Summer 2012

Receive Heavenly Power in the Temple

01 May. 2012

Transcript

Receive Heavenly Power in the Temple

 There is a great spirit here today, and I express my gratitude to each one of you and hope that the Spirit will continue to be with us and that He will be able to teach you the things that you need to know and that we will all feel the Spirit together and rejoice and be edified.
This is such a great time of life for you, and I am thrilled for you to be right where you are, right now. You have exciting and challenging times that you are going through now, and that are yet ahead, and you are making important decisions, decisions that will determine your future homes and your happiness. And you are going through things that will require that you exercise a great deal of patience, and that you be empowered by purity in your lives. You are establishing, right now, patterns of thought and language and behavior that will determine your progress spiritually and temporally, and that will also define you and your personality.
At times as you go through this period, you may feel somewhat overwhelmed. There may be times, as you travel along your divinely appointed path to obtain your divinely appointed destiny, a sense of discouragement. That’s not uncommon. You may sometimes question yourself and ask, “How can I, as just a young student, have the wisdom and the strength and the determination to make all the right choices?” That’s a big one, isn’t it? And you might ask, “How can I feel this perfect peace that I read about in the scriptures, and that the Savior has promised? And how can I ensure that I will obtain enduring happiness throughout my life?”
In essence, the kind of questions you are asking yourself are “Who am I, really? And why am I really here, and what am I supposed to be doing? Where am I really going?”
My sweet brothers and sisters, I testify that the answers to these questions, and all questions of eternal significance, can be found in the temples of our God. Today I would like to invite you to come to the temple.
The prophet Isaiah saw our day, and he prophesied that we would be invited to come to the temple and to receive the blessings that are there. He prophesied: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith did receive, here in the last days, all of the priesthood keys necessary to establish temples again on the earth. The early Saints were commanded to fill the temple, when the Lord said, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119)
We know that through much sacrifice, through trials and privations, the Lord’s people did build temples. Our prophet today, President Monson, continues to invite us, the youth, to come to the temple. And when I say “us, the youth” I’m including myself, because I’m young at heart—not as beautiful and wrinkle-free, but I am young at heart—but I hear President Monson’s voice speaking to each one of us when he says, “In its gleaming glory, the temple seems to beckon to each who views its splendor, ‘Come! Come to the house of the Lord. Here is found rest for the weary and peace for the soul.’ ” (“Houses of the Lord,” Ensign, Oct. 2010) And he also challenges us, and says, “There is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple.” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011)
Today we will talk about the temple and why it is so important to attend the temple. And I join my voice with those who have gone before and invite you to also come to the temple, whether you are single or married, whether you are a new high school graduate or a returned missionary, or preparing to get married in the temple. Come to the temple. Whether you go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead or to do full endowments and sealings, come to the temple. Come and partake of the glorious blessings that have been promised by prophets of ancient days and by our living prophet today. As we come to the temple, we come unto Christ. Come to the temple and learn of His ways and learn to walk in His paths.
There are many reasons to come to the temple, but today I’d like to talk about three. First of all, the temple is the house of the Lord, and we can feel His presence there. Second of all, in the temple we receive heavenly power. And third, in the temple we are sealed in eternal family relationships.
The temple is the house of the Lord, and we can feel His presence there. And you know that this has to be true, because when we go into the home of a man or a woman, it is interesting how quickly we feel the spirit that is there, don’t we? And very quickly, if we spend any time at all, we begin to learn the ways of that person, and we are taught of the path that that person has taken. And so it makes sense that when we go into the house of the Lord, that there we are taught of His ways and we learn to walk in His paths, and we feel His spirit there.
When you enter the temple, it feels peaceful, and it feels warm. It’s different from the world. It’s separate and apart from the world. We see things that are different. It’s certainly not about pride and about wealth and fame or power, in a worldly sense. We see everyone dressed the same, in white, and we feel people talking in still, small voices, with voices of perfect mildness and of peace. When we come to the temple, we see people praying and reading scriptures. It’s different in the temple.
In the temple of God, we feel the glory of God, and we gain a sense of His holiness. “Man of Holiness” is His name, and in His holy house, His children learn the way to become like Him and to become holy. We learn the path that we must walk to be prepared to abide in His presence.
In the temple, we learn our divine identity. We learn that we are indeed sons and daughters of God. As President Hinckley taught, the temple affirms that each man and woman born into the world is a child of God, endowed with something of His divine nature. We learn that Heavenly Father has provided a plan for us to fulfill our divine nature and our divine destiny. We learn that He created the earth for us and provided an opportunity for us to use our agency so that we might grow and gain experience. We learn what we are to do to fulfill our divine role, both male and female. Most importantly, we learn that Heavenly Father provided a Savior for us, His very own Only Begotten Son. We learn that the Savior sacrificed for us, and that His Atonement makes our return to the presence of God possible. We remember the sacred covenants that we made at the time of our baptism, and we make sacred temple covenants as well. As we make and keep these covenants, we follow in the path that the Savior has followed. We do the things that the Savior has done.
As we make and keep sacred temple covenants, we come to know our Savior more fully and more completely. We learn how to more fully take His name upon us, to be more obedient, more repentant, more consecrated, to become more chaste, more pure, more virtuous, and more holy. In the temple, our Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to make and keep sacred covenants and to receive the priesthood ordinances that will bless us and prepare us to become like Him and to dwell with Him throughout eternity.
I testify that as we come to the temple, we can grow in knowledge and in wisdom and in understanding of these sacred things.
One young woman—and you’ll forgive me, you handsome young men—but today I’m going to use women for examples. But that’s OK, because we can all learn from virtuous women. We can all learn from one another. One young woman, a teenager from Idaho, was struggling in her life. She was struggling with some very difficult family relationships. She struggled to fit in, and she struggled to know how to balance what she was learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what she was experiencing as the reality of her life.
Last month, this young woman, who I will call Jane, was visited by one of our Young Women general board members, a Sister Diane Robison. Sister Robison was able to encourage her, to love her, and to challenge her to be worthy and prepared to come to the temple. The other day, Sister Robison received this email, and she shared it with me and has given me permission to share it with you. This young woman wrote—and this is exciting: “Just to remind you, I’m Jane. You visited me when you were in Rexburg, Idaho. I’m so sorry I haven’t emailed you yet, but things have been crazy with school.” And you can totally relate to that. “I was able to do baptisms on Wednesday, and when I was waiting”—and this is baptisms for the dead—“I was able to do baptisms on Wednesday, and when I was waiting to go into the confirmation room, I was looking through a glass window to watch someone new do it for the first time. And I thought of something really cool. I thought of the glass window I was standing in front of as a symbol of birth. The baptismal font was a symbol of purity and life, and the room it was in was a symbol for life itself. The glass window at the other side of the font was a symbol of death. On the other side of that glass window was a picture of Jesus. In order to get back to Jesus, we have to stay pure. The font is right in between the two glass windows, and it is on the straight and narrow path. I just thought that was cool, and I might as well share it with you.”
How precious is that, that a young woman who is struggling is so loved by her Father in Heaven that she can come to the temple and be taught by the power of the Holy Ghost of the ways of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and how to walk in His path. As this lovely young woman, who is a precious daughter of God, learned that day, the path of the Lord is straight, and it is narrow, and it does lead to eternal life. We entered the gate to the path when we were baptized, each one of us. And then we received the Holy Ghost. And we continue on that path as we continually repent and as we walk in paths of virtue. And oh, the glorious blessing when we become pure and clean and when we become prepared to enter the presence of the Lord. This is what we learn in the temple. When we enter the temple, we feel His presence. We feel His love. We feel His spirit as we enter the doors in holiness and purity.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord told the Saints of God, “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
“Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it”—and if you hear nothing else I might say today, listen to this promise for it is a reason to come to the temple—for the Savior says, “I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that come into it shall see God.” (D&C 97:15-16)
Walk in paths of virtue and come unto Christ. Come into the temple. Learn of His ways and walk in His paths and prepare to enter the presence of the Lord. President Monson has asked, “How far is heaven?” And then he answers, “I testify that in the holy temple, it is not far at all—for it is in these sacred places that heaven and earth meet and our Heavenly Father gives His children His greatest blessings.” (“Blessings of the Temple,” Liahona, October 2010)
Now the second reason I’d like to talk about why it is so important to get to the temple today is because in the holy temple we receive heavenly power. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith prayed for these blessings: “That all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness …
“ ... That they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws and be prepared to receive every needful thing.” (D&C 109:13, 15)
These are great blessings. How would you like to have heavenly power? How would you like to grow up in the Lord, become spiritually mature in the Lord, if you will? How would you like to receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to the laws of God? Now, I know we all want to be organized, but to be organized according to the laws of God—that’s a powerful thing, and also to obtain every needful thing.
Because the temple blessings are so great, people—thousands of people—have sacrificed much to attend the temple. One such person was a young woman named Elvira Stevens. When Elvira was 12 years old, she was taught the gospel by a missionary, and she prayed in her heart that she might know the truth. When she was satisfied that the Lord had given her the testimony that she needed in her heart, she was baptized in 1844. After her baptism, she went with her parents to Nauvoo, where her father died after a brief illness. Elvira and her mother, four months later, were preparing for the journey across the wilderness, parching corn and doing all other things to prepare. And her mother, who was overcome with toil and with grief and with exhaustion, also died, leaving Elvira an orphan. Their farm and their household goods were sold, and the five children received 10 dollars each to outfit them for their western journey.
Elvira parted with her twin brother, also only 14 years old, with tears in her eyes, and she never saw him again, for he died only six years later. Elvira was taken 25 miles across the prairie among strangers, and there she spent the winter. There were no children for her to play with, no one to feel tenderly for the lonely and quiet aching heart of this orphan girl. When the spring approached, she rejoined her married sister to wait upon her, and began traveling west with her, sometimes living in a brush house, and sometimes sleeping under a wagon while traveling.
Elvira once awoke to find several inches of snow covering them. Exposure brought her to death’s door, but she lived after long suffering. In May of 1846, as Elvira was struggling to survive somewhere in Iowa, the Spirit guided the Saints’ decision to formally dedicate the Nauvoo Temple, even though they had abandoned the temple several months before, before the temple was completed. A private dedication occurred the evening of April 30, 1846, and the public dedicatory services took place the following three days. Few of those already on the trail to Winter Quarters returned for the temple dedication. But one who did was 14-year-old Elvira Stevens. She was the only one of her company to do so.
Elvira crossed the Mississippi three times to attend the services. She wrote years later, “The heavenly power was so great, I then crossed and re-crossed to be benefitted by it, young as I was.” Elvira had not yet received the temple ordinances, but the spiritual power of the edifice itself and the circumstances of the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple remained prominent memories of her brief and troubled life in Nauvoo. (Carol Cornwall Madsen, In Their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994] p. 23, quoted in Young Women Manual 3, Lesson 16: “Temple Endowment”)
What sacrifice would each of you be willing to make to attend the temple? Just consider that question. The sacrifice to attend the temple brings forth the blessings of heaven. Elvira did receive blessings for her efforts. Armed with the heavenly power from the temple, young Elvira Stevens was indeed prepared to obtain every needful thing. After three years on the trail, she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in the first company of 1848, walking beside two yoke of oxen, caring for a sick sister and a brother-in-law who had somehow managed to break his arm. A few years later Elvira Stevens married, and she went on a mission to the Sandwich Islands with her husband. She obtained an education and, as an adult, she became Dr. Elvira Stevens Barney, one of the first women doctors here in Utah.
Whatever our journey here in life, wherever we may be along life’s trail, we may come to the temple and find heavenly power. Some degree of sacrifice has always been associated with attending the temple. You who live and study right here in the shadow of the Salt Lake Temple may have to make a different type of sacrifice to attend the temple. It may be sacrificing some sleep or foregoing a fun, leisure-time activity that you enjoy engaging in. It might be that you need to pay tithing. It might be changing the way you think or speak or some of the activities that you engage in, so that you will be more prepared to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be with you. It might be needing to repent and change your life, so that you may be worthy to obtain a temple recommend and to attend the temple.
It is worth it. Whatever sacrifice the Lord requires of you to come to the temple, I testify that it is worth it. The blessings are great. President Boyd K. Packer taught the “temples are the very center of the spiritual strength in the Church.” And he quoted President George Q. Cannon, who said at the dedication of the Logan Temple, “Every foundation stone that is laid for a temple, and every temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and godliness, [and] moves the heavens in mighty power on our behalf.” (“The Holy Temple,” http://lds.org/temples/purpose/holy/0,11707,2028-1,00.html)
When our minds may be clouded with confusion and with the clamoring of many voices, conflicting voices that seek after our attention and distract our attention, come to the temple. Armed with heavenly power, we see things more clearly, and as a matter of fact our troubles sometimes seem to melt away. We are blessed in all the affairs of our lives. Our prayers are answered and our questions can be resolved when we come to the temple and receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost.
Our living prophet has promised, “As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants that we [have made], we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary, we will find peace; [and] we will be renewed and fortified.” Those are magnificent promises made to the youth by a prophet of God.
And then he calls to each one of us: “May we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes.” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011) And I might add, so that even when we are not physically in the temple, we carry that spirit with us as we go forward.
President Hinckley taught, “Temple work is concerned with the family.” (“Why These Temples?” http://lds.org/temples/purpose/why/0,11581,1953-1,00.html)  So the third reason I would like to invite each one of us to come to the temple today is so that we may be sealed in eternal family relationships. As President Hinckley continued to teach, “With each of us as members of God’s eternal family, and with each of us as members of earthly families [the temple] is concerned with the sanctity and the eternal nature of the marriage covenant and family relationships.” (“Why These Temples?”)
In September of 1823, the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Moroni’s message was so important that he repeated it four times. He quoted Malachi: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
“ … And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:38-39)
Elijah did come as prophesied. He came to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple and restored the sealing power. In 1918, the Prophet Joseph F. Smith received the vision of the redemption of the dead, where it was revealed to him that the prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers, to foreshadow the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times for the redemption of the dead, and for the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted.
President Smith saw this, our day right now. This was 1918, but he saw you right now. He saw the building of temples. And he saw you who are sitting here today, who are of this generation, and knew that you were reserved and prepared to come forth in this, the fulness of times, to partake in this, the work of salvation, to partake in laying the foundation of the latter-day work, including the building of temples and the performance of ordinances for the redemption of the dead.
You were taught and prepared in pre-earth life to participate in this great and glorious work. The reason you are here is to go to the temple and to unite past, present, and future generations into one eternal family. You are to do this by being worthy to attend the temple to obtain your own temple ordinances. And you also are to be worthy to attend the temple to obtain the same ordinances for your ancestors.
President Kimball taught that in pre-earth life we committed ourselves to Heavenly Father, that if he would send us to earth and give us bodies and the priceless opportunities that life afforded, we would keep our lives clean and we would marry in holy temples and rear families and teach righteousness. We covenanted to participate in those things.
One of the most sacred days of my life was the day that I was married to my husband in the Mesa Arizona Temple and was sealed to him for time and for all eternity. I do not remember everything, or much of anything the sealer said, honestly, but I remember what I felt. I remember kneeling across the altar from the most handsome man in the entire world—I was sure of it—and I felt exquisite joy. The Spirit of the Lord seemed to just burn in my heart. I was very much in love and I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, I smiled so much that my cheeks hurt.
After the sealing ordinance was performed, the sealer invited my husband and me to stand together and look in one of the two large mirrors that were on opposite sides of the sealing room. As we stood there together looking at our image, the two of us seemed to go on and on forever and forever. That was the idea. The sealer told us that our ancestors were rejoicing that day in our union. He also told us that the spirits that had been assigned to us—we found out later, seven of them—were there and they were waiting to be born, and that they were rejoicing. He promised us that if we would be faithful to the covenants that we had made, we would be the link to join the generations of our family past and future, and bring them together for eternity.
Since that day, our seven children were born, and now they have all been married and sealed to their companions for eternity in the temples. And we are now engaged in the process of preparing our grandchildren to come to the temple. And since that day when we were married, my parents and my grandparents have passed away. They have now gone on. And my husband and I are engaged in attending the temple and doing the ordinance work for those of them that were not fortunate enough or blessed to receive those ordinances when they were in mortality. So we provide for them, our ancestors, the blessings of eternal life.
Now just last week in conference, Elder Bednar spoke to you about this very subject. You remember, I can tell. Last week, he said you have been prepared for this day—you, the youth—to build up the kingdom of God. “You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work.” (“the Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” http://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-hearts-of-the-children-shall-turn?lang=eng&query=Elder+(name%3a"David+A.+Bednar") )  Now I’d like to share a brief video with you that shows Elder Bednar teaching the importance of the work we are to assist in, and the importance of coming to the temple on behalf of your family members, your specific family.
We go to the lds.org website, and you can watch this at any time at your own convenience because it’s public, and you click on the menu and go to “youth.” Click on the youth link under family and there we scroll down not very far to the video, “Family History: The Time is Now.” Now as you watch this, I’d like you to ask yourself the question, “What is Elder Bednar asking me to do? What are the blessings when I participate in this sacred work? And really, what am I going to do about it right now?”
VIDEO:
 Elder Bednar: “Each of us benefits from all of those who have gone before. Learning those stories helps us really understand who we are and where we came from.
Young man: “The best part to me of doing family history work is definitely learning about who we are.”
Young woman: “It helps you see what your potential could possibly be.”
Young woman: “I’m very proud of my heritage.”
Young woman: “It teaches you how hard your ancestors have worked to get you where you are, and it just makes you want to strive to be a better person.”
Young woman: “It gives me hope for the future.”
Elder Bednar: “This is the work of salvation. It’s not just indexing. It’s not just researching names. These are people, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We are here to participate in the work of salvation in inviting all of these people to come unto Christ and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel. That’s who we are. That’s why we’re here on the earth. With the technology capability that you young people have, you are prepared for this day. The time is now.”
Young woman: “The easiest way to get involved in family history would be to go to Family Search and to put your name in and search for people you know of.”
Young man: “You can just go on the Internet, and it’s all right there for you. I don’t think it’s just for old people.”
Young woman: “It can actually be really fun.”
Young woman: “It’s really easy.”
Young man: “Once I got online, it was just easy. It was … it made me wonder why I didn’t do it before.”
Elder Bednar: “I don’t know of a greater blessing than ultimately realizing that God trusts us and depends on us to do His work.”
Young woman: “Once I started doing it, it made me feel right, and it made me feel so good, and I wanted to share it with everybody.”
Young man: “When I was young, it was just my dad, my mom, and I and we weren’t members, but I remember when they were taking the discussions, I remember the peace that we felt. I was young, but I remember it. And now that I’m older, I understand that it’s just the greatest gift that anyone could ever have to be with their family forever.”
Elder Bednar: “It’s a remarkable spiritual experience when you do the work for your own ancestors and you take your family names to the temple to perform the ordinance work.”
Young man: “The way I put it was the temple day was our game day. I love going to the temple and the feeling I have in the temple. My first thought of it was, I’m going to work for my ancestors as they did for me.”
Elder Bednar: “With a young man like you, I will rarely ever ask the question, Are you preparing to go on a mission. I will ask the question, Are you worthy to be in the temple, and will you be next year, and will you be the year after that? Are you doing the research in your own family and helping other people with their research? That, for a young person in the wickedness of the world in which we live today, is one of the greatest safeguards against the temptations of the adversary. The time is now.”
 
Sister McConkie:
 
I hope you felt the spirit of that invitation to come and to participate in the work of salvation. You are magnificent, each one of you. I have felt the Spirit of the Lord with you, and with us today. Come to the temple and be sealed in eternal family relationships. Come to the temple and receive heavenly power. Come to the temple, and know that you enter His house and feel His presence there. Come to the temple to be purified and prepared to see God’s face and to know that He lives. I testify that as we come to the temple, we will know who we are and what we are here for, what we are to do, and where we are going. We will receive answers to our prayers and receive revelation.
I testify that God does live and that He loves us. This is His work. It is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of each one of us. He has provided the plan. He has prepared the way. He loves us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son. I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. And through the power of His infinite and eternal Atonement, we may be saved if we will just believe and obey. I testify that Joseph Smith was the mighty prophet of the Restoration, and that he did bring forth the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and that it is true. I testify that we are led by a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. I testify that if we will prepare, we may be worthy to come to the temple and make and keep sacred covenants and receive all of the blessings that our Father in Heaven has in store for us, even the blessings of eternal life and exaltation. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Make the Most of Opportunities—and Be Happy

