Our Title of Liberty

01 Jul. 2008

Transcript

Our Title of Liberty

 
In 1833, the Saints in Missouri were experiencing much persecution.  They had been driven from their homes in Jackson County, many had lost livestock and furniture, and they had received many death threats.  On December 16, the Prophet, hundreds of miles away in Kirtland Ohio, received a revelation on their behalf. It is found in the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
 
D&C 101:76-80
 
76  And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you –
77  According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
78  That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
79  Therefore it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
80  And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
 
In spite of the considerable persecution endured by the early saints, there was no other place better prepared than America.  Here a land had been preserved, a people prepared, and laws established such that the Gospel could be restored.   America was foreordained as the place for the restoration of the Gospel. 
 
When the prophet was born, in 1805, America was but 29 years old.  Thomas Jefferson was serving as our third President.  The Constitution, ratified in 1788, had been the law of the land for 17 years.
Constitution - A Prerequisite for Restoration of Gospel - First Amendment
 
The first amendment of The Bill of Rights, which had been the law of the land for just 15 years guaranteed that…
 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”
 
Each of these rights contained in the first amendment was necessary in order for the Gospel to be restored:
 
Obviously, freedom of religion was necessary.
Freedom of speech was necessary in order that the gospel might be preached.
Freedom of the press was necessary so that the Book of Mormon could be published.
Freedom peaceably to assemble was necessary in order to organize the church and to conduct church meetings.
And petitioning the government for a redress of grievances was precisely what the Lord was instructing the saints to do.
 
The Lords Purpose of the Constitution
 
The Constitution clearly provided the necessary legal environment for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, in establishing the Constitution, the Lord states His purposes much more broadly.  Specifically He said:
 
“For this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land:
For the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him
That every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment
It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another”
 
The Declaration of Independence (History)
 
The Lord said that He “established the Constitution of this land;” and that He did it “by the hands of wise men” and that they were “raised up unto this very purpose.”
 
President Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men who labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.” (Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89.)
 
Thomas Jefferson, as a youth, had a voracious appetite for learning.  He wanted to read the classics in their original language, so he learned to read both Latin and Greek.  He entered college at the age of 16 as an advanced student, and graduated at the age of 19.  He developed a close relationship with several renowned men of science and law, including his mentor, George Wythe, the first law professor in America.  His study habits were 14 hours or more per day, with the only break being a run in the evening.  He was one of the most broadly educated men who ever lived.  He spoke seven languages and was well studied in every discipline imaginable - math, science, politics, chemistry, philosophy, anatomy, religion, agriculture, and so on.
 
On May 29, 1765, Thomas Jefferson heard a passionate oration against the Stamp Act in the House of Burgesses.  It was Patrick Henry, when he said, “If this be treason, make the most of it.”  Jefferson said that this ignited in him a burning desire for the cause of freedom which never dimmed throughout his life.  And he would later call this as the most important day of his life.  It led him to a life-long study of the history of man’s efforts to set up a free society.  In the process of this study, he collected a library of over a thousand books.  Later, the United States government would purchase this library which would form the beginnings of the United States Library of Congress.
 
Over the next decade, the relationship between King George III, Parliament and the colonists deteriorated to the point that reconciliation was nearly impossible.  In early 1776, King George announced that if America were attacked, Great Britain would not come to her aid. In fact, American ships were to be considered “free booty,” that is, the British navy could capture and keep any American vessel and cargo, and force the crew into the British navy.
 
In May of 1776 Thomas Jefferson was sent as a delegate from Virginia to the Second Continental Congress.  They met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in what we now call, Independence Hall, in the Assembly room.  This was where, one year earlier, George Washington had been appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army, and it would be where the constitution would be signed, 11 years later.
 
During the previous several months Thomas Jefferson had been working on a constitution for the state of Virginia.  He had brought his third draft of it with him to Philadelphia.  And in fact he asked permission to be released from attending this congress so that he could return to Virginia to help write his state’s constitution.  Fortunately, his request was declined.
 
On June 7, 1776, during the Second Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, introduced a resolution that would put in motion a series of events that would change the world:
 
“Resolved: That these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.  That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.  That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective colonies for their consideration and approbation.”
 
This was a pinnacle moment for America.  Although some colonies were prepared to declare independence, others were not; and so there ensued considerable discussion which lasted for several days.
 
By June 11, still no decision had been made.  It was decided that a committee should be formed to draft a formal declaration of independence.  Congress would then reconvene to discuss it.  The committee was made up of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, (also, not pictured, were Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston).  The other four men wanted Thomas Jefferson to do it.  Thomas Jefferson did so and presented it to congress, 17 days later, on Friday, June 28.
 
The majority of the declaration of independence is a list of grievances against King George.  And these were taken directly from Thomas Jefferson’s latest draft of the Virginia Constitution which he had with him.  The last paragraph was made up in part by the earlier resolution put forth by Mr. Lee.  So, Thomas Jefferson spent two weeks writing 2 ½ paragraphs .  After two years of study and preparation, he would distill the rights of man and their origin into a few well written, divinely inspired, sentences.
 
On Monday, July 1 Congress recommenced their discussion.  Ten colony’s delegations were prepared to sign it.  Pennsylvania voted against it.  Delaware had only two delegates present, and they were divided.  The New York delegation said that they themselves were in favor of the resolution and they were confident that their constituents were for it as well; however, their most recent instructions, received 12 months earlier, were to seek reconciliation with Great Britain.  And so they abstained from voting.  Thus, the decision was postponed until the next day.
           
On July 2 a third delegate from Delaware arrived, making it in favor of independence.  And, in the mean time, Pennsylvania had changed their vote to in favor.  Now, only the New York delegation abstained, but in a few days, they too would agree to sign.
 
The remainder of July 2-4 was spent discussing and altering the document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.   Most of the changes had to do with the grievances.   There were only two minor changes to the first two paragraphs.
 
The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence reads, “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”.  This was literally the case.  If they failed in the coming struggle for independence, their signatures on the bottom of this document would result in their conviction for high treason, which demanded an ignominious death penalty. They would be hanged by the head until unconscious.  Then cut down and revived.  Then disemboweled, beheaded, and cut into quarters.  Each quarter would then be boiled in oil, and the remains would be scattered abroad.   Thus, there would be no final resting place to honor or remember them.
 
Legend of The Declaration of Independence
 
When Ronald Reagan was president, he gave a 4th of July speech in 1981 that relates a legend about the events that occurred on that day in 1776, when the moment came for the delegates to actually sign the Declaration of Independence.  I don’t know how accurate or true it is, but it is a great story, and Ronald Reagan tells it very well.
“There is a legend about the day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.
The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, "They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever."
He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.”
The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 by every member present (except John Dickenson).  The working copy was sent to the printer.  An engrossed copy was prepared (that is, rewritten in large calligraphy on parchment) and that copy was signed later, on August 2, and it is the copy that now resides in the national archives.  The Declaration was first published on July 6th by the Pennsylvania Evening Post.  On July 8th it was publicly read to the local community of Philadelphia, and the people celebrated all night.  Two hundred copies (excluding the signatures) were printed and distributed for public reading throughout the colonies.
 
Declaration of Independence (Content)
 
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
President Benson, in the October 1976 General Conference said, “The Declaration of Independence to which these great men affixed their signatures is much more than a political document.  It constitutes a spiritual manifesto—revelation, if you will—declaring not for this nation only, but for all nations, the source of man’s rights.”
 
The Declaration of Independence contains what I believe to be our latter day Title of Liberty, a manifesto of freedom for all nations.  It was the banner under which the colonists rallied in their fight for independence, and in their struggle to establish a new democratic republic; one that would originate in America and then spread throughout the world.
 
If you are inclined to commit to memory any of the words of our founding fathers, let it be these two sentences, starting with, “We hold these truths to be self evident”.  These are the basic principles upon which this country was founded and upon which freedom and liberty everywhere are built.  They are like the articles of faith for a free people.
 
Let’s look at these two sentences.
 
“That all men are created equal”
 
That is not to say that all men are equal in their abilities, nor in their efforts, nor in the outcomes they receive for their efforts.  They are, however, equal in the eyes of the law.  Our founding fathers rejected the idea of “the divine right of kings” and of “hereditary succession,” whereby men are treated unequally.  Under a monarchy, the King is law.  Under common law, however, the people make the laws, and all are equally bound by the law.
 
In February of 1776, Five months prior to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine, a contemporary political philosopher and writer, openly challenged the authority of the British government.  In a pamphlet titled, “Common Sense”, he debunked the whole notion of government by Kings, and called for immediate independence from Great Britain.  This pamphlet was broadly read by the colonists and had a tremendous influence on their decision to seek independence and to establish a new form of government.
 
If you think that the early colonists were not an intelligent, literate people consider what they read - the Bible and pamphlets such as “Common Sense.”  From it we read…
 
“Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance.  The distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS is a great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned.  Male and Female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
 
“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology there were no kings.  Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom.  It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry.
 
“As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by Kings”
 
If you have your scriptures, please turn to 1 Samuel, Chapter 8.
 
Some of our founding father’s were Christian; however, many were Diests, that is, they were well read in the scriptures and believed in God the Father as our Creator, but they did not necessarily belong to an organized church.  But this should not be surprising.  The gospel was not on the earth.  Our founding fathers were laying the ground work for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition, they had seen how some other Christian religions had been used to distort truths found in the Bible and to oppress man.
 
