued:
“I would like to say to you here today, my brethren and sisters, [and think of yourselves as though he were talking to you] there is loneliness—but [men and women] of your kind [must] live with [their] conscience. [You have to live with your principles You have to live with your convictions. You have to live with your testimony.] Unless you do so, you will be miserable—dreadfully miserable. And while there may be thorns, while there may be disappointment, while there may be trouble and travail, heartache and heartbreak, and desperate loneliness, there will be peace and comfort and strength.”
“…I would like to offer the thought that no institution and no [person] ever lived at peace with [himself or herself] in the spirit of compromise.”  (Nov. 4, 1969 BYU Devotional, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1563)
When I went in the mission field nearly 52 years ago, there were no Missionary Training Centers. Instead, we spent one week in what was called the Mission Home, that stood on the property now occupied by the Conference Center, and we heard various speakers. If we were called to serve a foreign mission, as I was, our mission assignment was for 2½ years; for the sisters, two [years]. The extra six months [was] to help us get the language under control.
I remember very little from that week 52 years ago, but one thing does stand out. It was a principle that I reflected on throughout my mission. Forty years later, when I served as a mission president, I taught it repeatedly to our missionaries. It is a very simple thing, and it is the one thing that I hope you will write down, if you write anything down of what I say today. A speaker—I don’t remember who he or she was—simply said, “When you return home from your mission”—now, think of this in the context of your current lives in school—“when you return home from your mission, I hope you will be able to say, ‘I am glad I did,’ not ‘I wish I had.’ ”
Great thought. That is all about living without regret, a theme embedded in the talk my father gave those many years ago. It was also the thought embedded in President Uchtdorf’s wonderful message in the opening session of general conference just ten days ago. I hope you heard it. I hope you will read it and study it, either online or when the Ensign is published. I hope you will save it for future reference throughout your lives. It was titled “Of Regrets and Resolutions.” How many of you remember that talk? It was not about airplanes. Okay. I’m not going to embarrass you by having you raise your hand, but again, I hope you’ll study it when you see it in writing.
President Uchtdorf illustrated beautifully the idea that when we are young, like you here this morning, we tend to see an endless road ahead. I quote: “When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.
“However,” he continued, “the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we made and the things we have done. In the process, we remember many sweet [memories] that give warmth to our souls and joy to our hearts. But we also remember the regrets—the things we wish we could go back and change.”
He then told of a nurse, you’ll remember, who cares for people who are terminally ill and who sometimes asks her patients, “Do you have any regrets?” Their answers, President Uchtdorf says, were telling, are telling. The most universal regret this nurse’s patients have is, “I wish I had spent more time with the people I love.”
How many of you are from outside Utah? Do you miss your family? What do you do about it? Do you talk with them? Do you email them? Do you share your experiences with them? Do you tell them how much you love them and how much you miss them? If not, I encourage you to do so, even if you are the only member of the Church in your family—in fact, especially if you are the only member of the Church in your family.
Or is it just an occasional text you send them that is short and slick and rather meaningless? President Uchtdorf said of technology, “With the click of a mouse we can ‘connect’ with thousands of ‘friends’ without ever having to face a single one of them.” And he encouraged face-to-face communication wherever possible. He went on: ‘Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as thought being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.”
How many of you are guilty of that? Everyone raise your hand, particularly these brethren on the stand. When you get to be our age, you feel that way. And then President Uchtdorf said, “Is it?” Of course it isn’t a badge of honor.
He continued: “I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
“I can’t see it.” Great thought.
The other two regrets of which he spoke were these: “I wish I had lived up to my potential,” and “I wish I had let myself be happier.” I’ll leave it to you to read the talk and to figure out the last one. You can find the answers in his talk.
“I wish I had lived up to my potential.” Isn’t that interesting? Does the little thought that I learned all those years ago as I was leaving [from] my mission make more sense in the context of that statement? I hope you can say, when you return from your mission, “I am glad I did,” instead of “I wish I had.”
President Uchtdorf then spoke of reaching our divine potential. When I was very young—and I was reminded of this during his talk—my father would often use a very interesting expression when he was offering family prayers. He would say, “Lord, please bless us that we might live without regret.” Quite frankly, it didn’t mean much to me as a small boy. In fact, it didn’t mean anything to me as a small boy. But as I grew older it took on great meaning, and I still think of it very often.
I’ll share a story with you from my childhood that has to do with regret, and I apologize if you have heard it. I mentioned this in a talk either at BYU or at BYU-Idaho years ago, I don’t remember. When I was about ten or eleven years old, my friends and I used to love to sleep outside in the summer under the stars. I grew up in a part of the Salt Lake Valley in those days that was considered country. There were open fields and gullies all throughout our neighborhood. One night while sleeping out, we decided to explore a new house that was under construction just across an alfalfa field that lay between us and the house. We were in a little gully, kind of hidden out of sight. So we walked across the alfalfa field, and we spied a big pile of discarded lumber.
In those days, when they poured foundations, they built up the foundations out of old pieces of wood and then poured the concrete, and then stripped this wood away and threw it away. Today they use reusable forms. But we took that wood. We didn’t ask—it was 10 o’clock at night or 11—we took it and we dragged it across that alfalfa field, got up in the morning very excited and built ourselves a hut. And then we went up to the edge of the little gully in which we were sleeping and noticed to our horror, that where we had dragged that lumber across this alfalfa field, the alfalfa lay flat. And there was a very defined trail from the house to the edge of the gully. And we were absolutely convinced that we were going to jail. We were 10, 11 years old.
So we made a pact, the three of us, and said for three days we will have no contact with each other and we’ll hide. And I went home and I sat in my parents’ closet, hidden behind their clothes. My mother said, “What are you doing there?”
I said, “I’m just resting.” She didn’t press it, thankfully. She just shrugged her shoulders and walked away. But every time we heard a siren, I was just terrified. Well, we weren’t arrested. We were never found out. But a couple of weeks later I went with my father, as I often did on Saturdays when he went into his office to catch up on his work. I went into his office and ran around that Church Administration Building—in those days there was no Church security, the place was open and it was heaven for a 10-year-old to go exploring, which I did. And as we were about to leave and walk out that east exit—if you’ve been to the Lion House and looked right across at the Church Administration Building, you see those stairs that come down and that east door? That’s…his office in those days was right back there. He was not yet a general authority. 
But as we were about to leave, President McKay walked out of his office, which was right over in the other corner where the president of the Church’s office now is. And my father said, “Have you met my son?”
Well, I considered myself a wood thief to some extent, and I was embarrassed to meet him, so as I shook his hand, reached up and shook his hand, I looked at my shoelaces and could feel his eyes piercing right down through my head and reading the words “wood thief.” I felt miserable.
Years later when I was reading the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants, I came across this very interesting passage in the 45th verse. A part of the verse reads, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” What great advice. 
Now President McKay was God’s prophet, and I did not have any confidence in his presence. Why? Because just a few days earlier, my friends had taken something without permission. Now I was convinced then and I remain convinced to this day that that lumber was going to the scrap heap. But we should have asked, and we didn’t.
Now that rather homely little story from my life’s experience I think illustrates President Uchtdorf’s message, which resonated so with me.
President Uchtdorf concluded with some resolutions—namely, that we 1) “Resolve to spend more time with those we love,” 2) that we “Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person [that] God wants us to be,” and 3) “Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.”
And so, my young brothers and sisters, as you move beyond these halls, these very safe halls, into the work force in the cities around the world, you will feel the loneliness of your faith and of your convictions. But as you live in accordance with what you know to be right and true, you will find peace and comfort and strength, just as President Hinckley promised 43 years ago, and as President Uchtdorf promised ten days ago. May this be your lot, I pray as I share with you my testimony of the truthfulness and of the divinity of the great work in which we are engaged. May God bless you. May God bless you with peace, with happiness, with resolve, with determination to make the very best of this magnificent opportunity of attending this wonderful business college—that you may hone your skills, that you may develop your interpersonal relationships, that you may see the necessity of hard work and loyalty and goodness, I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Use Gifts to Build Zion and Community

23 Oct. 2012


Use Gifts to Build Zion and Community

Good morning, and thank you for that lovely music and for the kind introduction. I’m thrilled to be here with you today at LDS Business College. I’ve been really touched by your spirit this morning, and I’ve loved hearing about the growth of this educational institution and am very flattered to have the opportunity to share with you a few of my thoughts today.

I work, right through that window across the way, up a couple of floors, and so I have sometimes looked out my window and wondered what was going on over on this side, and now it’s really exciting to catch a glimpse of it. As part of my remarks today, I will try to pull the curtain back a little bit on what happens over where I work as well.

I would like to begin my remarks by talking about the idea of Zion. In the Scriptures, the name “Zion” is sometimes used to refer to a particular place—for example, the city of Enoch or Mount Zion—where Solomon built his temple, or even in the Doctrine and Covenants, Jackson County, Missouri. But today we also understand it to mean a community of like-minded people. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants 97, “This is Zion—the pure in heart.” (verse 21)

Similarly, in the book of Moses: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18) This is a startling description when you stop to think about it. An entire city of people is described as being one in mind and in heart. And there are two things that made that possible. First, they dwelt in righteousness—that is, they obeyed God; and second, there were no poor among them. They took care of one another.

I find it interesting that these two attributes of Zion mirror the two great commandments given by the Savior, to love God and to love our neighbor.

An earlier verse also says that God dwelt with that people of the city of Zion, which reminds me of the book of John, where Christ talks about abiding in us and us abiding in God and being one with Him. (See chapters 15 and 17)

The Prophet Joseph Smith says the building up of Zion is “a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests, and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society course of study, 2007], 186) It’s also something on which the Prophet Joseph himself dwelt with peculiar delight. The idea of gathering and building Zion was an animating idea behind many of his teachings and each city he planned. And his emphasis on community is still with us today.

The concept of Zion is one that has always resonated with me. I’m intrigued with the idea that our salvation is tied to the salvation of those around us in some way. Zion takes the abstract ideas of love and charity and makes them concrete. It gives us an avenue for living out these core teachings of Jesus Christ.

In part because of our teachings about Zion, and perhaps in part because of other teachings and factors like geography, the Church today has grown into a tight-knit organization, with wards, stakes, and programs that strive toward those twin ideas of dwelling in righteousness and ensuring that there are no poor among us. We invest a great deal of time and money nurturing each other physically and spiritually in the Church. Of course, we’re still human, and there’s always room for improvement, but being a contributing member of a community in a ward and a stake is part of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.

At the same time, the Mormon people have not had as much practice engaging with the external community. Those who study the idea of community talk about two ways of connecting that they call “bonding” and “bridging.” Bonding means building strong connections among people with a common background, while bridging means connecting people of different backgrounds.