01 May. 2012

Transcript

Make the Most of Opportunities—and Be Happy

It’s always a delight to be able to start a speech by telling you that the greatest speech that you probably are going to hear today probably was just given by Brad [the student officer who gave the greeting]. I want you to know, if you really want to take some great notes about significance in life, just review what Brad just taught you, because there is probably nothing more important than what you will ever learn than what he just shared. A great job, Brad. (Remarks by Brad Squire are at end of this file.)
Life—what a joy. I want you to know that I have been blessed in my life with some key principles that we are going to talk about today that I hope when you are through today that you spend some time of the day thinking about just a few of the things that I might say to you. But most importantly is maybe how I say them. I say that because I can’t take credit for one of the most important attributes that I believe is very critical for success in life. And let me just tell you that that attitude is being happy in life.
I didn’t have to make myself happy. I grew up happy. Now, if you think that that’s because I was raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, it was not. I certainly was not raised with a silver spoon in my life. But I will tell you that I grew up with seven other brothers and sisters in a home that we knew we had love, and we were a handful. Absolutely no question about it, we were a handful. I had a mother who was an educator, who was truly a disciplinarian, and where we had a lot of fun—I want you to know that in our home, when we went to Church on Sunday, it was back in the old program where you had sacrament meeting sometime in the afternoon or early evening, and we would go there and sit as a family before there were actually church announcements to do so. And we sat in a row so that my mother could, at appropriate times during the service, lean forward, look down the line, and just raise an eyebrow at one of us. And we knew we were history. She truly did believe that those who spare the rod truly did spoil the child. That didn’t mean that we were abused, but I’m sure that did mean that we truly did know when we were out of line, or when she thought we were out of line.
I say that for a lot of reasons, and part of that is because of who you are today, and what your successes are going to be in the future. Looking at you today, some of you have some problems. It’s always amazing to me—when I was a bishop, and I would sit in the front of my ward out in Bountiful and I would look down. I want you to know there is a special spirit that goes with that, much more than being a speaker. And I could look down into the audience, and I could see people who were struggling. You see, your eyes tell me a lot. I don’t need to be a genius to know a lot about you, without ever talking to you, just by looking at you. Because there are certain things that speak volumes, and a lot of times it’s in your eyes.
Let me tell you a story that I had when I was the state Olympic officer. My office was at the state Capitol—a beautiful office. I looked right down State Street. I had over a thousand interviews with people from around the world, who came in to find out a little bit about Utah. And they all had the same questions as they came in, and you could always tell who they spoke to first in the state of Utah, by the questions they would ask me. And there was one political leader here in our area that I always knew if that reporter had visited with that person first by the questions they would ask. One of the first questions they would always say, “Well, tell us about the archaic liquor laws.” And if they said that—and they would repeat it almost verbatim every time—I knew that they had talked to a certain politician in our area, because that was the term that he used all the time. And I loved those kinds of questions, because people would actually . . . because he would respond to it, they would think that those were issues here.
And I would love it, especially the alcohol question, and in this case I said to the person, “Well, help me understand. Have you ever been to a Winter Olympics before?”
And this particular person [said], “Oh, yes, I was in Nagano, and saw Nagano, and I was also in Lillehammer.”
I said, “Well, that is great. Was alcohol an issue to you in either Lillehammer or Nagano?”
And he said, “Oh, no, not at all.”
And I said, “Well, if it wasn’t a problem there, I guarantee you it won’t be a problem here. Did you know that Salt Lake City has twice—twice as many places to get a drink of alcohol as the last two Winter Olympics combined?”
He said, “Are you serious?”
I said, “I am. If it wasn’t a problem there, I promise you it won’t be a problem here.” People just want to believe something different than we really are. What are the other questions they would love to ask? I one night went home and said to my kids around the table, “Listen, I’ve got a way for you guys to really make a lot of money during the Olympics.”
They said, “How’s that, Dad?”
I said, “Let’s rent a van, put a big poster on the side that says, ‘Visit polygamists,’ and you could just pick people up and drive them around and point out different houses. People would go crazy with that. They’d love it!” Now it doesn’t matter whether they were factual or not.
They said, “Dad, can we really do that?”
I said, “Of course not.” But I am telling you, people are interested in that. Why? Because it sounds so absurd. And it was a little disappointing to a lot of people when they came and they found out, “Oh my heavens, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be at all.”
One day I was in the office and I was visiting with this reporter from Der Spiegel magazine in Germany. Some of you that have probably been to Germany know it’s a, kind of like a Time magazine in Germany. And he was a reporter for Spiegel magazine, and he was doing a full-spread article on Salt Lake City and the Winter Olympic games. And after he went through the customary questions—and he did a very thorough job—I said to him, which I said quite often to a lot of people, now that he was through, I said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
He said, “Oh, no, not at all.” And he said it in a very heavy German accent.
I said, “Tell me about the most impressive thing that you have found in Utah.” And he said what had been repeated several times in these interviews. Without any hesitation, he pointed his finger at me and he said, “It’s the people.” He said, “Do you know that you can walk up and down the streets right down in Salt Lake City,” and he pointed down State Street, “you can walk down the streets. People will look you in the eye and say ‘Hi.’ They don’t do that in Germany,” he said. “This is a very friendly place.”
I want you to know that people from all over the world were truly touched. I could give you thousands of stories and letters of people who came, and experiences from letters of people who came here, with the people of Utah. Well, what made us so unique? Why were our Olympics considered as Ebersol said, by and far the greatest Olympics ever held? Why is that still the case today? It wasn’t because of the organization, and yet we had some wonderful people. Mitt Romney did a great job for us.
I had the responsibilities—I had to approve all of Mitt’s budgets. Now I want you to know Mitt Romney was not accustomed to having people approve his budgets, nor did he really need to. One of the brightest human beings I have ever met. And that’s not a political statement; it’s just an absolute fact, irrespective. What an incredible human being. But I do want you to know that during that period of time, people got to expect a lot of what we were. And around the world, they noticed who we were. And it always came back to the people—it was the people who made a difference in our Olympic Games. It was the people who greeted people at all of the different venues. It was the people—and many of you were very young at that time—but for some of us it was a real special period of time in life.
Well, what makes a difference? What makes a difference for you? You’re at such an incredible time in your life, and opportunities that are in front of you . . . I promise you, there are more opportunities for you in the world today than there ever were for my generation, by far. And they’re exciting. And it’s something to look forward to. And yes, at times, it is something to absolutely scare you to death, because that’s part of life. It’s something that some of you will worry about.
It’s very hard for certain people that I speak to, because I speak on the economy several times a week, somewhere around the country or in Utah. And about why Utah is doing the things that Utah is doing. And people don’t understand it. Why did Forbes just [recently] again, for the second year in a row, list Utah as the number one state in the nation for business and business opportunities? Number one! Why? What is it that’s making a difference here?
We could talk a lot about economic reasons. And there are some. Twenty-five years ago in Utah, of about 13 different areas of economics that we look at in talking about different economic strengths within a state, we had two—mining and agriculture. That was it. Those were our strengths, mining and agriculture. Today that is not true. According to Forbes, and they acknowledge us in both reports, that one of the strengths that Utah has is diversity of the economy. Diversity doesn’t mean the color of our skin. Diversity means that we have a broad base of economic opportunity here in Utah. Just incredible.
Eight years ago, one of the concerns I had at the Chamber when I came to the Chamber is that we didn’t have the corporate headquarters that we should have in Utah, just demographically. Why did Boise, Idaho, have more corporate headquarters than Salt Lake City? It doesn’t make sense. Not because Boise, Idaho, is anything—I mean, they’re a wonderful place. I was born in Idaho. That’s where I was born. Boise is a great place. But by population, we are the crossroads of the West not because of the Tabernacle Choir. We are the crossroads of the West because we are the crossroads of the West. Where are our big companies? Where was Novell? Where was WordPerfect? Companies that literally changed the entire structure of personal computing in the world. Where were they then? Why weren’t their corporate headquarters here? Why were they sold off somewhere else?
Did you know that seven years ago through the University of Utah, through their business schools and all of the inventions that they had, they had a program there called Tech Transfer—technology that came from scientists and students at the University. They had seven that year. Of the seven who went through Tech Transfer, who went from technology and transferred into business, five of them were purchased with venture capital and moved out of the state of Utah. Well, why were we losing them? We had to ask that very question.
You should know that we have two research institutions in the state—University of Utah and Utah State. Not Brigham Young—by their own definition, Brigham Young is not a research institution. Do they do research there? Certainly. But by definition of universities, they are not a research institution. They are very supportive of this. And they’re very supportive of the other two who are.
When you address an issue, do you make a difference? Let me tell you. Seven, seven years ago. Last year, the University of Utah became the number one tech transfer university in the nation. In the nation. Surpassed MIT. Wow! What a difference it makes when you actually decide to make a difference. Does that impact all of you? I should say it does.
Why is Goldman Sachs here in Utah? Two years ago, Goldman Sachs had about 400 employees in the state of Utah. They were up at Research Park in a building that didn’t even have their name on it. Even the door didn’t say Goldman Sachs. That’s all they had. People went to work every day, they went in there—unbelievably successful. Why? Why were the Olympics so successful? Our people. Why was Goldman Sachs so successful? The people. Where are they today? The Goldman Sachs office in Salt Lake City. Utah is the second-largest Goldman Sachs office in the world. Over 2,000 employees, and they will add, probably within the next year, another 400. Why? Why do they come?
Do you know what is, to me, gratifying? It is the number one requested relocation of all of Goldman Sachs. More people that work for Goldman Sachs request moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, to live among all of you. Can you believe that? Isn’t that amazing? Why? What is the difference?
There is a lot of differences in life. Dr. Dupree Jordan Jr. said, “Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. . . . Successful men act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality.  Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.” Absolutely amazed.
I was going to the University of Utah, working nights. I started a janitorial business right here in Salt Lake City. I had all my missionary companions—I had about 26 of them working for me at that time, but I wouldn’t do any office, because I didn’t want to do any tile floors, any linoleum, because I didn’t know how to clean that.  But I knew how to push a vacuum. So they had to be carpeted, and I went around and just bid and got all of these jobs and people, and then my missionary companions would come in and I’d pay them and their girlfriend or their spouse to go clean it at night. It was kind of a nice little deal. And then I fell in love with real estate. What a neat opportunity. And I fell in love with real estate because I had absolutely the worst experience I have ever had in buying my first home from a very unprofessional human being. I saw him the day we wrote the offer and at closing. And at closing, the loan officer said to me, “Now, you were aware that it required, because of the age of the house that you were buying”—we were buying this lovely, lovely dump out in Bountiful. It was literally the biggest dump in Bountiful. It was the only thing we could have afforded. Seriously, built in 1891 and about falling down. But I couldn’t afford anything else. So my wife and I, we were so excited, and we get—no, we didn’t know we had to have 20 percent down. We thought we had to have 10 percent down. Do you know what it’s like—well, some of you do, to be in your early 20s and have scraped every penny I could possibly get from under, even, the car seats to try to get enough money to close. And then I get there and he tells us that we had to have 20 percent.
Luckily, my wife was a teller for then Walker Bank, and we called her boss and he luckily lent us the other 10 percent to close. You can’t do that today, in the mortgage business. They wouldn’t allow it. But luckily then they did, or we wouldn’t have had a home. And we bought this home. And after that, I will never go through one of those people again, so somebody said you had to have a license, so I said, well that’s it, so I would in the day go to school, at night I’d go to real estate school, and I fell absolutely in love with the real estate business. I didn’t realize you had to work for a broker and a lot of other things that I learned along the way. But what an incredible change in my heart—because somebody did such a poor job, I decided I never wanted to experience that again. But it helped me become a better realtor when I was.
Now when you talk about how you act, let me tell you another story. This sounds just like I had been a missionary, and you’ll recognize some of these things. I decided that I looked like I was so young. In fact, a lady came up and visited with me—Kris Twitchell—I don’t know if she’s still in here, but she was in my ward when I was a bishop 30 years ago out in Bountiful. And I was a young bishop—I was 29 years old. But you don’t think of yourself as young. I look back on it and I think, “Oh my word, how did they make that decision?” But not only was I young, I looked really young. I looked really young. And so I had to wear a suit and a white shirt, just so I didn’t look like I was in high school anymore. And one day I was out saying goodbye to some missionaries like they used to do when you could go out to the gates at the airport. And I had a couple of missionaries that were leaving, and I had gone out to the airport to say goodbye to them, walked down the foyer, and before I left that day, I had been asked four times by these sweet ladies—just sweet ladies, “Oh Elder, where are you going on your mission?” And I said to the last—there were three of them there together—and I said, “Oh, I’m going home to my wife and children.” And they said, “Ohhh.” What kind of a human are you?  Married in high school or something?
So I looked young. And I knew I wasn’t taken seriously. So you know what I did? I applied a principle. A simple principle. I had to look the part. I had to be different than everybody else. A lot of the realtors wore these leisure suits—really lovely stretch leisure suits—most of you have probably never seen those, but they were really tacky. And I wore a suit and a tie every day to go to work, and not because I love suits and ties. Believe me, I don’t. I love cowboy boots and Levis. But that’s how I dressed. And then, when I went to a door—you know, when I would make an appointment to go back—I did every “For Sale by Owner” in Bountiful that I could find. Every one of them. And I’d go to the door and I’d knock and I had this little plea that I would do a free market analysis and I would come back and give it to them. And I’d love to share it, usually it was the wife during the day, and I’d go back to the wife and husband and night, and I would go back and say, “How about 7:00 o’clock on Tuesday night?” and they would say, “That will be fine.” And so I would go in my car, park it down the street because my car was pretty pathetic. You wouldn’t want anybody to see you get out of my car, because they would say, “This guy is really a great success.” That’s not what they would say.
So I would park my car down the street where they couldn’t see me. I used to borrow my mother’s duster to show homes in, because it was much better than the car I actually had. But I’d wait right until about five minutes to seven, and then I’d get out and I’d walk up to the door, and I’d wait. I’d watch my clock, and knock, knock, knock. They’d answer the door, and I’d go, “It’s seven o’clock.” Why would I do that? Did I have to tell them that I was prompt? Did I have to tell them that I would follow through? Did I have to tell them that I would keep my commitments to them? No. No one else that went to their door went, “Hmm. It’s seven o’clock.” I told you I’d be here, and here I am. And then I would give them my speech and go through the processes. Why? Because it made a difference.
I’m here to tell you, it makes a difference. Before we’re through here today, I’m going to give you some books that I believe all of you ought to read. And we’re going to—there’s 10 books, and then there’s a whole bunch of books, called the scriptures, that you ought to get involved in—not just because it brings spirituality, but because I promise you, if you do, it will answer your everyday questions of life . . . everyday questions of life. It will talk about how you look. It will talk about how you greet people. It will talk about hardships and why we go through them. It will talk about opportunities. But I’m going to give you some others also that every person in this room ought to read, because it will touch your heart and give you an opportunity. If you walk out to my car today—now, I just had the wonderful blessing of a 60th birthday. When I was elected to the Utah State Senate, the average age of the Senate was 64 years old. I was 34. Do you know how much older that looks to a 34-year-old? I want you to know—you think 34 maybe looks a little older. Boy, 60 was looking pretty old. It’s amazing over time how much younger that’s become. And I do know how to do math. But it became younger.
The reality is that when you go through those opportunities, you learn opportunities, and you will learn everything in life. There are no surprises. I want you to know. There are no surprises. We can tell you why you go to classes today, why you have the teachers today. There are no surprises. If you learn what you are supposed to learn, and act the way you are supposed to act, you will have the results. It is an eternal principle. It never changes, ever. So, do you apply the principles? Those are the things that make the difference.
An unknown author said, “The first thing a fellow ought to do, after he has learned that he has been born equal, is to try to outgrow it.” Charles C. Johnson said that “the only purpose of your activity is to get results.” Boy, that’s kind of plain. The only purpose of your activity in life is to get results. You are going to get them. If you keep the commandments, you are going to reap certain benefits. If you spend your time looking at pornography, you will reap the benefits, and they are disgusting and they will destroy you, they will destroy your family, they will destroy those that you love the very most. So choose which side you are going to be on. There is no surprise! It isn’t a matter of “Well, maybe I’ll just do it a little.” Baloney. There’s no such thing. You’re going to be successful or you’re going to fail. It’s that simple. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be successful in life. It takes a person who is dedicated to following the principles that are required to be a success.
Edward Eggleston said, “Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.” They begin where others end. People all the time ask me, and I have been asked for many, many years, “What is the greatest key of a successful person?” Are you listening? This is a principle. It can change your life. A successful person is a person who is willing to do the things that others are not willing to do. Now write that down, and in forty years, read it again. And if that’s the next time you’re going to pay attention to it, I can guarantee you where you’re at in the pendulum. Successful people are those who are willing to do the things that others are not willing to do.
I have never worked an eight-hour day in my life, ever. Some people would say “you are a workaholic.” I get up really early. I was at my home office this morning at 4:30 sending emails. Now that is absurd. I don’t expect any of you to do that. That’s just me. I do work a lot. But you know what? I have never missed a Little League game, a soccer game, a football game, a dance recital—ever, of one of my children. I’ve been there. Why? Because I control my own destiny. Now, I’ve been very fortunate in that. When it’s time for my wife to have her birthday, which is on the 22nd of November, I want you to know I am with my wife, and my schedule—all of my assistants always know it’s called the JDB day—Joy Diane Beattie Day. There are no appointments for me on that day. Does my wife appreciate it? I really want you to know she does. It has made life very pleasant, and I look forward to that day. It’s a principle. It’s something I decided that I could do that would make a difference.
I smile a lot. This isn’t an act. It’s just me. I’m grateful for my mom and dad. I grew up happy. Does that mean that I haven’t had hardships? I want you to know I have. I’ve seen my mother and father divorced; I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to sit up with people whose hearts have been torn out for lots of reasons. I know what that’s like. But I truly am an eternal optimist. I truly do see good things everywhere. And do you know why? Because it makes me happy. It’s a principle. I decided a long time ago that I was going to be happy.
I had a football coach in the ninth grade who on the field one day—now, in the ninth grade, I have to tell you about my football prowess. I was in seventh grade the littlest person at Kaysville Junior High School—well, Danny, who had polio, was a little smaller. And we both had about the same skill set. I am not exaggerating. But I loved football. I wanted to play so badly. Well, I literally—they announced that we were going to have tryouts for the ninth-grade team, and back then, junior highs had a football team. And I went to the brand new school, Centerville Junior High School. And I went there, anticipating what was going to happen. I was so excited. We had a big long line, and all the guys got there, and you’re kind of macho, you know, irrespective of being a little shrimpy kid, but you think you are macho. And so you’re walking up, and every time I got up to the door where the coach was handing out the uniforms, he would say, “Oh, Beattie, we’re not to your size quite yet. Could you just go back and wait again?” I did that three different times, and he had never given me a uniform. And I started realizing something wasn’t going quite well. And the last time, he said—he didn’t say “Beattie,” he said, “Lane, could I talk to you for a minute?”
I said, “Well, sure.” So he took me into his office across the hall where all my buddies had their uniforms. And he said, “You know, Lane, every team needs a great person who can help with things around the team, carry balls and water . . . ”
And I tell you, I was a ninth-grader. Remember what it was like to be a ninth-grader? BMOC—big man on campus? Even if I was the littlest one. My heart was crushed. Luckily, I was able to maintain myself while I told him that I just wasn’t interested in doing that. And I walked out the back door of Centerville Junior High School, walked along the back of it then, so I wouldn’t have to see anybody else, and I cried on the way home. I lived on Main Street. Ninth grade. Tore my heart out.
About two weeks later, they called and they said, over the loudspeaker, “Some of you didn’t get a chance to try out for the football team, so anybody else who wants to come, you can come out, and you have to have gym shoes and gym clothes.” I didn’t have gym at that time, so I had to run home. I ran home, which was about two miles from the school, down to get my little gym shorts and my little sweat shirt and come back, and I went out on the team. And luckily, I don’t know whether it was just pity or what it was, but I made the team. And what a difference that made in my life. And I worked very hard at it because I knew that I had to work harder than others or I wasn’t going to play. And I didn’t start for the first three games of the year, but after that I started every game for the rest of my high school career. And why? Because I had a principle—I knew that I didn’t have the talent that some of the people were around me, but I knew one thing. I could outwork them. I could outwork them, and that’s what I had to do.
Life is no different. The gospel is filled with opportunities to talk about who you are today and who you are going to become. Joseph Smith put it as succinctly as anyone in the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants when he talked about a time in his life when life was as horrible for him as it had ever been. He had seen God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. He had experienced them in reality. He had talked to them face to face. He knew who he was, and who They were. Yet even at that time, he was put in the dungeon at Liberty Jail—strange name for a jail—but he was put down there in unbelievable horrible conditions, and by day and night, people would come and whisper through a small little opening in the side of the—some of you have probably been there, there are little air vents. And they would whisper in what was going on on the outside, and how members of the Church were being attacked by mobs, and how they were taking women and children and tying them to trees and tying men to trees and forcing them to watch their wives being raped. And then they would go to the Prophet Joseph Smith and say, “Can we pick up arms? Can we fight against this? Can we stop this?”
And the Prophet Joseph Smith would say no. Imagine how he felt, the prophet, knowing who he was, that he was called, sitting in a place that he couldn’t do anything about. And then he pleaded, “O God, where art thou? Where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” (v. 1)  How long, he says—and I am paraphrasing—are we going to have to endure this hideous treatment?
Further, the Lord comes back and He says, Oh Joseph. Basically he says it could be worse. He says, Joseph, you “are not yet as Job;…[Your] friends [still] stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again.” (vv. 10, 9) Why do I say that? Because even the Prophet Joseph Smith realized that at times life gets really tough. But then the Lord said to him, “but… if [you] endure it well,” (v. 8) you will be... and then the blessings that come to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and what the Lord says of him.
May I just say to each of you today, the blessings that you are entitled to in this life are incredible. I love life. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have had. I’m grateful that I had to work harder to accomplish the things I’ve had in my life, because they have been rich and rewarding blessings. I’m grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which first taught me the importance of who I am as a son of God. And I bear you my testimony that the happiness that can come into your life is simple. Follow the principles. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Remarks by Brad Squire, publicity coordinator, Student Council 2011-2012

We wait for almost everything. We wait at stoplights. We wait for grades from a dreaded math test. We wait for answers to questions. Our lives are full of waiting.
Webster’s defines waiting as “to stay where one is, or delay action until a particular time or something else happens.” In other words, if it doesn’t fit your timetable, find something else that does and gives you that instant gratification that you want.
Elder Hales defines waiting as “pondering in our hearts and receiving the Holy Ghost so that we can know all things what we should do. Waiting upon the Lord means to stand fast and press forward in faith, having a perfect brightness of hope. It means relying alone upon the merits of Christ, and with his grace, assisting us in saying ‘Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.’ ”
This is not on our timetable, not always our immediate happiness. To illustrate my topic, I would like to share a story of a time when I had to wait.
I was preparing to serve a mission, and my mission papers were in. And I remember waiting, but mine was a different kind of waiting than most soon-to-be missionaries. Being the mature and all-knowing 19-year-old I was, I figured I would have to wait just as Websters defined, just stay at what you’re doing and where you’re at, and when something happens, do something about it.
I was wrong. Trial after trial and adversity after adversity, I became a very impatient worldly waiter. I didn’t understand what it meant to wait as Elder Hales describes, but I would soon find out. I recall after a rather hard Sunday I returned home from Church with the news that my mission papers were sent back for the sixth time. Feeling bitter, alone, and lost, I reluctantly turned to the scriptures. During my study I came across 2 Nephi 26:16 and read the words, “Wherefore, the Lord gave unto man that he should act for himself; wherefore, man could not act for himself save that he should be enticed by one or the other.”
Reading this scripture changed my worldly waiting into waiting upon the Lord, the waiting Elder Hales mentions. Instead of taking defeat and choosing a different path, I trusted in the Lord and prayed to have His Spirit to guide me. And I was enticed by the Spirit, as the scriptures say. Although worldly opportunities presented themselves and looked quite good, I sought to be enticed by something better. I started seeking after different opportunities for service.
I was then almost immediately directed to request more information about the Family and Church History Mission, that same week being told that I was honorably released from serving a full-time proselyting mission. I received the spiritual confirmation that I would have the opportunity to serve my  mission and that I would be serving in the Family and Church History Mission. Weeks later I reported to Salt Lake City, ready to embark on the journey that the Lord had prepared specifically for me.
Amidst trial and adversity I stood faithful and pressed forward. Waiting upon the Lord takes patience, humility, and faith, but I promise that the benefits of eternal life are far greater than the instant gratification of waiting as the world would.
My challenge for you would be to wait upon the Lord, seek to find His will, then do it. And in all things, work as if it all depends on you, and pray as if it all depends on Heavenly Father.

Service and Fulfillment: 2012 Commencement Address

01 May. 2012

Transcript

Service and Fulfillment: 2012 Commencement Address

Elder Holland, President Richards, distinguished faculty and administration of the LDS Business College, Distinguished Alumnus Patricia T. Holland, graduates, spouses, parents, and friends—my wife, Kathy, and I thank you for the privilege of accompanying you on this happy occasion.  I thank President Richards and the graduate speakers, Debra Hugie and William Widdup, for their remarks.  I also thank the Combined Institute Choirs with conductor Craig Allen and organist Linda Margetts for their beautiful and inspiring contribution to these proceedings.  Such music is perfectly appropriate on a day when we honor Sister Holland who is herself a talented and accomplished musician and lover of good music, as has been mentioned.
 
I must make special mention of Linda Margetts who besides accompanying the Choir has played the prelude and Processional March and will play the Recessional as we conclude.  She and I are first cousins—her father and my mother are brother and sister—and we share the same birth day, although not the same birth year.  She came along a few years later than I—I’m sure she would want me to mention that.  I have always been proud of Linda for the wonderful person she is and for her exceptional musical talent.  I hope that a little of her glory reflects onto me.
 
Sister Holland, may I add a personal word of congratulations on the recognition that has come to you today.  Kathy and I were part of your fan club well before we became personally acquainted with you.  Through the years we have benefitted from your wisdom and insights and friendship.  As President Richards has expressed, your life has been a shining example for both men and women.  You bring honor to LDS Business College, to the Church and your family, to womanhood, and certainly to that fellow who hangs around with you so much.  Elder Holland, beloved and admired friend, you are a very blessed man.
 
Somewhere in the past, a soul who had endured perhaps one too many graduation ceremonies, penned these lines:
 
The month of June approaches, and soon across the land,
The graduation speakers will tell us where we stand.
We stand at Armageddon, in the vanguard of the press.
We are standing at the crossroads, the gateway to success.
We stand upon the threshold of careers all brightly lit.
And in the midst of all this standing, we sit and sit and sit.
(Oh, My Aching Baccalaureate, Jaurence Eisenlohr, June 1957)
 
Having had this experience more than once myself, and therefore being sympathetic to your suffering, I will take my cue from an aged grandfather who was called on to speak at a church gathering.  Some felt that with his many years, he wouldn’t know when to stop talking and they were reluctant to ask him.  They finally decided, however, that they could not in good conscience ignore him, so they invited him to stand and tell them in just a word how they could live to be as old as he was and still be of service.  So he got up and said, “Keep breathing.”  While I may not be quite that brief, I would like to say something to you about being of service, and as I do, I urge you to keep breathing.
 