It is interesting to note that in the writings of our founding fathers, when referring to God, they would rarely use the word “God.”   Instead they would use a description like Creator, nature, nature’s God, Supreme Judge of the world, or divine Providence.  Notice the usage of capitalization in these descriptions.  Every one of these examples is found in the Declaration of Independence.
 
1 Samuel, Chapter 8, starting in verse 5.  While you are following along, I will read from Thomas Paine’s, “Common Sense” pamphlet, so that you can hear his occasional commentary on these scriptures:
 
“The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s two sons, who were entrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel saying,
(5) “Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.”  And here we cannot observe but that their motives were bad. viz. that they be LIKE unto other nations, i.e. the Heathens, whereas their true glory lay in being as much UNLIKE them as possible.
(6) “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, give us a King to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord,
(7) And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM.
 (8) According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other Gods: so do they also unto thee.
 (9) Now therefore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them the manner of the King that shall reign over them.”  i.e. not any particular King, but the general manner of Kings of the earth whom Israel was so eagerly copying after.  And notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners the character is still in fashion.
(10) “And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a King. 
(11) And he said, This shall be the manner of the King that shall reign over you.  He will take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots” (this description agrees with the present mode of impressing men)
            (12) “and he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over fifties, will set them to clear his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots,
(13) And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers” (this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression of Kings)
 (14) “and he will take your fields and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
            (15) And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants” (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favouritism are the standing devices of Kings)
(16) “and he will take your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work:
 (17) and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants,
(18) and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY.”  This accounts for the continuation of Monarchy.
(19) “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us,
(20) That we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
 
“That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false.” – Thomas Paine.
 
Have you ever wondered - Why would anyone choose to have a king?  Why did the Israelites persist in asking for a King?  Especially after the Lord, through His prophet, had told them explicitly what the terrible consequences would be if their request was granted.  Didn’t the people want liberty?
 
Regarding this incident in the Old Testament, Dr. Cleon Skousen said, “Self government is always a dynamic and volatile affair.  It takes initiative and patience, forcefulness and restraint.  But the Lord knows it is the only system under which men can “go to their place in peace.”  As Thomas Jefferson said, “Liberty is a boisterous sea.  Timid men prefer the calm of despotism.’
 
“What makes men to timid too govern themselves?  What make them reach for a monarchy, despotism or tyranny, which will cost them their freedom?  Usually it is because they were using a bad system of government or had corrupted a good one.  In Samuel’s day it was the latter.”
 
“That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;”
 
It is important for us to understand where our rights come from, and where they do not come from.  Our unalienable rights come from God, they do not come from government or other men.  That is why they are unalienable.  And since they come from God, no man or government is justified in taking these rights away.
 
Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:32 
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold, these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency”
 
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan.  Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise.”
 
“That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
 
Every person has the right to life, the right to act, and the right to pursue their own happiness and welfare.  Since much of our life is spent laboring for the necessities and property to maintain and enhance the welfare of our families, property rights are an important aspect of man’s pursuit of happiness.
 
In the October 1962 General Conference, President David O. McKay said, “We must recognize that property rights are essential to human liberty.”  He then quoted U.S. Supreme Court justice, George Sutherland as follows:
 
“Property, per se has no rights; but the individual – the man – has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference; the RIGHT TO HIS LIFE, the RIGHT TO HIS LIBERTY, and the RIGHT TO HIS PROPERTY.  The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially ONE right.  To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living.  To give him liberty but take from him the property, which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”
 
Implicit in these rights is the corresponding responsibility to respect the life, liberty, and property of all other people.  You are free to swing your fist as much as you want, as long as it doesn’t come in contact with anyone else’s nose.
 
The Doctrine and Covenants states, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2).
 
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,”
 
In any society there are those who would harm others, or deprive them of life, liberty, or property.  The proper role of government is to protect the God given rights of its citizens,  like an umbrella.
 
Another major publication to come out in 1776 was Adam Smith’s, “The Wealth of Nations.”  In it he explained how free enterprise was the key to the economic wealth of all nations.  And he concluded that government should be limited to three functions.
 
“According to the system of natural liberty the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; … First, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; Secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and Thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works, and certain public institutions…”
 
“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
 
All power resides in the people.   And as a principle of righteousness God holds man accountable for his government.
 
D&C 134:1  We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
 
The Constitution
 
The Declaration of Independence would be followed by seven more years of war, and then five more precarious year of civil unrest and indecision before the Constitution would be written and subsequently ratified by the sustaining voice of the people.  Whereas the Declaration of Independence declares the basic truths and values which we believe, and is our Title of Liberty, the Constitution contains the laws and political structure by which this title of liberty is maintained.
 
The Constitution, and its adjoining 27 amendments, including the Bill of Rights forms the foundation upon which our rights, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, are preserved.  Our founding fathers devised an amazing system which horizontally separates the powers of the federal government between the three branches of government : Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  This separation of power minimizes the opportunity for abuse.
 
Power is further separate vertically between the Federal Government and the States.  Powers held by the Federal Government are limited and specifically defined, and all remaining powers “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (Amendment 10).
 
Ultimately, all power resides and originates in the voice of the people and is returned to the people on a regular basis.  The Executive branch lose their jobs every four years, and they are subsequently replaced by the voice of the people.  The Legislature is likewise replaced every two years in the House, and one third of the Senate every two years.  Judges, although a life time appointment, are selected by representatives who are elected by the voice of the people.  Finally, the Constitution and any of the amendments may be changed when two-thirds of the legislature or the states desire it and it is ratified by three-fourths of the states.
 
Senator Orrin Hatch said, “The Founders were not custom-building the Constitution for any particular age or economy.  They were structuring a framework of government to fit the requirements of human nature.   These do not change.  What protected the freedom of George Washington will protect freedom for you and me.”
 
Government Is Force
 
George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force!  Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
 
In a republic, government is the means by which we collectivize the power of all citizens, and place that power with government.  We then authorize government to use that power to force people to do what they would otherwise not do, and to stop them from doing what they otherwise would do.
 
Government forces people to obey the law by threatening to take away one or more of their God given rights – that is, by taking away their property, their liberty, or their life – if they disobey the law.  If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will eventually have your property confiscated, and you may end up going to jail.  This is why people sometimes get upset when they talk about politics, because it is basically a discussion about what we as a society will or won’t force people to do, and people naturally and rightfully resent being forced.
 
In a republic, we, the people, collectively have the power.  Therefore, the question each of us must ask ourselves is, When is it right to use government power to force people?  The answer to this question may not be so easy, but it is important because it will direct our decision when voting for or against various candidates and propositions.  And the Lord has given us excellent guidance in the 98th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
 
D&C 98:4-7
4  “…verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.”
5  “And that law of the land which is constitutional , supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.”
6  “Therefore, I the Lord, justify you and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;”
7  “And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil.”
 
D&C 98:10
“Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”
 
Since the power is in the hands of “we the people,” then “we the people” are the guardians for one another’s unalienable rights.  If a person votes contrary to their answer to this question, they are violating their own sense of right and wrong.  And the temptation to vote for people and policies that provide one with personal economic or political advantage but which violate the rights of others is very strong.  The Lord said…
 
D&C 121:39-40
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.  Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”
We should try to adopt the motives of our founding fathers.  Regarding the constitutional convention of 1787, James Madison wrote “There never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.”
 
Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning Economist
 
Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning Economist, has written a number of books, one of which is titled, “Free to Choose – The Classic Inquiry Into the Relationship between Freedom and Economics.”   While I was attending BYU, I had the opportunity of attending a forum where he spoke.  He said…
 
“In the market place, if 49% of the people want yellow ties and 51% of the people want green ties, everybody gets what they want - 49% get yellow ties and 51% get green ties.  However, when the government provides the ties, then we vote on it, and the majority rules.  Everyone gets green ties.  Forty-nine percent of the people don’t get what they want, and the ties cost twice as much.”  He was suggesting that the solutions to societies needs are solved more equitably and more efficiently by the market place than by government.
 
The power of free enterprise, formally introduced by Adam Smith in 1776, was adopted by our founding fathers.  Although they called it part of “the great experiment” of democracy, I would say that it was part of our Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning.
 
The economic prosperity and scientific discoveries created from free enterprise and democracy in the United States took the world from the horse-and-buggy days of 1776 to man-on-the-moon in less than 200 years, far surpassing the growth of all other nations of the prior 5,000 years combined.
 
Since then, other countries have copied the formula for success which is found in our Constitution.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The United States Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. Frequently copied, it has become the United States’ most important export. After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them.”
 
Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1779-1845)
 
I would like to conclude by quoting the words of Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who said, in reference to the Constitution of the United States…
 
“If these Commentaries shall but inspire in the rising generation a more ardent love of their country, an unquenchable thirst for liberty, and a profound reverence for the Constitution and the Union, then they will have accomplished all that their author ought to desire.  Let the American youth never forget that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capable, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.  The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its compartments are beautiful as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order; and its defenses are impregnable from without.  It has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may aspire to such a title.  It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE.”
 
For me, July is always a month of gratitude.  May we always be grateful for the blessings of liberty, and for all those who have labored to obtain it and to keep it.  May we be vigilant keepers of the Constitution, that our children’s children’s children may inherit a legacy of liberty.
 