Sociologists David Campbell and Robert Putnam wrote in their book American Grace, which is a comprehensive study of religion in America, about bonding and bridging. They asked a sample of Americans about the religion of their friends, extended family, and their neighbors. What they found was that Americans, by and large, have religiously perse families and neighborhoods. Nearly all Americans have a neighbor of a different faith than their own. And two-thirds of Americans have at least one family member of another faith.

Only about a quarter of Americans said that their five closest friends shared their same faith.

This means that people in our country are regularly interacting with members of other faiths, and this is a good thing. Having a friend of another religion, studies show, makes a person feel more warmly toward that religion in general.

Putnam and Campbell also found some fascinating differences between members of different religions. Members of some religious traditions are more likely to have bridges—that is, friends, family, and neighbors of different religions—than are members of other religious traditions. Mormons, as you might guess, are one of the faiths in which people are most likely to have a high number of friends, family, and neighbors who are of their own faith. In fact, researchers have noted that Mormons resemble an ethnic group in this regard. Mormons have a strong identity, have a distinctive culture and even vocabulary.

The bottom line is that Latter-day Saints are very good at bonding, better than they are at bridging. So I want to talk a bit today about building community through bridging. I don’t mean missionary work, though that is a distinctive and important part of our faith. But some members of our Church do not have any other way of thinking or talking about non-Mormons, other than through the lens of missionary work. The bridging I’m talking about is creating meaningful relationships and learning about and working together with people of other religious backgrounds, without any other motive.

If you’ve been following the news, and even if you haven’t been following the news, you’re probably aware that America is having what journalists are calling “A Mormon moment.” It isn’t the first Mormon moment, but it’s the biggest one that I remember. I remember when it used to be a big deal when a major U.S. publication ran something on Mormonism. When Newsweek did a cover story on the Church in 2005, an LDS coworker of mine got a copy of it and passed it on to me, and we marveled that there was an image of Joseph Smith on the cover. We analyzed everything in the article. These days, though, I can barely keep up with all the coverage of Mormonism on a daily basis. Just this morning, a Google News search on the word “Mormon” returned articles in the mainstream media on everything from food storage to anti-Mormon billboards to an increase in the number of missionary applications to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s tour to the use of the word “cult” in the media to the racial persity of Mormons in Sacramento, California.

This can be a little bit disconcerting. Because we’re a relatively small religion and because we’re so good at bonding, we’re used to hearing stories about ourselves that we tell each other, not those that others tell about us. As LDS historian Richard Bushman put it, it can be “like looking [into] a fun-house mirror” and seeing ourselves, seeing our face warped and distorted. (Hal Boyd, “LDS scholar Richard Lyman Bushman talks ‘Mormon’ musical,” Deseret News, pub. Aug. 28, 2011, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700147768/LDS-scholar-Richard-Lyman-Bushman-talks-Mormon-musical.html?pg=all. )

If I’m completely honest, as a person working in the media world during this Mormon moment, there are times when I wish it would just all stop. It’s easy to be defensive or critical, or just plain tired of seeing your face splashed across the headlines. But I also believe that this moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity and call to “bridge.”

President [Gordon B.] Hinckley was a natural bridge builder. He engaged with the press and the wider community outside of Mormonism differently than any other prophet before him. When he was sustained as president of the Church in 1995, he said this: “I plead with our people everywhere to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of persity. We can and must be respectful towards those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may be the victims of bigotry.” (“This is the Work of the Master,” April Conference, 1995, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/04/this-is-the-work-of-the-master?lang=eng )

There are undoubtedly many people working to build bridges between Mormonism and the wider community. I’d like to share a little bit about the Deseret News and our goal to produce news and information that reaches what we’ve come to call “like-minded believers.”

Like-minded believers are people who share a devotion to religious faith, a commitment to family, and a strong desire to help others and be an influence for good in their community. They make up roughly half of the United States’ population, by our calculations. Most Mormons are like-minded believers, but they account for only a small portion of this group. Most of our national target audience is made up of members of other faiths.

In addition to the need to bridge, another reason for our strategy has to do with the reality that in the modern digital news age, it’s difficult for a publication to do everything. The Deseret News has chosen to specialize by focusing on like-minded believers, and has also developed six areas of editorial emphasis in which we specialize. These areas are care for the poor, excellence in education, faith in the community, family life, financial responsibility, and values in the media.

We have a team of reporters that focuses closely on these areas of emphasis, and we gather their work into a weekly national edition of the Deseret News—the national Sunday edition that highlights our best work in each of these six areas. I won’t go on too much longer about the Deseret News, but I want to share with you a statement that we use that describes the audience that we’re serving, that guides us as we put together our coverage. It reads: “When I am well-informed, I feel more confident living my beliefs so that I can make a difference in my family and in my community.”

I find this to be a powerful and inspiring statement that says a lot about the process of creating bridges. Let me say it again: “When I am well-informed, I feel more confident living my beliefs so that I can make a difference in my family and in my community.”

I’d like to talk a little more specifically about a couple of parts of this statement. First, being well-informed: I believe that knowing what is going on in the world is the first step to being able to engage and make a difference in it. It’s hard to come up with solutions or get involved with solutions already happening if we don’t know what the issues are in our communities.

This even applies to children. We recently ran a story about a young girl named Olivia Bouler, who was inspired by what she saw in the news. I want to read to you a little bit from this article:

“Olivia [Bouler, age 12,] who lives in Islip, New York, was inconsolable when she heard about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010. She had spent many vacations there with her grandparents, watching the birds. She knew it was nesting season. She knew the birds were going to suffer.

“Her parents felt helpless, watching their little girl sob.

“ ‘How could we comfort her?’ said the little girl’s mom, Nadine Bouler. ‘There is no comfort. We knew it was true.’

“So they prayed together.

“ ‘Please let us find a way to help,’ they prayed.

“Olivia lit up like a light bulb. She scampered upstairs and penned a letter to the National Audubon Society. The society authored the dog-eared field guide she toted around on her bird watching adventures, and she had recently taken a tour of the nonprofit environmental organization’s Florida location. If anyone could help, she was sure the Audubon Society could...

“[As] an aspiring artist, Olivia offered to hand draw pictures of birds in exchange for donations to the clean-up effort. She signed the letter, ‘11 years old and willing to help.’

“After several national and international news outlets got wind of Olivia’s project, requests for bird drawings started rolling in. She pledged to make 500 paintings. They were all called for within three weeks.

“Olivia spent the next three months filling the orders. Using watercolor, she painted pelicans, ducks, hummingbirds and red-breasted robins. She painted when she got home from school until she went to bed at night. She painted on the weekends while her friends were swimming and making brownies.

“‘At times I just wanted to play,' Olivia said. ‘But ultimately, I knew this was an amazing opportunity to make a difference and have my voice heard.’

“She's no longer passing out paintings for donations, but Olivia hasn't given up her environmental activism. Last year she wrote and illustrated a book about birds to raise money for conservation efforts. This year, she has a traveling art exhibit and an environmental column in the Huffington Post.

“So far, she's raised more than $200,000.

“‘Every one of us has a great gift we can use to help the earth,' she wrote. 'Everyone, at any age, can do something, whether it is picking up trash along the side of the road, filling a bird feeder, or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. For me, I used my artwork.’” (Elizabeth Stuart, “Three children raise $350,000 for charity and improve the world,” pub. Apr. 30, 2012, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765572666/They-are-young-but-ready-to-improve-the-world.html?pg=2 )

Knowing what’s happening in the world enables us, like Olivia, to act and not be acted upon. This is true when it comes to volunteering, but also when it comes to voting and participating in political issues. We all have a responsibility, as our Church leaders remind us every election season, to study the issues and vote for leaders who represent our values and will build the kind of community that we want to live in. Reading and learning for ourselves, rather than simply believing whatever our friends post on Facebook or being influenced by political advertising, allows us to act and not be acted upon.

In some ways, being well-informed is a lifelong project of collecting truth. We often repeat this phrase regarding people of other faiths: “Bring what you have and see if we can add to it.” I would add that we can also take what we have and see what the world can add to it. I encourage you to discover, explore and collect truth wherever you go. Let the gospel be your framework for collecting truth, and what you gain will benefit you and your Church and the world.

Brigham Young preached on this topic many times. He said, “Be willing to receive the truth; let it come from whom it may.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, 14:136) In another place he said, “ ‘Mormonism,’ so called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it…. The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. ‘Mormonism’ includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel.” (Discourses, 3)

He continued: “If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.” (Discourses, 2)

“It is our duty and calling…to gather every item of truth and reject every error…to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation…to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion.” (Discourses, 248)

Sometimes members of the Church use language that pits us against the world, defining the world as a wicked and dangerous place. It’s true that there are dark people and dark places in the world. But the world is also an exciting and beautiful place, full of good people doing good things. We miss out on so much of this if we cloister ourselves or approach the world with only fear or suspicion. Instead, we should develop the ability to discern what in the world is valuable and good, and what is degrading.

A good friend of mine once said, “The world is a safe place because of the Atonement. The knowledge that God can and will forgive and redeem should give us courage to approach the world ready to explore and learn. There are magnificent people, books, ideas, and beliefs waiting to be discovered.”

President Hinckley has said, “I hope that you will take from [your education] the habit of seeking knowledge and that this habit will never leave you for as long as you live. A truly educated man never ceases to learn. He never ceases to grow…. I hope that you will read to your children. They will be blessed and you will be blessed if you do so. I hope that you will even read to your [spouses]. They need to be read to. I hope that you will read to yourselves.”

President Hinckley also told the story of his father, who was an example to him of lifelong learning. I’ll share it with you now, because his father was at one time the president of the Church’s Business College, so it is a part of your history and maybe even one that you have heard before. President Hinckley tells of his father in his later years, after he had retired, living in a simple but comfortable home in a rural area. He had an orchard; he loved giving away the fruit, and the yard in his home included lawns and shrubs and trees.

“It had a rock wall about two feet high separating one level from another,” President Hinckley said. (This is from a devotional that he gave at Brigham Young University in the late 1990s.) He said, “Whenever the weather was good [my father] would sit on the wall, an old hat on his head to shade his eyes from the summer sun. When we went to visit him I would sit beside him. With a little prompting he would talk of his life—of the time when as a boy he lived in Cove Fort. He would smile as he told of the time that his brother found a loaded pistol in the telegrapher’s office. The boys began fooling around, the pistol fired, and his brother shot my father in the leg.

“His father sent to Beaver for the doctor. The doctor arrived hours later and tried to remove the ball with a darning needle. He only made the pain worse. Father, sitting on his wall, would lift his pant leg, feel the flesh of his leg, and say that the ball was still there.

“The family moved from Cove Fort to Fillmore, and when Father was in his late teens he came here to Provo and enrolled in the Brigham Young Academy….From here he went East to school. He then came back and taught [at Brigham Young University] until the First Presidency of the Church asked him to move to Salt Lake City and preside over the business college, for which the Church had great plans.