I would ask you graduates to consider for a moment the reasons you have worked and sacrificed to obtain the degree you receive today.  I’m sure there are a variety of motivations that have led you to this moment, but speaking generally one common motivation was likely to gain the ability to earn a living either now or potentially in the future.  Most, if not all of you, surely expected that improving your knowledge and skills at LDS Business College would translate into a good job or a better job, a steady income or a better income.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that objective.  Another motivation shared by many was probably to develop your talents and thereby become a better, more complete person.  Surely this sort of self-fulfillment has much to recommend it.  Perhaps there were other motivations a little less noble, such as simply wanting to get out of your parents’ house.
 
Among all of the possible, worthy purposes for education and training, I hope you have either come with or developed since being here one desire above all others, and that is to build your capacity to serve your fellowman.  A desire to serve born of appreciation, respect, and love for others will provide the fulfillment you seek.  The central place that service ought to occupy in our lives was explained by Marion G. Romney, a former member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He said:
 
“It has always seemed paradoxical to me that we must constantly have the Lord command us to do those things that are for our own good.  The Lord has said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 10:39).  We lose our life by serving and lifting others.  By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness.  Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom.  Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.  Knowing that service is what gives our Father in Heaven fulfillment, and knowing that we want to be where He is and as He is, why must we be commanded to serve one another?  Oh, for that glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts.  In that day there will be no need for a commandment because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service.”[i]
 
In addition to true fulfillment and happiness, a devotion to service will give balance to your life.  If there is ever-present in your soul a desire to be of service, it will keep other virtuous motivations from becoming vices, as sometimes happens.  For example, in some people the desire to make a comfortable living for themselves and their family has evolved over time into greed, and that greed when unchecked has manifested itself in unethical, even criminal conduct.  Motivation toward self-improvement or self-fulfillment if taken to the extreme can morph into selfishness and narcissism.  Service will be your antidote against selfishness and the sense of entitlement that more and more afflict societies around the world.  The desire to serve people will act as a governor over other motivations keeping those that are good in their proper channel and eliminating those that are unworthy.  Your service will bless others, but it will also protect you.
 
A good example of service balancing one’s life was cited by President Thomas S. Monson in a General Conference address in October 2009; quoting President Monson:
 
[Dr. Jack McConnell] grew up in the hills of southwest Virginia in the United States as one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mother.  Their circumstances were very humble.  He recounted that during his childhood, every day as the family sat around the dinner table, his father would ask each one in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”  (Jack McConnell, “And What Did You Do for Someone Today?” Newsweek, June 18, 2001, 13).  The children were determined to do a good turn every day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone.  Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives.  As they grew and matured, their motivation for providing service changed to an inner desire to help others.
 
Besides Dr. McConnell’s distinguished medical career—where he directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI—he created an organization he calls Volunteers in Medicine, which gives retired medical personnel a chance to volunteer at free clinics serving the working uninsured.  Dr. McConnell said his leisure time since he retired has “evaporated into 60-hour weeks of unpaid work, but [his] energy level has increased and there is a satisfaction in [his] life that wasn’t there before.”  He made this statement:  “In one of those paradoxes of life, I have benefited more from Volunteers in Medicine than my patients have.”  (Jack McConnell, “And What Did You Do for Someone Today?” 13). There are now over 70 such clinics across the United States.[ii]
 
Service finds its greatest expression in the creation of home and family.  I hope, I pray that each of you will have the blessing of marriage and family during your time on earth.  If that privilege is delayed for you until the next stage of existence, I hope you will still have a comparable experience now serving that family in which you are a son or daughter, brother or sister, uncle, aunt, or dear friend.  Success at home will require the best of your talents, including all you have gained at LDS Business College and more, yet it will be the most rewarding.
 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has stated, “A familiar example of losing ourselves in the service of others . . . is the sacrifice parents make for their children.  Mothers suffer pain and loss of personal priorities and comforts to bear and rear each child.  Fathers adjust their lives and priorities to support a family.  The gap between those who are and those who are not willing to do this is widening in today’s world.  One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children.  ‘Dogs are less trouble,’ they declared.  ‘Dogs don’t talk back, and we never have to ground them.’”[iii]  Personally, I would have to agree with this couple’s statement—dogs are less trouble—but I grieve for what they will miss by their choice.
 
Back in the 1930s, a small college in Ohio, the Western College for Women, awarded an honorary doctor of laws to a 74-year-old woman, “for outstanding achievement as wife and mother of Comptons.”  Otelia Compton and her husband Elias who later became a college professor, both grew up on farms and taught school, but as one reporter said, “there was no reason to predict that the union of two country school teachers would produce a page in ‘Who’s Who [in America].’”  Of their four children, Karl became a distinguished physicist and president of MIT; Mary became the principal of a missionary school in India and the wife of its president; Wilson was a noted economist and head of the U.S. Lumber Manufacturers Association; and the baby, Arthur, won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
 
The reporter continued:
 
[Otelia Compton] may disclaim her expertness, but her record is against her.  There are her four children, with their total of thirty-one college and university degrees and their memberships in thirty-nine learned societies.  They didn’t just grow.  In addition, there are the hundreds of boys and girls whose lives [she] shaped during the thirty-five years she spent directing the Presbyterian Church’s two homes for the children of its missionaries.  Cornered in her kitchen, the mother of Comptons simply had to admit that she knows something about motherhood.  Her recipe is so old it is new, so orthodox it is radical, so common-place that we have forgotten it and it startles us.  “We used the Bible and common sense,” she told me.[iv]
 
Speaking of parents’ responsibility to invest in their children, Otelia added:  “Mother and father cannot retain their influence over their children if their children’s life is foreign to them.  And it isn’t enough to encourage the child; the parents must participate in his interest.  They must work with him, and if his interest turns out to be something about which they know nothing it is their business to educate themselves.  If they don’t the child will discover their ignorance and lose respect for them.”
 
“The mother or father who laughs at a youngster’s ‘foolish’ ideas forgets that those ideas are not foolish to the child.  When Arthur [the Nobel Prize winner] was 10 years old he wrote an essay taking issue with other experts on why some elephants were three-toed and others five-toed.  He brought it to me to read, and I had a hard time keeping from laughing.  But I knew how seriously he took his ideas, so I sat down and worked on them with him.”[v]
 
It’s not hard to see the parallels with today’s honoree, Sister Pat Holland, who has demonstrated outstanding achievement “as a wife and mother of Hollands.”  Clearly she had some good material to work with, but still it is quite remarkable what she has made of her husband and her three children who have already distinguished themselves in the field of education.  In a recent interview with Louise Brown, LDS Business College Public Relations Director, Pat said, “Our primary responsibility on this earth is to marry and have children.  My father was a patriarch; he was a spiritually visionary man.  He said to me once, ‘You’ll have eons of time to work with your music.’  I can’t believe we’d be blessed with certain talents that will never be fulfilled because of the temporality of this world. . . .  I know we will have opportunities to develop our talents, whether here or later on.”
 
Remember that even when it involves sacrifice or menial tasks that some would see as drudgery, service is not servility.  All service, great or small is ennobling and worthwhile.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta, an icon of selfless service, said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” [vi]  Yet service that is less than we are realistically able to give will not produce the growth you and I need to become what we can become, or provide for those we serve the help they may require to reach their full potential.  I hope that you will both freely give and gratefully receive acts of service throughout your lives.
 
We all wish you success, achievement, and satisfaction as you move into the future.  I also wish greatness for you as the Lord Jesus Christ defined greatness when he said to his apostles, “whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all, for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).  God bless you to be able to serve your way to greatness.
 
[i] Marion G. Romney, “The Celestial Nature of Self Reliance,” Ensign, November 1982, 93.
[ii] Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Ensign, November 2009, 84-85.
[iii] Dallin H. Oaks, “Unselfish Service,” Ensign, May 2009, 93.
[iv] Milton S. Mayer, “Mother of Comptons,” in Bruce B. Clark and Robert K. Thomas, Out of the Best Books, vol. 5, [1969], 199.
[v]Out of the Best Books, 201.
[vi] Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Life in the Spirit, ed. Kathryn Spink [1983], 45.

Ball, Bow, Boat Teach Us Valuable Lessons

08 May. 2012

Transcript

Ball, Bow, Boat Teach Us Valuable Lessons

 

I think that was a home run. Don’t you agree? And if you think they’re pretty good at singing, you ought to see them teach and administer. They’re really good. I wanted them to sing so you have a chance to see them, because this is a group who have dedicated their careers to serving you and their Father in Heaven. Believe me, they are not here for the money. They are not. They love you. They love their Father in Heaven. They see in you great potential. They see potential in you that you don’t see in yourself yet. And that’s why they are here, and that’s why they put up with me, and why they put up with some of the other things we ask them to do. And that’s why they put up with you when you come with an excuse that you think is novel but they’ve heard a hundred times before. And they will smile, and they’ll be gentle, and then they’ll hold you accountable.  That’s the way it is and needs to be. So when you go to class and you’re not dressed or groomed appropriately, or if you come down on the second floor and try to get a service and you’re not dressed appropriately, they’re going to smile  and tell you  they love you. And then they’re not going to serve you, because they love you enough to hold you accountable to the covenant that you made to live an Honor Code including a dress and grooming standard.

Get to know these people. They are great spirits. They have much to teach beyond the subject that they teach or the area in the College they administer. If I were in your shoes and know them as I do,, I would apply an expression we sometimes use in business: I would “suck the marrow of their bones.”  That is, I would get   everything I could by way of learning from them.  Learning about the subject matter we are teaching and about life and finding true success.

Adam [Adam Fisher, student body president], come stand by me for a minute. How tall are you Adam? Adam is 6 foot 2 inches. I’ll tell you a little story. In the mission field, I went to Australia—the Great Australia West Mission. And we’re tracting one day, on splits in the district, and I was tracting with Kelly Eves who played basketball for a University before his mission. . Kelly was like 6 foot 8. I mean, he’s a huge guy, and we’re tracting together. So you have to imagine Adam plus about six more inches.

So we’re tracting, and we go to the door, and this little boy comes to the door. And we say, “Is your mom or dad home? We’d love to talk to them.”

And the little boy said, “Yes. I’ll go get them.” So he walked around the corner and we heard him say, “Mom, there’s a man and a boy at the door.”

So I looked at Elder Eves, as I’ll look at President Fisher, and said, “It’s your baby face that throws them off guard.”

Okay, you look great. I appreciate how great you look. You’ve made two great decisions already this summer. One is to come to summer school, for which I salute you. I’m like Brother Nelson I tried summer school once. The operative word is “once.” I had insufficient discipline to do it right. So the first great decision you’ve made is to be part of the very first full summer semester that we know of in our history, congratulations.

The second great decision you’ve made is to be here on a Tuesday, looking the way you do. So I commend you for that. You are far better now than I was at your age. And so, what’s the consequence of that? I expect you to be far better than I am now, because you are farther ahead on the road than I was. And so we recognize that in you.

A couple of weeks ago we had Elder Holland here for commencement. We were recognizing Sister Holland as our Distinguished Alumnus. She went to school here, and, in fact, I found out that my sister-in-law was her roommate.

After hearing warm and motivating remarks from Sister Holland, Elder Holland spoke for a few moments. And he related his own experience about being at college and being newlywed and being financially poor and not having much more than a dream of what he might want to do in his life and a good spouse that was supporting him. And he shared with us his thoughts about working hard, having a dream, and when he worked hard on that dream he ended up in a place he never thought he would end up.

And then he quoted to us the second chapter of the book of Joel, verses 28 to 30, and here’s what is written: “And it shall come to pass afterward [meaning our day], that I [the Lord] will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, [and] your young men shall see visions:

“And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

“And I will shew wonders [to them] in the heavens.”

And then he told the audience — made up primarily of faculty and staff—that the students attending here are entitled to dream dreams and to see visions about their potential and what might be possible for them. And so like Elder Holland, maybe some of you right now have nothing more than a dream and an empty pocket. But we are here to help you make those dreams come true, to catch the vision of your potential, so you can move forward to accomplish Heaven’s will for you.

So I invite you to dream those dreams.  I dare you to open yourselves to  visions, about yourselves and what might be possible in your life.  When you couple those dreams with hard work, then you watch the quiet miracle that will take place in your life. That’s a promise.

It’s not a promise made of a wish. It is a promise because we have seen it in the lives of those who have come before you. Because you are like unto them, that same promise and blessing is like unto you.

And so I want you to be uplifted and inspired by attending the temple, whose very shadow, as it were, crosses our doorstep. Every time you visit the temple, whether it’s to do baptisms or initiatory or an endowment or a sealing, it should be a revelatory, and comforting experience for you, wherein the potential of your life takes on more clarity. Do you know that there are only four places on the earth where there is a House of the Lord adjacent to a Church owned University or College - temples of learning? Only four places, and you’re in one of them. I invite you to ponder that. Because if you do, it will change the way you think about learning, and it will change the way we as faculty and staff think about what we do to help you.

Here are the words of J. Reuben Clark. The acquisition of knowledge is lifelong. It is a sacred activity, pleasing to our Father in Heaven and favored by His servants. “He who invades the domain of knowledge must approach it as Moses came to the burning bush; he stands on holy ground; he would acquire things sacred … We must come to the quest of truth—in all regions of human knowledge whatsoever, not only in reverence but with a spirit of worship.” ("Charge to President Howard S. McDonald at His Inauguration as President of the Brigham Young University," Improvement Era, January 1946, p. 15, http://education.byu.edu/edlf/archives/prophets/clark_mission_of_byu.html)

I invite you to think about your education this summer as standing on holy ground, as a sacred activity, a searching for knowledge in the spirit of worship. And I promise you that if you work hard, you combine your dreams with the temple, then you can be assured of good things to come in your life.

Now the invitation here is to come and drink deeply from wells of nourishing water that will ennoble you. You come and share your dreams with us, then let us help you become spiritually and temporally self-reliant to achieve those dreams. There is no need, brothers and sisters, for you to live below the privileges of mind, body and spirit that Father in Heaven has for you. A common transgression you  can commit is that of pygmy thinking. And so again, I invite you to dream dreams and see visions,  go to the temple, live your covenants, work hard and see miracles.

I learned that about three weeks ago, a member of the bishopric in the City Creek YSA Ward gave a talk on a ball, a bow, and a boat. Now here’s just a question I’ve got for you, because I’m going to talk about the same thing. I didn’t talk to that member of the bishopric. I didn’t know that that was his topic until just a couple of days ago. So I ask you to contemplate in your heart for just a minute why two independent people would pick the very same theme of a ball, a bow, and a boat and speak to you twice on it.

Now, you might consider that a coincidence. I don’t.  

A BALL

You know the story. One morning, Lehi wakes up. He’s in the wilderness. He goes outside his tent, and what does he find on the ground? He finds a “ball of curious workmanship.” (1 Nephi 16:10) It was made of fine brass. It contained two spindles, one pointed the way that they should go. And words appeared on the ball that gave them a better “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 16: 29)

Question: To whom and to what do you look to for guidance on the direction you should go and for getting a better understanding of the way of the Lord? There are many voices that are competing for your attention. Some voices that are very quiet whisper truth, and they are only heard by ears that are spiritually trained. But on the contrary, there are other voices that rival the enticing sirens that Odysseus heard while he was on his ship, as conceived by Homer. And from Lehi’s record, we can find a better way to avoid the siren’s calls than putting wax in our ears and tying ourselves to the mast of the ship, as Odysseus did.

The way to do that is a very key phrase that sits inside this story of this little curious ball, and here’s what the phrase says. The scripture records that the ball led them “in the most fertile parts of the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 16:16) The most fertile parts of the wilderness.

Now, going to college at times can feel like a wilderness, can’t it? And so, what keeps you in the most fertile parts of that wilderness? What are the spindles that show you the way to go? Let me share three: First of all, the scriptures. When you are willing to be led, to give heed and are ready to be led, the Spirit will speak the most loudly in your ears. You will hear words and have feelings of  nurturing and admonition—encouragement and correction. It has been said that when we want to speak to God, we pray; when He wants to speak to us, we read the scriptures. That’s what Heavenly Father in guiding Lehi’s family, with the words that appeared on the ball.

Number two: Prophets. When we exercise faith and follow the counsel of prophets without having to hear “thus saith the Lord,” we can more clearly sort out those voices that are speaking. We can more clearly determine the difference between right and wrong, good and evil; good, better and best; those who would lift us  up and those who would set a snare for our feet.

Number three—the third spindle: patriarchal blessings. Listen to President Monson: “Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers… Your … blessing is … a personal Liahona to chart your course and to guide your way. … Patience may be required as we watch, wait and work for a promised blessing to be fulfilled.” (“Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 66)

So each of you have a Liahona, a ball with spindles—scriptures, prophets, patriarchal blessings. So I invite you to follow the guidance and direction you receive. If you do, the effectiveness and efficiency of your study will improve. I promise you that. Your ability to retain what you learn will be magnified, and the Spirit will be your companion. And you will learn at rates that “just amaze the world.” (President Henry B. Eyring)

So you will stay in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, and when you follow those counsels you will not be led astray by the sweet sound of sirens.

A BOW

 One of the next things that happened in their journey is Nephi broke his bow. The lesson to be learned here is that we have to take positive action in our lives to improve our situation, rather than waiting for somebody else to do it for us, to act upon us, to fix our problem.

When his bow broke, Nephi could have easily been discouraged and have asked God:  “Why me? Why this? I’ve done everything you have asked me to do. I have put up with two older brothers who have done nothing but persecute me for trying to do the right thing. I’m trying to live the best I can out here in the wilderness. I’m grateful for the Liahona—it’s kept us in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, but doggone it, it’s a wilderness. I am tired. I am hungry. You sent manna from heaven to our forefathers. How about a few rabbits for us?”

Now these were neither Nephi’s thoughts nor his expressions. Rather, he picked up a piece of wood, and he did his best to fashion a bow out of it. He found a straight stick, as straight as he could, and he made an arrow. Now compared to his bow of fine steel, that wooden bow was a pretty pitiful sight. But here are the lessons to be learned from this event: First, he took responsibility for breaking his bow. There was no blaming of parents, irritating brothers,  roommates, his circumstances or his dog that ate the homework for the third time in a week. He clearly said in the scriptures, “I did break my bow.” (1 Nephi 16:18)

Second, Nephi did what he could do with the resources he had and the talents he had to fix his own problem. And then he sought counsel on how his solution might be used to accomplish a worthy objective—finding food. Now the interesting result. The prophet—Lehi, his father— prays to the Lord to find out where Nephi should be sent to find food. And where did the answer appear? On the Liahona.

To Lehi’s family, the ball was the same as scripture to us. It solved a very practical problem. In the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, we read these words: “These sacred revelations were received in answer to prayer, in times of need, and came out of real-life situations involving real people.” So, brothers and sisters, when you intend to take action to fix your own problems, to find your own direction, you too may pray earnestly and expect divine help, just like those who received it in the Doctrine and Covenants, and oftimes those answers will come in the scriptures.

Now when Nephi finally obtained food, and we don’t know how long it took him, I bet that no one else was as surprised as he was, given what he took up there to make that happen. And though he no longer had his steel bow, what he had was sufficient in the hands of the Lord to accomplish what needed to be done.

In terms of talents and resources, some of you come to the College with a steel bow. Some of you come with wooden bows. Some of you may not even have a bow yet. But you have sufficient for your needs. And the key is to take what you have and make the Lord your partner in pursuing a worthy goal for yourself.

Take the education and talents that you bring, and expand them, stretch them, explore new opportunities to grow.  Dare to dream. Pray to see. Strive to be obedient, and your experience in the College will change your life in profound ways.

So the lesson in the bow is stated clearly in the axiom: pray as if everything depended upon God, and you work as if everything depended upon you.

A BOAT

Nephi’s last challenge came when his family was finally at rest in a pretty good place—the land Bountiful. They had food, water, all that they temporally need. In the face of such plenty, he is instructed to build a boat. Not just any boat—it was a boat to be built “not after the manner of men.” (1 Nephi 18:2) Isn’t that interesting? Nephi was commanded to build something he had never built before to take him to a place he’d never been before, and all he knew was that the ocean was in front of him.

So what do we learn from the experience? First of all, you don’t get much rest when you are in your personal land Bountiful. So get over it. That’s not the way of the Lord. We are to be ever moving, ever pressing forward, ever striving with steadfastness in Christ.

I remember President Kim Clark described it this way. He said, “The Lord works on the frontiers. The problem is most of us are content with living in settlements.” So just like Lehi’s family, there was not much rest on the frontier.

When my grandfather would release stake presidents, he would tell them, “Now, don’t take your boots off.” What did he mean by that? He meant for them not to get too comfortable. Don’t relax, because there is always work tailored for you in the kingdom.

Second, Nephi’s faith in the Lord was unshakable. If the Lord commanded him to build a boat, a seemingly impossible task, he knew that he could do it. The Lord is not asking you to build a boat, but he is asking you to build a life—day by day and to do it “not after the manner of men.”

Nephi’s previous experience in obtaining the plates of Laban taught him that all things were possible if done in the Lord’s way. So you and I can take comfort, counsel and enthusiasm from Nephi’s example. Third, Nephi didn’t have tools. He had to make them. At the College, you don’t even have to make the tools. We’ve done it for you. But you have to pick them up, and only you can use them. And if you don’t know how to use those tools to build and to bless your life, we’ll help you do it.  The tools include course content, the learning pattern, internships, activities, student mentors and ambassadors, the learning assistance lab, a job placement center, a student success team, faculty, other staff—and this fall, we’ll even have a new writing center to help you. Those are all tools, but you have to pick them up. You have to use them to build the life that Father in Heaven wants you to build. So I invite you to use those tools wisely to build what Father wants you to build and then get sailing.

Like Nephi, you will not get all the answers at once, nor will you be constantly told what to do. To be given answers, spiritually or temporally, as soon as you ask them only cripples you, and makes you too spiritually dependent. And Father in Heaven would have you dependent on Him but not crippled. We would have you dependent on us but not crippled.  We are to act and not be acted upon.  Revelation comes when we are up and doing – moving our feet.

You’ll receive directions “from time to time” And when answers don’t come, don’t delay. Don’t stand there waiting for somebody to fix it. Move forward, using your very best spiritual judgment. And if you do, here is Brigham Young’s promise to you, when you move forward and you don’t have the answer yet: “If I do not know the will of my Father, and what he requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in my life or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, [or] my family, [or] my children, or those that I preside over, and [I] get no answer from him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me”—listen carefully—“he is bound to … honor that transaction, and he will do so to all intents and purposes.” (Deseret News, Feb. 27, 1856, 402, Quoted in Joseph Fielding McConkie, “Finding Answers, Ensign, Feb. 2011)

So do not stand idly by, brothers and sisters, waiting for every instruction on where to pound the nail in the “boat” of your life. I just bet Nephi put in a couple of pieces of wood that, when he stepped back and looked at them, he had to tear them out and have a “do-over”. Don’t you think? The same thing will happen to you. And in putting the wood in incorrectly and having to tear it out and do it again, you will probably learn more than if Father in Heaven lifted your hand and pounded the nail for you.

If you are to make a mistake in your education, this is the place to make it. Because we will scaffold you, we will buoy you up. We only ask that you not make the foolish mistakes that come by listening to the sweet sounds of sirens.

What are you building, anyway? You are building a character. You are building the foundation for the right job, leading to a self-reliant career, and you’re building a deeper and a new dimension to the testimony of Jesus Christ that you have. And so I promise you, my good friends, that whatever you think you are capable of, you are capable of more.

“Dream no small dreams,” Goethe said, “for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” So dream big and then work hard.

Eleanor Roosevelt said this: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” We may give you some counsel and advice regarding those dreams, but we will never tread on them. Let us play a role in helping you become what you dream and what you envision for yourself. And whatever limitations you have, they will be less severe if you remember the ball and take the guidance in your life from the right sources; if you remember the bow and take action to do what you can do with what you have; and if your intent is pure and your objectives are worthy, the Lord will magnify you to yield results that He thinks are expedient for you. But remember you must act and not wait to be acted upon.

And finally, remember the boat. You can do hard things.  You can do what you think you cannot. You’re here at LDS Business College constructing the foundation of a life, for the rest of your life, and a testimony for the rest of your life. Not after the manner of men, but in a more excellent way—the Lord’s way.