 
President of the Council of the twelve, Ezra Taft Benson,“Our Priceless Heritage,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 33
W. Cleon Skousen, “The Third Thousand Years,” Bookcraft, 1964, 620.
“The Proper Role of Government, by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson, Former Secretary of Agriculture [The Eisenhower Administration-ed.] Published in 1968
“The 5000 Year Leap”, By Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2006, xxi
The Divinely Inspired Constitution, By Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, 1992, February

Being Prepared for All Things

23 Sep. 2008

Transcript

Being Prepared for All Things

 

Thank you for that beautiful musical number. I love music and that’s a wonderful, wonderful message for all of us. As I was listening to that, I thought of another song that has a great message of why we fill the well within, and that is—it’s not exactly Tabernacle Choir music, it’s a Kingston Trio song. I realize that most of you don’t even recognize the singing group called The Kingston Trio from the 1960’s, although I see some down here with gray hair who may be old enough to remember. The song goes

 

“You’ve got to prime the pump, you must have faith and believe,

You’ve got to give of yourself, ‘til you’re worthy to receive.

Drink all the water you can hold, wash your face, cool your feet,

But leave the bottle full for others. --Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.” [“Desert Pete”; Billy Edd Wheeler, 1963]

 

As we fill the well within, as this beautiful song we just hear said, it’s not just for ourselves but for others who rely on us. And you will find, over your lives, there are many who rely on you for the great work that you can do, and there may be those that you don’t even know who are relying on you. In my patriarchal blessing, it says, “Look to the light which is above, and those who go with you will know that you seek for something higher.” I will just tell you that there are those who seek as well, and those who watch you when you may not even be aware. So thank you for that wonderful music.

I’m grateful also for your singing of that great opening hymn – which in German is known as “Sehet, Ihr Völker.” President Woodhouse and I sang that song, the first verse at least, in German, and it’s a great German hymn. President Monson was in Italy and heard the hymn and he just loved it. He went up to Germany and said, “I just heard the most wonderful hymn and I’m going to make sure it’s in the new hymn book.” And he whistled a little bit of it. President Monson will not sing a hymn like that, but he whistles it. And the Germans went ballistic. They said, “That’s our hymn.” And so it’s in the new hymn book as “Hark, All Ye Nations!” (Hymns, number 264) and it is a great, great hymn.

We are a worldwide church. I learned that when I was in Fiji just a week or so ago. I just returned Saturday morning. And I was in a meeting in Suva, Fiji on Sunday morning, and we were singing a hymn in priesthood meeting and next door I heard the Young Women singing, “Hark, All Ye Nations,” and I thought, “That is now the song that is heard ‘round the world.” Thank you for that.

I’m grateful to be with you here. You bring a lot of wonderful memories to me. President Woodhouse has shared with you our wonderful seven and a half years as a Young Single Adult Branch president, and we loved it so much that every time President Woodhouse or President Egan or President Ensign of the stake presidency asked us how long we’d been there, we’d always say, “Oh, just a little over a year,” because we wanted to be there as long as we could. And it ended up being seven and a half wonderful, wonderful years. We love the young single adults in this great kingdom. You have great potential and you have great serving power. You touch more lives than you can ever imagine. So thank you for who you are and for how you make us feel when we are in your presence.

I am also grateful for the memories I have of President Woodhouse. I wasn’t just his trainer. We all learned together, actually. We were a brand new stake presidency and we had only been in the stake for a little while, and we decided that we all needed to be trained in Scouting. So we had a stake Scouting Basic Training course, and the stake presidency was all there and all of the ward leaders were there. There happened to be one patrol that was not from the stake, and it was directed by this great big, handsome, tall man with wavy hair and a smile that just knocks your socks off. And I’ll never forget President Woodhouse being in that training, and we all learned together and it was a wonderful time.

I also think of the great time I had last time I was here as President Hinckley dedicated this lovely facility. And that was a wonderful, blessed day for all of us.

And when I think of President Hinckley, I can’t not remember my call. You know, while all calls to serve are different, there are some that are short and sweet and others that are longer and include more training. Mine was quick, powerful and life-changing. We were in Germany on a business trip and we had just finished most of the business. I talked with President Hinckley on the telephone for a few minutes, and his comment was like this, after we had spoken for a few minutes. He said, “Brother Dahlquist, in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, the three members of the Seventy that are the Young Men’s general presidency will be released -- and you will be sustained as the Young Men general president.” That was it. How do you respond? I said, “Oh.”

Not knowing what else to say, I asked him about counselors, and he said, “The president chooses his counselors.” So that was a life-changing experience for all of us. We were instructed that, as President Woodhouse said, we keep our jobs, we serve just like all of you do in the kingdom, and like Area Seventies do, and I have a thriving law practice. But I am grateful to serve the Young Men of the kingdom.

I have 597,082 young men. And as President Woodhouse asked me on a couple of occasions, “How do you manage those?” I’ll tell you how I do. Can you imagine what it would be to have President Woodhouse as a scoutmaster, or as a deacon’s quorum advisor, or as a bishop? Well, that’s how it happens -- because young men are not saved 597,082 at a time, or even 1,000 at a time. They are saved one boy at a time. So that’s how it happens. It happens through you. Many of you either have opportunities or have had opportunities to serve in a Young Men calling, or Young Women for you sisters—and you’re the one that touch the lives of today’s youth. I am grateful for that wonderful opportunity that we have to touch the lives of these great young people all over the world.

When our daughter Kim was sixteen, she was having a particularly difficult day. She got upset at us, said we were the worst parents in the world, went downstairs, slammed the door and turned the music up to 8,000 decibels. It just shook the house. After a few minutes, I went downstairs to tell her to turn it down. When I got near her door, I heard the words to the music: “You’re not alone.” And I thought, “You know, if there’s any message that ought to be blasted into the center of the heart of every single teenager all over the world, it is that message – ‘You’re not alone!’” And so I turned around and went back upstairs. She never knew I was there. But after a while, the music came down on its own, and she came upstairs and said, “I’m sorry,” and we said, “We’re sorry.” And the Spirit came back into our home.

That’s been a lot of years since then, but I’ve never forgotten that one message, and that is you’re not alone. And you are not alone. There are over 1,200,000 young people just like you all over the world, who are trying to do the very best they can day in and day out. They’re struggling with tough decisions just like you are. The decisions that you make in the next ten years could be life-changing decisions. They will be decisions that affect not only your life, but eternity and generations to come. And that’s why I’m grateful that you’re here at LDS Business College, where you’ll work to build not only your intellect and prepare for the mortal challenges of life, but where you strengthen each other spiritually.

So today, as I begin, could I just suggest a few things? And let me start by expressing an experience I had just a week ago yesterday. I was in Tahiti, in Papeete, and I was coming back from the island of Mururoa. I took a taxi from the harbor to the hotel, and as I went, I started talking to the cab driver. I told him that I was a member of the Mormon Church. You also need to know that in Tahiti one out of every sixteen people on that island are members of the Church. As we spoke, the taxi driver said to me, “Oh, I have a lot of members of my family that are members of the Mormon Church.” I said, “Well are you a member of the Mormon Church?” He said, “No.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Because I am already happy.” Then he continued, “I watched the members of my family, and they had difficulties and challenges in their life, and then they joined the Church, and they became—they had purpose and vision. They became happy.” He says, “I’m already happy. I don’t have any needs.” Then he said, “If I ever become unhappy or if something tragic happens in my life, maybe I will become a Mormon.”

And I thought, often we look at the Church as a fire extinguisher rather than fire insurance or fire prevention. And I thought about that. I thought about that an awfully lot. Do we wait until things are a challenge in our lives to become prepared?

President Woodhouse talked about my experience in Scouting, and one of the great messages of Scouting is “Be Prepared.” And that’s a great message for all of us, so I would like to suggest several things about being prepared that might be helpful to you.

When we were teenagers in the Boise 7th Ward, we memorized themes just like the youth do today. One year, it was from the 34th chapter of Alma, verse 32,

“For behold, [now] is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”

This scripture speaks about preparing and performing our labors -- now. Therefore, NOW is always the best time for preparation for all of us. Because we’re preparing for what happens in the future. But it’s also a time to make wise decisions now and to perform the very, very best that we can. Someone once said, “Five minutes before the dance is no time to learn the cha-cha.”

I learned the importance of proper preparation when I was in Washington, D.C. in May of 2006. I was there for a National Scouting Meeting, and President Monson and I were to attend a meeting of Latter-day Saints—about 200 of them. Because of President Monson’s schedule that day, we were a little late to the meeting. As we entered the front of the room, all rose in respect to President Monson. A sister had been playing the prelude, and we came in right behind the piano. And as we passed behind the piano, I headed to the stand and President Monson stopped behind the pianist. She looked up at him like this and says, “President, I’ll be able to do this a lot better if you’ll go sit where you’re supposed to.” As I heard this, I thought, “Boy, she’s got more courage than I do.” President Monson just smiled at her and said, “Oh, no, I’ll stand here and wait until you’re finished.” I thought, “This is going to be good!” So she hurried up and finished the prelude and vacated the piano bench. President Monson then sat down at the piano and play a small piano solo – the first he learned as a child. And then he turned to me, and, playing a small child’s duet, he looked at me and he said, “Charlie, do you know that?” And my whole life passed in front of me! I remembered the times as a teenager when I wanted to be out playing baseball, but my mother insisted that I practice the piano. And because she did and because I did, I was able to say, “Yes, President -- Top hand or bottom hand?” He said, “I’ll play the bottom hand.” So as I stood there, the two of us at the piano, I thought how would I have ever known when I was a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old boy, not liking to practice the piano—that one day because I did, it would allow me to play a piano duet with a member of the First Presidency who would later become the prophet. How grateful I am that when given the “invitation” from my mother to prepare, I did!