“He was an educator. He was a successful businessman. He presided over the largest stake in the Church, with more than 15,000 members. He served as a mission president and in many other capacities. And now he was retired, and he sat on his wall. He was a great reader with a wonderful library. He was an excellent speaker and writer. Almost to the time he died, just short of the age of 94, he read and wrote and contemplated the knowledge that had come to him.

“I discovered that when he sat on the wall, hours at a time on a warm day, he would reflect on the things he had read from his library.

“I think he grew old gracefully and wonderfully. He had his books with the precious treasures they contained of the thoughts of great men and women of all the ages of time. He never ceased to learn. As he sat on the wall he thought deeply of what he had read the night before. He acquired [that] habit as a student.”

President Hinckley finished this story by saying, “Now, you are young, and why am I telling you of an old man and the wall on which he sat? I am telling you because I think it has a lesson for each of us. We must never cease to learn. We believe in eternal progression and that this life is a part of eternity to be profitably lived until the very end.” (“The BYU Experience,” BYU Devotional, 4 Nov. 1997, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=761 )

Being a lifelong learner who pays attention to what is going on in the world and the community can be overwhelming in today’s media environment. There’s so much information available and so many voices crying, “Lo here!” and “lo there!” (See Luke 17:21) Becoming well informed requires learning to sift information, figure out how it fits together, and to determine who to trust. It may require wrestling with conflicting information or information that challenges your assumptions. It will probably test your faith and may shift your beliefs a little. You’ll have to choose what to believe, and the choice will not always be easy. It will require hard honesty and self-examination. But it will help you become someone who acts, and not someone who is acted upon. Do not be afraid of the process of gaining knowledge. Be confident in your ability to use it to act.

This brings me to the second part of the Deseret News brand statement: “When I’m well-informed, I feel more confident living my beliefs so I can make a difference in my family and my community.”

Part of our goal, part of my goal in my job is not to simply describe problems in society but to highlight people who are finding solutions to those problems. I’d like to share with you a few stories we’ve recently published about people who are making a difference in their community.

Cynthia Packard is an LDS woman from Gilbert, Arizona. She was a Relief Society president in 1999 with two teenagers still at home when one of her friends approached her with some disheartening facts about infant mortality in the country of Mozambique in Africa. Her friend said to her, “Have you ever thought of going to Africa?” I’m going to read a little bit from this article about Cynthia Packard:

“Of course she hadn’t [thought of that]. In fact, she had become quite adept at ignoring Africa. A compassionate woman, so pumped full of love it leaks out the corner of her eyes, Packard doesn’t empathize with people; she internalizes their pain. So, as a matter of self-preservation, she breezed right over the headlines about toil and strife on the world's poorest continent. 'I couldn't stand to look at those heartbreaking pictures when everything seemed so hopeless," she said. When she prayed about the idea — something she agreed to do only to get her rather persistent friend off her back — she did so halfheartedly.

“‘God?’ she asked, kneeling down next to her bed one day. ‘You don't want me to go to Africa do you?’

“Within four months, Packard was bumping along an ill-kept road in Mozambique, dodging women balancing 50 pounds of water atop their heads and potholes big enough to swallow a small car.”

"She didn’t have a plan; she just knew she was supposed to go and help. She ended up getting to know the minister of health in the country, and asked if she could use her midwife training to help deliver babies at a refugee camp. He actually sent her on a tour of the country to find out what people in the rural areas needed the most, which was really overwhelming when she heard of so many needs she didn’t know if she could fill.

"She said, 'I was silly to come. I am just one woman.'

“But in a school's humble request for pencils, she found hope. 'Pencils?' she thought, perking up. 'I can do pencils.'

“From there, for the next six years, she continued to [find ways to contribute to the people in need in Mozambique].” She used her connections with the LDS Church back home to mobilize people to put together birthing kits and to volunteer to come to teach. And eventually, she came to the realization that, rather than providing all of these things for people in need, she needed to find a way to train them to do it for themselves.

Today, the nonprofit organization that she and her husband founded, Care for Life, is active in many different villages in Mozambique, and it’s pided people into what they call zones, with zone leaders, where they teach them how to set goals and—this might sound familiar to some of you who have served missions—teaches people how to make and to bring about the changes that they want to see in their communities.

The statistic that I wanted to share with you is that the death rate in the villages where her nonprofit has taken root has improved by an average of 77 percent, due to increased knowledge and sanitation. (Elizabeth Stuart, “Seeds of Hope: How one American woman is helping Africa help itself,” Deseret News, pub. 23 Oct. 2011, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700190691/Seeds-of-Hope-How-one-American-woman-is-helping-Africa-help-itself.html?pg=all )

That’s one story of one woman and her experience. I could tell you other stories of people who have done interesting things in exotic places, like a woman who went to Haiti to adopt a child and realized that many of the children in the orphanages actually had parents who just couldn’t afford to keep them. And so she found a way to start a small business to help women to earn money to be able to support their families so they wouldn’t have to give them up for adoption. (See Jesse Hyde, “An American woman helps keep Haitian families together,” Deseret News, pub. 25, July 2012, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765592268/An-American-woman-helps-keep-Haitian-families-together.html )

And there are many other stories about things that LDS and other people are doing throughout the world. But you don’t have to do something in a foreign country to have an impact. The story about Olivia Bouler drawing pictures of birds is a great example, and there are lots of other examples about children doing similar things, too. We recently published another story about refugees who have come to the United States after being displaced by wars, and many of them who were still so mindful of their friends and family back home that, even as they were struggling, while they were getting their education here in the United States, they put away a little bit of money and over time were able to send that back to their families and even to start their own nonprofit organizations designed to help people in the countries from which they had come.

I believe that, no matter what our situation, there’s something, there’s some connection, some knowledge that we have about people who are in need, and some way that we can apply our gifts to make a difference for them.

One last story that I’d like to mention is one that we published several months ago. We called it “The War on Boys.” I’ll read you a little part that summarizes it:

“Recently dozens of experts shared research on what’s happening to boys in America. They’re doing worse in school. They have fewer male role models because of the rise in fatherless homes and the lack of men in the classroom. They’re more likely to get involved in crime or become depressed than girls. Research shows girls develop faster, [becoming] sexualized sooner, while the maturity gap between the genders is growing. Boys have more substance abuse and mental-health issues and a suicide rate that's five times that of girls between ages 15 and 19. They are not as healthy, their employment prospects seem to be dwindling and their delinquency rates outpace girls' three-fold. A self-formed commission of experts, academics and policymakers wants the president to create a White House Council on Boys and Men, similar to one that targets well-being of girls and women. It would identify areas where males struggle and offer solutions.” (Lois M. Collins and Jamshid Ghazi Askar, Deseret News, “The war on boys: Sex, media and violence,” pub. 20 Feb. 2012, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765552356/War-on-boys-Sex-media-and-violence.html )

I bring up this story for two reasons. One is to tell you about a class of students in the Salt Lake area whose teacher read this story in the newspaper and brought it to class and had them read it. They discussed it. They talked about how they saw that playing out in their own lives, whether that was a reality for them. And they each took time to write a letter to the reporter with an observation about the article and a question. I think that was one fantastic way for a teacher to contribute to the knowledge and awareness of her students and to finding solutions for this problem, which is one that our country is still wrestling with right now. And it’s one that touches everyone in this room and one that, I’m sure, many of you have had thoughts about or could have inspiration on the way to contribute to solving this problem in our community and our country today.

There are other examples in other areas. I could talk all morning about people coming up with creative ways to help people find jobs, finding avenues to bridge religious differences, discovering innovative ways to improve education. In each case, someone used information to act and to make a difference in his or her community or in the world.

In closing, I would like to say just a few more words about the idea of community. The American writer Wendell Berry has said, “A community is not something that you have, like a camcorder or a breakfast nook. No, it’s something you do. And you have to do it all the time.” (posted at The Beanery at 25th Avenue & Hilyard, http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/PW/TransPlanning/Documents/LCACT_Wendell_Berry_on_Community.pdf )

In another place, he wrote, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” (Wikiquotes, “The Loss of the Future,” in The Long-Legged House [1969] )

Mormons are experts at creating internal community. And I believe that “The Mormon Moment” is yet another call to reach out and participate more in the external community, where there is much for us to learn, discover, and contribute.

I’d like to share one last story, again from President Hinckley’s devotional talk. He said, “Mr. Shimon Peres called on us last Wednesday in the Church Administration Building. He is one of the elder statesmen of the world, the former prime minister of Israel. He has seen much of conflict and trouble in his time. He is a wise and able man who speaks with the spirit of a sage.

“I asked him whether there was any solution to the great problems that constantly seem to pide the people of Israel and the Palestinians. He replied that of course there is. He said an interesting thing. As I recall, he said, ‘When we were Adam and Eve, we were all one. Is there any need for us to be pided into segments with hatred in our hearts one for another?’

“He told a beautiful story that he said he got from a Muslim. The Muslim told of a Jewish rabbi who was conversing with two of his friends. The rabbi asked one of the men, ‘How do you know when the night is over and the day has begun?’

“His friend replied, ‘When you look into the distance and can distinguish a sheep from a goat, then you know the night is over and the day has begun.’

“The second was asked the same question. He replied, ‘When you look into the distance and can distinguish an olive tree from a fig tree, that is how you know.’

“They then asked the rabbi how he could tell when the night is over and the day has begun. He thought for a time and then said, ‘When you look into the distance and see the face of a woman and you can say, “She is my sister.” And when you look into the distance and see the face of a man and can say, "He is my brother.” Then you will know the light has come.’

“Think about that story for a minute. What a wonderful truth it tells.”

I encourage all of you to empower yourselves through knowledge and to commit now to building Zion and building community wherever you find yourself in the future. My belief is that as we build bridges in whatever community we find ourselves, we truly realize what it means to be a follower of Christ. I believe that as we find oneness with others, we find oneness with God and we fill the measure of our creation. I believe that we are saved as inpiduals and as communities, whether as communities sealed together through ordinances or communities made up of the pure in heart in various places. In short, I believe in the ideal of Zion.