So this summer, work hard. And play hard. Do your best to give the Lord something to work with. You have a role in building the Kingdom, and so I plead with you not to waste your time, or as Shakespeare wrote, miss the “tide … which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” (The Life and Death of Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3) You have a ball to follow, a bow to make, a boat to build. The Lord is counting on you. He needs you to do your part. For out of our collective small efforts to improve our life and to make of it what Heaven has decreed: a mighty nation of spiritual Israel will rise up prepared to carry off the Kingdom triumphantly.

I wish you all the best for the summer. We love you. Your Father in Heaven loves you more. His personal direction to you and what He wants you to learn this summer will be found in textbooks and temples, in scriptures, and in the events of your life. I pray that you will accept the message of the ball, the bow and the boat. I pray that you are prepared to learn. I pray that you will “open your ears that ye may hear,” as the scriptures (Mosiah 2:9) say, “and your hearts that ye may understand and your minds” that God’s plan for you may be “unfolded to your view,” in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


The Importance of Being a Confident Learner

29 May. 2012

Transcript

The Importance of Being a Confident Learner

It’s good to be here. I was very shocked when Craig Nelson called me about a month and a half ago and asked me to speak. I work up in the accounting office, and you just don’t get assignments like that very often when you work in accounting. But I’m grateful for the opportunity. I have worked a good amount on this presentation, on this address, and I’ve thought a lot about what would be applicable to students in your shoes and things that I think have been a great help in my life thus far. As the president said, you are amongst one of your own. I graduated from here; I still work here. I can’t quite get away from here yet. So I pray that this will truly have an effect on you, to benefit you in your life.
I also have to apologize for my little blemish here. I do a little cage fighting on the side as well. I didn’t put that in there, but that’s what it’s from, if you are wondering. And also, Mr. Dane, he is a wonderful boy, but if there is a little weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as he leaves the room at some point in time, it’s OK. We’ll be all right. He tends to get a little excited every once in a while. He’s got a lot of spirit to him.
I’d like to ask you guys a question to start off, and keep this in consideration throughout this meeting we’re having. How confident are you in your abilities to fulfill the mission the Lord has in store for you? Just think about that. Do a little self-inventory, if you will. For that’s what I’ll be speaking on, and this is derived from the College mission statement: “LDS Business College provides a distinctive educational experience rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We work together to cultivate a nurturing environment, teach practical skills, and develop confident and skillful learners. We enlighten minds, elevate hope, and ennoble souls to strengthen individuals, families, communities, and the Lord’s Church.”
The president actually invited us to ponder on the mission statement and cultural beliefs about it—I can’t remember how long ago it was—so I did. What I found myself really pondering on was this part within the mission statement, about developing confident, skillful learners. And it stuck with me when I was asked to give this devotional talk, it came back to me. And I believe that it is a subject very worth addressing and one I feel is in constant need of attention in our lives.
Additionally, Chad Webb gave a devotional talk in October of 2010, a year ago, and in that he mentioned something that really stuck with me that I think makes this even more applicable. He stated that when they surveyed students within the Church Education System that they found there was a disparity in answers between two different kinds of questions, and that is the confidence level, or the belief level I should say, when students were asked questions. For example, “Do you believe that people can receive a remission of their sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?” However, when it was worded, “Do you believe that you personally can receive remission of your sins through the Atonement of Christ,” then the confidence level on those questions was about half as much. One student throughout that devotional actually said, “I think it all comes down to the confidence we have in ourselves.” And I think he was very right.
Additionally, I have noticed that our level of confidence has a huge impact on how successful you are, your happiness. So here we are. I’m not alone in thinking this is an important subject. Jeffrey R. Holland, in a talk titled “Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts Unceasingly” that he gave back in October 2007—it was in the New Era if you would like to look it up; it’s a great talk. I can recommend it. He said, “[I recently read an article that said that] the most common illness among young people today is not diabetes or heart disease or cancer.” He said those kinds of problems are usually reserved for people of his age. “No, the illness that those in their teens and twenties suffer from most, it was reported, is self-doubt, fear about the future, low self-esteem, and a general lack of confidence in themselves and in the world around them.” (https://lds.org/new-era/2007/10/let-virtue-garnish-thy-thoughts-unceasingly?lang=eng)
The most common illness—that’s a big deal. Now, why should we have confidence in ourselves? Why is that important? Actually, who would like to respond to this? Someone raise your hand who is feeling confident today.
Comment: One thing is it would be difficult to learn if we don’t have confidence in ourselves, because if we aren’t afraid to make mistakes or afraid to be embarrassed and we have confidence in ourselves to learn, we’ll actually progress and become more like the Savior or whoever you want to be.
Brother Knight:  Excellent. Exactly right. He said, if no one else was able to hear, that if we don’t have confidence we’re not able to learn, because we’re not willing to take chances, and sometimes you look like an idiot if you make a mistake, which happens. Anybody here ever try to learn a new language? Yeah, you feel like a big idiot when you’re first trying to do that. But it’s necessary. After a while, you learn, and then you feel better.
Comment: If you don’t love yourself, or if you don’t see yourself as God sees you, then it’s harder for you to see that in others. If you don’t have confidence, it’s hard to reach out to others and love them as well.
Brother Knight: Perfect. But there’s a couple of scriptures in here. For example, Alma 26:12: “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak.” What about that? Doesn’t that mean that we shouldn’t have confidence? That means we’re being cocky, right?
Comment: We thank God in all things, His work and everything, and recognize that we are nothing as compared to God, but we are His creation . . .  
Comment: If you don’t have any confidence in yourself or the world around you, you really have no reason to live. . . .
Comment: When we were talking about thanking God in all things, I kind of had the thought that the gospel, as we live it, helps to bring confidence in our lives. The plan of salvation helps me to have confidence, saying that we know our purpose, so we can go on in life with confidence to go on. And knowing the gospel, we can be strongly confident.
Brother Knight: Good. OK. There is also another scripture I’d like to mention, Proverbs 3:5. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Now it seems like all you guys get this very well, so I’m not going to ask any more questions. But the key to these scriptures, which it looks like you already perceive very well, is that it is with God that your confidence resides. The actual word confidence comes from the origin of confidere—a Latin word that means “to trust,” and to trust is also similar to having faith in something or someone that is true.
What is the source of all truth? Well, that would be God. So confidence is based in your faith in God, really when it breaks down to it. Confidence is not, if you will, a kind of by-yourself, selfish item. It’s not egotism. Perfect.
There’s also another talk I’d like to reference here. It’s by Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy. It’s found in the January 2005 issue of the Ensign. “Too often, we wallow in our weaknesses so much that we do not allow ‘weak things’ to ‘become strong.’ Our condition is frequently misdiagnosed as humility, when in reality it is lack of confidence.” (“Confidence and Self-Worth,” https://lds.org/ensign/2005/01/confidence-and-self-worth?lang=eng)  So it’s very important that we discern between those two. It’s not for us to go around and be depressed and that means you are humble. No. We’re here to be happy, to be confident, to go do things.
You see, “to lack confidence is to have feelings of low self-worth. We are preoccupied with our weaknesses, and we lack faith in the Lord’s ability to use those weaknesses for our good. We do not understand our inestimable worth in the eyes of God, nor do we appreciate our divine potential. Ironically, both pride and a lack of self-confidence cause us to focus excessively on ourselves and to deny the power of God in our lives.” (Glenn L. Pace, “Confidence and Self-Worth.”
Interesting. When we have a sense of pride or low self-worth feelings, we’re focusing too much on ourselves. That’s the main problem. And here’s a very insightful quote by Dr. Thomas Harris: “Most people never fulfill their human promise and potential because they remain perpetually helpless children overwhelmed by a sense of inferiority. The feeling of being OK [or we could say confident in this case] does not imply that the person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems. It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them.” (Quoted by Marvin J. Ashton, “Proper Self-Management,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 84.)
There are a lot of things in this world that can drive us to be paralyzed. It’s important that we don’t let those happen. Even if we’re constantly struggling with certain weaknesses or challenges in our life, we must not let them paralyze us from doing things that we need to do.
And here’s a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I believe in myself. I do not mean to say this with egotism. But I believe in my capacity and in your capacity to do good, to make some contribution to the society of which we are a part, [and] to grow and develop…. I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world, be it ever so small.” (Quoted in Elder Pace’s article, from “President Hinckley Shares Ten Beliefs with Chamber,” Church News, Jan. 31, 1998, 4.)
Okay. Additionally, President George Q. Cannon said this: “There was a period when we, with Jesus and others, basked in the light of the presence of God and enjoyed his smiles. We are the children of God, and as his children, there is no attribute we ascribe to him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant, or in embryo. The mission of the gospel is to develop these powers and make us like our Heavenly Parent.” (Quoted in Elder Pace’s article, from Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of George Q. Cannon, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist (1974), 3.)
How many of us really believe that to the extent that we should? There is great power in those words. I felt it as I was preparing this. Can you guys feel it now as you hear them? Can you feel the seeds of divinity within you stir as you read those words? Because you should. They are there. I know they are.
We hear a lot of these things quite often, but it is important that we really do connect with them and allow them to empower us.
A good example of confidence that I would like to share, a very common one, is that of the shepherd David, when he was put up against Goliath. No other man in Israel at the time was willing to stand up to the giant. I can’t say that you can blame them. I think that just about any of us would be truly intimidated by the physical stature and the seemingly intense skill Goliath would have had.
But David showed no fear. He was extremely confident. He even thought it was ridiculous that nobody else had stood up to him yet. “What are you guys doing? Fine, I’ll go there.” So he went out, and of course he was met very respectfully by Goliath, right? “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? … Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.” (1 Samuel 17:43-44) Are you kidding me? Who is this little shrimp you’ve got here. Is that it? Is that all Israel has? You’ve got to be kidding me.
It didn’t stir David at all. Then David said to him, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
“This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand … that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)  Amazing.
There are many other examples we could find in scriptures. How about the prophet Elijah when he called down the fires from heaven? Spectacular story; one of my favorites. He said, in effect, a similar thing: “And we will see today whose God is God.” We need to have such confidence as we go about our day. Believe in yourselves. Believe in your abilities, because God believes in you. God has enough confidence in you that he put you down on an earth that He created. He’s willing to give you children that are His own, and he thinks you’re actually going to do a good job with it. And if God’s willing to do that, then we should do the same, for we definitely don’t know any better than God does.
Why are we at times not confident like David and others that we know? Fear of failure I’d say, of course, is a big one. People don’t like to fail. We tend to get very intimidated by it. Although, lots of times, failure is what teaches you some of the best lessons in life. Talk to some of the many entrepreneurs out there and that seems to be kind of their credo: Failures are wonderful. Brother Wyn Dunford said that very thing in his devotional address just a little bit ago. But also—perhaps, could it also be that we are afraid of success? That we truly are somewhat intimidated by our abilities?
There was someone who thought so. Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992, pp. 190-191)
That’s true! I love this quote. I like it a lot, and I think we would do well to remember it. I think a lot of times we have a tendency to be like, “Oh, I do enough. I’ll just kind of sit back and watch other people.” That’s all right, right? Well, maybe sometimes it is, but if you do it too much, you never do anything. So it’s important that we carpe diem. Seize the day. Make the best out of your day, whenever you can.
OK, so what are some ways we can help our confidence. What’s a good way for us to remember confidence?
Comment: [Audience member offers a thought about memorizing.]
Comment: Jump in!
Brother Knight:  Jump in! Sure! Worry about what happens later. Clean up the mess or whatever—we’ll take care of that later. Not bad. Sometimes that is exactly what we need to do.
Comment: Focus on the positive
Brother Knight:  Good. Some things that I’d like to mention, when I was preparing this: Remember, relearn who you are. A good way to do that is to read your patriarchal blessing. If you don’t have one, go get one soon. They help. They really do. I know that some people think theirs is not quite as spectacular as others. Don’t compare that, please. Recognize the blessings in there for what they are, and really try to find in there what God is trying to tell you. There is a reason we get those.
But truly, each one of us is here for a specific reason. We have way more potential than we know, and we’ve been told ever since we were younger that, you know, we are the generations that were saved to come here. You are amazing. You don’t know how wonderful you are. You hear that all the time, right? Well, it’s true. I know that sometimes it gets kind of mundane and even sort of normal, but it’s the truth. Figure out what it is that makes you so special, because there’s something. It may take you a while, but you’ll find it.
Here’s something that I found. You tend to be confident when you know what you have to do, how you are going to do it, why you are doing it. All right? Because then you have pretty much all of the motivations involved, the background…it’s kind of like those three main questions the gospel answers very well—where you come from, why you’re here, and where you are going. It’s essential for you to know the answers to these questions. If you don’t, find out! And then when you have it, your confidence will be increased.
In doing so, you will find out your relationship with God. And we’re taught that that’s how we obtain happiness, is we find out about God, His will for us, and then our relationship to that will, to Him. And as we live according to that, we obtain peace and happiness. Take the time to be with the Lord. Our lives are extremely busy, extremely busy nowadays. It only seems to get worse. And as you get married and get older, it gets worse. If you have some kind of idea that all of a sudden you’re going to reach a “coast” stage, it doesn’t exist. Am I right? So don’t expect it. Just prepare for the increase that you’re going to have to be able to do. But that’s OK, because you have more fun as you get older as well.
In so doing, do not neglect your relationship with God. Take time. There are some things that I would do fairly frequently, [like] go take a drive somewhere, just sit in my car and really just try and pray and talk with God. Have kind of an interview with Him. It helps. It works, and you feel better afterward. You remember who you are. You will feel it. He will remind you. Then I’d like to read something, because we have a lot of things that can get in the way of us receiving revelation and being confident.
This is found in the book The Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage. It says: “Though the veil of mortality, with all its thick obscurity, may shut the light of the divine presence from the sinful heart, that separating curtain may be drawn aside and the heavenly light may shine into the righteous soul. [And] by the listening ear, attuned to the celestial music, the voice of God has been heard declaring His personality and will; to the eye that is freed from the motes and beams of sin, single in its search after truth, the hand of God has been made visible; within the soul properly purified by devotion and humility, the mind of God has been revealed.” (Pub. 1982, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 298)
I shared this because I read this one morning and I envisioned these things happening. As these obstructions, as these veils are pulled from your spiritual eyes,  what increases your confidence a huge level in my opinion is your ability to see spiritually, to have the amount of revelation you need to live your life. They are tied to each other: Confidence helps bring you revelation, and revelation brings you more confidence. As you are able to see more ahead of you, you have more confidence in walking that path. Revelation does that for you.
Additionally, there is a very common scripture that was found in my study of the subject, and that is Doctrine and Covenants 121. I don’t think that’s too surprising, specifically the last two verses. And these last two verses give to us two main elements for us to have confidence. It says:
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith.” Charity, for basically everybody. “And let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul, as the dews from heaven.” (v. 45)
And with these two things, I can see how that would help you. If you love everybody around you and have a pure charity, you have confidence around them. Have you ever noticed that? People who you truly know or at least have grown to love, you don’t feel intimidated by them. You don’t feel threatened by them. You aren’t worried that they’re going to see you in a different light that’s unfavorable. You trust them. And as you love them, you have confidence to be yourself. So as we grow in love for others, our confidence increases. And as virtue garnishes our thoughts unceasingly, all of those motes and beams and veils that are caused by sin or distractions or whatever it may be, they’re gone. If we constantly have virtue within our thoughts, we can receive revelation almost incessantly.
And of course, verse 46 gives us more of the benefits: “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”
Throughout all of this, I think there is something that can happen to all of us, regardless of your level or situation. Discouragement. It happens, doesn’t it? Quite a bit. It’s really easy. So I’d like to share with you kind of a little story or a fable or whatever it may be, I’m not sure. I originally heard this down in Brazil. It was from a temple president, and he told this story in a district conference meeting. And I took it to heart, and I share it whenever I think it’s appropriate. And I’d like to share it with you.
What happens is, the devil has his companion with him all the time. His name is Discouragement. And it’s always on his shoulder, right here, as he walks around. What he does is the devil goes in and finds a congregation, not unlike this one, and then he sits, and he surveys everybody in the room. And when he finds the person, he says, “That one right there.” And then Discouragement goes to the shoulder of that person. Discouragement sits on their shoulder, waits for the perfect moment, and then he says in their ear, “You’re discouraged.”
And then the person says, “I’m discouraged.”
And then Discouragement goes to the next person. “You’re discouraged.”
And the person says, “I’m discouraged.”
And he goes around to every person in the room, until they are all discouraged, and then he goes back to the shoulder of the devil. And the devil asks him, “Hey, how was it?”
And he says, “They’re all discouraged.”
“Wonderful.”
So they move on to the next congregation. They go around discouraging people left and right, all the congregations, and pretty soon everybody is discouraged. And it didn’t take much, did it?
But then one day the devil went into a congregation just like he had done before. He looked around until he found the right person, and he said, “It’s that one.” Discouragement went to the shoulder of the person, and Discouragement waited as usual for just the right moment, and then he said, “You’re discouraged.”
The person looked around. No. Nothing. It’s all right. And Discouragement was shocked. What’s going on? You can’t do that. You wait. So he waited just a little bit longer, for the right time. “You’re discouraged.”
The person looked around. “No, I’m not discouraged. I’m fine. I’m good.”
Discouragement said, “Who does he think he is? He doesn’t understand. Well, I’ll show him.” So he waits a little bit longer, this time even more patiently and intently. He’s determined, Discouragement is. And then finally at the right moment, “You’re discouraged.”
And the person looks straight at Discouragement and says, “I’m not discouraged, you’re discouraged.”
So then Discouragement left the shoulder and went back to the shoulder of the devil. The devil asked him, “So how was it?”
And Discouragement said, “I’m discouraged.”
Isn’t that a great story? But what’s to be learned from this lesson? That is, kind of in summary form if you will, it’s easy to be discouraged, but it’s just as easy not to be. It’s pretty much a decision. You just kind of have to say, “I’m not discouraged; you’re discouraged.” And then move on. So let us remember that. I think this is a fun little story that helps us lighten it and I think helps us remember the important part about it.
Now with revelation, I’d also like to share another story that actually I originally read in the book The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. But I think it applies to us. I’ll tell it to you:
“The story is told of a vessel stranded off the coast of South America whose Captain signaled to a passing ship to share their water with his passengers as they were suffering from thirst. The passing ship signaled back telling him to let down his bucket into the water in which they were floundering, because they were in the mouth of the Amazon River and the water was fresh.” (Bookcraft, 1969, p. 147)
 So how can this be applied to us? How often do we flounder when everything we need is right around us, for us to gain the strength to go on, for us to gain the revelation we need to proceed. We don’t have to go climb some high mountain to receive it. The Lord is ready and willing at all times. The Spirit can be our constant companion, like we read before, and that we can drink heavily of the revelations that are ready for us, because they are there. I think it’s important for us to really look around us and do the small things that help us let down our buckets into the water and pull up the revelations, the feelings, the enlightenment, the encouragement, the confidence that we may be lacking at that time. Because we will have times.
Now the president mentioned something earlier, that if you learned that, it wouldn’t really matter what else I said. Because I think one of the areas that is lacking in confidence to a large degree nowadays, is people seem to be scared to have a family, to get married. “No. I want to travel. I want to do things. I need to finish my education. I’m not rich enough.” There’s any kind of reasons you can come to. But let me tell you—life is so much happier when you have a family. It all comes to us at different times. Just do your best. Don’t be afraid of it. Have confidence that you can raise a righteous family, because you can. I know you can. I bear you my solemn testimony, you can. The Lord will open doors that you never thought possible. I will tell you that right now.
And if you don’t want to get married, you don’t want to have a family, repent! Because, like President Richards said, that’s really what it’s all about. Travel the world after you have a family. Traveling is a lot more fun when you’ve got kids. You have adventures. Big adventures. Right, Sweetie? So don’t worry. Go forward with faith.
And I want to share with you my love. I’m very grateful for all of the many blessings that I have, and one of the greatest ones is that I love being around people, and I’m just really thankful for all of the blessings we can receive from those around us. Do not neglect the opportunities you guys have at this College to glean from your fellow students, from your instructors, from administrators, from everybody who is here. There is something to be learned. Don’t leave this college experience thinking that you didn’t really learn much, because if you didn’t it’s your own fault.
This is a giant pool of fresh water of revelation you are sitting in, OK? Let down your buckets. Pull in that water and drink deeply. OK?
Again, I’m grateful for the opportunity. I bear you my testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom here on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and I feel the power that is within this Church. I go to church because I need it, and it’s the way I will find happiness. It’s the way that I will be what I want to be, and I hope that we all remember that. And this I share with you, with gratefulness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Circle of Honor

05 Jun. 2012

Transcript

The Circle of Honor

How grateful we all should be to attend a school of higher education like this. Surely, this Institution delivers far more than a piece of paper with a person’s name on it upon graduating. As I look over this audience and reflect upon my academic experience, a statement in Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, seems to express my feelings:
“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds” (Albom, M., Tuesdays with Morrie, p. 192).
As a student here some years ago, I never expected to walk into an accounting or management class and learn things far beyond the content of the course. I never expected to fall in love with the sky from listening to an instructor’s passion for the universe. I never expected to have an English teacher be so generous and understanding of life’s situations and personal circumstances. And most importantly, I never knew how anxious the Lord was to have me be successful until understanding that, and how, He sent me here, just as He has done for you.
While speaking at Brigham Young Academy, President Karl G. Maeser, the first president of this institution, gave his first official address to 29 students and some members of the Board of Trustees. “I trust you all,” he said, “I give you my confidence. I hope you will do nothing to weaken that confidence, I put you all on your word of honor” (Ernest L. Wilkinson, BYU Speeches, Oct. 5, 1960, p. 15-16).
Later, in another meeting, President Maeser expounded on what he felt it really meant to be honorable in these words:
“I have been asked what I mean by ‘word of honor.’ I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I'd die first."
I have titled this address “The Circle of Honor,” because each of us, like Brother Maeser, has metaphorically drawn a circle around ourselves and covenanted that we would never cross the line. That line was drawn the day we were baptized. It was drawn again for those who have entered the temple, received the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, or have made personal covenants with the Lord. And it was drawn in a bishop’s office when meeting with a common judge in Israel when signing your name and saying you would live to a higher standard when attending this Institution. Because of these covenants you and I have made, and also the increased ability the Lord has to bless because of them, as President Heber C. Kimball said, “You can’t sin so cheap no more” (1844 journal, LDS Church Historical Library, Salt Lake City).
A few reasons exist for why I have chosen to speak on this subject. The first is because living with honor should encapsulate the entire student experience at LDS Business College. Heaven becomes intimately involved in your academic and spiritual development the very moment you choose to live and love the Honor Code. This happens because it is not so much about obeying an honor code as it is about living with honor.
The second reason is because all of us need a stronger moral compass and indefatigable moral courage. As organizations lose credibility because of dishonesty and homes continue to become broken, we all need a continued “determined resolution” to be “steadfast and immovable” (Alma 47:6; Mosiah 5:15).
The final reason comes from a concern shared with me by a student last semester. With sadness and frustration, this person expressed how hurt they were to go into a classroom where men were not shaving and women were not dressing modestly. I listened to this person for 20 minutes as they emotionally expressed how disappointed their returned missionary friends were to have girls wearing short skirts or revealing clothing. “Why would someone choose not to keep the Honor Code?” asked this student.
This is a great question. The answer, from my experience, is different for every person. While there may not be a universal response, they all stem back to a person’s commitment and willingness to be obedient. How does a student, faculty or staff member at LDS Business College righteously influence a person's commitment and obedience level? By doing what the Prophet Joseph did: "teach them correct principles" so they can "govern themselves" (Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 3:54). It is better that way.
Lehi could have chosen to be satisfied having Laman and Lemuel "suspended" from the educational journey to the promised land and “sent home” to Jerusalem. He would have had good reason to particularly after they were guilty of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to murder. But he chose to have them stay and continue through the wilderness, because he wanted to be with them in the Promised Land. He hoped their minds and hearts would change and turn to the Lord while being saturated in the environment he and Sariah worked so diligently to cultivate in their home. For Lehi, the process of getting to the Promised Land was just as important as being in the Promised Land. Perhaps, when we seek to help improve the behavior of people we love, we should try to emulate Lehi’s example of spending more time teaching than disciplining.
Why does a place like LDS Business College have an Honor Code? I would like for all of you to ponder this during our time together while I provide a few things to consider. Much like the temples that are dedicated by prophets, seers, and revelators, this building was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 2006. Considering that a temple recommend, which demonstrates a commitment to a higher standard of living, is to be signed by a bishop, stake president, and the person seeking admission to the House of the Lord, the same endorsement is required to come here. When Thomas Jefferson instituted the College of William and Mary, he promoted a code of honor among the first students of the United States. Jefferson wanted something much more than education to be prevalent in the character of college graduates. President David O. McKay seemed to describe what Thomas Jefferson likely felt when he said, “True education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men and women with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love.”
Three things are enveloped in the genetic makeup of what brings life and vitality to living with honor that I would like to spend the rest of my time addressing. First, living so that you can be trusted; second, living in the pursuit of excellence; and third, living in the service of others.