Now I would just tell you that that’s a small thing. Eternity doesn’t hang on the balance of whether Charles Dahlquist could play the piano like that. But we are all preparing for those things which will come – which will have eternal consequence! So may I suggest just five things that might help in your preparation. The reason I say five things is because I only have five fingers on this hand, and also because that’s about as much as we can all remember.

The first thing is, remember that you are a child of God. There is wisdom in the little Primary song we all learned.

“I am a child of God,

And He has sent me here,

Has given me an earthly home

With parents kind and dear.” Hymn No. 301.

And in the fourth verse of that song, which only appears in the Children’s Songbook, there’s a wonderful promise to all of us:

“I am a child of God,

His promises are sure.

Celestial glory shall be mine,

If I can but endure.”

That’s a great promise from a kind Heavenly Father, and it’s scriptural. We have come here “a little lower than the angels.” We are gods and goddesses in embryo. We have been sent here by a kind Heavenly Father to gain a body, to be proved and tested. And it will all depend upon our preparations and upon the decisions that we make one day at a time. Life was not made to be easy; it was made to be a test. And I honor you for the great tests that you are making, sometimes in the face of great adversity.

I sat on the little island of Kirabati just a week or so ago, and talked with some students who had come through great adversity just to be there at Moroni High School. And I will just tell you that not only has our Heavenly Father sent us here, but He has not sent us here alone. He has given us a number of things that help us and guide us and direct us – and continually remind us who we are and the great work we have to perform. First and foremost, we have a prophet. Think what a great blessing it is; think of all the millions of people who have lived on the earth when there were not prophets and apostles. I hope that each one of you, just like I, kneel down every night and give thanks for the opportunity to live in a time when we have living prophets and apostles who can guide us and direct us and inspire us.

In this calling the Young Men General Presidency, we have the opportunity to meet with the First Presidency every six months. Recently, at the conclusion of our presentation, I said, “President Hinckley, what do you have to teach us?” He was very short of words that day, and he thought for a minute and he said, “Just say your prayers and do your work.” That was a message, not only to the Young Men general presidency but to our board and to all Young Men leaders all over the world, and to every one with whom I come in contact. That is a message that is important for all of us: Say your prayers and do your work.

Also the First Presidency has given us the For the Strength of Youth brochure. That’s not just for young people 12 to 18; it’s for you and it’s for me—all of us, because there are not two standards. That is why I carry it with me all over the world, and why I encourage youth and young single adults and adults alike to carry For the Strength of Youth. And not just to carry it, but to open it up and read it and re-read it, and recommit to what is there. You know General Conference is less than two weeks away, and it is a wonderful time of refreshing. But we must be open and we must be prepared. And so IL ask, “What are we doing to prepare ourselves? Have we read at least some of the conference talks to think about what happened last April and what is happening here and now? May we prepare to listen – and to be taught.

The second help in our quest to be prepared is the Holy Scriptures. In the Gospel of John it says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye [find] eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The time of education is not a time, as you well know, to put gospel learning on the shelf. As I went through law school, there were a number of my classmates who did just that – and never returned to activity in the Church. There is a warning to those, particularly in our day, who treat the scriptures with disinterest or contempt: “Wo be unto him that saith: We have received [the word of God], and we need no more” (2 Nephi 28:27). I would just suggest to you that not one of us has enough of the word of God, and it’s a wonderful thing for us to be able to search the scriptures daily.

When President Packer came into our stake a number of years ago, I was a brand new stake president. After we had done a little business early on one Sunday morning, a very, very cold day, we sat in my car. And before he got out, I said, “President, if you were a young stake president, what would you focus on?” And I thought he was going to laugh, but he didn’t. He took out his hand—again and, pointing first to him thumb and then to each of his fingers, said, “I would focus on (1) doctrine and (2) covenants and (3) revelation and (4) priesthood and (5) scriptures.” Then he said, “One of our greatest fears is that many of our leaders may only have gospel understanding a quarter of an inch deep.” And that is the same for all of us. Sometimes we may do “touch and go’s” just like pilots who are trying to learn how to land an aircraft. They land over and over again, but it’s just a touch and go and sometimes that’s what we do in the scriptures. And yet we have been taught to FEAST on the words of Christ. 2 Nephi 31:20; 32:3 And that means a significant thing to me.

My third suggestion is to stand in holy places. That means being where you ought to be, and those of you who are here today are where you ought to be. I congratulate you on that. There are all types of experiences like that, being in the right place when we are invited to come to meetings or family home evening or in our classes. Wherever it is, be in the right place. And you will know what they are. You will know by the promptings of the Spirit. It also means not being where we should not be. Avoid those places, and the Spirit will tell you where you should not go. If you are someplace and all of a sudden you have a feeling that you should not be here—the spirit changes, and that happens—then take a great lesson from Joseph of Egypt, and flee.

Many of us have been in wonderful, holy places. Think of the places, the sacred places where you have been. I have been in the Sacred Grove. I felt a wonderful feeling there. I’ve been on the banks of the Susquehanna River, where John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver and restored the Aaronic Priesthood. I have been in a number of similar places where the Spirit has been very strong. For example, I have walked battlefields of Manassas, Virginia where the first Battle of Bull Run was held in 1861—the first battle of the Civil War. You have been in places like that, places that exude a feeling of reverence, of being holy – places we will never forget.

But I have also been in places that are normal places that have become holy, and I have found that we can control them. That same room where President Woodhouse and I sang Scout songs and did Scout cheers and did Scout training became a sacred place on one evening when we had a Little Philmont training. Our stake Young Men presidency put together a nice dinner with our wives that evening and asked Elder Maxwell to come. At the end of that evening, he did something that, up to that point I had never experienced before -- he gave an apostolic blessing. That evening that hall became a sacred place for us. One couple left to go home to their children. As they reported to me later that evening, they went out, got in the car, started the engine, sat there, looked at each other, didn’t say a thing, turned the keys off and came back in. That hall had, by virtue of what occurred that evening, because a sacred place that none of us present that evening will ever forget. It’s the same way with those places where we spend significant time -- whether it’s your home with your family or your apartment, or wherever it is. You can make it a holy place, by what is on the wall, by what is done there, by the music that you play. All of those things help us to be in sacred places.

There is a great scripture in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where it says to seek the Lord while he is near. There’s a great message there. And the message is this: Most of us, when we are away from the promptings of the Spirit, do not have an Alma the Younger experience. Most of us are like a young man in my stake. Feeling that I needed to spend some time with him, I took him to play golf one day. As we played, I said, “Jim (that wasn’t his name), the way that you’re going is leading down a devious path. You won’t be able to serve a mission if you continue in this direction.” He said, “Oh, no. I want to serve a mission. I will be just fine.” I said, “You know, onle day, if you continue down this path, you will get to the point where the Spirit will leave you and you will either do something that will cause you to not be qualified to serve a mission, or you will not have a desire to serve.” “Oh no,” he said, “I want to serve.” In spite of all that we were doing, including his parents and his bishop, he continued down that path, and as it turned out, he was not able to serve a mission. That doesn’t surprise you, does it? IAnd it didn’t me – though it saddened me. How important it is to seek the Lord while he is near. We need to walk and stand in holy places and be not moved.

Now, my third suggestion is learn to control your thoughts. King Benjamin gives us a wonderful scripture in the fourth chapter of Mosiah. It’s right at the end of his great last lecture, where he says,

“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).

We can control our thoughts, but only if we are prepared, if we fill our minds with that which is good and true and right; and if we memorize poetry and scriptures and all of those things that we can call upon in times of need. You already know by now that all of us have challenges with our thoughts, whether it’s a thought that is unclean, something that emanates from something we see on the internet or hear in a song, or whether it’s just discouragement or depression. Challenges with thoughts come to all of us, and some way we must figure out what works for us to be able to lift our thoughts. I have found that two things help me: one is music, and the other is poetry—actually, one more, and that is getting involved in the service of others.

But if we will fill our minds especially with hymns and poetry and scriptures—wonderful things will happen and we will be able to control our thoughts. If I could just give you one last thought, and that is, you’re in a media world. And the media is a wonderful tool that we use. You use it in your classes. We will not be able to survive without being able to use computers, because they are part of us. We have cell phones. We have all of these things. I have a PDA in my briefcase that I use all over the world. That’s just part of us. But we can become addicted to that which is also good, and that which is good is also bad.

Elder Bednar has taught us, if you take what the world is doing with something and flip it 180 degrees, then you can see what we should be doing in the kingdom. I encourage you to use the technology that you have to build strength and testimony, and to help you to become a better son or daughter of God and avoid those things that can become addicting. And it’s not just pornography. I’m also talking about just too much time on video games. In Korea they have a problem with college students there. It’s a new addiction that has to do with spending all of your time on video games. We waste this time that our Heavenly Father has given us, and we must do better. Remember, there are some things that we do to fit in. Remember, as Latter-day Saints, we were never meant to “fit in,” but to stand out and to stand up for what is right. If you have a problem with pornography or even with what may be addiction to video games, I encourage you to go see your bishop today. I don’t care if he has meetings all night tonight. Call him and get in to see him immediately.