I promise to use my gifts to build Zion and to build community, and I thank God for that privilege, for the meaning and purpose I have in my life because of the teachings of the Savior, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Take Charge of Your Thoughts

20 Oct. 2012


Take Charge of Your Thoughts

My dear brothers and sisters, it’s a privilege to be here with you today. Each time I’ve had the privilege of visiting with students at the LDS Business College I have come away a better man. My mother studied here as a young girl, and I was pleased that with the first invitation I received to have sent to me a transcript of her record at LDS Business College, which wasn’t called LDS Business College at the time, but it was the institution that preceded what we have today. And I credit what she experienced here as being the precursor to much of what has enriched my life over the years. And so I’m indebted to the institution, to your wonderful president, and commend to you his unique leadership and abilities. And to you, as the student body, I have the opportunity of walking the halls of this institution from time to time as I have to get money out of the ATM machine, or come over just to see how the students are doing, and it’s wonderful to be next door and to be part of this wonderful campus.
My mind has gone this past week to the process of thinking, and I should like to share with you some impressions about thinking that I hope will be useful to you. Perhaps it is because the business that Deseret Management Corporation is in, in large measure, has to do with the theater of the mind—a theater that receives things and plays them out, either in drama or in news or in the spoken word over the radio, or in music—all for the purpose of creating impressions and feelings and motivations, and we hope good ones. While some of the broadcasts that we carry are not totally within our control and don’t meet the standards that we would otherwise expect, we are working on that. It will improve with time.
But this idea of the theater of the mind has occupied my attention because of those responsibilities, and in that theater of the mind there unfolds the processes of thinking and the formulation of thoughts, and hence the reason for the remarks today.
Have you ever wondered, “Where did that thought come from?” I should like to share with you an experience, maybe one of the most dramatic that I ever had in my life to date, and it was that question that came to my mind twice during the course of this experience, which I think sets a proper stage for what will follow. I was on a Church assignment to Africa. I found myself in a large West African airport. I was en route to the country of Ethiopia. I had to catch the flight out at midnight. When I arrived at the airport, I found that there were thousands upon thousands of wonderful African people whom I deeply love, also having to catch the flight out at midnight. It was a Muslim holiday and they were making a trek, and so I found myself in the milieu of a large and very bustling air terminal.
In those days, it was very difficult to come and go in the country of Nigeria, and one had to declare how much currency one brought in, and one had to declare how much was taken out. No local currency could leave the country, and there were very strict controls on that. And as one left, one had to account for each form of currency that one possessed, and record the passport number that you carried so that the officials could check you off and allow you to leave. I was in the process of looking through my Traveler’s Checks and recording my passport number when I realized that there were three or four men standing around me and getting ever closer. And one spoke to me and said, “May I help you with that?” and before I could answer, he had grabbed my passport and my Traveler’s Checks and the four of them disappeared into the crowd and down a hallway. I had just been robbed.
Then came the first thought: “Go after them.” And I wondered, “Where did that thought come from?” But being younger and more impetuous than I am today, I went after them. Now mind you, it’s late at night, none of the offices in the airport are open. The only place where there is anything happening is out in the main terminal. These men had disappeared down a long hallway, and I went in hot pursuit. I came to the end of the particular hallway I was in, and it branched both ways, and as I turned to the right, there came another thought: “Do not take one step farther.”
I stopped midstride, and I turned around and went back to the middle of the airport, wondering, “And where did that thought come from?”
And so, the idea of what transpires in this theater of the mind is no simple question, no simple issue to treat. Lots of things pass through our minds during the course of a day. You hear things from your instructors, you see things in the media—television and other forms of media, you hear things, and all of them are coursing through this mind of ours. And in the process of these things coursing through, there is going on what we call thinking and the formulation of thoughts.
What is thinking, and what are thoughts? A definition says that thinking is “to have or formulate in the mind something, to reason about, or reflect on, to judge or regard.” So when something comes into your mind, if you pause for a moment, you start to process it, you start to wonder about it. And the more profound the thought, if you are a person given to reflection, the more time you take to digest it, and to see what it really means as you look at all aspects of what has just been placed in your mind.
The dictionary also says that a thought is the product of thinking. It is “an idea; the ideas, concepts, judgments, imaginations, fancies, opinions, dispositions, and intentions that arise in the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls.” That’s what thoughts are, and they are stimulated by this thinking process that takes place in our minds.
Now, from whence comes the ability to think? The Scriptures say, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8)  To understand where this gift of thinking comes from, and the various things that play into it, it might be well to reflect upon the experiences of one Oliver Cowdery from Church history. All of us know the name Oliver. He had a hand in writing as scribe for the Prophet Joseph. He had a unique invitation from the Lord that he, too, would be able to translate from the plates, and therein we find a little chapter in the human side of Oliver that all of us can relate to.
First of all, the Lord said to him, in the sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, preparatory to the invitation for him to also help translate. He said the following:
“[Oliver,] look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (v. 36) Now, remember what a thought is—it’s the formulation of an idea, a fancy, a purpose. “Look unto me,” the Lord said, “in every thought.”
Further, when he received the invitation to translate, the Lord gave him some assurances about these thinking and thought processes. He said, in the eight section, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart.” (v. 2)  I will say that again, so that you catch the emphasis: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
“…Behold,” the Lord continued, “this is the spirit of revelation …this is the spirit by which Moses [led] the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” 
So as the Lord is schooling Oliver on thinking and thoughts, He alerts Oliver that not only should he look to the Lord in all of his thoughts, but the Lord would tell him how those thoughts should mature. Oliver, as you recall, didn’t learn the lesson quite as well as he might have done. His efforts at translation failed, and the Lord then instructed him further, with these words:
“[Oliver, ] you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
“ But if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings.” And of course the Lord goes on to explain, “but [rather] you will have a stupor of thought, [which will] cause you to forget” that which you have been pondering over. (D&C 9:8-9)
In these few verses, the Lord is explaining to Oliver and explaining to us the manner in which thinking and thought controls our being, and how important it is that we master both of those aspects that are playing out in this theater called the mind.
It is important for us to realize the following, from an apostle: “The power to think is an inheritance which all men and women receive because they are the spirit children of an Omnipotent Father.” Now note this: “It is the spirit that thinks, not the mortal tabernacle.” (McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine, p. 791, Bookcraft, 1966) It is not simply the mind that one uses to process these things. It is the spirit that is within you. It is that eternal part of our character that processes thoughts and formulates thinking into something that’s usable.
In my judgment, and this is certainly not doctrine, but I think it’s the mind that enables that spiritual process to be translated into our mortal sphere so that it can be acted upon. 
Now with respect to thinking and thoughts, there are those that build up, and there are those that destroy. Let’s turn our attention first to thoughts that destroy. Satan’s war for the souls of men and women is waged first in the mind and the heart. No man or woman who commits grievous error or transgression begins at the point of the transgression. That which we do which is wrong always starts with something in the mind. A thought has been transmitted to us, we begin to process it, we labor over it, we entertain it, we allow it to remain (if it’s something that is wrong), and inevitably it will bear some fruit—little or full ripe, it will bear some fruit, if it’s allowed to remain. That’s the way the adversary works. He uses this process of attacking our spirits just as the Lord uses the process in lifting and edifying us, his spirit children.
Jesus said the following about the devil’s efforts: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 
“Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.”  (Mark 7:21-22) And what else could He have mentioned, that is evil? It all begins in the mind, and Satan has great influence over us if we allow him to have, in that process of thinking and the formulation of thoughts.
You remember the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript of the Book of Mormon. Joseph was chastised or upbraided for having allowed them to fall into wicked hands. And the Lord said this: “Satan hath put it into their hearts to alter the words.” (D&C 10:10) In other words, Satan is using that process of thought and feeling to cause evil to come about, and the book of Lehi, those pages translated from the book of Lehi, we do not have, but we have all that was important in the book of Lehi, for the Lord had foreseen the efforts of the adversary and made ample provision for that.
Another example we have from scripture is the Lord speaking about the children of men prior to the flood. This is what He said about them: “God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) So you can see how corrupt the human family had become. Every thought imaginable in the heart was evil before God. And why was that so? Because they had allowed that little thinking process to accept that which was wrong. They had dwelt on it, they had cultivated it, and before long, it had blossomed into deviant behavior.
In Proverbs we read, “As he [a man] thinketh…so is he.” (23:7) Therefore, it is incumbent upon you and me, as children of our Heavenly Father, to get control of that process of thinking and the formulation of ideas that arise from it.
In the 19th century, there was a common little saying that was often heard. It went like this: 
"We sow a thought and reap an act.
We sow an act and reap a habit.
We sow a habit and reap a character.
We sow a character and reap a destiny."
[This saying has been attributed to numerous sources, but no original source has ever been conclusively isolated.]
 That is the way the process works, with those thoughts that destroy, as well as with those thoughts that can bless. In Alma’s words, we read, “For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not bear to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us [and] to hide from his presence.” (Alma 12:14)
I won’t ask for a show of hands, but has anyone here ever felt guilty because of the thought being formulated in your mind? Have you ever felt a pang of regret, remorse, even pain by something you suddenly discovered you were thinking about? It is part of this mortal experience to encounter such things. 
In the Scriptures, we often read about Jesus’ experience that He “suffered temptation.” (See, for example, Mosiah 3:7; Alma 7:11)  I can’t help but wonder if that references, at least in part, that He suffered from the burdens of thoughts and things that were introduced in His most holy mind, that caused Him to anguish over it. And we have but a glimpse of it as we find ourselves delving into thoughts and thinking processes that we know are wrong—that pang of conscience that suddenly reveals itself when we are in forbidden territory.
How do we combat these warring thoughts? Let me suggest an approach. I would call them the five ‘R’s, for the sake of writing something down.
First of all, resist. James says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) It is a very simple thing to do. “I am not going to think about that.” That’s all you have to do, and you will find yourself imbued with added power and authority to rebuke him who is seeking to destroy and that which he has introduced into your life. You simply have to resist: “I’m not going to do that! I’m not going to entertain it any longer. Get out of my mind!” And by resisting, you will find that it will begin to flee. And more importantly, you will become stronger.