Living So That You Can Be Trusted

When Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin was playing football in a championship game, he once found himself stacked beneath 10 other players as he made a charge toward the goal line. When stretching his hand forward, he quickly observed that the goal line was only two inches away. The temptation to push the ball forward spoke to his mind. But there was another voice that came as well. It was the voice of his mother telling him to always do right.
It is important to gain some perspective to the situation Elder Wirthlin was really involved in. He was only known as Joseph at the time, for this experience came much earlier than when he was called to weighty Church assignments. Of the two inches lacked from making a touchdown, Elder Wirthlin had fought and toiled through 99.94% of the entire football field. Additionally, he, like Enos and Alma, in an hour of need remembered a lesson that was most likely taught first in the home. Had he chosen to push the ball forward, he would not only have cheated the other team, but also himself, his team, and the university he played for.
Elder Wirthlin said of this moment, “I wanted so desperately to score that touchdown. But more than being a hero in the eyes of my friends, I wanted to be a hero in the eyes of my mother. And so I left the ball where it was—two inches from the goal line.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a defining experience. Had I moved the ball, I could have been a champion for a moment, but the reward of temporary glory would have carried with it too steep and too lasting a price. It would have engraved upon my conscience a scar that would have stayed with me the remainder of my life” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Life’s Lessons Learned,” April 2007).
A few things are worth noting for application of this experience. First, living so that you can be trusted should be your primary objective in everything you do, because you represent God, His Church, and this Institution at all times, in all things, and in all places. A dear friend, who is also one of our alumni, recently wrote to me and said:
“Ever since I have left LDSBC, I find it an even greater responsibility to know that if someone sees me I can stand proud as an LDS Business College graduate. They will know from my very appearance and behavior that I do something a little different. I still make it a point to shave each day, even if I feel lazy. The honor code became such a part of me that it has quite literally changed my demeanor and disposition for the good! Sometimes we do not really understand why we do things asked of us, but as we are obedient to those principle and rules, our lives will be blessed in ways we did not realize possible. We become better people and, more importantly, become what God wants us to become.”
Second, there will be times in your life when you fight and toil so hard through the football field of a homework assignment, a task from an employer, keeping a commandment, or something else and have gone 99% of the way. Do not entertain or welcome in the temptation to feel entitled and “push the ball forward.” Your defining experiences may not occur on a football field, but when you choose to leave the ball right where it is, even if it is two inches from your goal. How you get your results is just as important as the results themselves. If it is an academic assignment, please consider C. Madison Sarratt’s counsel from Vanderbilt University: “Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry.”
Third, choosing to disregard your integrity in any shape or form will engrave upon your “conscience a scar” that will stay with you wherever you go. For example: two people have contacted me in the last 8 months and confessed to being dishonest on a test some years ago. Both of these people have graduated with their associate’s degree, and one was just about to complete their bachelor’s from a prestigious business school. The weight of the decision to cheat left such a scar on their conscience that both were willing to return their diplomas and retake the class they cheated in. Little wonder why Sir Winston Churchill said, “With integrity, nothing else counts. Without integrity, nothing else counts.”
The reason dishonesty is so deplorable is because it weakens all other virtues. It places a wedge in tree of your development. The person selling themself so cheap for this kind of “red pottage” is being dishonest with themself, their teacher, their classmates, their future employers, and God (Gen. 25:30-34). This principle is illustrated in more detail in the following statement from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
“The qualities of honesty and truthfulness are the foundation of all organizations and all personal relationships. If a husband or an employee or a student or a teacher cannot be relied upon to tell the truth—not just usually but invariably—a relationship with that individual can never be a satisfactory one. Like their companion virtue of loyalty, honesty and truthfulness are not valuable unless they are absolute. How much trust would you place in a person who told you the truth ninety-five percent of the time? How much value is an employee who does not steal from his employer—ninety-five percent of the time? The ninety-five-percenter is like a leaky bucket: the hole may be small, but it renders the entire vessel unworthy of its purpose. Unless the hole can be mended, the bucket is bound for the trash heap” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Be Honest in All Behavior,” Jan 30, 1973).
Living so that you can be trusted is especially exemplified in the life of Jon Huntsman, Sr., particularly when he sealed a business deal with a handshake to sell 40% of a division of his company for $54 million. The time it took for lawyers to draft the documents to complete this transaction was six and a half months. In the meantime, the price of materials decreased and profit margins were reaching all-time highs. No documents had been exchanged, and that 40% was now worth $250 million. How easy it must have been to back out because, after all, it was only a handshake. Nevertheless, Elder Huntsman insisted that the deal was sealed with a handshake, and the price would remain at $54 million. Elder Huntsman has since made the following statement about that occurrence, “I never had to wrestle with my conscience or to look over my shoulder. My word was my bond.” (Winners Never Cheat, p. 83) Like Samuel, “let none of [your] words fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19).

Living in the Pursuit of Excellence

Living in the pursuit of excellence means our outward expression reflects our inward commitment. We live with merit, virtue, choiceness, and distinction. Another close friend of mine was so inspired by this principle during his first semester here at the College that he chose to wear a shirt and tie to school every day until he received his bachelor’s degree. He said doing this helped him feel more professional and prepared to learn. Additionally, he said that his teachers would tend to respect and hold him to a higher standard because of his high standard of professional dress.
Consider the following statement from President Henry B. Eyring:
“Outsiders are wrong when they say, ‘I can’t understand your people on your campuses. You care about how your students dress, you care about honor codes, you care about whether your faculty are faithful to the covenants that they made. What’s that got to do with education? How uneducational!’
“Well, they just don’t know what we know. And that is if we can conduct ourselves in such a way that we invite the Spirit of God and we work our hearts out, our students, if they do the same, will learn at rates that the world will just be amazed” (Henry B. Eyring, LDS Business College Employee Address, September 1995).
The reality of this statement happens every day on this campus, even if a student is unaware of it. Perhaps all they notice is they are learning and performing better than they ever have, even if they are not able to pinpoint it on the effects of the Honor Code.
Another student recently shared with me the disappointments she encountered while attending two other institutions of higher learning. The poor choices of those she lived with and attended class with significantly affected the way she learned and performed in college. This finally drove this student to take some time off from school and help support her new little family. But then something changed. She said:
“After a lot of personal and family prayer, I felt that LDS Business College was the right choice. I was immediately impressed when I walked through the doors of this school. Everyone around me was happy. Everyone around me was clean, and everyone had light in their eyes. I knew it was the Honor Code at this school that made the difference. For the first time in my college experience I was able to feel the spirit in an academic setting! This was so impressive. After my first semester's grades came back, I was astonished to see that I had made the Honor Roll and the Dean’s List! Never in my life had I imagined that I was capable of doing this. I know that my success at this school is linked directly to the observance of the Honor Code by both me and those around me. I love the Honor Code and the peace it brings in my academic efforts.”
The Holy Ghost can become your personal tutor when you live in the pursuit of excellence. I remember a day when I sat distracted in a classroom during my last semester of college. For some reason I was pondering about the Honor Code and its affect in my college career. Shortly thereafter, an impression came relating to the subject of the class that was not being addressed by the teacher. I wrote it down. Then another one came. I wrote that down too. This continued for an hour until I had over three pages of notes, customed and tailored to me, all relating to the subject but not discussed by the teacher. The best way to describe this experience is in the words of the Prophet Joseph:
“When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas . . . those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 151).

Living in the Service of Others

Living in the service of others means leaving people and places better than when you found them. It is succoring the weak, lifting up the hands that hang down, and strengthening the feeble knees (D&C 81:5). It is being what President Wilford Woodruff longed so much for, to “become a ministering angel in the lives of others as you exercise your faith in working ‘mighty miracles,’ thereby becoming a ‘great benefit’ to your fellow beings” (Spencer J. Condie, “Becoming a Great Benefit to Our Fellow Beings,” April 2002).
It is important to note that the most meaningful service you will provide will likely never be convenient. Other things will always get in the way. These might include your time, desire to sleep, deadline for an assignment, or even a loss of vision that may hinder you from serving the Master. As we serve Him, we love Him more. “For how knoweth a man the mast whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart” (Mosiah 5:13).
A young woman came to my office last semester and reported a dress and grooming violation with another girl in her class. She was genuinely concerned and only wanted to help. I felt impressed to ask if she was comfortable confronting her classmate. I could sense the hesitation in her face, and so I gave a few possible ways to go about speaking to her. A few days later this young woman returned and described how she lovingly approached her classmate and privately shared her concerns. To her surprise, not only did her classmate express appreciation, but the two quickly became friends.
If someone ever confronts you about dress and grooming, please don’t get angry. Would you be irritated if someone told you part of your lunch was still stuck in your teeth, if you needed to blow your nose, or (men) if your tie was suffering from “deaconitis”? I can assure you it is probably much more difficult for the person choosing to speak to you than it is for you to receive what they have to say. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Young or old . . . be grateful for people in your lives who love you enough to correct you, to remind you of your standards and possibilities, even when you don’t want to be reminded” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” April 2004).
One of the most common arguments I have heard in response to Honor Code violations is that a person’s choices are not hurting anyone. I would like to respond to that by illustrating a tragic event that took place on the top of the world in 1996. The two best climbers in the world, Rob Hall and Scott Fisher, took a team of mostly inexperienced climbers and claimed to be able to take them to the summit of Mount Everest. The catastrophic portion of this story is that Hall, Fisher, and a handful of others died on this trek.
Many have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what went wrong on this expedition. It seems like one possible conclusion is that it was not one big mistake nor two medium-sized mistakes, but a large portion of small and simple mistakes that overwhelmingly built up. To make matters worse, many of the climbers, even though inexperienced, later noted how they observed bad decisions being made but simply chose not to say anything. How pitiful. Perhaps all that was needed was someone courageous and Christian enough to stand up and say something. Little wonder why President Richards once felt impressed to say, “For some reason, in your generation, ‘narking’ on someone is about the most unethical thing you can do. Often it’s ‘I don’t want to get them in trouble.’ I guarantee you, they’re already in trouble. The question is, are you Christian enough to help them get out of trouble” (On the Lord’s Errand, Jan 12, 2010).
So consider the inward damage of the person who whole-heartedly embraced the standard to live with honor when they met with their bishop and signed their endorsement only to be in a class or hallway when someone else disregards it, or "trample[s] [it] under their feet" (Nephi 19:7) and "set[s] [it] at naught" (Helaman 4:21). Consider the person who stays up all night to complete their portion of a group project only to find out that another group member did a half-hearted effort – if they did it at all. Did the actions of others “hurt” someone else?
My response to this complaint is to ask: what if everyone behaved that way? If that were the case, then this Institution would be no different from any other two-year school in the world. The Honor Code is what separates LDS Business College from all other schools and even the world. It provides students an opportunity to have heaven become intimately involved in their academic and spiritual development because they are not just looking good, but they are being good. Their outward expression reflects their inward commitment, because they are truly living in the service of others.
Some might respond to this argument with the objection, “This is precisely the point: not everyone does do that, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern.” This response is selfish, because it is claiming that someone ought to be an exception to the rule. How unfair to those tithe payers whose contributions are wasted by subsidizing someone’s tuition that disparages what their sacrifice really is willing and able to deliver.
Sometimes the argument of claiming no one has ever said anything to me about this issue, or everyone else is doing it makes it okay for them to have facial hair, holes in their jeans, or something else inappropriate. This is a fallacious response that demonstrates an error in reasoning, because it communicates that two wrongs somehow make a right.

Conclusion

So why should we live with honor? Is it because it is part of a social contract? Is it because of a Kantian perspective that we do the right thing simply because it is the right thing? Is it because of a virtue ethic that promotes acting within some sort of a golden mean? Is it because of a utilitarian objective to do it because it brings about the most good? Is it because it serves as some sort of Leviathan by being a central authority than can catch and punish those who have broken the social contract? These might serve as reasons to live with honor, but they are missing “the mark” because they do not motivate someone to do it, nor do they help someone do it for the right and best reason (Jacob 4:14). Motivation comes from the inside out, not from the outside in. Ultimately, it is the Spirit that works within us (Alma calls this “swelling motions”; Alma 32:28), in which we feel driven to keep the Lord’s commandments, because doing so brings us closer Him. As we draw “near unto to [Him],” He draws near unto us (D&C 88:63). We become fully motivated and committed for the right and best reason – for we are being His “true followers” (Moroni 7:48).
Living with honor is an employable skill marketable in any geographic area, time period, and organization. Just think: how many organizations could have been saved had someone been courageous and Christian enough to blow the whistle when ethics were being compromised or ignored? There would never be a need to impeach government leaders. The Sarbanes Oxley bill would not have been needed as a result of Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, and others.
As William Shakespeare wrote, “Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done.” (King Richard the Second, act I, sc. i, l. 182.).
As soon as we really understand how dear a price that was paid in the garden and on the cross “to receive what is finally a gift from Him,” living with honor becomes instinctive on our part. (Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All,” 2004) It will serve as our “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3:24).
My challenge is for all of us to recommit today to live with honor 100% of the time – now and forever. You can do it. You might need to utilize your bishop’s office, because the healing power of the Atonement is there, and certainly you will need the Lord’s help. Don’t be a 95 or even a 99 percenter. Unlike Lehonti, do not come down from the mountain – even just a little bit (Alma 47:10-18).
I promise that as you choose to use your agency to live with honor, Heaven will become intimately involved in the development of your academic and spiritual performance. Additionally, your time here at LDS Business College will become more meaningful, more fun, and more led by Him who leads you by the hand and gives answers to your prayers (D&C 110).
My prayer is if there is ever a moment when our integrity is being challenged on the football field of life, even if it is only by two inches, we, like Brother Maeser, will cry within ourselves, “No. Never! I’d die first!”
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Choose Happiness by Following the Spirit