My fourth suggestion is to do things that are hard to do. This is a time of growth for you – a time to establish, if you haven’t before, a pattern of learning and growing that will stick with you throughout your life! Don’t just scoot by. Rise up. I’m working on the Duty to God program, just like all of the young men around the world. The Duty of God program suggests that you read the Book of Mormon as a priest. Well, my goal was to read the Book of Mormon again in German. In the Duty to God program, there is a goal to give a talk, four to five minutes, two of them a year. I do that about the first week in January. My talk [goal] was to prepare and give a talk at LDS Business College – and not have students leave during the talk -- in groups. Thank you very much. I hope President Woodhouse will sign this after our meeting. I have my Duty to God manual right here.

In the Duty to God program, the priests are also required to run six miles in sixty minutes—not a big deal for you track guys. But my goal was in July 2009, to participate in the Spudman Marathon, a triathlon – a mile swim, a 26 mile bike ride and a 40 km run. And I’m training for it. I’m really excited for it, because I want to do hard things! I don’t want to just do the things that are easy.

Now finally, my fifth suggestion is that you serve. Joshua, in his great comments at the beginning of our meeting today, and he’s a great student body president, talked about service. I have learned that service is not a project; it’s a way of life. I watched this past Sunday, as I sat near the back of the chapel in my own sacrament meeting, as young Ben Ensign -- eight years old -- was coming in from using the restroom during sacrament meeting. As he walked up, a child had dropped her toy. Others had passed it, but he stopped, picked up the toy, and gave it to the child and the child’s mother. I grabbed him after, and I said, “I watched what you did. You will be a great missionary.”

Now I don’t know if any of us are busier than President and Sister Woodhouse, but I have watched them as they have served in other areas outside of their responsibility here at LDs Business College. For example, during the busy Christmas holidays, he and I have rung the Salvation Army Bell together on Main Street. I hope at Christmastime, when you see us out ringing the Salvation Army Bell that you dig deep into your pockets. We just love to give. But the reason we give is because we have been given so much, and also because you and I are the hands of the Master.

There is a great poem that goes:

‘Twas battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while

To waste his time on the old violin,

But he held it up with a smile.

“Who’ll start the bidding?” he said,

“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”

A dollar, a dollar, and who’ll make it two?

Two dollars and who’ll make it three?

Three dollars once, three dollars twice,

And going and gone, but no.

From the room, far back, a grey-haired man

Came forward and picked up the bow.

And wiping the dust from the old violin,

And tightening the loose strings,

He played a melody pure and sweet

As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer

In a voice that was quiet and low,

Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”

And he held it up with the bow.

A thousand, a thousand, and who’ll make it two?

Two thousand and who’ll make it three?

Three thousand once, three thousand twice,

And going and gone,” said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,

“We do not quite understand

What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:

The touch of the Master’s hand.

And many a man with life out of tune

And battered and scarred by sin,

Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd

Much like the old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,

A game, and he travels on.

He’s going once, he’s going twice,

He’s going and almost gone.

But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd

Can’t quite understand

The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought

By the touch of the Master’s hand.

You and I are the ones that are the Master’s hands, because most of the miracles, unlike that which happened with Paul and unlike that which happened with Alma the Younger, generally—happens through others, through you and through me.

God bless you and God bless me that we might all be prepared, that we might rise up and be Latter-day Saints, that we might strengthen this great world, that we might strengthen ourselves that we might be prepared. I testify to you that God lives. This is His work. He knows you by name, He hears your prayers and He will answer them -- in His own time – often in unexpected moments as we are about His business. That I know, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Developing Disciple Scholarship