Next, remove yourself. Remove yourself to a better place. It means taking charge. It means standing for that which you know is right. It means getting out of the circumstance that you find yourself in. If it’s listening to a certain type of music, you change it. If it’s looking at something, you change it. You remove yourself from where you are, because where you are is obviously causing something wrong to blossom within you, and it’s something that you do not want to have happen.
Next, replace—replace that which is evil with something that is good. If, for example, you have an evil thought, you have heard the counsel of the Brethren—begin to sing a hymn. How many of you wake up with a song in your heart in the morning? How many of you step in the shower and begin to sing? I do it every morning, to my wife’s chagrin I might add, when she is trying to doze. But I find that it starts my day and takes that morose feeling away. And suddenly I can be filled with an excitement for that which is to transpire during the course of the next eight to ten hours. So you replace that which is evil with that which is good, that which is morose with that which is uplifting and wholesome, whether it be a song you sing or entertainment you switch to, or people that you associate with. But you replace that which is evil with that which is good.
Then you read and write. You read and write wholesome things. The Scriptures are good things to read. I commend them to you. I read them daily. And I always am in the Book of Mormon, not to the exclusion of the other Scriptures, but I find that it has great power for good in my life. But read in the Scriptures every day, if you wish to control your thoughts, because you will find that you receive great strength. And, write in your journal. When the day comes to a close or the new day is dawning, you write the things that are transpiring, and you will find that you will gain great strength in processing the right and rejecting the wrong.
And finally, of course, that word that begins with R with which we are all familiar—repent as needed. If it means praying, pray. If it means committing, commit. And then carry on in doing what you know you should. Repentance is not all that difficult to figure out. You simply pray, stop doing, and begin again. And you do that which you know you should. And everything will work out as it ought to work out. 
So much for thoughts that destroy and how to deal with them. Now thoughts that build and bless. How do we cultivate thoughts that build and bless? First of all, take a stand. Realize that you are in charge of your world. The devil isn’t manipulating you, the Savior isn’t countering; you are not simply an object caught between two forces being buffeted here and there. You are in charge. You are the only one that can decide on what day you are going to resurrect—whether it be the first or the last, the morning or the evening. You are the only person that can decide that, and you have complete capacity to make that decision.
I said to Sister McMullin one day, “Sweetheart, I have made a decision.”
She said, “What’s that?”
“Well, I’ve made an appointment in my mind. The appointment is that, on the morning of the First Resurrection, I’m going to be present.” Now, that means the morning when those who are resurrected are going to the celestial kingdom. I’m going to be there. I’ve made an appointment, just like I make an appointment for the doctor or the dentist. “I’ve made an appointment to be there. Would you like to join me?”
And she said, “Yes, I think I would.”
That’s the way you get to the celestial kingdom, simply put. You decide that that’s where you’re going to be, and then you live accordingly. And because of the mercy and grace and power of our Lord, it’s possible, and it happens. But if you do not decide, you will constantly go over that process and wonder, and you will find that in your wonderment, some not too wonderful things transpire. 
So you take a stand. You make a covenant. The Lord says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) So when you make the stand, when you commit yourself, you will suddenly find that you will start to establish the thought pattern consistent with that which you have decided. And every time something contrary to that which you have committed yourself to, covenanted yourself to, taken a stand on, creeps into your mind which is contrary, you will recognize it as such and you will be able to establish the right instead of the wrong.
Next, do not be idle in your mind. Another 19th century saying with which perhaps some of you are familiar—perhaps your grandparents or great-grandparents recited it to you—“An idle brain is the devil’s workshop.” Have any of you ever heard that? It is true. You sit around and idle away, and you will find that it is the devil’s playground. Before long, through some medium, if nothing more than the experiences that you have had years before, there will creep back into your consciousness something that is evil and inspired of him who seeks to destroy you. It is inevitable if you allow your mind to be lazy and be idle. So one of the things that you can do is to keep it busy. Keep it busy with constructive things. Make sure that you point your mind to those things you are supposed to be doing that are good and wholesome. Elevate your thoughts by good music and good literature. Elevate your thoughts by good people and good activities. Take the positive approach. Don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. Remember, it is your life and you determine its outcome.
Paul said this to the Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Now, just for your reference, so that you can look it up later and write it on your mirror in lipstick or some other… that’s taken from Philippians, 4th chapter, the 8th verse. And I think it’s worthy of writing down. Think on these things. Make it a practice, and you will find that wondrous things start to unfold in your mind.
Now with respect to the power of the Holy Ghost and his effect upon our minds, from Elder Parley P. Pratt: “The gift of the Holy Ghost… quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them”—note that—“and adapts them by the gift of wisdom to their lawful use.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 1965, p. 101, quoted by Elder L. Tom Perry, April conference 1997) So all of those capacities that we have that are so easily diverted into forbidden paths—as we cultivate the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, we find that they are, they channel themselves into their lawful and legitimate purpose, because the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and the strength to do so.
Brigham Young said the following, regarding the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s one of the most insightful and encompassing things I have ever read. It’s rather lengthy; I’ll tell you when it’s over.
“I long for the time,” he said, “that a point of the finger, or motion of the hand, will express every idea without utterance. When a man is full of the light of eternity, then the eye is not the only medium through which he sees, his ear is not the only medium by which he hears, nor the brain the only medium by which he understands. When the whole body is full of the Holy Ghost, he can see behind him with as much ease, without turning his head, as he can see before him. If you have not that experience, you ought to have. It is not the optic nerve alone that gives the knowledge of surrounding objects to the mind, but it is that which God has placed in a man, a system of intelligence that attracts knowledge, as light cleaves to light, intelligence to intelligence, and truth to truth. It is this which lays in man a proper foundation for all education. I shall see the time,” he concludes, “that I can converse with this people and not speak to them, but the expression of my countenance will tell the congregation what I wish to convey without opening my mouth.” (Journal of Discourses, 1:70-71, April 8, 1952)
Now isn’t that a remarkable thing? Just think, that it is within all of our grasp, because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. All we need do is pray and live properly and cultivate it, and lo and behold, it begins to blossom, and its fruitage is that whereof President Young spoke.
The Savior said it this way: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” be it here or be it there, or be it in the world to come. (John 14:26)
I think that it is of great help in controlling our thoughts, to decide “I am going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” I find the declaration of Mormon in the Book of Mormon, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (3 Nephi 5:13) absolutely stirring. And every time I have found occasion to repeat that, putting it in my own words, I have found great strength coming to me, not as a consequence of who I am or what I have said, but because taking a stand and making a declaration in some magical way opens the windows of heaven through the power of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of a loving and kind Heavenly Father.
It was Alma who said to his son Helaman, regarding this process of thinking in everyday life, the following: “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. 
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all [of] thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest, let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Alma 37:35-37)
Said the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Now, would you like to hear the rest of the West African story? Traveler’s Checks are gone, passport has been stolen, no way to get out of the country. I retrieved my luggage that had been checked with Ethiopian Airlines, and made my way back to the hotel. I knelt in prayer, and said, “O God, my Father, if Thou wilt that I travel on to Ethiopia, Thou must help me to get out of this country. I’ve lost my money; I’ve lost my passport. Nothing will get me out of this country unless I have Thy help.”
As I concluded that prayer, the thought came, “Call the U.S. Consulate.” I suppose I should have thought of that anyway, but I hadn’t. I was traumatized. I’d been robbed. So I called the U.S. Consulate, and a Marine answered the phone. I told him what had happened; he said, “Come down tomorrow morning; we’ll get you a passport.”
So, that taken care of, I went back to the airport, thinking that I would now use my prowess in negotiations and finagle a way out of the country. After all, I still had my ticket. I found that they wouldn’t accept my ticket. I had to go back downtown and be reticketed, and this was a Muslim holiday and there were a lot of people being ticketed. My travel downtown was fruitless. I went back to my hotel room. I knelt in prayer and said, “What shall I do next?”  Go back to the airport, was the impression.
I argued a bit. “I’ve been to the airport. That didn’t help.” But the impression was indelible, and so I went back to the airport. This was midday. The next plane left at midnight. As I stepped into the airport, a wonderful African gentleman came up to me and said, “Where have you been? My boss has been looking all over for you.”
I thought to myself, “How would his boss remember me among all of those thousands of people?” I’ll leave it to you to figure that one out. But I stood out like a light bulb, let me just put it that way. I said, “Is your boss here?”
He said, “He’s right there, getting in a cab. Just a moment, I’ll get him.” He ran out the front door and came back in with his boss. He said, “Where have you been? I looked all over in this airport last night for you. I wanted to bring you home. I knew that you had been robbed. I didn’t know where you were going to stay.”
Now think of that. I said, “I need to get out of the country. I’m going on to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”
He said, “You come tonight. I’ll get you on the plane.”
So I arrived at the airport a little before midnight. I was standing in line with my passport and ticket, and he came out and saw me. He said, “Come over here and sit down.” He had me sit where they pass the luggage through, and I sat there for some period of time. And each person in front of me had fistfuls of passports and tickets, people getting on the plane. And in the middle of them checking others on, the man doing the checking in called another man whom he had already checked in up to the counter and started an argument with him. In the midst of the argument, the boss came out, walked quietly behind the two who were arguing, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Come with me.”
I walked back of the…the back way through all of the ticket counters and out onto the concourse—where you go down to the airplane. None of the lights were on, there were no passengers there yet; none had been allowed through passport control. And here he was, leading me down to where the plane was. He led me up to the gate; the gate hadn’t been opened. Only the emergency lights were shining, you know.
He said, “You wait right here, I’ll be back in a moment.” So I stood there in front of the gate, ready to…I didn’t know what. And in a moment the gate opened up and there was the walkway down to the plane, and the lights were on, and there he stood. He walked me onto the plane and said, “Choose your seat.”
I said, “I’ll take this one here.”
He said, “Fine. I’ll take this one here. I am taking you to Addis Ababa.” And I arrived there and met Elder Carmack and we finished the mission. And where did those thoughts come from? You got it?
Now, my dear brothers and sisters, God loves His children. And He loves you. He is mindful of where you are in your minds, and He is mindful of where you are in your bodies, and He is mindful of where you are in your life. And He will guide you and He will strengthen you, and He will direct you aright. He simply asks you to take charge of your life. Live according to the things that bring happiness and peace. Allow Him through the power of the Holy Spirit to cultivate within you that which will bring you to flower and fruitage in the Kingdom of God.
I bear my personal witness, I know this is true. I know He is our Father, and I know His holy Son and bear witness of His divinity, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Embrace Life Outside Your Comfort Zone