12 Jun. 2012

Transcript

Choose Happiness by Following the Spirit

Since I am an attorney, I am going to start with a disclaimer. I have never loved speaking in public. I’ve never loved giving talks. I’ve always—as probably many of you—I always dread it a little bit, but I’ve realized over the years that the more I do it, and after I’m finished, that my testimony has grown and I have felt the Spirit so much stronger. And so I am grateful for this opportunity, even though I am dreading it just a little bit.
Last week, a few of the paralegal students and I had an opportunity to come here for a fireside and hear President Charles Dahlquist speak. And Charles Dahlquist is the former general Young Men president of the Church, and he was here doing a fireside for several BYU-Idaho students who had come down looking for internship possibilities. And he spoke of heroes and how we can seek worthy mentors to pattern our lives after. And after he finished speaking, I felt prompted to share some of the things that he spoke about with you today, because it was really an inspired talk that he gave. 
If you will, each of you take just a few seconds and think about the heroes in your life. If you’ve got your pens and pencils out, write them down. Who are your heroes? What qualities did they have? What was it about him or her that made them your hero? What characteristics did they show? I want you to keep those qualities in mind for just a minute.
In addition to finding a good hero, President Dahlquist spoke of how we should be someone’s hero. This really got me thinking, and I started asking myself, “Am I someone’s hero? Have I lived my life in a way that someone would want to pattern theirs after mine? And do I have any of the qualities that I look for in my heroes?”
I took some time to ponder these questions in my mind with the thought of “what makes the difference?” And I realized that it boiled down to the choices that I make and how I make them. And so I pray that the Spirit will be with me as I talk to you a little bit about my thoughts about choices and using the Spirit to make righteous decisions in our lives.
President Monson once said, “I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father for His gift of agency, or the right to choose…. Each of us has come to this earth with all the tools necessary to make correct choices.” (“The Three Rs of Choice,” Ensign, Nov. 2010)  Our Heavenly Father allowed us the opportunity to come here to earth to learn, and we learn through the choices that we make.
There are many choices that you and I can make right here, right now. For example, first we can choose to obey the commandments. Seems pretty simple, but this is not a choice we make just once or twice during our life. This is a choice that we make every hour of every day. We face obstacles and challenges to our testimonies all the time, whether we see them or not. Some days might be easier than others to get through, but keeping the commandments is something we choose to do every single day. By doing so, we’re better able to allow the Spirit to dwell with us and help us make righteous decisions.
You all know, we are surrounded by messages from the adversary. We all know how powerful the adversary can be. And we hear the little whisperings of, “Just this once won’t matter,” “No one will know; don’t worry.” Decisions that we make are constantly in front of us, and to make them wisely, we need to have courage—courage to say yes, courage to say no, and sometimes the courage to stand alone.
I want to share with you a personal experience I had while I was in law school about some decisions that I had to make. Eight years ago I moved from here. I’d never really been anywhere else, and I moved from Salt Lake area to a very small town in northern Idaho. Moscow—I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Moscow, Idaho. It’s a small town, and finding single members of the Church to hang out with that were law students in this small town of Moscow was very difficult. In fact, I think there were a total of four of us. So I met a couple of girls in my law school class that were fun and interesting, and we began talking and hanging out. Neither one of them was a member of the Church. In fact, one of them had never even met a Mormon before. So I realized this would be a good opportunity for me to share some of my feelings about the gospel and try to help them understand my background and where I come from. And these two girls and I became pretty close friends and began hanging out more and more outside of school.
A few months after I got to Moscow and started school, I quickly realized that the favorite pastime of young adults in that town is drinking. The small area that is known as downtown Moscow, which is essentially a street, is lined with bars and clubs. And they are always full—any night of the week, any hour, they are always full, and mostly with college students. And there were plenty of occasions where one or the other of these friends would suggest that we go and join the rest of the town at one of these bars or clubs. And you know, I was in a place where I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know a soul when I moved there. I was anxious to make friends and fit in and experience as many things as I could. [I was] seven hundred miles away from home and anyone who knew me, and it would have been very easy for me to go with these girls and hang out there.
However, I had made a decision when I was really young, in Primary, that I would never drink alcohol. And I told these friends of mine that personal goal, and they respected that decision. Even though they thought it was odd, they never once asked me to drink. They never pushed it. But they didn’t see what would be wrong with my just going with them to the bars or clubs to hang out and have fun with everyone else that was there. They said, “You don’t have to drink; just come hang out.”
So I had a decision to make. I wouldn’t be breaking my promise to myself to never drink. I wouldn’t be breaking a commandment necessarily. I wouldn’t have to stay in my apartment by myself on a weekend night. Nobody would know. Once in a while, or just once, probably wouldn’t matter. And I would be satisfying my friends by going with them instead of being the party-pooper, so to speak, and going home. So it seemed all the reasons to go outweighed the reasons not to. But still there was something I knew that wasn’t right about the situation. And I struggled in making that decision.
I started thinking about it, and I remembered a story that a home teacher of mine taught me when I was 7 years old. I was just about to turn 8 and be baptized, and I remember this home teacher came to my family and gave us a lesson on the Holy Ghost. And he—I’m sure, as you guys have—we’ve had lots of home teaching lessons over the years, but for some reason this one has stayed with me all these years. 
This home teacher held up both fingers like this, and he said, “This one is you, and this one is the Holy Ghost. When you are baptized and confirmed a member of the Church, Heavenly Father gives you that gift to be your constant companion. And he will not leave you as long as you are worthy to have him by your side. He will always be there. When you make a decision and you choose something that is not worthy of the Spirit, you are the one who moves away. You are the one who chooses to leave the Spirit. You can repent and come back, but when you make those decisions, you are the one leaving the Spirit.”
I realized after remembering that simple lesson that I would be—if I were to go with these friends, I would be choosing to abandon the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. And also I would be breaking the first and most important commandment, that we love the Lord our God. I knew if I went with these friends I would not be showing my love for my Heavenly Father. 
This was not something I was willing to do, and I knew the decision I had to make. So I told these friends that I couldn’t go with them, but I would be more than happy to give them a ride home in the middle of the night, should they ever need one. And sometimes they did. This was the case for the next three years as I finished school. I was sort of known as their designated driver, but every time we would go to dinner, or bowling, or to the movies or anything else, inevitably after they would all head to the bars and clubs and they would drop me off at home. And they never gave me a hard time about it, and I was grateful for that.
But there were many times I felt discouraged as they dropped me off. I wanted to be part of the fun. I wanted to be part of the social world, and I wanted to be not the one that had to back out every time, especially to go home and sometimes to hang out alone. But I know that I made the right decision, and I know that I was blessed for it, because I know I had the Spirit of the Holy Ghost with me, and I did not choose to abandon it.
Looking back over that time, I think of possible consequences of making the other decision, to go with them. Would I have missed other opportunities? Would I have eventually begun to lower my standards? Would I have been a party to inappropriate conversations or would I eventually have given in to a sip of alcohol? Would it have affected my performance in school, or would I have brought these habits back home with me when I was done?
Every wrong road, when we find ourselves on a wrong road, it began with one choice. So it’s important that we choose right the first time. And if we don’t, Heavenly Father has provided us with a way to return back and find our way back to the right choice. We can always find the right choice with the Holy Ghost if we keep the commandments.
In the For the Strength of Youth booklet that, hopefully, most of you are familiar with, we are told, “You are responsible for the choices that you make. You have the ability to choose righteousness and happiness no matter what your circumstances.” So we also have a choice to be happy and have a positive attitude. This is, again, a decision that we can make every single day. Each day starts brand new, and we can decide how we are going to approach it.
I’m sure very few people think of someone who is pessimistic or antagonistic or rude to be a hero. I’m sure that none of you wrote one of those qualities down when you described your hero. I know I certainly don’t think of someone like that as a hero. So having a positive attitude is important. It can be difficult at times. We all have struggles and trials, and this time of life is very critical for many of you.
Some of you may struggle with one class or another, some may struggle socially. Some may struggle finding employment in this difficult economy. But I testify to you that having a positive attitude can make all the difference.
Charles Swindoll, an author, educator, and Christian pastor, said, “Attitude, to me, is more important… than the past … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, [than] giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church… [and] a home.
“The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” (http://www.bigeye.com/attitude.htm  
We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails, so for maximum happiness, peace and contentment, we have to choose to have a positive attitude and choose to be happy. So much in life depends on our outlook. The way we choose to see things and respond to others can make a big difference. We have to do the best we can and then choose to be happy about our circumstances no matter what they are. And these can bring peace and contentment to our hearts, and those are traits of a hero.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently published a short book—I don’t know how many of you have this—it’s called Forget Me Not. I would like to share a small part of this book with you. He says, “In the beloved children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the mysterious candy maker Willy Wonka hides a golden ticket in five of his candy bars and announces that whoever finds one of the tickets wins a tour of his factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate.” Wouldn’t we all like that?
“Written on each golden ticket is this message: ‘Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this Golden Ticket…! Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you!...Mystic and marvelous surprises…will…delight...astonish, and perplex you.’
“In this classic children’s story, people all over the world desperately yearn to find [their] golden ticket. Some feel that their entire future happiness depends on whether or not a golden ticket falls into their hands. In their anxiousness, people begin to forget the simple joy [that they once found] in a candy bar. The candy bar itself becomes an utter disappointment if it does not contain a golden ticket.
“So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket—the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about. For some, the golden ticket may be a perfect marriage; for others, a magazine-cover home or perhaps freedom from stress or worry.
“….The problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event—our golden ticket [so to speak] to appear.
“….The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of…everyday moments….These are they who are truly happy.” 
We have the opportunity to feel happiness every single day through little things we do. Do we take the time morning and night to thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings that He has given to us? Or do we focus on the things we don’t have, like the golden ticket? Do we focus on the money we aren’t making, the struggles that we’re facing? Do we look for traits in others to put them down? Do we look for people’s faults or do we look at the positive things about them? When we face struggles in life do we succumb to pain and sorrow we feel, or do we look for benefits that come as a result? I know that every one of the major blessings in my life from my Heavenly Father has been coupled with my most difficult trials. And I’m going to share another very personal example with you.
About a little over two and a half years ago, I was in a car accident that injured me pretty badly. The weeks leading up to that accident were some of the lowest I had ever experienced in my life. Nothing was going right, and I was struggling with finding happiness. This car accident was the final straw, especially since it was my fault. I ended up in the emergency room a few days after the accident with severe pain in my left shoulder, arm, and hand. Now, being a personal injury attorney and handling a lot of accident cases, I was familiar with the symptoms I had, and I knew that they would likely show that I would need surgery on my spine.
While I was in the emergency room and in the most intense pain I had ever felt in my life, I felt lower than I had ever felt. When the doctors ordered the MRI and they wheeled me into the tight machine, I wasn’t allowed to move for almost 30 minutes and I was in excruciating pain. Every single breath hurt. I began to tear up—these were tears of pain but mostly tears of desperation, because I realized at that moment that I had chosen to be unhappy. And I knew how much I needed my Heavenly Father at that particular moment, and how much I wanted to feel happy again. I needed to change my attitude.
So I said a small and simple prayer. I said, “Heavenly Father, please help me get through this struggle, this difficult time. And if you will, please give me something small to make me happy again, to make me smile. I’m not asking for miracles. I’m not asking for anything major, just something simple to help me smile.”
And I know that Heavenly Father answered that short and simple prayer, because I met my husband a few days later. We were lined up by my aunts and his mom, and when he heard that I had been in the hospital and wouldn’t be able to meet him for a little while, he came by to my house unannounced with balloons, a card, some chocolate, and a box of Tylenol. And that small, little act of kindness brought me more happiness than I had felt in a really long time. And so I know that Heavenly Father answered my prayers.
From that point on, I made a promise to myself that I would make a conscious effort to have a positive attitude and thank my Heavenly Father for answering my prayers. Because I know without a doubt that He did, and He still does.
I also have a very different outlook when I face trials. I can honestly say now that I am grateful for the trials and struggles that I face, because they make me stronger, they help me learn more about myself, and they help me to be happier in the end. 
President Dahlquist also encouraged us to choose to learn to do hard things in life. He said we need to learn how to set and accomplish goals in many areas—spiritual, physical, financial, educational—a whole bunch of different areas. And he told us to write them down. How many of you have goals that are written down somewhere—actually written down? Good. Those of you that don’t, write them down. They become more real. And don’t be afraid to set high goals for yourself and be willing to achieve them.
Hard work is honorable. We are told in the Scriptures, in Doctrine and Covenants 60:13, “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent.” Developing the capacity to work hard will help you contribute to the world you live in and it will help bless you and your families, now and in the future. But right now is the time to choose to develop your work ethic. 
Heavenly Father has given us all gifts and talents, and He wants us to strengthen them as much as possible. He knows what we are capable of. So make sure that as you choose your goals and choose to work on them, that you seek His help and guidance in obtaining them.
President Eyring, in this most recent general conference, mentioned praying for mountains to climb—not hills or mounds or even stairs, but mountains. (See “Mountains to Climb,” Ensign, May 2012) And we can realize our full potential when we push ourselves to the limit and try to climb a mountain. We can accomplish many things with the help of the Lord; in fact, He will personally lift us to the top of those mountains if need be, but we have to do our part as well.
So, when you choose to develop your work ethic, ask yourself, “Am I dependable and willing to do what I say I am going to do?” Think of the prophet Nephi, when the Lord approached him and commanded him to build a ship. Can you imagine what would have happened if Nephi would have responded with, “I don’t really want to,” or “I don’t know how,” “I’m not sure I can,” “Why can’t someone else do it?” or “Why can’t you do it? Isn’t that someone else’s responsibility?” “Why me?” 
He didn’t ask the Lord exactly what to do. He didn’t complain. He didn’t question. He didn’t even ask the Lord to provide the materials or the tools for him. What did he ask for? He asked for guidance, to find the materials to make the tools to build the ship. He did not doubt, even once, his ability with the help of the Lord.
This is the type of attitude we need toward work, whether it is work in our own homes, work for school, for employers, for ourselves—we should pattern our efforts after the prophet Nephi.
Another choice we can make today is to provide service to others. We’re given so many opportunities. Do we take these opportunities when they come, or are we too shy or too busy? I remember President Monson sharing a story in a Christmas devotional several years ago. He shared the story of a dentist who had written him a letter of thanks, and I’m going to read that letter to you. It’s one of my favorites. It says:
“Dear President Monson:  I feel remiss in that I should have sent you a thank you note sooner. Last December I listened to your talk given during the Christmas devotional. You spoke of an older woman who could not afford to pay for the registration for an automobile she had recently purchased. [Many people] came to her aid, and [everyone] involved [was] touched.
“I am a dentist by profession. Not long after the devotional, my receptionist informed me that an acquaintance of hers was coming into my office. She had problems with two of her teeth. She knew this woman and told me of her circumstances. The woman carried many burdens. The family business, which she ran, was doing poorly and the family was three months behind in paying rent. They had five children, many [who had] grown into adulthood, but all had moved…home because of difficult personal circumstances. By sheer force of will, [this woman was able to keep] her family together for some time. Now two [of her] teeth were broken [and had to be fixed].
“The woman arrived for her appointment and explained about her dental problem. She asked if I would allow her to pay her bill over time. She explained to me that her family had experienced several financial reversals and were just [barely] starting to pay some overdue bills.
“I assured her that her credit was good with me. She asked if I could repair just one of the two broken teeth at that time, [because that’s all she could afford]. I assured her that I could, and we began.
“Since I had the time, I repaired both teeth, for which she was grateful. When the work was completed, thinking of your talk, I told her that if she would not be offended, I should like to make a Christmas present of the dental work, for which there would be no bill. She was astonished. I could sense the depth of the stress and strain [that] she had carried, as uncontrollable tears of gratitude gushed forth due to a small, simple act of kindness. It must have been years since someone showed her some little favor. Not able to speak, she made her way out.
“Both my assistant and receptionist were so moved by her reaction that they also [shed] tears and could [not] speak. I, on the other hand, was doubly glad. One part, in seeing such a simple act have such a happy effect on another. And the second part, for once in my life…crying for joy, and not for pain!
“To you, my very best wishes.
“Sincerely,
“A brother in the gospel.” (“What is Christmas?” First Presidency message, Ensign, Dec. 1998)
Now, not all of us have the resources to serve others like this kindhearted dentist. But there are many other things we can do. We can give our time, our strength, our ideas, and what resources we do have to help others. Again, Heavenly Father has given us that choice, and it is ours to make.
Finally, brothers and sisters, we have a choice to follow the Spirit when we make our choices, when we make our decisions. As I mentioned before, we face so many choices—some that have a profound effect on our lives and some that don’t. Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated, “As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best.” 
“These [decisions] are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.” (“Good, Better, Best,” Ensign, Nov. 2007) 
We have to make sure that our daily activities do not get in the way or distract us from listening to the Spirit. Elder Richard G. Scott told us that “one must be ever mentally and physically clean and have purity of intent so the Lord can inspire.” And “…sometimes we [foolishly] try to face [decisions and face] life by depending on our own experience and capacity. It is much wiser for us to seek through prayer and divine inspiration [from our Heavenly Father] to know what to do.” (“How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life,” Ensign, May 2012)
Sometimes, the discovery of what action to take may require a large amount of faith on our part, and action. But we will be prompted to know what to do if we are worthy. When I was trying to make a decision on whether or not to go to law school, I struggled. To be honest with you, it was not something I ever wanted to do. I never aspired to it, and it was never in the plans. I was going to be an accountant and that was it. But Heavenly Father led me to a job at a law firm, and for several years my boss encouraged me to go because he saw some potential in me. I argued with him and fought with him, and said, “I am not going. This is not something I want to do.” But there was always something that nagged at me, besides him.
So, dealing with the thought of more student loans, three more years of school, being away from family for that long—I decided I needed some help in making that decision. So I asked my dad for a father’s blessing, and within a few seconds of him putting his hands on my head and invoking the power of the priesthood, I had my answer. Within seconds. It wasn’t a booming voice or even a still, small voice, but it was something that I saw in my mind while he was giving me that blessing. I felt my presence in a very formal ceremony where I was raising my hand and taking an oath, and I knew at that point that I was supposed to go to law school and become an attorney.
And so I am so grateful for the Spirit’s guidance when I make decisions, because those three years that I spent in school were some of the best that I’ve had. And I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father helped me to make that decision to go.
We have to invite the Spirit into our lives at all times so that we can know the best decisions to make, for ourselves. “Communication with our [Heavenly Father] is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege…. We [can] receive help from our Father in Heaven in response to our faith, [our] obedience, and [our] proper use of agency.” (Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your Personal Life,” Ensign, May 2012)
I testify, brothers and sisters, that our Heavenly Father gave us agency so we can learn. He sent us here to earth so that we could succeed, not fail. And He wants so badly to help us. We simply have to ask. And we have that choice. When we make wrong choices, He has given us the opportunity to rectify it and to learn to make better choices. He gave us His Son so that we can repent and make better decisions.
I am grateful for my agency, and for my Heavenly Father for giving me choices and opportunities. I’m grateful for my trials and struggles, and for the testimony they have helped me build. I’m grateful for this gospel. We are so blessed to be here in such a spiritual environment every day. Our Heavenly Father has asked us to “stand in holy places,” and we do every time we walk through these doors. We are very blessed to be able to be here.
I know that my Savior lives and loves me, and I know that He is my friend and my brother, and sacrificed everything for me. I am grateful for that choice that He made, and He is my greatest hero. I’m grateful for the choices that Joseph Smith made so long ago. I don’t think he had any idea what a profound effect his decisions would make and how many people would be affected by them. And I’m grateful he chose the best choices. And I hope that I will have the inspiration to do the same when the opportunities come.
I am so grateful for my family, for the support I have from my husband and my parents, and I’m grateful for the spirit that all of you have brought here today. I love each of you, and I’m so grateful to be part of this amazing organization here. And I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Lord Loves a Willing Heart

29 Jun. 2012

Transcript

The Lord Loves a Willing Heart

Good morning, brothers and sisters. It’s an honor for me to be here with you today. I’m grateful to have my wonderful daughter here with me. I wish my sweetheart could be here with us; she’s not here because she has a court date. I should clarify that—she has been called to jury duty today. I told her I was going to say that, and she said, “You won’t say that, will you?” But I did. I miss having her by my side today, and want you to know I am so grateful for the support that I’ve had from her for a long, long time. 
I love being here on campus. I love looking into your eyes, and I feel a connection with you. I wonder where your path came from. Some of you have come from other countries. We had the good fortune last semester of having one of the students here at LDS Business College from Brazil live at our house, and she commuted, lived with us, and would come down to school each day. And I’ve heard many LDSBC stories from her and from Laura, and from our other family members as well.
I love the enthusiasm that you bring and the spirit that you carry. And I want you to know it’s palpable. When I come on campus I feel something warm and wonderful, and I know what it is. It’s the Spirit of the Lord. And I also know that your lives are here for a reason. You are sitting at the feet of prophets; you are hearing and learning the doctrines of the gospel so that you can do something with it and so you can make a difference in the kingdom. And I know that for sure.
I wanted to just share a few thoughts today on a subject that is important to me. I know that academic life can be very challenging. By definition, it’s a life where you are ranked and graded and you’re evaluated and judged on a regular basis. Before you came to LDS Business College you took tests and you were ranked and evaluated on how well you did on those tests. Your worthiness was a factor. And I think for some of us, we become weary along the way because we realize, in almost any subject, in almost any activity, there are others who are better at almost anything than [we are]. And it would be rare that any of us would be the very best in any particular topic.
Fortunately, however, God’s evaluations are based on a totally different pattern, and God does not rank and evaluate us against our peers. There’s not even a grading against the curve, if you can believe that. It really comes down to this: God judges us based on our works and the desires of our hearts. In other words, if we are willing, every one of us are fully qualified to get top grades and top honors and to graduate from this life at the top of our class—every single one of us, simply as a matter of our choice.
Let me refer you, if I can, to a scripture that I find most informative. It’s not one that we talk about all that much. It’s in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I’m going to be referring you to verse 32, but as a little bit of a preface, this section, Section 88, is often called “The Olive Leaf.” It was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith, we are told, December 27 and 28 of 1832, and a subsequent revelation in the first few days of January 1833. In this middle section of Section 88, it talks a little bit about those who are going to be resurrected and the kind of reward they will receive after they are resurrected. So the verses kind of go down through, and it says those who lived worthily of a celestial glory will be quickened, they’ll be resurrected, and they will receive that glory which they merited. And it goes down through the terrestrial and the telestial.
And then it comes to a very sad and, I think, a poignant verse, in verse 32. It talks about all of those who will be resurrected not to a place of glory, those who are left after the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial glory is given to others. And it says this: “And they who remain shall also be quickened”—meaning they too shall be resurrected—“nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place”—and here’s the key part of the verse—“to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”
Isn’t that a stirring call to us? So they will enjoy that which they were willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
So today I’d like to share with you, if I can, a few thoughts on the subject of willingness. And I haven’t heard it called the principle of willingness, but I’m going to call it that today. This is a principle that, to me, is a very hopeful doctrine. It’s related to the doctrine of obedience and finally, as I’ll try to point out later, to the concept or the gospel doctrine of consecration. But it’s just a simple idea of us being willing.
Thanks to the blessings of the Atonement and also the accompanying principle of grace, our eternal destiny and progress are contingent only on our willingness to do that which God has asked of us and that which we are fully capable of doing if we only so choose to do it. In other words, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. It doesn’t matter how tall you are. Your personality doesn’t matter. Your skills don’t matter. What matters is your heart, your willingness to give everything you can.
The concept of willingness is eminently fair. It means every one of us has an equal opportunity to receive the full blessings promised from our Father in Heaven. Elder [Neal A.] Maxwell said it this way: “God does not begin by asking us about our ability but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability!” (“It’s Service, Not Status, That Counts,” Ensign, July 1975, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/07/its-service-not-status-that-counts?lang=eng )
So I would say this, brothers and sisters—so often we feel that our destiny, our future, our success, our happiness, is contingent on things that maybe we won’t measure up in giving. And I’m here to tell you that, in eternally significant ways, we all have everything we need to fully measure up.
Our willingness is a choice we make many times every day. It’s a decision we make about whether we will magnify our calling, go on a date, tell someone about the gospel, sacrifice our time to help a friend, or even our willingness to attend the devotional at LDS Business College.
A few years ago in our stake, we held a youth conference. It was a stakewide conference, and there were some 450 youths from our stake that were involved. The basic idea was to do grand-scale reenactments of some of the famous scenes out of the Book of Mormon. So we took these 450 youths in our stake to a somewhat removed location up in the mountains and built a wonderful stage and a sound system and things, and for three days reenacted Abinadi and his life, and Nephi and the ship. I will never forget some of the impressive reenactments that we had there, where the Book of Mormon really was reinforced to us in our lives. 
But I think the thing that was most impressive to me about that situation was not the 450 youths, or even the reenactments, but it was this unheralded host of hundreds of adults that willingly gave in very quiet and, some would say, insignificant ways to make that happen. One man owned a construction company. He took all of his workers for a week, pulled them off of their paying jobs and had them build the stage.
Another man, for three days, dragged a “Water Buffalo” [water trailer] behind his truck, ferrying one load of water after another to this remote mountain site so there would be water for those who were there. A whole group of people cut up mountains of potatoes and carrots in order to feed the ravenous teenagers that were out participating in the activity that day. And perhaps with the exception of a small note in the stake newsletter, I don’t think any of them were recognized for what they did. But their willingness changed not only the youth who participated in the youth conference, but their willingness changed them as well.
Often I think, brothers and sisters, in ways that we do not consider, and sometimes in ways that we think are too small to even notice, we hold back a portion of ourselves. We aren’t truly willing to give what we might have given, what we could have given, what might have made a difference in somebody’s life, and what surely would have blessed us as well.
We know from the Book of Mormon that Nephi’s brothers, Laman and Lemuel, were chronically unwilling to do that which needed to be done. And with a little coercion and angelic intervention, then did get involved in going back the third time, going back to Laban. It’s hard to fault them, but they did not want to go to get the plates. And they eventually went. When Nephi said, “The Lord has asked me to build a ship,” Laman and Lemuel were very unwilling.
Conversely, if we think about it, Abraham on the other hand was very willing to offer Isaac—I’m sure with trepidation and heartache, but fortunately he was not called on to make that sacrifice. On the other hand, his willingness is what makes that story significant. And I would say you might find in your own life that there are things you are willing to do—not called upon to do, but your desire, your willingness, your attitude will be the blessing you needed to get from that. 
Have you ever noticed that in your ward or branch, wherever you come from, that there is usually a very small group of people that volunteer over and over again to do the simple assignments that are asked? It’s usually a minority, isn’t it? And for whatever reason, there seem to be others that have chronic scheduling conflicts, they’re not quite available, they can’t arrange it, they can’t be there. And it’s the simple tasks—cleaning the cannery, doing some work in a widow’s yard, taking the sacrament to a sick member, or maybe helping the deacons collect the fast offerings. And my question is, are you amongst that select group that truly is willing to do the insignificant and unheralded and simple tasks? Or are you among the others that can’t quite see it as a possibility for you?
You know, we are commanded to be proactive in doing many good things. In the 58th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 27-29, the Lord says, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”
I think we are often, in the Church, in a pattern of waiting for someone to ask us to do something. And that’s a good level of motivation, and to respond to that is wonderful. But how much better it is, I think, that we simply follow the prompting of the Spirit, and I think no one is better at this than President [Thomas S.] Monson, of knowing that someone needs a visit, someone needs to be cheered up, someone needs a phone call or a card, or some very simple thing that every one of us could do without a calling, without a request, without an invitation, that would ennoble and bless everyone concerned.
Our willingness grows as our conversion deepens. And conversely, as we become more willing, we find that we receive the blessings of a deeper conversion. And I believe that the simple willingness we have to extend ourselves is really the whole course of progression on this earth. 
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “When obedience”—and I’ll add the word ‘willingness’ to that—ceases to become an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” (Quoted without attribution in Donald L. Staheli, “Obedience—Life’s Great Challenge, April 1998 general conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/obedience-lifes-great-challenge?lang=eng ) And I know that is true. 
When we talk about this idea of a deeper conversion, we are so blessed with the example of the Brethren, and to see the comprehensive willingness they have to give of themselves. I’ve known a few of the Seventy who have been called for years at a time to be away from their families, to live in one foreign country after another, and I marvel at their willingness to freely give all that they have in any way to build the kingdom. It is not done in a spirit of drudgery; it’s done in a spirit of love, and it’s done in a spirit of gratitude and humility.
There’s a story that I like about President [Spencer W.] Kimball that I will share. In March 1972, President Kimball was acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Some of you might know that his health was fragile for many years, but at this particular time he was suffering from heart failure, and thinking that his life was short. He decided to confer in a counsel with his file leaders, who happened to be the First Presidency. So he called his doctor, Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, [and] he called another surgeon, who is now Elder Russell M. Nelson, and he had them go, in 1972, with him for an interview where they talked about President Kimball’s health.
President Kimball said that his heart was failing. He sensed that death was nigh, and he thought that he had perhaps two months more to live. And then he said, “Now I would like my doctor to present his views.” Dr. Wilkinson, his main cardiologist, then confirmed President Kimball’s feelings, saying that a “recovery would be unlikely and [that] death would ensue in the not-too-distant future.
“Then President Kimball called on [Elder Nelson] as a cardiac surgeon, and [he] asked, ‘What can surgery offer me?’”
Elder Nelson reports: “I indicated that an operation, if it were to be done, would consist of two components. First, an aortic valve replacement would be required. Second, an important coronary artery with a blockage should be treated with a bypass graft.”
“President Harold B. Lee of the First Presidency then asked the crucial question, ‘What would be the risks with such a procedure?’
“‘I don’t know,’ I [Elder Nelson] replied. ‘In a man aged seventy-seven, the risk of either of these operations is significant. But to do both on one whose heart is failing would entail risk so high that the operation cannot be recommended….’
“As a weary President Kimball [then] responded, ‘I am an old man and ready to die,’ President Lee [then] interrupted. He rose to his feet, pounded his fist to the desk, and said, with his prophetic power, ‘Spencer, you have been called! You are not to die! You are to do everything you need to do to care for yourself and continue to live.’
“President Kimball [then humbly] replied, ‘Then I will have the operation.’ ”
He was willing. “He underwent that complex operation not because it was deemed…safe [in any reasonable way] but because he was [willing to follow] the counsel or the Lord, expressed through the leaders of the Church—regardless of [his] personal risk.” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Spencer W. Kimball: Man of Faith,” Ensign, Dec. 1985, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/12/spencer-w-kimball-man-of-faith?lang=eng )
My hope, brothers and sisters, is that as the years go by we can attain that level of conversion and that level of willingness in our lives. “The outcome [of course] is well known. He was blessed to survive the operation.” The following year, in 1973, he was ordained the prophet. He became the prophet at that point in time, and he served for the next 13 years as the prophet in the Church, making a great impression on so many of us, even to the point where we named our second son Spencer, after one of the great men on this earth.
Last Sunday, to bring this to a closer level, I was visiting with a member of my ward. And I explained a situation to them. We had a wonderful young man who left on his mission about three months ago. And his parents, in spite of their best efforts, have contributed a certain amount to his mission. The young man contributed a certain amount, and once a month we get a check written out from his grandparents with very, very shaky letters. You can see the faith as they write out this check for their grandson. But there’s still a meaningful shortfall in the contribution and sustaining that he needs to keep him serving.
I explained this to this member of our ward, thinking that we could find some inspiration on who to contact or how to approach our ward members in making up the shortfall. And he simply looked me in the eye and he said, “Done.”
And I said, “Do you mean, then, that we’ll approach the members of your quorum or the ward to get it done?”
And he said, “No. Done.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “I mean, I’ll pay it. I’ll write the check. It’s not a problem. It’s done.” He then explained that someone had done that for him when he was growing up and leaving on his mission. But I loved that example of complete and utter willingness to do whatever was asked.
When I was first called to be the bishop of our ward, I was warned that I should be very careful what I asked of the members of our ward, because if I asked for some help I would find that it came in a wave and would often and always be far in excess of that which would be required. And it is wonderful to witness in our own area, amongst the people around us, such a willingness to do whatever is asked.
Let me say this, brothers and sisters. Truly willing people are happy. Truly willing people are filled with joy. And I dare say, if you think about the lives of that smaller group that constantly says “yes” in your wards and branches, that you will see that those people emanate a light, they feel a joy, they have happiness, there’s something wonderful going on in their lives. And those who are cowering in the corners or sneaking away or maybe slacking off a little bit, don’t quite feel that same level of joy and reward as the others.
Too often, I think, we are afraid of doing things that are hard. But if there is anything that is clear at all in the gospel plan, it’s that the Lord does not spare the Saints from things that are hard. He teaches us with hard things. And if we get in a pattern and in a mode of our lives of avoidance of things that are difficult and challenging, we will miss in large measure the whole point of this earthly life. And so I don’t know that we necessarily pray, as President Kimball did, for a mountain to climb. (See “Give Me This Mountain,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/11/give-me-this-mountain )  I haven’t been quite that brave, to ask for challenges. But I can say that I’m not afraid of them and that I’ve learned that hard things bring wonderful and great results. And so I would encourage you, with God’s help, to simply accept the challenges that are uniquely assigned to you. Submit to them with faith, with diligence, and with a willingness, and you will be amazed at what God will do with you, and who He will help you become.
President Howard W. Hunter said this, and I love it: “I have never been on a gloomy welfare project. I have climbed trees and picked lemons, [I have] peeled fruit, [I’ve] tended boiler, carried boxes, unloaded trucks, cleaned the cannery, and a thousand and one other things, but the things I remember most are the laughing and the singing and the good fellowship of the people [who have been] engaged in the service of the Lord.” (Howard W. Hunter, Pure Religion: The Story of Church Welfare Since 1930, 1995, p. 379. Originally in “Welfare and the Relief Society,” Relief Society Magazine, Apr. 1962, p. 238.)
I think of that often. “I have never been on a gloomy service project.” You think about your own experience, and you will probably relate to that. One of the happiest passages in all of the Book of Mormon that I know about is the reunion of Alma and the sons of Mosiah. They had been serving as missionaries on a mission that’s a little longer than ours. If you think about it, fourteen years they had been serving. That’s a willingness, isn’t it? For fourteen years. They were converted, they had abandoned their sins, they went willingly and anxiously into enemy territory, and they did many hard things.
Alma himself gave up his role as the chief judge of the land, a position that I’m sure had with it much honor, much respect. (See Alma 4:15-19)  And our family just read out of Alma chapter 8 this past week of Alma, after he gave up the chief judgeship to Nephihah, he then goes to Zarahemla [and later to Ammonihah], and it says the people spat upon him, their former chief judge who now was the prophet, if you will, a full-time missionary. And they said, “You have no authority over us. You have no power over us. We don’t have to do anything you say to do.” (See verses 11-12)
And Alma, with that kind of a background, then goes out and for fourteen years faithfully preaches the gospel. But if you have a chance, read in Alma chapter 17, his comments about rejoicing in the reunion with the sons of Mosiah, his brethren in the gospel. And you can answer for yourself the question, are willing people happy? He was very happy.
The final thing that I wanted to say on this topic is this: Our consistent practice of willing obedience eventually leads us to become consecrated. And if you think of this audacious vision of us as fully consecrated, of purified, righteous people, Christlike in every way, I wish to assert to you today that that happens through the simple, willing acts of obedience that we give on a daily basis in our lives. 
Probably the most referred to scripture on this idea of putting off the natural man is in Mosiah 3:19. The description is given of how we go from being a natural man to becoming a consecrated, Christlike man. It says: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,”—and then this really key, key part of putting off the natural man—“willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
I love that. Willing to submit—the key to putting off the natural man for us. In Helaman 6:36, it explains a little bit more how this process of consecrating happens. And so what it says, speaking of the Lamanites: “And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites.” Why? “Because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.”
So what happened is they were willing to exercise that faith that submission. God blessed them with the Spirit, which instructed them, enlarged them, and blessed them with an ever-increasing desire to be better and do more in their lives. And consequently, they became a righteous, a consecrated people.
So, my brothers and sisters, I’ll end where I started, in the 88th section, verse 32, where it talks about “they could enjoy that which they were willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.” So my question to you is, What are we willing to enjoy? Because the blessings are promised. They are sure. God keeps His word. What are we willing to enjoy in our own lives?
One of my favorite paintings is just a few blocks from here. It’s in the Salt Lake Temple. It’s at the top of a stairway, one of the main stairways, and it’s a painting I haven’t seen replicated or reproduced anywhere. It’s of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith. He looks wise, he looks consecrated, and if you look closely, his eyes are bagged and sagged and he looks tired. He looks worn out. And if you think about his life, you can understand why. You know, his dad was Hyrum Smith, martyred when Joseph F. was five years old. And his mom, Mary Fielding Smith, took Joseph F. and his siblings, six children that Hyrum and his first wife Jerusha had, brought them all to Salt Lake and they tried to scrape out an existence here without a dad.
At the age of 15, he was called to serve a full-time mission in Hawaii, in the Sandwich Islands. He accepted, and he was ordained an elder at the age of 15. He left. He went to California without any money, and somewhere, we think near the town of Fremont, he worked for a while and earned money, eventually gained passage. He served for over three years in the Hawaiian Islands as a faithful missionary, at such a young, young age.
On the way back, in 1857, from Hawaii, he was called back to the Territory, and this is where that very famous event occurred. He was coming back—he hitched a ride with a wagon train coming back from California, three and a half years, roughly, after he left, and these outlaws came into the camp one evening. And they said, basically, that they were going to kill every one of those blankety-blank Mormons, and Joseph F., for whatever reason, thought, “Why should I fear these fellows?” And he marched up to one of the intruders, who had a pistol in his hand. 
The man demanded, “Are you a Mormon?”
And Joseph F. responded, “Yes sirree, dyed in the wool, true blue, through and through.” He was willing to put himself out there.
And with that, the hoodlum grasped his hand and said, “Well, you are the [blankety-blank] pleasantest man I ever met. Shake hands, young fellow, I’m glad to see a man that stands up for his convictions.”
That was Joseph F. Smith, and his life was a pattern of willingness. He was willing to do whatever he was asked to do. My hope is that someday, near the end of my life, I’m going to look just like him. Now some of you might say I’m ahead of schedule, that I look like him already. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I will tell you that I’m excited about the idea of giving whatever I can. I rejoice in that privilege, and I would suggest to you that, although you are young, you are not too young to make that decision right now, to not be one of the naysayers in the shadows, but to be one of those that steps up regularly, constantly, and with joy in your heart to willingly give whatever talents, whatever gifts, whatever strength, whatever ability God has given uniquely to you. Because there is a reason for you to be here. And my testimony is that if you give of yourself in ways that are entirely capable for you to give, that you will find that your life is filled with joy and that you are well on the path to becoming the consecrated person you really want to be.
The 64th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, in verse 34, says this: “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.
“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”
I want to bear you my testimony. I know that God lives. I know that LDS Business College is part of His grand design for building the kingdom of God, and that you and your lives are an important part of that plan. I want to testify to you that service in the Church and the decision to live a willing life is a joy, it is a privilege, it is a pleasure. And the opportunity to feel the sustaining help and support of the Holy Ghost in your life that comes always to willing people is the greatest reward we could possibly hope for on this earth. It’s the spiritual hug we need as we are on the path and moving forward.
I wish for you to know of my love for you, that you are in our prayers, and that we ask for Heavenly Father to bless you in all that you are doing, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Protect And Nourish Your Testimony