30 Sep. 2008

Transcript

LDS Business College Devotional
November 2008
 
 
Brother Marsh:
Thank you, President Woodhouse, for that nice introduction. You read it just the way I wrote it; it makes me sound better than I am.
I’m so grateful for the privilege to be back, and by the way, I have my pencil out too, in case I say anything worth writing down. I’m right with you. I think that’s a great idea. I believe wholeheartedly that when the Spirit speaks to us, that we show the Lord that we cherish His communication to us by writing it down and then thinking about it, pondering it until it becomes a part of us, until we do something with it.
I am so grateful to be back here on this campus. It’s such a privilege to be with you. There is just such a good spirit here in dedicated places. Our family has been blessed by LDS Business College—not only did I get to spend two of the best years of my career here, but my son graduated from here in 2003 with a degree in IT Network Management and Microsoft certification. Let’s see, is it Brother McReynolds? Is he still around here somewhere? He was the teacher, and a couple of others, but they used to sit in the back of the room and there were three of them that had Apple iBooks or something like that, and Brother McReynolds always referred to them as the “Apple orchard.” And they were back there, just so that you know Brother McReynolds, sending e-mails to each other. And we don’t do that today, but they did it back then.
Anyway, I was counting up the other day the number of dollars that we would have had to spend over the past five years if Zach hadn’t gotten his degree here. Because we’re a technology family—everybody but me is into technology in the family. I’m a little slow coming aboard. But we have about ten computers in our home, and they’re all networked with wireless and routers and firewalls and other things that I have no clue about. And about two or three times a week something happens where we have to call on Zach to come and fix it or give us counsel or teach us how to do something. And we have saved literally tens of thousands of dollars over the past five years with everything that he’s been able to help us with. I know he would have appreciated us giving that money to him, but we always felt that he appreciated the hugs and the kisses and the thank you's more. You probably think so, too, don’t you.
Well, LDS Business College is a dedicated place. You know that, don’t you? I pulled out the prayer that President Hinckley gave a few years ago—in 2006. I read the news reports of the dedication, and I also read his dedicatory prayer. I also know that the teachers and the administrators and the staff here have to be temple worthy, and I also know as a bishop that you as the students have to be recommended by your priesthood leaders.
Now think about what those three things do for the atmosphere here. Isn’t that incredible? You have an opportunity here to do something more than just get a degree or become another professional in the workplace. You can, and you really ought to, develop your discipleship while you are here. The spirit of the Lord dwells here more than in almost every other university. Of the thousands of universities across our land and across the world, there are very few of them that have the atmosphere and the dedication that are here in this wonderful LDS Business College. So you ought to become a scholar of discipleship. Along with gaining knowledge and skills for your career, you can learn how to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. And that’s what I want to talk about today, is becoming and developing your disciple scholarship.
I have interpreted that to mean being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let me begin, however, by telling you the current condition of the world. You probably already know that. It doesn’t take much to read a newspaper or grab an e-mail from some list service, and recognize what’s going on. But my wife and I sat and watched over the past few days as my retirement savings dropped a hundred thousand dollars or more. It’s a little scary when you’re getting close to retirement. But the current economic condition is making us all just a little bit worried, isn’t it?
My wife and I came across a news article that explained why we are where we are economically. And buried in the article, aside from all of the other—the CEOs and what they’ve done and the housing market and everything else—was a little comment about the idea that the reason why we’re where we are economically in the United States is because of greed—and not just the greed of CEOs who earn millions of dollars, but greed amongst ourselves, wanting more than we really can afford. And businesses have made that more possible the past few years, and so now we are where we are. Because you and I are a little bit greedy. Don’t write that down; that’s not a very inspiring thought. But it’s a true fact that those that we live amongst have been a little bit greedy.
Worldly people are motivated by three things: power, money and popularity. And if they’re anxious enough about it, they’ll do everything and anything they can to get those. And really, what most people of the world are after is power. Money and popularity are just means to get to power. The Book of Mormon plays this scene out over and over and over again. If you take time to read Helaman chapter two and some of the other chapters in Ether that explain the secret combinations, you will find that power was their main motivation. They would, in their case, would kill and rob and plunder to get power. And then they would promise others that if they would go and do the killing and robbing and plundering, they would put them in positions of power. Power is one of the main motivators.
Listen to what Joseph Smith said: “Now in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another.” That ought to teach us something about our own human nature; we ought to be careful about that. But then he goes on: “Yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world, there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel.”
What that says to me is we just as well get used to dealing with this kind of atmosphere with people, because apparently it’s going on in the other world as well—what we know as the spirit world. So we ought to learn to overcome that desire to excel ourselves, and then learn how to deal with people who have not yet overcome that, because it’s not something that’s going to leave when we die or go into the spirit world.
This idea, too, of wanting power and wanting wealth can overcome even the most righteous people. Let me show you in the Book of Mormon, in Helaman chapter six, what happens to the Nephites. Now in this time in the history, the Lamanites are considered the wicked people and the Nephites are considered the righteous people. So in Helaman 6:37 it says this: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them,”—now this is after they started to be converted, okay? They were considered by the Nephites to be wicked, but they sent prophets and missionaries over to them, and the Lamanites have now become converted. And they are getting rid of the secret combinations and Gadianton robbers. And notice it said that they started to preach among the more wicked part of the Gadianton robbers—“insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.”
Good result. Now listen to what happened to the Nephites in the next verse, verse 38: “And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them.” See, now it’s just the opposite. These people who want power and money and popularity, they won’t start with the most righteous; they know they can’t get them. They’ll start with the least righteous among us, and they’ll convince them to join in their plundering and their spoils, and then they’ll move up the rung to the next righteous and to the next until finally they get to the most righteous. And by that time, the most righteous among us are so weary of trying to do good in a society which is mostly wicked, that even they sometimes can become weak and falter and can give in.
Notice it says, “Beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.” Now that’s a warning for you and I.
We live in a day of great wickedness. Let me just share with you—I have kept track of what the prophets and the apostles have been saying about our day since the turn of the century. Since the year 2001, I have watched what they have been saying. I believe they are giving us a warning. Listen to some of their comments.
This is from Elder Henry B. Eyring, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This was in August of 2001. He said this: “The world in which our students choose spiritual life or death is changing rapidly. When their older brothers and sisters return to visit the same schools and campuses they attended, they find a radically different moral climate. The spiritual strength sufficient for our youth to stand firm just a few years ago will soon not be enough. Many of them are remarkable in their spiritual maturity and in their faith. But even the best of them are sorely tested, and the testing will become more severe.”
Here’s another one from President Hinckley, at that same time, August 2001. He said this: “What a frightening change has occurred in our culture. A great flow of sleaze has gathered and is washing over us. Language is used on our campuses that never crossed our lips back in the days of my youth. Pornography, with all of its titillating and vicious attraction is about us. This is an era of gutter talk, of sloppy dress, of sloppy ways. But now there is a more clever element in the adversary’s efforts,” he continued. “There is a subtle and enticing invitation to leave the good and the beautiful and the holy, and turn in the direction of the evil, the filthy, the sleazy and the addictive ways of the world.”
Here is President Faust in April 2003 general conference: “The worldly influences of evil will likely increase, and more people will become vulnerable to the deceit and enticements of Satan. We will need greater spirituality to perceive all the forms of evil, and greater strength to resist them.”
Ten months later, in February of 2004, President Boyd K. Packer said: “The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth. I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places. Now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized; now they are spread across the world. And they are among us, even members of the Church.
“Spiritual diseases,” he continues, “of epidemic proportions sweep over the world. We are not able to curb them.”
Just six months ago, in the general conference, April of 2008, our prophet President Monson said two things about the condition of the world. First, speaking to the priesthood on Saturday night he said this: “We have been placed on earth in troubled times. We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations. Despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity and left with a feeling of failure. We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention from those things which are virtuous and good, and to tempt us with that which would cause us to be unworthy.”
And then, the following Sunday morning, he said this: “The world can at times be a frightening place in which to live. The moral fabric of society seems to be unraveling at an alarming speed. None, whether young or old or in between, is exempt from exposure to those things which have the potential to drag us down and destroy us. Our youth, our precious youth in particular, face temptations we can scarcely comprehend. The adversary and his hosts seem to be working non-stop to cause our downfall.”
Well, that’s pretty dour, isn’t it? Except that these come from prophets, seers and revelators. They’re trying to warn us. They’re not trying to get us scared, or to worry about our future; they’re trying to warn us to prepare for the society in which we live now and in which we will live in the future. We really do live in an increasingly wicked world. It can cause us to fear. It can cause us to be pessimistic and to question things that will bring us happiness. For example, perhaps you have seen too many older couples who are divorced, and you question the worth of marrying in the temple. Or maybe you have friends who participate in wicked behavior and don’t seem to be adversely affected by it. This can tempt you to do what they are doing. But there is an answer to all of this. There is a way to keep ourselves filled with hope and with happiness, in spite of the condition of this world. You and I can be spiritually safe even while wickedness swirls all about us. We can live in the world without being of it.
The answer lies, I believe, in developing our discipleship of Jesus Christ—in becoming His disciples and building our foundation on His life. We have prophets, seers and revelators, brothers and sisters. I hope we appreciate what that means. Let me just read to you one verse of scripture that has always stuck with me, since the day I found it many, many years ago. It’s in Mosiah 8:17. While speaking of a seer, which is who we have—President Monson and the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are all prophets, seers, and revelators—this is what verse 17 says: “But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.”
Now think about that last statement. That’s what impressed me most, many years ago—the idea that there’s no other way, there are certain pieces of knowledge that we can’t get any other way than through a prophet, seer and revelator. No amount of the scientific method, no amount of reasoning, no amount of experimentation and surveys or observations—no other way can certain kinds of information come except through these prophets, seers, and revelators.
I tell you, it’s something that I learned here at LDS Business College while I was teaching Institute. I found that if I was well-enough acquainted with the talks by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from the last general conference, that when students came in to me to ask a question or to seek counsel on some personal manner, inevitably I would find a talk by one of the Brethren who answered that question or had some counsel to give them about the particular issue they were dealing with. It happened over and over and over again. It was miraculous. I got to the point where I started saying, “It’s almost as though someone is telling them what is happening in the future. And they’re telling us even before it happens.” And then every six months we get an update on what’s going to happen in the next six months—what questions young people are going to be asking, and what issues they are going to be dealing with.
I have a strong testimony that these fifteen Brethren listen carefully to the Lord. They are inspired, and they give us counsel that we need to have. And so, one point of discipleship is to follow the living prophets. And we now live in a time when we need them more than ever before.
Another thing about being a disciple of Jesus Christ is simply to get to know Him. You and I have got to come to understand His life and His way of behaving with people so well that we really want to become like Him—not just have an understanding up here, but have a testimony and a feeling that what He says and what He does is what we want to follow. It’s got to come.
Now, we’re not the only ones to live in serious dark times. Back again in Helaman, there were plenty of problems that these people had, and let me just share with you one point at which they finally discovered they had to lean on the Lord, okay? Helaman 4:20 says: “And it came to pass, because of the greatness of the number of the Lamanites”—now, if you think about the Lamanites at this time in the history of the Book of Mormon as wickedness, so the greatness of the wickedness was so great—“that the Nephites were in great fear, lest they should be overpowered.” See, does that sound like our day, according to the Brethren, that sometimes we feel that it’s just overpowering? We grow a little bit weary, maybe, of wanting to stand up strong and carry on, because there’s so much to deal with out there. But this is what was happening to them.
It says, “They began to remember the prophecies of Alma, and also the words of Mosiah; and they saw that they had been a stiffnecked people.” (verse 21)  So even, some of the righteous had started to realize, “We blew it. We’ve got to get back to our spiritual moorings, to where we should be.
Finally it says, verse 24: “And they saw that they had become weak, like unto their brethren, the Lamanites, and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples—
“Therefore the Lord did cease to preserve them by his miraculous and matchless power, for they had fallen into a state of unbelief and awful wickedness.” Now just think about that. If you ever get to a point in your life where you’re feeling like the Lord is not with you, He’s not preserving you, you’re not prospering, you’re not doing well, then take stock in yourself. This about what it is that you’re doing that may be separating you a little bit from the Lord and from His Spirit, and change that in your life so that you can get back in good with Him—so that you can draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. I know He’ll do that. Sometimes we get so busy in this world that we forget to take time to sit back, make a self-evaluation, ponder a little bit and change our lives. It’s called repentance, and it doesn’t have to happen in major sins only. It can happen when we find out that we’re not feeling as blessed as we ought to be.
But then they finally say this: “They saw that the Lamanites were exceedingly more numerous than they, and except they should cleave unto the Lord their God they must unavoidably perish.” (verse 25) A great, great discovery.
And then finally, Nephi and Lehi decide at this time to forget their civil responsibilities, turn those over to somebody else, and go out and preach. And the main point of their message is in verse 12 of chapter 5, which reads thus: Now, they’re remembering what their father told them, okay? And this is the message: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
Now that’s where we ought to be. To me, that is the single most important answer to overcoming the wickedness in this world—to build a foundation on Jesus Christ. Now, if we don’t do that—and you ought to start right now. Don’t wait until you’re older, or you get a job, or you get married. Start now to become a disciple, to learn about Him. There’s going to be too many of us when He comes again that will not recognize Him. That happened when He came the first time, and it’s going to happen again. And you and I don’t want to be amongst that group of people. When He comes, we want to know Him. Even before He gets here, we ought to know Him.
Listen to what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young said about when the time comes that He will come again to this earth. Joseph Smith said this: “There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in diverse places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds. Then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet or a star, etc.”
Here’s Brigham Young. Speaking of Jesus Christ, he says, “When he again visits this earth, He will come to thoroughly purge His kingdom from wickedness. And the Gentiles,”—I know we think we’re not Gentiles, but in this case we’re Gentiles, by nationality. I know you’re of the House of Israel, and you’re blessed because of it, but you’re also a Gentile—“the Gentiles will be as much mistaken in regard to his second Advent as the Jews were in relation to the first.”
There will be people living on this earth who, when He comes, will not recognize Him. I know it’s hard to fathom that when we’ll have all of these signs and wonders. But it’s true. It will happen. And you and I do not want to be one of those who is among those people.
Brothers and sisters, if you want to lead a happy life and a content[ed] life, seek to know the Lord. If you want to have a hope while you live in an increasingly pessimistic society, then learn about the Redeemer of the world, and follow Him. If you want to be settled in a very unsettled and unsettling world, follow the example of Jesus Christ.
It’s not that hard, really. I think there’s just a matter of a few things you and I need to do. Number one, we ought to accept His invitation to learn of Him. In Matthew 11:29, He says “learn of me,” come unto me, “for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (see also verses 28 and 30)
If we are living the Church life, and it’s burdensome, it’s not easy, something is wrong. Something is out of place. We sing that song, “Sweet is the Work.” That’s what it should be. It’s not “Drudgery is the Work.” Sweet is the work. And if it’s not to us, then something is out of order.
Next, learn His doctrines. Listen to this great scripture. I love this one, in 1 Nephi 15:14. It says this, at the very end of the verse, speaking of in the last days, Nephi says, “Wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” Learning the doctrines of the gospel teach[es] us how to come unto the Lord and be saved through Him.
I would suggest also that you and I think about the Savior more often, and that we talk about Him as much as is appropriate. Spend more time doing that. Listen to what President Howard W. Hunter said: “We must know Christ better than we know Him. We must remember Him more often than we remember Him. We must serve Him more valiantly than we serve Him. Then we will drink waters springing up unto eternal life, and will eat the bread of life.”
We’ve got to be more than just members of this Church, brothers and sisters. We’ve got to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are converted to Him and who think about Him and talk about Him. You’ve got to decide, as you’re here at school, if you’ll be a scholar or a disciple of Jesus Christ possessing scholarship in your field of study. Will you be a disciple of business administration, or will you be a disciple of Christ who is a scholar of business administration? Can you see the difference? Will you be a professional disciple of interior design, or a disciple of Jesus Christ with top-notch scholarship in interior design? Will you be known in this world as a skilled medical assistant, or as a disciple of Christ who is expert in medical coding or transcription? Will your family and friends see you as an accountant, or will they see you as a disciple of Christ possessing proficient accounting skills.
Included in the very first hymnal that Emma Smith put together, and we still have it in our hymns today, is the song, “Now Let Us Rejoice.” I believe it’s the third verse of that hymn that reads this way:
“In faith we’ll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We’ll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.”
      (Hymns, no. 3)
I leave you with my testimony that in my life, trying to learn as much as I possibly can about Jesus Christ and then following Him has been the single most important thing I’ve done to help me to behave properly, to be a better husband and a better father, to be a better teacher and a better employee, to be a better person. And I’m certainly not someone to be held up as an example. But I know the effect that learning about Jesus Christ has had in my life, and I wish for it and hope for it and pray for it for you in your life.
I testify that He lives, that He is the Savior, that He is the Word of God. In other words, He is the one that God sent as His expression. We use words to express ourselves, and Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ as His expression of a true and faithful child of God—how one would behave and think and desire and be. And I testify of that, and again, thank you so much for the privilege to be here, and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
 