06 Nov. 2012


Embrace Life Outside Your Comfort Zone

President Richards, thank you for the kind invitation allowing me to come down and speak today.  I love to come down here to feel the energy, if for nothing else. But I love LDS Business College.
President Richards mentioned that I work for the Church in the Media Department, and I had a first yesterday. The phone rang and a newspaper reporter asked me what the Church’s position was on Bigfoot. That was a first. I’ve worked for the Church for 14 years, and apparently he has been spotted in Provo Canyon, if anybody is wondering. For the record, we don’t have a position on Bigfoot.
Thank you for being here today. Thank you for being examples of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I stand up here and look at you in awe. I understand that LDS Business students are about 2,200 strong now, that you’re from all 50 states, 60 different countries—that’s really impressive. It reminds me of Joseph Smith’s prophecy back in 1834, when he was meeting in a small log cabin just outside of Kirtland. He had a small group of men where he said, “Brethren, you only see a small group of priesthood here tonight, but the Church is going to fill both North and South America.” Then he said, “It will fill the whole world.” And all of you sitting here today are the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy, and it’s nice to be here to see that and be a part of it.
As President Richards said, I’m very grateful to LDS Business College. My wife, my sons, my daughter-in-law all graduated from here. In fact, my daughter-in-law used to manage the bookstore. And I remember walking in here numerous times to come in and pick her up. But I’ve come to love the College through their experiences, and I really feel like you have made a wise decision to be here, to come to school here, and if I had to do it over again, I would choose LDS Business College.
I’m sure you are all aware today that today is Election Day, right? If you didn’t know that, I’d like to know what planet you were living on. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has unleashed a tidal wave of media inquiries into our office. And they’ve come in from all over the world—from Russia, from Germany, Japan Australia, France. And I was even intrigued—Al Jazeera has been here five or six times, and of course, all of the media here in Utah have had the same kind of questions. But believe it or not, when they say, “We want to get to know the Mormons and do a story about the Mormons,” the first thing they ask is, “Can we attend a Family Home Evening?”
We are like, “Absolutely.” So we have a list of families who have been pre-approved that, we call them up and this poor family up in Farmington we have used so many times that it’s almost like, “Welcome to our Family Home Evening. Johnny, will you say the prayer.” And so we’ve done a ton of those. And they’ve toured Temple Square, they’ve interviewed missionaries, they’ve been out to the Bishop’s Storehouse, and, yes, we’ve even brought them down to LDS Business College. You probably didn’t know it, but they have been down here.
I have to tell you that I’m exhausted. So please go vote tonight and let’s get this thing over with, so we can get back to normal.
Today I want to share two messages with you, and if you take anything away from my talk today, I want you to remember these two messages. Message number one is, in His wisdom, His mercy and understanding, the Lord pushes people outside their comfort zones for two reasons. One, to accomplish His purposes; and two, to help us grow and reach our potential.
Let me read that to you again. In His wisdom, in His mercy and understanding, the Lord pushes people outside their comfort zones for two reasons—to accomplish His purposes and to help us grow and reach our potential. Sometimes that push isn’t very fun, and it causes us to wonder why certain things happen to us.
Message number two: Most miracles happen when you are outside your comfort zone.
To illustrate these points, if you will go with me, if you will, back to the year 1769 to Vermont and New Hampshire. And that’s where Joseph Smith Junior’s parents, Joseph Smith Senior and Lucy Mack Smith, met and dated and courted and eventually got married. And they were just a normal couple trying to make their way. And back then it was tough, but they began their marriage under very favorable circumstances. They received part ownership in Joseph’s father’s farm. They called it “a very handsome farm.” And Lucy’s brother Stephen Mack and his business partner gave Lucy a thousand dollars as a wedding present. 
Now a thousand dollars now would be a great wedding present, right? Back then, a thousand dollars was a lot of money. And Lucy set it aside for a rainy day. They didn’t spend it. They build their house and furnished it with other means, and full of optimism, these two started forward. And they began working their farm in a very promising year. Wheat prices were up by a third, and the New England economy was bustling. And six years after their marriage, for whatever reason, they decided to leave the farm and open a store. They did that by borrowing money from a bank in Boston. So they put all the items in the store. They sold very quickly, but it wasn’t for cash. It was on the promise that, when the fall harvest came in, that people would come back and pay them. And that apparently was a normal way to do business back then.
Joseph Senior was always an entrepreneur, so in addition to his store, he decided to collect and process ginseng, which is a root that grows wild in Vermont, and it’s—it was at the time, I don’t know if it still is—but it was prized in China as a way to prolong your life. So business was good in the store. Joseph Senior went out to start collecting the ginseng. He went to farmers to collect it, and I’m sure that he went out on his own in the woods. I can only imagine that they had ginseng hunting trips where they went out and brought ginseng in. And when he brought it all back in, they dried it out and then they crystallized it. 
He had one wholesaler come in, and he offered him $3,000 for the whole batch of it—again, which was a lot of money back then. But he was confident that he could make at least $4,500 or more if he sold it on consignment. So he took the shipment into New York City where he hired a shipping company and they transported it to China to sell it there. And everything was looking very good. In fact, the ginseng sold almost immediately when they unloaded it. However, when the merchant came back to New York he said that the venture had failed, and only offered him a chestful of tea for reimbursement. And Joseph Senior obviously smelled a rat; his business partner smelled a rat, and they tried to track this guy down. But he took off with the money, and they pursued him all the way up into Canada but couldn’t catch him. So in short, Joseph Senior lost that whole investment.
Meanwhile, back at the store, the loan payment had come due. And all of those people who had promised to pay conveniently forgot their promises. He tried to collect but to no avail. He didn’t have the money to pay it back. So, doing what honorable people do, Joseph Senior and Lucy made the difficult decision to do what was right. They sold their farm for $800 and Lucy added her $1,000 wedding gift to pay the bank back. That one agonizingly correct decision ruined them financially for the next 14 years, as they moved from one rented farm to another. They first moved to Connecticut, then to New Hampshire, back to Vermont, and finally they left the area and went to western New York, where land was cheap.
Now at first glance, you might go, “Wow, they had a really bad run of luck.” Talk about being pushed outside your comfort zone, right? That couldn’t have been very comfortable. Why would the Lord allow that to happen to good people? They worked hard, they tried to do everything that they could. In fact, that’s what I thought when I first read this account, was, “Wow, they had a run of bad luck.” But after I started to think about it, I could see the Lord’s hand in it.
The Smiths needed to live in upstate New York so that Joseph Junior could be led to the plates. Could the Lord have sent an angel to Joseph Senior and Lucy and said, “Pack your bags. You need to move to western New York”? Yes, He could do that. But what I’ve learned in my life is that the Lord doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you will see an immediate miracle; you’ll get an immediate answer to your prayer. But sometimes you hit a brick wall, and you just have to go with it until you see the Lord’s hand in it, even when everything seems like it’s going wrong.
So my question to you today is, the Smiths were led to New York for a purpose; where is the Lord leading you? Or, how is the Lord shaping your life to reach your potential? And do you feel like you are outside your comfort zone?
People often ask me how I became a media spokesman for the Church, and it all happened because of what I call a series of divinely appointed, uncomfortable pushes that literally shoved me outside my comfort zone. And the first series of these pushes came when I was trying to select a major in college. And I’m sure all of you have thought about your major once or twice, right? I had no clue. And my patriarchal blessing told me that through prayer, I would be guided into a vocation where I could do much good and where my studies would help me. It also said that during this process, I would be given blessings that I couldn’t even comprehend.
But when I was in the middle of it, it didn’t seem like Heavenly Father was answering my prayers. Looking back, I can see how He was guiding me. At the time—and this was way back before computers, I’m going to really date myself—when we had to manually register with cards, communications and public relations was just barely being thought about as a major. In fact, it didn’t really even exist at that point, it was combined with journalism and some other things.
Another question I have for you today is, how many of you will work in a career that doesn’t exist yet? When I was going through this, I thought, “Wow, there could be a whole bunch of people that work at something that we don’t even know about.” So as a freshman at Ricks College, I picked psychology as my major because it sounded good and I wanted to help people. All it took was one psychology class and I decided it wasn’t for me. I mean no disrespect for psychology majors; in fact, my wife up here is a psychology major up at the University of Utah right now. I just knew it wasn’t for me.
So after my mission, I transferred to BYU-Provo, where once again I was faced with the challenge of selecting a major. At that point, I think I wanted to go into business, which a lot of you are doing here. So I chose business management. Things were going swimmingly well, and I was taking some business classes, and I applied for a six-month internship through BYU with an insurance company in Atlanta. And if I got this internship, it would pay for my travel and housing and pay me for the work that I did, and needless to say I was excited. I applied, and I was even more excited when I got a letter in the mail—this was before e-mail—telling me I was one of two finalists being considered for the internship. So in my mind, I had already begun my business career. I was deciding what kind of house I was going to have, what kind of car I was going to drive. And they flew a company representative to Provo to interview me, and I can still remember the interview very vividly. The man that came out, he was kind of portly and his suit didn’t quite fit him, and his tie was tied a little bit too short so he had that white shirt between his belt and his tie. And after the introductions, he said, “Why don’t we go to the Student Union and get a cup of coffee.”
And I remember thinking, “Uh oh. He doesn’t know that we don’t drink coffee.” So after a short explanation of the Word of Wisdom, we ended up having orange juice. The interview went great. I was feeling great about it. Again, I was planning my career. I thought everything was in place. He said he would get back to me. I was on Cloud Nine. One week went by and I thought, okay, that’s okay. It takes some time. Two weeks went by. I still hadn’t heard anything.
However, at the start of the third week, I went to my mailbox, and there it was—the letter of my dreams, the letter that would launch my business career. I grabbed it, I tore it open, and it read, “Dear Mr. Trotter, Thank you for your application, but we’ve decided to award the internship to the other guy.” Well, it didn’t quite say it that way, but that’s the way I took it. So needless to say, I was devastated.
I moped around campus for a few weeks when another brilliant idea dawned on me. I would major in economics, because you only needed 96 credit hours to graduate, right? So I could get through fast, get an MBA and get started. So the next semester, I signed up for the first two required economic classes, macro and micro. Right. And get this, each class was taught by identical twins—I mean, they looked the exact same, and they had grey hair, and it was in a large auditorium with about 300 people. So I forced myself to sit on the front row so I wouldn’t miss anything, and here’s how it went.
It was eight o’clock in the morning. I’d sit down, I’d be going, “Must stay awake. Must stay awake.” Then I’d start to drool a little bit and my head would bob up and down, similar to what some of you are doing right here, right now. But those were the toughest two C+s that I ever earned. It was during this time that Michelle and I got married. During that semester, a friend from high school also talked me into taking a computer programming class that was in a language that doesn’t even exist anymore. Remember, this was in 1982, okay? The professor was from Switzerland and he had a really strong accent. I had a hard time understanding him. And I was lost from day one when I went in there. 