26 Jun. 2012

Transcript

Protect and Nourish Your Testimony

I’ve actually written out my entire talk so that I can hopefully control my emotions somewhat better. You’re going to get the full load. President Richards and others on the stand, faculty and staff, and most importantly, you students who have chosen to be here of your own free will and choice—your numbers intimidate me, but I am honored by your support. I have prayed often—stop, Finlinson, don’t get started so early—I have prayed often, since being asked to speak today, and I plead for your silent prayers that I may somehow communicate the many thoughts and feelings I have received as I have prepared. Please forgive me for using the many personal instances that I will cite today. I think most of my experiences are similar to those you have had or may yet have in your lives. I would like first to read to you a couple of lines from my patriarchal blessing to introduce the topic of my address this morning.
I quote as follows: “For the Lord has planted in your tender heart a testimony which shall abide with you to your last day on earth. Nourish that testimony. Feed it, and care for it, as you would a tender flower.” I believe those lines could be in everyone’s blessing, and I take your attendance here as evidence that we all have a growing testimony of eternal matters, especially our relationship with our Father in Heaven. That testimony rests on the sure foundation established by the Holy Ghost whispering to our hearts. Hence, I would like to use the remainder of my time talking about how we might protect our testimony and help it grow as we would a tender flower.
President Gordon B. Hinckley in a conference talk said the following, and I quote: “This witness, this testimony, can be the most precious of all the gifts of God. It is a heavenly bestowal when there is the right effort. It is the opportunity, it is the responsibility of every man and woman in this Church to obtain within himself or herself a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work and of those who stand at its head, even the living God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (“Testimony,” April 1998 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/testimony?lang=eng)
On another occasion, President Hinckley said again, “In your hearts, you carry a testimony of the truth of this work. It is a gift of God which has come to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is more precious than all else. It puts you in a position of loneliness, but you have no choice but to go forward and live the gospel. Live the Word of Wisdom. Pay your tithes and offerings. Be faithful and true. Go to the temple. And you young men and women, there comes upon you the responsibility, inescapable, under which you must live up to the knowledge you carry in your hearts.”
I would now like to read a quote from Elder Howard W. Hunter that furthers this theme: “Action is one of the chief foundations of personal testimony. The surest witness is that which comes firsthand out of personal experience. When the Jews challenged the doctrine Jesus taught in the temple, he answered, ‘…my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.’ Then he added the key to personal testimony, ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.’ (John 7:16-17)”
Continuing to quote: “Merely saying, accepting, [and] believing are not enough. They are incomplete until that which they imply is translated into the dynamic action of daily living. This, then, is the finest source of personal testimony. One knows because he has experienced. He does not have to say, ‘Brother Jones says it’s true, and I believe him.’ He can say, ‘I have lived this principle in my own life, and I know through personal experience that it works. I have felt its influence, tested its practical usefulness, and know that it is good. I can testify of my own knowledge that it is a true principle.” (“Gospel Imperatives,” Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 115-118, http://scriptures.byu.edu/gettalk.php?ID=1556)
I am convinced the manner in which we can protect our testimonies through nourishing, feeding and caring must be accomplished by our dynamic daily living. Hence, let me suggest some ideas that have worked for me and others in the past.
First, we need to be in the Scriptures daily. A tender flower needs daily watering to grow. The Holy Ghost and our testimonies need us to read scriptures daily. I recognize that our modern times are busy and that time seems to come as a premium to all of us. Developing the habit of daily scripture study is difficult for some of us to establish. Most good habits are. Permit me to read an Old Testament story that has helped me. It is found in 2 Kings 5, pretty much.
“And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee that thou mayest recover him from his [spiritual] leprosy.
“And it came to pass, [that] when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes and said, Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his [spiritual] leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
“And it was so, when Elisha, the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
“And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and [study thy scriptures daily, even the Book of Mormon, and thy testimony] shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be [converted].
“But Naaman was wroth, and [he] went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the [spiritual] leper….
“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had [asked thee to serve as the stake president or on the high council or as the bishop or as the Elders quorum president or as the gospel doctrine teacher or some other] “great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, [Study your scriptures daily, and be protected?]”
“Then [he] went…[and began his daily scripture study], according to the saying of the man of God; and his [testimony grew as a tender flower].” (See 2 Kings 5:6-14)
I am convinced that daily scripture study will help you nourish, feed, care for and protect your testimony. I know beyond doubt that your day will go better when you read your scriptures that day, if only one chapter. I know with time, you will be able to easily distinguish the days you have not read your scriptures. I know that when you read your scriptures daily there will come thoughts and scriptures to your mind throughout the day in your various activities, often for the benefit of someone else. I know that as you read your scriptures daily, your desire to be obedient and eschew evil will be enhanced.
Secondly, an obvious help in this protecting process is the use of personal prayers. Now in my mind, there are a couple of different types of personal prayers. First, there are the prayers concerning our own individual needs and wants. Think of those prayers of desperation when you’re about ready to kill your roommate, or maybe later in life, a teenage son or daughter. Think of those prayers when you feel lost in a school subject or a work project. Think of those prayers when you are considering entering a new phase of your life, and you’re concerned about how you will adapt and what others will think about you.
Think of the prayers of relief when you are feeling ill or feeling down. Think of those prayers when you want to know or understand the truths of the gospel. These prayers find their genesis in our desire to have faith in and communicate with a loving Father in Heaven, who will answer all our prayers according to His will and desires for us.
A different type of prayer might be described as the “Let me be an instrument” prayer, wherein our focus is on others and their needs and wants. Think of praying for struggling family members. Think of praying for members of your ward or neighborhood. Think of praying for instructors and classmates at the beginning of each class period. Think of praying for close friends who may have lost a loved one. Think of praying for civic and Church leaders who have directing and guiding responsibilities for many others. Whatever type of prayers we might utter, if we do so sincerely, respectfully, simply, honestly, and often, our relationship with a kind Father in Heaven will bloom as the flower of testimony, for He will bless us with a multitude of opportunities to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost for the blessings of our own lives and the lives of many others. Following the promptings of the Holy Ghost brings eternal joy.
Let me move to a third process for protecting and caring for testimony. I love music. I come by my love of music rather genetically; my grandfather Finlinson sang in the ward choir in Oak City, Utah, for more than 50 consecutive years. One time the townsfolk challenged him to sing for two straight hours without repeating a song. He did so, and was rewarded with the grand prize of a gunnysack of unshelled peanuts, a favorite snack of his. Music has been an uplifting part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father played music on the phonograph or radio almost on a daily basis.
I have listened to the music of the Church, the music of the ’30s, the ’40s, the ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s—and there is still some great music being produced now. In fact, I want to agree with this quote from Brigham Young: “There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven.”
For further proper perspective, let me read this quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “Music is part of the language of the Gods. It has been given to man so he can sing praises to the Lord. It is a means of expressing, with poetic words and in melodious tunes, the deep feelings of rejoicing and thanksgiving found in the hearts of those who have testimonies of the divine Sonship and who know of the wonders and glories wrought for them by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Music is both in the voice and in the heart. Every true saint finds his heart full of songs of praise to his Maker. Those whose voices can sing … the praises found in their hearts are twice blest. ‘Be filled with the Spirit,’ Paul counseled, ‘Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.’ (Eph 5:18-19)” (The Promised Messiah, p. 553.)
One of my favorite times of service in the Church was the three years I served as the Primary chorister in my ward. I used to thrill to see the tears form in the eyes of those young Primary children as they would sing phrases like:
I know my Father lives and loves me too.
The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true.

(Reid N. Nibley, Children’s Songbook, p. 5)

 

 

And again, when they would sing:

 

 

I feel my Savior’s love
In all the world around me.
His Spirit warms my soul
Through ev’rything I see.

(Ralph Rodgers Jr., K. Newell Dayley, and Laurie Huffman, Children’s Songbook, p. 74)

 

 

Please surround your testimony with uplifting music. There is so much of it in the Christian world today. We have choirs, like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and there are dozens if not hundreds of accomplished performers producing musical renditions that will soothe the soul and bring peace to your heart. I would ask Sister Cathy to play a little piece for you. It’s a little long, but I want to dedicate it to next Wednesday, and I’ll sit down. Just think of the words. [Pianist plays renditions of “America, the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”]

 

 

That kind of music brings peace to my heart.
Sometimes, when a piece of music gets into your mind, it just kind of stays there, and you find yourself humming it over and over again. That aspect of music can be both good and bad, so when we speak of music, we should also be somewhat cautious. Some of you know that I have held a karaoke party at the end of each school year for my second-year accounting students. I have the CDs that we use for this purpose, and I pass out a list of all the songs on the CDs, in order that students may choose a song to sing. A couple of years ago, I purchased a new CD and a disk of more contemporary songs. I didn’t know the songs myself, but I recognized the singers as more current. After I passed out the list of songs, a couple of students talked to me after class to explain that the lyrics to two of the songs were probably totally inappropriate for LDS Business College. I was embarrassed.
Allow me to read a quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer: “In our day music itself has been corrupted. Music can, by its tempo, by its beat, by its intensity, dull the spiritual sensitivity of men….
“Young people, you cannot afford to fill your mind with the unworthy hard music of our day. It is not harmless. It can welcome onto the stage of your mind unworthy thoughts and set the tempo to which they dance and to which you may act.
“You degrade yourself when you identify with all of those things which seem now to surround the extremes of music: the shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, and the addictions. Such music as that is not worthy of you.…
“…[God] has inspired a world full of wonderful things to learn and to do, uplifting music of many kinds that you may enjoy.” (“Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1974/01/inspiring-music-worthy-thoughts?lang=eng)
Indeed, music can provide the greenhouse protection for your testimony flower.
A fourth aspect of nurturing, feeding, caring for, and protecting a testimony would relate to the physical body, which houses our testimony. It appears to me that our testimony is housed in the area that extends from our shoulders down to just below our knees. I base that opinion on the fact that when a member of the Church goes to the temple to receive their own endowment, they receive the garment of the holy priesthood, which more or less covers that same area. Hence, protecting our testimonies would include covering that area of our bodies with appropriate clothing.
I’ve used the word “appropriate” in a deliberate sense. There is available a myriad of choices of clothing that a person could buy and wear, but not all the choices may be appropriate. For example, in the Olympics this summer, there will be people running the hundred-meter race. Sprinters. However, I doubt that any of the competitors will be wearing a snowmobile suit during the race. Nor will any of the gymnasts be wearing ski parkas and ski boots. Such clothing would not be appropriate for these athletes in this setting. Let me say that I don’t think the word “appropriate” with respect to clothing has anything to do with brand names or price of the clothing.
Alternatively, I think appropriateness has much to do with our self-esteem. I believe the clothing we wear says much about the way we feel about ourselves. And this comes from a man who wears bow-ties. Love yourself in that respect. Let your fashion be prompted by the Holy Ghost, not by the world in particular. Again, there is much clothing that can be acquired to make you look your child-of-God best and reflect your divine heritage. The Holy Ghost and your testimony will love it.
Another step deals with the common, daily language we use. None of us would probably cuss or profane in the temple or a ward chapel. However, sometimes, even quoting someone else we let unholy phrases pass our lips. Rest assured that, if and when that happens, the Holy Ghost is offended and your testimony diminished. In fact, it can be equally tough when we are around others who use ugly language, even though we may not.
Recently, my neighbor was stranded in Youngstown, Ohio, for two days because of a vehicle breakdown. He said he was literally shocked by the frequent use of that four-letter word that we all find so offensive. Some individuals didn’t seem to be able to carry on a conversation without constantly using that word. He indicated that he just couldn’t wait to get away from that place.
I realize that none of us in this room would use that word, but perhaps there are other patterns of speech that we need to avoid. We should probably avoid gossip, backbiting, unfair criticism, expressions of abject anger, intolerance, and name calling, to list just a few. Instead, we can look for the moments to compliment, support, encourage, and express love and admiration. I think as we look for those types of opportunities, we will be led to even more of them. So guard your language; protect your testimony.
Let’s talk about the many places you visit on a daily basis and hence take your testimony with you. There is home, your apartment, possibly school, work, shopping, places of entertainment and recreation, the gym for workouts, etc. Occasionally, you will be in a place that has been dedicated to the purposes of our Heavenly Father—the school, the ward, other Church buildings, and, if you’re lucky, the House of the Lord—a temple. The various places you visit the most say much about the desires of your heart.
Right now, I think many of you spend a lot of your time here at the school, and possibly at work, because your current focused desire is to obtain an education that will benefit you the rest of your life. That is good.  I know from my personal experience that this school, housed in a dedicated facility, offers many opportunities for the growing of testimonies. These opportunities come both in and out of the classroom. I commend you for being here. There are a lot of great people here who possess strong, growing testimonies. Associating with them will be pleasing to the Holy Ghost, and your individual testimony.
Now, although it may seem nearly impossible, there will come a time when, once you have completed your degree, that you will have a little more discretionary time and money that you can choose to spend on other mortal and eternal desires. Deciding how and where you spend your money and, more importantly, your time, will become more challenging. I watch people, members of the Church, all the time trying to decide between career and Church service, between a larger home with the wife working or a smaller home with mother at home with the children, between even having children or just having dogs, between a used mini-van and a $50,000 brand new suburban with movie screens that carries with it a great debt load, between a $16 pair of jeans at Costco or a pair of designer jeans with holes in them already for $50, between a substantial fast offering contribution and an unlimited data plan for their cell phone. I could go on and on. So could you.
The point is, where we spend our resources becomes a reflection and a fulfillment of true desires for this mortal existence. At the same time, where we spend our days influences and shapes those desires. My advice, then, would be that for the protection and growth of testimonies, we should arrange our schedules to frequent the dedicated places as often as reasonably possible. When we need to be at this school, let us be here. Let’s attend sacrament meeting, almost without fail, even on vacation. Let us be in fast and testimony meeting, and grow our testimonies through silent and vocal expression. Let us attend priesthood and Relief Society meetings as scheduled. Let us attend tithing settlement without fail. Let’s attend baptisms of family and friends. Let’s be found in the homes of those we home teach and visit teach. Let us be found at the bedside of the sick.
All of us that are over the age of 12 should establish our worthiness through the temple-recommend process to attend the House of the Lord frequently, and perform the ordinances that we can for those who are waiting for our service. As a former ordinance worker, I can promise you the blessings from temple service will overcompensate you for your time spent. Those temple-service blessings cannot be found anywhere else in this mortal life. Your very soul can be uplifted every time you go.
I’ve observed numerous young men and women who are not endowed yet who come to the temple on a weekly basis to do baptisms for the dead. My, how their flower of testimony grows and is nourished. Your faithful temple service will be rewarded with experiences you may not have even imagined up to now. Your frequent service will greatly magnify your feelings of love from the Savior and Heavenly Father to you personally.
Let us follow the wise admonition to “Stand … in holy places” (D&C 87:8) and thereby bring protection and growth to our testimonies.
If you will give me a couple more minutes, I would like to conclude with a couple of personal experiences that have occurred recently in my life. I have a friend who I have known for about 30 years. He is a wonderful man with great skills and accomplishments. He has served extensively in the Church, in a bishopric and on the high council and other positions. He has expressed a strong testimony of the gospel over the years. His vocal renditions have touched the hearts of many. Unfortunately, over the past few months, he has made what even he calls some terrible choices. These choices have seemed so completely out of character to all who know him, to the point that it is hard to believe he actually made those choices. These choices have put his membership in the Church in jeopardy and have brought heartache to his spouse, family, and friends.
All of us who love him are doing what we can to support and hope and pray for his future efforts to recover. I can only make sense of it by thinking that somehow, over time, little by little, he chose not to closely nourish and feed his testimony, so that the ground became dry and barren. Hence, he has become scorched by the wildfire of the adversary.
Let me end on a positive note. On Memorial Day, I went back to Oak City, Utah, and put flowers on my dad’s grave. I also wanted to visit my cousin Lisa and her husband, Lavell. We have had many good times together in the past. Their daughter Kirsten graduated from LDS Business College five years ago. However, I hadn’t seen them for almost four years. It was heartbreaking to discover that Lavell, the husband, has been bedridden for the past three years with MS. He can barely arise from his bed to use the restroom and has to keep the bedroom darkened because the light hurts his eyes. He doesn’t go outside. He can’t go for a ride up the canyon. He rarely sees a sunset.
In a touching conversation with him, Lavell commented: “Some would say I have lost everything, but I certainly don’t feel that way. I have my dear Lisa and my children and my grandchildren. They are mine forever. My son Jake has moved his little family back to Oak City so as to be able to help Lisa care for me. And I have my extended family members like yourself. But most importantly, I have a testimony of the gospel. I can’t count all the times my Father in Heaven has strengthened me and built up that testimony over the last three years. With the comfort of the Holy Ghost, I have had no feelings of ‘Why me?’ I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I am determined to cling to that testimony until I can leave this sick body behind. Nothing will be of greater importance to me on the other side of the veil than my testimony.”
My dear brothers and sisters, I believe that with all my heart. Nothing will be more important to any of us than our testimony. I hope there may be something in what I have said today that will help you protect and grow and nurture and nourish your testimony, that nothing will get in the way, and that you will have it each and every day of your life in a strong and growing fashion is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