 
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Introduction: President Woodhouse
It is such a great pleasure to have Brother Marsh with us today. Brother Marsh was an institute teacher at our Institute for a few years when we were up on Fourth East, and we’ve missed him. We’ve missed him a lot. And now to have him back is just a great privilege. He is married to Deborah Pierce. They are the parents of five children—three boys and identical twin girls. He earned a bachelor’s degree from BYU in developmental psychology, a master of education from the College of Idaho, and a PhD in family studies from BYU.
He is employed with the Church Education System for 22 years, serving as a seminary and institute teacher, a principal, a teacher support consultant, a writer, a CES coordinator—I think he had all the jobs along the line. But now he is responsible for the development of the curriculum for the Church. Now that’s a big job. I asked him if he was busy and he said, “Well, we’re working on about 20 major projects, and then there’s a few minor ones after that.” So we’re grateful to have him with us today. It’s a great pleasure to hear from David B. Marsh, the manager of curriculum development for the Church.
 

Education Will Bless Your Life

14 Oct. 2008

Transcript

Education Will Bless Your Life 

Well, thank you very much. What a warm and generous introduction. I appreciate it very much, and it is a pleasure for me to be with you today. If I were to summarize my remarks—I hope I can do it in a phrase or a sentence—education will bless your lives. Education will bless your lives. I think we learned a wonderful lesson at the last general conference from President Uchtdorf, and the basic theme of this in the priesthood session was “Stand where you are and lift.”
 
Now, I know he wasn’t talking about education; he was talking about church service. But I want to just make that little transition to say, “Stand where you are and lift.” You are at LDS Business College. Stand here and lift. Educate yourself and bless your life. You will never regret it.
 
If you are feeling any uncertainties at all, you are in the majority of young people that have started college. If you know exactly what you want to do, whether it be further education or employment or some combination, you’re in the minority. I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do until I was in my mid-twenties. I’m sorry to say that, and I know it was a concern to my parents. But it took me that long of getting some experience. And I had to be a member of the Fraternal Brotherhood of Laborers and Hod Carriers in the AFL-CIO, and I learned that lesson that that’s something that I did not want to do for my life’s work. I was a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, and I fought forest fires all over the western United States, and I learned that I did not want to do that for my life’s work. I did a lot of things, and it took me until I was in my mid-twenties to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. So if you have a little uncertainty about exactly what you want to do, don’t worry about it.
 
If you continue with your education and you finish without any kind of interruption, you’re going to be in a minority because all of us have interruptions. You know, we have stops, we have starts, we go on missions, we do other kinds of things. But you don’t want to give up. You want to stay with your education, even though you may have an interruption. If you enter a field of employment and you stay with it for your whole life, you really are a minority. Because most of us are going to have a fairly dramatic career change four or five times in our lifetime. So all of the education that you can get to prepare you for those kinds of changes, I think is a very good thing.
 
And ultimately, you’re going to be the one to make that decision, and I just encourage you to be thoughtful and to be prayerful, and to stay with it. An education will bless your life.
 
We all are faced with fears and insecurities, and we tend to underestimate what we can do. Don’t fall prey to that. I go to a lot of commencements, and I went to one not too long ago, and I want to read to you this young woman’s comments. I just took so much encouragement from this:
“Four years ago, I thought that college would last forever. Just four days ago I thought that maybe college should last forever, and that graduating with one degree was not quite enough. I realized I was falling prey to my fears about the real world.” And then she went on to say, “I used to be afraid of failure. I used to be afraid of falling in love. I was afraid of coming in second place. I was afraid of not meeting people’s expectations. I was afraid to take a stance. I was afraid to explore my potential.”
 
Then she goes on: “But four years have gone by, and I stand before you as a woman who is no longer afraid. I am no longer afraid.”
 
Do you have any fears? Do you have any doubts? Do you have any apprehensions? Don’t we all. Get an education and overcome them. Don’t underestimate yourself. Stand here for now and lift your life. And I’m going to give you a little information as to why I think this is so important.
 
This is from the First Presidency; it was authored by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Now with a little help here I’m going to be in business. A prophet’s counsel and prayer for youth: “You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all of the education you can get.”
 
Now catch this: “Sacrifice a car. Sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.”
 
Okay. You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your mind and your heart and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently…of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78-80).
 
Again, this was offered by President Hinckley, and this a later conference: “It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can.” I want you to see that there is a deliberate separation there. This is not “you young men go out and get all the education you can and get prepared and provide for your wives and provide for your families.” I think this says young men and you young women get all of the education you can.
“The Lord has said very plainly that his people are to gain the knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of the things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith. Education is the key that will unlock the door of opportunity to you. It is worth sacrificing for; it is worth working at to educate your mind and your hands, and you will be able to make a great contribution to the society of which you are a part. And you will be able to reflect honorably on the Church of which you are a member.
 
“My dear brothers and sisters, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can possibly afford.” You’re sitting on one right now. You’re at LDS Business College. You’re sitting in and on an educational opportunity that you need to take advantage of in every way that you possibly can.
 
Now, I’m going to talk to you about some things that are happening in our world. Now people I know have been saying, “How in the world did our economy melt down virtually overnight? How did the stock market drop so precipitously?” I think we recognize now that this is not something that happened precipitously; this has been happening for a long time, and we should have seen it.
 
Now another thing that’s happening is that we are losing our educational advantage as a nation and as a state, and it’s going to nip us if we don’t make some kind of concerted effort now. Let me show you what this means to you as the individual. This is educational-in-training pay, Utah median income by educational level. What is not listed here, and I’m just going to give passing reference to it, is those students who drop out of high school.
 
Students who drop out of high school are headed to poverty. I can’t say it any more plainly than that. If you drop out of high school, you are headed to poverty. If you drop out of college, you’re toying with poverty. You need a quality education. A high school diploma in this state is going to pay $22,437. Now maybe two months ago, you could have qualified for a mortgage, but you can’t anymore, I can assure you. You cannot live on $22,000 a year. Young men, if you marry a young woman in this College and you try to support her and your children on $22,000 a year, you’re going to be a very disappointed young man. Now look at the associate’s degree. You’re in a college that grants associate’s degrees. Look at that increase. It’s not quite 50%, but it’s more than a 40% increase in your income if you’ll finish as associate’s degree and apply it. If you get a bachelor’s degree, you’re now up to $45,000. Big difference.
 
I’ve been watching this for a long, long time and if you go back 25 years the difference between high school graduates and a person with a college degree was not very great, because so many young men could go out and go to Kennecott or Geneva Steel or the mines or the railroads or the Defense Depot, and they could make a good living and support a family. Those jobs are basically gone. There is no Geneva Steel. The mines have been mechanized. Kennecott Copper is not nearly what it used to be. So if you’re out in the marketplace, don’t find out too late the best you can do is make the state’s average wage, which is $13.00 an hour. You’ll be disappointed.
 