I remember the first day when I went into the computer lab, the assistant came out and I’m like, “How do you turn on the computer?” And there was just that look on his face, like, “Oh.” I thought if I worked really hard I could pull it off. Well, I ended up getting a big fat “F” in the class and I was put on academic probation. Needless to say I was devastated and I was way outside my comfort zone. I’d always done really well in high school. I’d never—things just hadn’t been a challenge for me. And I kept praying and thinking, “Heavenly Father, I am trying so hard. Why is this not working? Why are all these bad things happening to me?”
I even started questioning at one point whether I was cut out for college, but my wife believed in me, even though I was struggling with that belief. I continued to pray.
Out of the blue, my father-in-law introduced me to a professor who was teaching classes in a new major in the communications department. It was called public relations. And I was hooked from the first day that I went, and I knew that the Lord had directed me there. It just felt right.
Now, could the Lord have told me, “Hey, knucklehead. Head on over to the communications department?” Yes. In fact, He probably did. But because of my pride and lack of listening, I probably missed the answer. But sometimes he has to gently lead us outside of our comfort zone to get us where we need to be. Sometimes we have to wait because the position we want hasn’t been invented yet.
While studying at BYU, I heard some of my classmates say—this is once I was in the communications major—that when they graduated, they wanted to work for the Church’s Public Affairs Department. And I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m never going to do that. That’s not for me.” In fact, the thought of wearing a white shirt to work every day just about killed me. So I want you to see what color of shirt I have on—it’s white. My intent was, I was going to study communications marketing, go out and make lots of money. 
So now if you will jump with me 22 years ahead in my life, after my BYU graduation. It was 1998; I was living in South Jordan. I don’t know if we have any people from South Jordan here. I had my own training company. We had an angel investor who was pumping money into it, and I had about ten employees. And despite working lots of long hours, the business started to fail. And I won’t bore you with all the gory details of how that happened, but it felt like my world was collapsing around me again. I remember sitting in my basement being depressed, just wanting to sleep all the time. Obviously I needed a job so I could make the house payment, so I started to network with people. I had gotten to know the managing director of the Public Affairs Department here in Salt Lake, at the Church. So I thought, “Well, I’ll just pop in and see him, see if he knows of any jobs around, not for the Church but just in Utah in general.”
He didn’t know of any, but he said, “We need somebody to go back and run our office in New York City.” 
I thought, “Yeah, right. Like that will ever happen.”
He told me to fill out an application and sign up for an interview, and I thought, “Well, I don’t have anything else to do; might as well do that.” So I turned it in. They called me in for an interview, and that was it. I didn’t hear another word. So I just thought, “Well, that was good practice. It will get me back into the interviewing mode.”
That was in January 1999. Moving forward seven months to July of that year, we had been surviving on income from a few of my clients from my former business, and I was serving as the ward Scoutmaster. Anybody who does that should get a gold medal. And we had just returned from a week camp up in the mountains, and I was tired and dirty. I walked in the front door and Michelle told me there was a message on the answering machine from the Church. So I called, and they said they wanted to hire me to run the New York City office, and that they needed an answer in two days.
Again, I just smiled and thought, “There is no way.” We couldn’t do it financially; I didn’t want to uproot the kids out of their school. And after a series of what I call mini-miracles and being guided and pushed, we were on our way to New York City. And I to admit to you, I was totally intimidated and way outside my comfort zone. In fact, I had experiences there that really pushed me, and some of them even scared me.
For example, we first moved to New Jersey, and we went to register our kids for high school. And as we pulled into the parking lot, there were a group of about thirty kids of mixed diversity, out in the parking lot fighting with each other. And the police had just shown up to break it up. And I remember thinking to myself, “Don’t show fear. Kids can smell fear.” And in review, it turned out great, but that first experience was kind of a shock. 
And another one that we have that I still laugh about—Michelle will probably get mad for [me] telling this, but the roads back there—I don’t know if anyone grew up back East, but I grew up in the West, and the roads go everywhere out there. And I would ride the train and she would come pick me up. Well, I got to the train station for her to pick me up and she wasn’t there. About an hour later, she pulled in. I can’t remember why we couldn’t get our cell phones to work that day. The car pulled up, the door opened up, she said, “Get in, sit down, and shut up.” She said, “I’ve been lost for an hour, driving in circles, trying to find the train station.” She was outside of her comfort zone.
But one of my favorite stories is—people used to say, “That must be great, working for the Church.” In fact, one of my assignments was, when President Hinckley would come to New York, I was the assigned driver. And he came back, I don’t know, six or seven times. And again, a little intimidated to drive in the traffic back there, so I would drive to the airport and practice driving so that I wouldn’t make a mistake. And again, people would say, “That’s pretty cool, to have that job.” And the whole time I am driving down the road thinking, “Please, Heavenly Father, don’t let me wreck. I don’t want to be the guy that goes down in Church history as the one that killed the prophet.”
But luckily we made it through. There is a purpose to all of these stories, okay? All of these and many other experiences pushed me way outside my comfort zone. One the outside I was calm, cool, and collected, but on the inside my brain was going, “Are you crazy?” There were many times I felt inadequate and afraid, but I continued to move forward and put my faith in the Lord.
My point to you today is that the Lord is patient. He leads you, even when you don’t think you are being led. He loves you, and He wants you to reach your potential. And again, sometimes you will see an immediate miracle when you pray or get an answer to a prayer. But other times you have to wait. Sometimes you just have to go with it, and when you look back, you will see the hand of the Lord.
I was led to the communications major. Where is the Lord leading you? Or how is the Lord shaping you with these experiences, to reach your potential? I’m not recommending that you all run out and change your majors to communications. What I’m saying is that each one of you is unique. You have your own life story, and the Lord has a unique plan for you. Look for His hand, and He will guide you.
In Proverbs 3:12, it says: “For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” In Hebrews 12:6, it says: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” That word “chasten” kind of bugged me; I mean, that sounds pretty intense, and when you look it up in the dictionary it means “to correct by punishment.” But it also means to purify and to prune and to refine and to cause one to be more humble and restrained. And that’s the way I look at it, and the way I have experienced in my life when the Lord is leading you. 
As I was preparing this talk, I came upon numerous examples in the Scriptures where the Lord pushed people outside their comfort zones to achieve His purposes. And then I had another epiphany at that point, and that is, most miracles don’t happen until you’re outside your comfort zone, once you have been tested and tried. 
Take, for example, Lehi leaving Jerusalem. It says in the Book of Mormon, “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 2:2) Talk about going outside your comfort zone. I mean, really, it would have been very easy for Lehi to stay in Jerusalem and just live his life and be quiet. I mean, there were no 7-11s on the way, and it was a long trip. And because he was willing to put his faith in the Lord and feel that uncomfortable feeling and go outside his comfort zone, he was blessed and ended up discovering a new country and building the church up in that land.
Look at Nephi and the Brass Plates, and Jonah and the whale. Now there’s a guy that wanted to stay in his comfort zone; the Lord wouldn’t let him. The list goes on and on.
One last scriptural example of the Lord pushing people out of their comfort zone. It’s found in Elder Holland’s talk in 2010 titled “The Best Is Yet to Be.” I don’t know if you’ve read that talk, but if you haven’t, get ahold of it, because it’s awesome. Elder Holland starts off with Lot and his family living in Sodom and Gomorrah. So you all know the story, right? The Lord told Lot and his family to flee, because those cities were about to be destroyed. And then He gave them a key piece of advice, and that was, “Look not behind thee.” (Genesis 19:17)
So the Scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak. They were leaving; the Lord rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah from out of heaven. I looked up brimstone because I wasn’t sure what it was; it’s the stuff that comes out of volcanoes—so volcano rocks and fire. And Elder Holland said that “with the Lord’s counsel—‘look not behind thee’—ringing clearly in her ears,” what did Lot’s wife do? She looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.
I’ve often wondered, had I been there with Lot and his wife and his family, what would I have thought or done? I probably would have quoted Tommy Boy, where he said, “I have seen a lot of things in my life, but that was awesome.” I mean really—a pillar of salt, fire coming down? 
So just what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? Apparently, it wasn’t just that she was looking back; “in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before she was past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had” to offer her. She wanted to go back into her comfort zone. (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Best Is Yet to Be,” Ensign, Jan. 2010)
Elder Maxwell once said that “such people know [that] they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.” (Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light (1990), 47. Quoted in Elder Holland’s article previously cited.)
To recap, in His wisdom and understanding, the Lord is going to push you outside your comfort zone, to accomplish His purposes and to make you stronger. He expects us to do this to build up Zion and sometimes life will be hard, and you will wonder, “Why is this happening?” At times you will think life is unfair and it doesn’t make sense. There will be sickness, unemployment, strife in family relations. School will be stressful. I know how stressful school is. There will be tests to take and papers to write. In the Church, you will be extended a calling that pushes you way outside your comfort zone, or you’ll be released from a calling that you just love. As in all things, you have your agency, and you will be able to choose how you will react. 
Lehi could have stayed in Jerusalem, but he accepted the challenge and look what happened. I pray that when you go home today, that you’ll look for the ways that the Lord has accomplished His purposes by pushing you outside your comfort zone. I pray that when change happens in your life, especially if it’s difficult change, that you’ll search for the Lord’s hand in it and find ways to let it make you stronger.
In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with my testimony. In 4 Nephi 1:36, it says, “There arose a people who were called…Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ.” Brothers and sisters, I’m a true believer. I believe in Jesus Christ and in His power, and in the power of the Atonement, and I have personally felt His influence in my life. I know that God hears and answers our prayers and that He guides us even when we don’t think that He is guiding us. I believe in miracles. I’ve seen them in my own life; I’ve seen them in other people’s lives. I believe in spiritual gifts. I’ve experienced some of those and I’ve seen them in other people’s lives. And I believe in the overall goodness of people, and that we’re here as brothers and sisters, especially us in this room. We are here as brothers and sisters to build up the gospel and to prepare the way for our Savior when He returns. I believe that God is in charge, despite all the negativity that is being heaped upon us in the media and at different times. And I know that, as we stay faithful and as we listen to the Lord as He guides us, that the Church will come out strong and we will come out stronger. And I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Charity Is All About What’s In Your Heart