His Matchless Power of Healing and Deliverance

03 Jul. 2012

Transcript

His Matchless Power of Healing and Deliverance

Before I get started on my talk, I just want to tell you how much Heavenly Father loves each of you. As I have sought the will of heaven to know what I should share with you today, I had constant outpourings of how much Heavenly Father loves and appreciates each of you, and that makes this a weighty assignment, because I want to make sure that my words are a blessing to you. I know that Heavenly Father appreciates when you fight against the odds in your life, and when you make sacrifices and obey, and when you are humble enough to repent when it’s needed. He’s relying on you to carry forward this Church in the future, and He has complete confidence in you. I just wanted to start out by sharing that message.
I also want to mention that Elder Marvin J. Ashton said that the ability to weep is actually a spiritual gift, and Heavenly Father has given me more than my share than I really think He should have.  So I’ll do my best to not share so much of that gift with you, but if I do, thank you for your patience. And if you are someone who really can’t stand people who cry in public, I want to let you know that we are going to talk about football in a few minutes to kind of balance it out. And there’s no crying in football, so I just wanted to let you know that so that you don’t automatically tune out every time I share my spiritual gift with you.
One question I have for you is how many of you know Brother Adrian Juchau, or have had a chance to meet him or work with him? Raise your hands. Thank you. Brother Juchau, just so you know, I’m not going to ask you to do anything weird. Before I do get to something I want to say, I want you to know that he is one of the best-kept secrets at LDS Business College, and if you have been involved in the mentors and ambassadors program, you have been able to partake of the wisdom and the blessing that that program has been and who you have become in the process. And Brother Juchau actually shared this analogy with me that I want to share with each of you.
What I want you to do is take your index finger and stick it about six inches in front of your face and focus only on your finger. What do you see? This is the part where you can actually talk.  A finger. What’s on your finger? Okay, do you see a knuckle, you see hair, depending on how old you are maybe wrinkles, maybe scars, maybe dirty fingernails, maybe beautiful fingernails.
Now I want you to keep focusing on that finger. Don’t take your eyes from your finger, and tell me what I’m holding up.  [Holds up a picture of the Savior.] What kind of a square is it? None of you can tell me. Now I want you to keep that finger up in front of your face and look at your surroundings. What do you see that you couldn’t see before when you were staring at your finger? Okay, a picture of Christ. What else do you see? A lot of great people. You see me. Okay, don’t look at me; look at your finger the whole talk.
So pretend this finger is a big problem you have in your life. While you are staring at that problem and focusing only on that problem, what does that mean for you as far as fixing your problem goes? What are you missing? Everything. Okay. There are so many beautiful things in this room and in this world that you can’t see because you are focusing on that problem. And you’re missing, actually, the main source of help with that problem. So that is actually what I want to focus my talk on today. 
I want us to talk about Christ’s matchless healing power and the power of deliverance that He offers to each of us, regardless of who we are and what our circumstances are. And I hope we can all walk away with an increased conviction of how much He yearns to lighten our burdens and to heal us and deliver us and to make us into who He wants us to be.
Like I mentioned when we liken our finger unto a problem, a lot of us feel like we don’t just have one finger in front of our faces, we feel like we might have 10. They move around a lot, and then they’re here and there, and we might actually feel like we are broken. Can anyone tell me what this is?  [Shows a broken Pampered Chef stone slide.] Stoneware. What is special about it? Why would it be better than just a regular pizza sheet or something like that? What happens the more you use it? It gets what they call seasoned, so your food actually tastes better. Some of us might feel in different seasons of our lives that we just have too many fingers in front of our face, and we might feel broken. My talk today is especially for those of you who feel broken, and for those of you who want to help others who feel broken. 
And before I get into it, I want to ask you guys—I already have a big long list of things to answer this question that I’m going to ask. I’ve worked with people your age professionally and in the Church for several years, and I know some of the things you face that make you feel broken, but I want to make it real for you guys. So what kinds of things in your lives or the lives of people your age—friends, family, people you know—might make you guys feel like that?
This is the part where you speak, and if you don’t, I’ll shine the laser on you.
[Below, Sister Thompson responds to individual comments.] 
•Okay, relationships. There are lots of things with relationships. There are strained relationships, broken relationships, no relationships, too many relationships. Some people might not feel like that’s a problem, but it’s a problem in some people’s lives.
•Finances and financial struggles.  Okay, trying to make it through college, pay your tuition and pay your rent. And if you’ve got a family, that makes it even more weighty.
•There’s the regular load, and then there can be academic struggles. Maybe you’ve got cognitive limitations, or maybe it’s just not your subject and it’s really stressing you out, or you’re putting all your time into the subject trying to do well. And then there’s just the general heavy load of school.
•Balance—between school, work, everything else, social life. You want to serve in church; you want to learn everything you can from your professors while you’re here, and from extra programs like mentors and ambassadors. And this is the awesome time in your life to socialize with great people, so that’s something you want to do. Anything else?
•People who kind of bring you down. Okay, so you’re trying to be righteous, or maybe have a positive attitude, and there are may be other people who are wanting to get up but are actually pulling down.
•Feeling alone. Absolutely. This is a time where it could be a social Mecca; it’s also a time where you are away from home, and it could feel like—there could be loneliness and isolation as well.
•Temporary or long-term illness, that keeps you from doing what you would like to do.
•Culture and language problems. My hat is officially off to every international student who comes here. I wouldn’t last five seconds in your country. My gift of weeping would be chronic as I tried to survive.
•Trying to stay obedient and righteous in a wicked world is a difficult thing to do. That’s actually one really important reason that the Church has schools like this, is to help protect you from that and help you grow in the ways you can grow, in a safe environment.
Thank you for your feedback. I hope you are feeling an increase of the Spirit just by the fact that we are teaching one another and you are sharing today.
I have also known students who struggle with depression and anxiety, destructive addictions, same-sex attraction; we mentioned social struggles, academic struggles. The loss of a loved one, spiritual or physical. Those are all things that can be very heavy burdens, and I don’t want to focus on the heaviness of the burdens today, I want to focus on the healing. But that heaviness is real, and that’s exactly why the Savior is there to heal us.
What is more concerning to me than the heaviness of the burdens is the hopelessness that can come along with that. Satan says, “Oh, that’s a really great person who has a lot more power than me, and I want them to feel worthless while they’re struggling with this burden, or to feel hopeless.” And so he cashes in on that experience. But I do want to again testify that President Monson has said that He [Heavenly Father] “shapes [our backs] to bear the burden[s that are] placed upon” us. (April 2009 General Conference) He offers us the healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2; 3 Nephi 25:2; 2 Nephi 25:13), and he offers us the “companionship of the heavens” (James Ferrell, The Peacegiver).
So why do you guys think that brokenness … actually, I need to end the discussion so I can do my talk, so I’m going to ask a question, but it’s back over to the speaker, okay? So, rhetorical question: why does Heavenly Father allow brokenness in our lives? Oh, I skipped and didn’t even mean it. We say, “Oh, I was so good when I was that brand new Pampered Chef pizza stone, and now I’m this broken piece of junk and I can’t even do anything.” Why does Heavenly Father allow that in our lives? 
When we suffer what we may feel are Abrahamic trials or insurmountable obstacles, we may wonder why. And again, I want to offer two answers why. There are a lot of answers why, but I want to focus on two today that actually are an outpouring of Heavenly Father’s love for us.
The first one is that it is the price we have to pay for eternal life. And the second one is that we would not reach our potential otherwise. I have a wonderful quote that I want to share from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and I want to give you a quick background on this. I was living up in Rexburg in May 2007, and I was dealing with some things that felt like Abrahamic trials to me. And I found out that Elder Holland was coming to my stake conference. I had loved him; I loved his talks and would study them and gain so much strength from them. And at the time, my desire—I just had this yearning to meet with him one-on-one and receive his counsel with what I was going through. And I knew that that’s not how it works. They’re busy and they have lots of people to meet with, and that’s why we have local leaders. Heavenly Father takes care of us through our home teachers and our bishops and our visiting teachers and stake presidents. But I offered this prayer. It was the desire of my heart, and I said, “I know this is ridiculous, but here’s my prayer.”
And then I kind of forgot about it because I thought it was ridiculous for me to ask. So anyway, we get to the adult session of stake conference and Elder Holland started out his talk, and he said, “I have had the most unusual experience trying to prepare a talk for this session.” And he said, “Did one of you pray for an answer with a pressing issue?” And there could have been five hundred people in that room that did, but to me, that was an answer to my prayer. And then he said, “Whoever you are, pretend we’re having a one-on-one conversation.” To me that was so special. I didn’t need to meet with Elder Holland one-on-one, but Heavenly Father knew what I needed. And I received permission from [Elder Holland] to share some of the quotes that he shared at that stake conference. And this quote that I’m going to share has to do with the reasons why Heavenly Father allows brokenness in our lives and why it’s part of mortality but why it comes when we haven’t necessarily done anything wrong.
Like I said, it’s the price for eternal life, and it helps us reach our potential, so this quote backs it up: 
“When you grit your teeth, tough it out, and . . . stiffen your spine, something happens. That something is that the path you say you can’t walk, you walk. And the load you say you can’t carry, you carry. And you find something God intends you to find. You find the seeds of divinity in you. He is making you like God and there is no easy way to do that. Life is hard because salvation is hard.” And then he said something very piercing: “The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane. How can we say we’re disciples of Christ and not expect to experience at least a tiny bit of Gethsemane? There’s no way to become like God without walking where he walked and suffering what he suffered a little.” (May 2007)
Now I’m going to show you a video that’s totally contrasting, or illustrating the point of how we need extremities to reach our potential. The contrast part is that it’s not a Mormon Message, okay? It’s some football guys at a practice. So those of you who are tired of the crying, you get to hear some yelling. So just preparing those of you who are really gentle and don’t like yelling—I’m not really a yelling fan either but just look for the point behind what’s going on in the video.
[ ‘Facing the Giants’ death crawl scene]
Voice: “Okay let’s go, show me something. Ten yards. Move it.”
Sister Thompson: 
By the way, this is a football team that is in a losing streak and doing really bad.
Voice: Okay, get your knees on the ground. Show me something. Ten yards. Show me some muscle! Show me some power! Give me some more! Go!
Sister Thompson: 
While we’re getting the sound, ponder the spiritual implications of the death crawl. That’s what you were just seeing. Okay. What’s the death crawl in your life? Sometimes the Lord asks us to do the death crawl.
Voice: All right, let’s go. Show me something. Ten yards. Let’s go. Let’s go, Giles. Show me some power! Keep your knees of the ground. Show me something. There we go! Ten yards! Show me some muscle! Show me some power! Give me some more! Let’s go. Very good, boys! Very good! 
Boys’ voices: That’s not even funny dude.
Young man: So Coach, how strong is Westview this year?
Brock: A lot stronger than we are.
Coach: You’ve already written Friday night as a loss, Brock?
Brock: Well, not if I knew we could beat them.
Coach: Come here, Brock.  You too, Jeremy.
Brock: What, am I in trouble now?
Coach: Not yet. I want to see you do the death crawl, and I want to see you do your absolute best. (Laughter)
Brock: What, you want me to go to the 30?
Coach: The 50.
Brock: The 50. I could go to the 50 if there was nobody on my back.
Coach: Well, you’ll have Jeremy on your back. But even if you can’t I want you to promise me you’re going to do your best.
Brock: All right.
Coach: Your best. You’re going to give me your best.
Brock: I’m going to give you my best.
Coach: Okay. One more thing. I want you to do it blindfolded.
Brock: Why?
Coach: I want you to go farther. Get down. Jeremy, get on his back. All right, let’s go, Brock. Hands and feet, there you go. To the left, to the left. There you go. Keep coming. There you go. (Sounds of struggle, talking in background.) There you go, go left. There you go, Brock. Good strength. That’s it, Brock, that’s it.
Brock: Am I there yet?
Coach: Just give me your best, Brock. Don’t stop. You’ve got more to give than that.
Brock: I ain’t done, I’m just resting a second.
Coach: You’ve got to keep moving. Let’s keep moving. Let’s go. Don’t quit till you’ve got nothing left. There you go. Keep moving. Keep going. You keep driving. Keep your knees off the ground. Keep driving. Your very best! Your very best! Your very best! Keep moving, Brock! That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! Keep going. Don’t quit on me. Keep going. Keep driving. Keep your knees off the ground. That’s it. Your very best! Don’t quit on me. Your very best. Keep driving! Keep driving! There you go! There you go! Just keep driving! Keep your knees off the ground! Keep driving! Don’t quit until you’ve got nothing left. Keep moving, Brock. That’s it! That’s it! I want everything you’ve got! That’s it!
Brock: It’s hard!
Coach: Don’t quit on me. Your very best. Keep driving! Keep driving! Don’t you give up on me, Brock, you hear me? You keep going. You’re doing good. You keep going.
Brock: It hurts!
Coach: I know it hurts. You keep going. It’s all heart from here. Thirty more steps. You keep going, Brock! Come on! Keep going!
Brock: It burns!
Coach: Let it burn. It’s all heart. You keep going, Brock. Come on! Keep going! You promised me your best—don’t stop! Keep going!
Brock: It’s too hard!
Coach: It’s not too hard! Keep going, Brock! Twenty more steps! Twenty more! Give me your best! Keep going! Don’t quit! Go, Brock Kelly, don’t you quit on me! Ten more steps! Ten more! Don’t quit!
Brock: I can’t!
Coach: You can! Five more, come on Brock! Don’t quit! One more!
Brock: I just don’t have any more.
Coach: You did good, Brock. You’re in the end zone … Brock, you are the most influential player on this team. If you walk around defeated, so will they. Don’t tell me you can’t give me more than what I’ve been seeing. You just carried a 140-pound man across this whole field in your arms. Brock, I need you. God’s gifted you with the ability of leadership. Don’t waste it. Can I count on you?
Brock: Yes.
Jeremy: Coach?
Coach: What is it, Jeremy?
Jeremy: I weigh 160.
Sister Thompson: 
Okay. So how many of you guys know Ralph Little? Don’t you think if he were a football coach, he’d be like that—except there’s no such thing as running out, right? There’s no such thing as having nothing left. Anyway, every time I watch that I can’t help but think of Brother Little—inspiring.
So back to the video. How long is a football field? One hundred yards. So Brock was settling for 30, maybe 50 [yards] if I’m lucky, but he had someone who saw his potential and could stretch him a lot further, and that’s what Heavenly Father wants to do with us. And that’s why He blindfolds us a lot as well. He doesn’t let us see the whole picture because He knows that we would give up before He’s done with us and before He has turned us into what He wants us to be. So while we’re saying, “Heavenly Father, please turn us back into that brand new Pampered Chef stoneware,” He’s saying, “You know what? I want to turn you into a masterpiece. I have something much better in mind for you, and that takes a lot more personal crafting.” And we’re not all going to look the same. He’s got different masterpieces in mind that are much better than a Pampered Chef stoneware.
So that’s what I want to stress to each of you.  And just to further the point, what would have happened if Joseph of Egypt had given up? There would be no Twelve Tribes. He delivered his family; he delivered Egypt; he delivered everyone in the surrounding area who would have faced starvation. 
What would have happened if Abraham gave up? If Abraham had said, “God’s asking too much of me?” We are blessed every day from the Abrahamic covenants that Abraham made, and we have an abundant amount of spiritual blessings because of those covenants that were restored with Joseph Smith. What if Joseph Smith and the early pioneers would have given up and said, “You know what? I’m staying in New York. I can’t handle this Missouri or this Illinois,” or “I’m staying in Iowa.” Think of all the blessings, including this school, including the continuation of the priesthood, the Book of Mormon, everything that we would be missing out on if other people had given up. And Heavenly Father needs you to keep pressing forward, too, because He’s got things like that for us to do as well.
So if healing were always easy and immediate, we would all be doing it all the time, and I would not be giving this talk. So obviously there are barriers to healing, and I just want to address a couple of those as well.
According to Elder Neal A. Maxwell (Oct 2003 General Conference), God wants to give us “all that [He] hath,” [but] we suffer from what he calls the poverty of perceptions! (see D&C 84:38). We don’t see things clearly because, number one, we’re mortal, and number two, just being on this earth and having weaknesses causes us to not see things clearly. And Satan is out there trying to spread his counterfeits. So again, this is exactly what Satan wants.
 Elder Holland (May 2007) has a response to that as well. He calls them ‘satanic ploys.’ And the kind of misperceptions I’m talking about are:
(1)If we’re struggling and suffering we think it’s because we’re defective or inferior.
(2)We think God does not really care about us, otherwise He would save us sooner.
(3)We think maybe the Church isn’t true after all, or
(4)the Atonement might work for other people but not for me,
(5)Or we think, “I am totally alone and there is not a single soul who gets it,” or
(6)The world’s standards define my worth, not the gospel standards.
So now that we’ve heard a bunch of lies, let’s listen to the stone-cold sober truth from the Brethren.
Elder [Jeffrey R.} Holland:
He says, “Remember forever that God loves broken things. You may feel broken but remember that this is part of the pattern of life. . . .”
And then he paraphrased a famous quote by Vance Havner and said: 
“It takes broken clouds to nourish the earth and broken ground to grow grain and broken bread to nourish us, and it took a [symbolically broken] Savior to save and heal us, and we are grateful for it. . . . ”  He broke so that we can be repaired and healed.
“The thing that the Lord loves more than anything is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . . When [you] turn it over to Him and say ‘I cannot fix this’,” He doesn’t say, “That’s because you are a loser.” He says, “that is music to His ears.” That is music to His ears because what He wants is to teach you how to be like Him, and to comfort and heal you.
“During times when you feel broken [and hopeless] . . . . Heaven is closer to you than any other time in your life. In these times, you may have access to more of heaven’s care than you’ve ever been entitled to.” Please don’t ever forget that.
“In the middle of a storm, stay on board. Don’t jump ship. This is when you need the ship the most. Stay with the ship [aka: the gospel]; it’s your only chance for salvation. Stay with the Master of ocean and earth and skies who can calm the storm.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, May 2007, Rexburg East Stake Conference)
Let’s hear truth from another Brother. President [James E.] Faust says: 
“You can do something for another person that no one else ever born can do.” (Sept 2005 General Relief Society Broadcast)
Lorenzo Snow says: 
“The Lord . . . will try us until He knows what He can do with us. He tried His Son Jesus. Thousands of years before he came upon the earth the Father had watched His course and knew that He could depend upon Him when the salvation of worlds should be at stake. . . . He will continue to try us, in order that He may place us in the highest positions in life and put upon us the most sacred responsibilities” (Lorenzo Snow, Millennial Star, 24 August 1899, 532). 
And I don’t think “highest” means “mission president.” Highest means where Heavenly Father views is highest.
So now that we’ve just heard it from the mouths of two or three witnesses, there’s no room for argument, right? So any time those lies come into our heads or we hear it from other people, we eschew it, right? We say, “No thank you. I’m going to listen to the voice of truth.” I will do it if you will. Is it a deal?
Now that we’ve talked about the damage a ‘poverty of perceptions’ can do, let’s talk about the blessings that can come from seeing the world and living with an eye of faith. My favorite Bible hero is Joseph of Egypt. For many years, he has been that way because of the strength he had when he had no reason to hope and when his future seemed bleak, even though he had done everything right and he had no idea how long he was going to be a slave or how long he would live.
As you may recall, He was one of 12 brothers, and his brothers lived far beneath their privileges and mocked a lot of the sacred covenants that Heavenly Father had made with them. They resented Joseph because they felt Jacob, their father, was giving him special treatment. And he would tell them about the dreams he had, and one of them had to do with them one day bowing to him, and that was really the kicker where they were like, “He is never going to rule us, so let’s kill him.”
Luckily, Reuben had a little bit softer heart than the rest of them and said, “You know what? Let’s not kill him.” And they decided to do the lesser of two evils and sell him into slavery instead.
I want you to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a minute. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have all of your most cherished hopes and dreams ahead of you, that you had prepared for your entire life, and then to be thrust into circumstances that made these things permanently impossible, or seemed to? Can you imagine being heartlessly and bitterly betrayed by the very people who were supposed to love and protect you the most? Can you imagine what it would feel like to wonder how long you would live, if you would ever know freedom and civility again, and if you were being punished and forsaken by God for something you had done or had not done that you should have? Maybe some of you can relate to this.
Despite all of the anguish Joseph was in, he set a magnificent example for us of how to access the Lord’s power of healing and eventual deliverance. Instead of mourning his fate and giving up on life, he chose hope, faith, trust and hard work. He bloomed where he was planted. When the Lord blessed him with favor in the sight of Potiphar, and unfortunately also Potiphar’s wife, Joseph chose obedience, regardless of the price. When he was faced with a possible life in prison, he chose patience and service. When he was given the status of second in command to Pharaoh and all of Egypt, he chose humility and gave credit to God. When faced with the chance to avenge himself of the severe crime his brothers committed against him, he chose compassion, forgiveness, and reunion. All of this would not be possible without the Savior. That’s where he found the strength to do it.
As you know, Joseph was a slave for many, many years before he became second in command to Pharaoh. So my question is, why do you think the Lord waited so long to deliver him? I submit to you that He was preparing Joseph to lead an effort to deliver. He needed this time to develop spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and in all other ways so that he could be the kind of leader that the Lord needed him to be and so that he wouldn’t let the power get to his head.
And again, I want to ask you, is it possible that the Lord is doing similar things with us when we face brokenness? I believe that He is. He is preparing us, He is putting us in these humble circumstances that may feel desperate so that, when we are delivered, we will know who delivered us, and we will know who healed us.
So another question is, at what point, do you feel like, Joseph’s stumbling block of being in bondage become a stepping stone? I think most of us, without thinking about it might say that it was when he became second in command to Pharaoh and got out of prison.  And I want to submit to that it was long before that.  I believe it was every time he chose hope over despair, agency over passive resignation, and faith and trust over fear and worry, and obedience over selfish indulgence, and forgiveness over revenge or bitterness. Each time Joseph relied on the Lord and chose the higher road, his stumbling block became a stepping stone because each step he took made him more like the deliverer that the Lord was making him into. 
Another story that I want to share with you is a beautiful story of Joseph Smith when he was little and had to have surgery on his leg. I used to think of this as a Word of Wisdom story. I just remembered that they offered him whiskey to dull the pain, and he said no, and I just thought that Joseph Smith was inspired because he knew that drinking was bad even before he had the gospel and was only a little boy. But I listened to President Monson tell the story in a general conference address, and it brought on a whole new meaning for me. They offered to have him bite on a cord so that he wouldn’t thrash about, because they didn’t have anything to dull the pain, and he said "You [don't] need to tie me [down]." And this is like a 6- or 7-year-old boy, keep in mind.
And then they said, “Have some brandy or wine or at least something to help you out here,” and he said no. And this is the part that was meaningful to me. He said, "If my father will sit on the bed and hold me in his arms, I will do whatever is necessary." Now that is a touching story about a father and a son, but it had more meaning to me than that. I think it was symbolic of the Father and son relationship that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want to have with us. When we are in our extremities, He wants us to hold tightly to Him, He wants to comfort us. He wants us to feel of His love, because that is their work and their glory. That’s why they exist, is to comfort us when we are faint and to “hear our souls complaint.”
And I just want to testify to each of you that the Atonement, as Elder Merrill J. Bateman has said, “was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.”  (October 2005 General Conference address). It wasn’t just an impersonal “mass of sin” that was dumped on Him in Gethsemane. Instead it was “a long line of people,” and he felt our infirmities, he “[bore] our griefs, … [and he] carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5) each and every one of us. And He knows the way out, because He got out for us.
I again want to testify that Jesus Christ has a matchless power to heal and deliver us. He can make a way when there is no way. He does it all the time. If you have looked at technology lately, those things didn’t exist. He is making ways when there is no way in so many ways—in our personal lives, in our spiritual lives, and just in the way the whole world runs these days. He feels every pain, and He knows how to overcome. He yearns to comfort us. He is the source of Light that makes it possible for us to endure, to repent, to obey, to sacrifice, to consecrate, and to forgive. 
He is the Light that grows our seeds of Divinity in us. He goes before our face, and He is on our right hand and on our left. He is aware of every detail. Jesus Christ suffers with us. He doesn’t just sit back over there going, “Ooh, looks like Barbara is having a bad day.” He is wanting to be involved in all of the detail. And I testify that as we turn to Him, we can find the kind of healing that only He offers. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.