17 Nov. 2012


Charity Is All About What’s in Your Heart

I am indeed grateful for this opportunity. It’s not one that I relish, and I hope you’ll feel differently when I finish. I’m grateful that the president asked my sweetheart to bear her testimony. [Sister Wall’s testimony posted at end.] I learned this from President Richards. This is the reason why, and brethren, I warn you: Don’t listen to your roommate or your friend—listen to the Spirit. When Sister Wall was at BYU, I first beheld her in my junior year, and she was pretty goofy. At least, I thought she was goofy. She was running for student body vice president, and there had not been a young lady run for student body vice president, nor a president. Her roommate was running for president at Brigham Young. And they had the goofiest platform I had ever heard in my life. 
But one day, she was walking across—this is not part of my talk, or address—she was walking across the campus out in front of the library, and that’s a good place for young men. At that time I was 25, and I’m almost getting to be a danger to society—so I thought it was a good idea to keep my eyes open. My friend was standing there who later became our best man, and I said, “Reed, why don’t you introduce me to that young lady?” Because she waved at him, and he waved at her, and they knew each other, obviously, and I didn’t know her. And I thought, “Wow, she is sure cute.” 
And he said, “Oh, she’s not your type.” And that was the end of it. That was the end of it until I graduated and went to Virginia to go to boot camp, to Officer Candidate School, and a good friend of mine—a girl who I dated at Brigham Young University and who I’d known for a long time—was Heidi’s roommate. And I called and said, “Linda, could we date on the same grounds that we dated at BYU?” Because I knew I was on my way to Viet Nam and I didn’t want to be getting involved in problems there, with girls. It’s kind of like going on a mission—you don’t want to be involved before you go on a mission; you don’t want to be involved before you go into war. Or at least that was my thought.
And Linda said, “No, I can’t. I can’t date you.”
You know, I was a good Mormon boy. I’d never done anything wrong. And she said, “No, I’m engaged, and my fiancé wouldn’t appreciate it.”
I said, “Oh.”
“But,” she said, “I have four roommates and any one of them would be great, and I’ll introduce them to you. But I have one special one I’d like you to meet.” And it was Sister Wall. And so we met. It took her dad, a little encouragement to get me to finally ask her to marry—I was scared. You’d think a guy who had been a policeman and a Marine and all that stuff would have no fear. I was fearful of this young lady, but very, very grateful for a father’s intervention. And to tell you that, brethren, your roommate and your friend don’t always know about how things ought to be. You need to listen to the Spirit and he will guide you. And then you’ll find somebody special.
I hope to testify and hopefully to share some of the things I have experienced from life and in my vocation, encouraging and facilitating philanthropic gifts to the Church and its entities. 
Recently I was impressed with one of your associates and fellow students, Gideon Carter, who came to a meeting I attended and quoted the following from your LDS Business College, Standards of Excellence:
“I am a child of God.  I have the potential to become like Him and receive a fulness of His glory.  As such, I have a boundless capacity to learn and grow regardless of my previous experiences.  My potential is essentially limited only by my choices.  Therefore, in all I do I will seek to find out what God wants done and learn how to do it, for I am determined to accomplish His will.
“In order to more fully realize my divine nature and destiny, I must call upon the help of heaven to magnify my hard work and sacrifice.  I must always remember the centrality of the Savior in my life and how much I need the purifying power of His Atonement.  I must live so that the Atonement can work in my life, so that I can qualify for all of the blessings of the Spirit, and so that light can flood into my life.  Ultimately, I must live so that I can be endowed with power from on high.
“As I continually strive to seek, understand, and live by Truth, I shall inherit precious promises.  With God, nothing shall be impossible; in His strength, I can do all things that are expedient for me.  I will come to learn at astonishing rates and accomplish things beyond my natural capacity.  I will become a beacon of hope, of light and love in an increasingly dark and turbulent world.  I will behold many mighty miracles, find greater joy, live life more abundantly, and receive all of the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for me.  Amen.”
That is an inspired document. Just like the faculty and president and staff that you have here at the Business College—they are inspired to love you and to serve you.
I was impressed because if you truly believe this and act accordingly you will treat your experiences here differently than a young man I recently received an e-mail from, asking that I remove his name from solicitations because some of his credits did not transfer to another school and that he would not give any resources to aid your education here. 
If you follow that, you will really come to understand why you are here, and that the blessings of the Spirit are greater than the secular education that you earn.
Why would I be asked to visit with you, to share something of philanthropy and the part it plays in your lives?  In the Church, philanthropic offerings are those we give freely.  Tithing is a commanded offering, fast offering is an expected offering, but free-will offerings are those given freely and those the Church hopes for.  The reason they are hoped for is this: These offerings are an outward expression of what is in our hearts.  It is what our Father in Heaven desires every one of us to develop and possess.  It is part of charity or love.   
Before visiting more deeply about charity and love, I would like to testify to the words and testimonies you have heard in this semester’s devotionals, and share why I think God has established Church schools, even LDS Business College.  I believe there are a couple of obvious purposes.  The Business College provides a great secular education which is based on eternal principles where the faculty and what they teach is sifted through the eyewear of the gospel principles, where the Spirit can teach.  This allows us to do wonderful things in this world and to support a family.  Secondly, to have an environment of righteous sociality.  You will meet people here who have an impact on your earthly lives and potentially on your eternal ones as well. That includes those of the opposite sex who are like-minded.  Father in Heaven plans for you to meet someone so you fall in love, get married in the right place at the right time and raise a righteous posterity and be happy.  If you ponder how you got here and what directed you, you will find by being here you will be blessed.  It says so in the Doctrine and Covenants. It also teaches us this, the purpose for which you are here and for which you have come to earth: 
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
“And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C 130:18-19) 
When asked why we are here on earth, we often hear repeated the standard, what we’ve been taught as a youth: to gain a body so we can be like our Father in Heaven, but you see just coming here for a body isn’t good enough. Father expects much, much more of us.  So when you come to devotionals, if you have prepared yourselves, you will take little pearls of thought and impressions from the Holy Spirit, and if you act on those impressions, preparing yourselves for what he has in store for you to do, you will be richly blessed and receive more direction of the Spirit.  
You will recall that Bishop McMullen taught us from 2 Nephi 2:26 that because of the Messiah men are free to choose and act for themselves in this life.  This does not mean that there are not forces that act upon us, such as gravity, the economy, or Satan, if we allow him. But it does mean that we can choose what we are and how we react to such forces as well as what we are becoming.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given [them].
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”
I also wish to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its ability to change us, as we learn from its teachings.  Joseph Smith said; “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)  
We are taught that this book has been prepared for us in this day, for us specifically. I am convinced that it will prepare us for and carry us through our life’s experiences, by its study and application.  
There are two powerful bookends in the Book of Mormon that have to do with what I feel to share about this morning.  One is Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life.  It is interesting but not surprising that his dream is found very close to the beginning to the book. It includes an interpretation by his prophet son Nephi.  
In 1 Nephi, we learn that Lehi was led by an angel. He sees a tree “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” We learn that the tree is the love of God and representative of God’s son, the Holy Messiah.    We learn that by partaking of this fruit, Jesus Christ, we are filled with joy and peace.  In this narrative Moroni tells us of Lehi’s and Nephi’s experience. He sets the theme for the book we are to read and teaches us what to look for.  He teaches us that love changes us and true love is found in Jesus Christ.  
At the other end of the book is Moroni 10:32. This testimony and theme testifies that we must come unto Christ and be perfected in him:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”   
We are instructed that to see Christ we must become as he is.  The attributes of God are discussed and taught again and again in the scriptures.  We are encouraged that we can develop and be blessed with those attributes.  In fact in 3 Nephi 12:48 the Savior says; “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”  I insert a little thought: when I proposed to Sister Wall, that night I remember very well, I was frightened. I got on my knees—you know, I’d seen some movies. I got on my knees in their home where they were staying, and I said, “Heidi, I’d like to ask you to marry me.” I was really scared. It had taken me a long time to get this courage up. I said, “But you need to understand one thing, and that is, that in our lives, there will be one Being more important than you and I. If you can accept that, I hope you will say yes.”
And she said this, and this shows her strength. She said, “I wouldn’t say yes if it weren’t so.”
And that brings me to my subject, the topic found throughout the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures—charity or love.  We learn from Moroni 10: 20-21 that charity is the pure love of Christ and we must be found with it in order to be saved in the kingdom of Heaven. I want to be very clear when I speak of charity. Most of us think about alms giving when we think of charity, don’t we? I used to.  Charity is not purely alms giving, but alms giving is an outward act of charity.  Giving of one’s self, what we are and what we have, is an act of charity.  I do not hold myself out as an example of one who is a charitable person nor an expert in charity, as I am still praying and attempting to develop the heart and actions of Christ like or to be like a charitable person.  But you can witness in the actions of a mother or grandmother, charity.  I suspect that is why the theme of the Relief Society is “Charity Never Faileth,” because the sisters of this Church often exemplify charity or love.  They selflessly give of themselves to bless others.  
Let me share an example of a man I know whose life seems to be in keeping with the principle of giving of one’s self.  About two years ago I was asked to visit with this goodly brother and determine if he would give 1 million dollars to help build a building at Brigham Young University—Provo.  His wife had just passed away, leaving him with eight children to take care of, two preparing for a mission and one who was then serving, and a business that was challenged with surviving the economy we are now experiencing.  When asked if he would give a million dollars he said to me. “If the brethren are asking the answer is yes, but I will have to sell my home. Is that what I am being asked to do?”  I told him no.  His heart was right; he loves the Lord and desires to build the kingdom.  This good man had learned what Jacob teaches in the Book of Mormon:    
“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
“But before ye seek for riches, seek ye … the kingdom of God.
“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2: 17-19)
Recently my son David pointed out a charitable act recorded in ESPN magazine by Ron Reilly. I quote parts from this story: In the scrub-brush town of Queen Creek, Arizona, high school bullies were tormenting a sophomore, Chy Johnson, a young lady whose brain works on  a 3rd grade level because of a genetic birth defect but who has been mainstreamed.  They were pushing her, calling her stupid and throwing trash at her. “The permanent smile and gleam in her eye” that was always there before had disappeared.  “She came home crying and upset each evening.”  
Her mother, Liz Johnson, did not know what to do after talking with administrators and teachers at the school and receiving no help.  She remembered the young man that had escorted Chy to the Special Olympics and asked Carson Jones help. “Just keep your ear to the ground,” Liz Johnson told Carson, “maybe get me some names?”  Carson did something better than that. He invited Chy to join him at the lunch table where he and his teammates sat for lunch; you see Carson was the quarterback on the football team and well respected in the school.  Things got better for Chy, her smile and joy of others returned.  The running back Tucker Workman made sure someone walked with Chy between classes. In classes, cornerback Colton Moore made sure Chy sat in the row behind the team.  Chy now attends all the games and is often in their huddle up and cheer before the games start.  Liz, Chy’s mother is concerned about next year, what will happen when Chy’s “boys” and Carson graduate and Carson leaves for a Mormon mission.  Not to worry. Carson’s younger brother, Curtis, told his mother, “I got this.”   (http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/8579599/chy-johnson-boys)
You see, charity is not about money, it is about your heart, how you feel about Father in Heaven and His children.  It is about love, kindness, and civility.  It is an attribute of godliness and comes as we work to overcome the natural man, and plead with God for its bestowal.  Some seem naturally endowed with it.  They may be, but for most of us, we have to work to develop it.  It is another blessing from a loving Father.  Father provided this teaching, which helps us train our hearts.  
We learn, in 4 Nephi, the following.  It’s a little tiny book, just four pages, that was put in there. But if you want to be happy, read 4 Nephi, because it teaches you how. Interesting that it’s so small and yet, Mormon or Moroni, I don’t know who included it in the book—somebody included it there, thought that it had to be, whether it was Mormon or his son Moroni, for our benefit.        
“And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” (4 Nephi 1:2)
“It came to pass that there was no contention in the land because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” (v. 15)
 “And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” (v. 16)
You see, that’s why those little four pages are important for you to read and understand and pray about. There could not be a happier people, because they loved the Lord and they loved each other.
We learn from Moses that “the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind, and [they] dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)  One might assume financially poor, but this poor covers all aspects of their lives, because there are spiritually poor, also. There are poor amongst us all over. 
This period of your life’s experience is a time to learn provident and frugal living in every way so you can have time, talent and treasure to share.  In the humility of days filled with stress as a student, if you rely on your Father in Heaven and think of others, share a kind word or a few moments of your precious time, ponder upon how I can serve and love today—you will find great blessings. Although your grades will be of importance, of greater importance will be what I can learn, what does Father in Heaven want me to be. In doing so you become a disciple of the Savior. It may be said of you, “surely there could not be a happier people who had been created by the hand of God.” (4 Nephi 1:16)
May the blessing of charity or love be in your lives.  May you be perfected in the service of our Master, even Jesus Christ, and be found happy. I bear testimony that Jesus Christ lives. He was resurrected. He is our Savior, and He loves us beyond comprehension. As you love each other, as you are charitable in all you do, in all you think, in all you act, you will be happy. [This] is my testimony, in Jesus’ name, amen.