If you have the good fortune that you can stay with education long enough that you can get a bachelor’s degree and get a master’s degree, you can see the impact. Those with an advanced degree in this state average $65,000 a year—three times what you can earn as a high school graduate.
 
Now our work force is changing. Most of the good jobs that will emerge in the future are going to require some post-secondary education. You can see that jobs where you don’t need a high school diploma and jobs with a high school diploma constitute about 32% of the workplace. So some have said to me, “Well, there are plenty of jobs there.”
 
Let me tell you what the jobs are that are in this part of the pie: waiters, waitresses, custodians, food service workers, and people in call centers. You’re going to be fixed at abut $12.00 to $13.00 an hour, probably no benefits, and clearly no pension. That’s in that category.
 
Now, let’s look at some post-secondary—that would be an associate’s degree or a little more. Thirty-seven percent of the new jobs are going to require some post-secondary, and thirty-one percent are going to require a bachelor’s degree. So in the future, 68% of the emerging jobs in our economy are going to require at least an associate’s degree or a degree that’s equivalent to that. For example, I was in labor and hod carrying at one time, and I worked with journeymen—people that had prepared themselves to be journeymen plumbers and electricians and steelworkers. Those people have to go through two to four years of training and become masters in their craft. They can do very, very well.
 
The people who are not going to survive in our kind of tumultuous economy are those that are low-skilled workers. Low-skilled workers are going to have low pay. So the big demand in the future will be high skills and as much education as you can get.
 
This is what it’s going to look like in a bar graph. You can see where the real gains are. On-the-job training between 2004 and 2014, about an 11% increase and 8 ½% increase with moderate OJT, 8.7% with long-term OJT, work experience in a related occupation. You can learn some things on the job. That’s valuable. But if you get a post-secondary vocational award—something you could get here—get a business degree, that would be a 17.7% increase in those jobs. Look at the associate’s degree. A 25% increase in jobs if you have an associate’s degree. A 19.6% increase with a bachelor’s degree. 16.6% with a post-secondary and work experience. If you have a doctorate, there will be nearly a 31% increase for those that have that kind of training.
 
Now don’t be put off by this. Don’t be—you know, just go after it. You’re going to have to have more education in the future than we’ve had in the past. It’s just where we are.
 
Now I’m going to talk to you about some of the things that are happening nationally. If the United States is to remain competitive economically, meet workforce demands and create opportunities for more Americans, we must dramatically increase the number of students entering and graduating from college. But we are faced at the moment with a little bit of a disconnect. If you start in the ninth grade and—say I’ve got a hundred students in the ninth grade—and say how many of them go on to high school, how many of them graduate from high school, how many go to college, and how many have an associate’s degree after four years, how many of them have a bachelor’s degree after six years—we’ve lost 75%. We just lose that many people. They give up. In a time when the economy is going to require more, we have too many people giving up on themselves and giving up on their education.
 
This is another study that’s just been finished called “Hitting Home: Quality Cost and Access.” High education correlates with state economic strength and high income. We are losing ground to other nations, largely because of relatively low college completion rates and U.S. deficit in degree attainment posing a serious threat to the nation’s economic well being. This is a study that came out in March of 2007, so this is a big issue for the state, a big issue for the nation, and somehow we’ve got to persuade our youth to stay in college. And we’ve got to persuade some of you to go back to college after a year or two, after you have your associate’s degree, to go on. Because the future of our state, the future of our nation is going to depend on it.
 
Case in point: We have a number of engineering companies in this state right now who cannot grow because they cannot get enough engineers. There are 1200 to 1500 job vacancies for engineers in this state as I speak. Starting salary is $55,000 a year with a bachelor’s degree. We can’t get enough; companies can’t grow. So this is a big state issue and a big national issue.
 
Now, here’s something that is surprising. This is based on the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and it was updated by Janice Houston in 2006. These are four counties where we’re expecting big things, big economic growth. I just want you to see what’s happening. I hate to use my age range—I’m going to cheat a little bit, and I’m going to say look at this age range for Utah County: 45 to 64. I know I’m cheating a little bit. Look at the men. Nearly 43% of the men in Utah County that are between the ages of 45 and 64 have a bachelor’s degree.
 
Now look at your age cohort, or a little more—the 25 to 34 year olds. Whoa. We’ve lost 11%. The older population is much better educated than the younger population. How could that be? Look at Salt Lake County. Look at the men—36%, 36 ½ % 45 to 64 years old have a bachelor’s degree, but of the younger population only 26%. We’re not moving in the right direction.
 
Look at Washington County. I read this to the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and I almost got thrown out, because I said, “For men down here, nearly 32% in my age range have a bachelor’s degree, but only 16% of the younger population.” In Davis County it’s the same story. When you look at state, the older population is better educated than the younger population. We’re just going in the wrong direction.
 
Now this is the percentage of adults with an associate’s degree or higher. This is 2003 data, so I know I’m a little dated here. You can see where the United States is with that yellow line. We’re doing all right. We have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven nations ahead of us, in terms of the percentage of the population that has at least an associate’s. Now let’s add in the older population. I’m sorry, that was the younger population. Now let’s look at the older population, 45 to 54. I know it’s a little different demographic, but take a look at it.
 
You see what’s happened in Canada? You see what’s happened in Japan? You see what’s happened in Korea? You see what’s happened in Sweden and Finland and Norway and Belgium? Dramatic increases. The younger population have much higher levels of education than the older population. And you’ll see that in many other places—Spain, France, Ireland, Australia. There are only two exceptions to where the older population is better prepared than the younger population. Two countries—the United States and Germany. This is not a statistic we’re proud of.
 
Last summer I spent some time in Ireland, and it is the darling of western Europe because so many young people have completed degrees. They have improved their trade relations with Great Britain, with Europe and with the United States, and Ireland is now—like I say, they are leading western Europe on so many economic indicators. But one of the things they’ve done is they’ve invested in education, starting with the early grades all the way through college.
A new book has just been published by the Department of Labor—thank you; I’m down to ten minutes. I’m going to hurry—this is Tough Choices in Tough Times. It’s a good analysis of the situation that we’re in. The U.S. is no longer the best-educated workforce in the world. International counterparts are getting more and better education. Surprise, surprise. Thirty years ago, the United States had 30% of the world’s population of college students; today that proportion is 14%. The U.S. is dismantling the vertically-integrated firm. That’s a whole other topic. Bottom line? Many of our good jobs are going elsewhere so they can be done more efficiently and cheaper.
 
No doubt Detroit will recover itself and start producing automobiles again, but the likelihood is they will not be built in Detroit. Where will they be built? They will be built along the Pacific Rim and in Mexico. So for all those young high school guys in Indiana and Illinois and Michigan, who were going to come out of high school and get this high-paying job, it’s not going to be there. And it’s happening to so many of our companies that they are simply going abroad. The workforce is better in some cases, and it’s certainly cheaper. So that’s what it means.
 
I’m going to go to my recommendations. The main thing is, stay in school. Finish your degree. Don’t give up on it. Don’t give up on yourselves. Stand and lift yourself right here where you are. If you decide to transfer to BYU, great. If you go to BYU-Idaho, great. If you finish here and go out into the workforce and get some practical experience and then get further education, great.
 
Secondly, get some direct experience. Experience is a great teacher, and it’s tough to get when you’re young, I understand that. But look for internships, look for work opportunities. Get out in the marketplace. If you think you have an interest in being an architect, great. But get some hands-on experience in an architecture firm. If you like working with kids, and you think “someday I’d like to be a teacher,” get out into a classroom and volunteer and see how you like it.
I think dentistry is a wonderful field; my dad wanted me to be a dentist. I went to Weber State to be a dentist and went to my local bishop who was a dentist, and he said, “Come and practice with me for a week in my office.” And I didn’t like it. It was just me. There was nothing wrong with being a dentist, but I went back and I said to my dad, “I’m sorry, but I want to be an English major.”
 
And after receiving medication and getting him back, he couldn’t imagine why. “What are you going to do? What are you going to study?”
 
“Well, Dad, I’m going to study the British poets, and I’m going to study the American novelists.”
 
“What?!?” I’ll never get over his sense of just astonishment.
 
But I did. I got a bachelor’s degree in English and I became a teacher, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And I’ve done a bunch of other things in connection with that. Get some experience. Stop out for a little while; do an internship. Stop out for a while and get some practical hands-on experience. That’s great. It will shape what you want to do. I was 23, 24 years old before I finally figured out that I wanted to be in education. It was worth looking around, getting some practical experience.
 
Achieve as much education as you can now. Now, you may say, “Gosh. Life is hard for me right now. I’ve got a car payment, and my dorm partners are not treating me the way I want. I could go back home now and I could just get out of all of this for a year.” Let me just tell you, your chance if you make that decision, your chance of finishing plummet. If you drop out, statistically your chances go way down if you say “I’m going to take a year out and just hang out.”
Now if you take a year out and you go teach English in China or Japan, or you do something like that, hurray. But if you just take an easy way out and say, “I’m just going to kick back,” your chances of finishing your college degree and your college work go right through the floor.
 
And just take it from me, this is one of those things like touching hot stoves. Don’t touch that hot stove. What I’m saying to you is, as hard as it may be now, wait until you’re 30 and you say, “Boy, why didn’t I get my education? I was right there. I was right at LDS Business College.” It can’t get much better. Do it now. Don’t put it off.
 
Now I know we all have a kind of dream, and I just dealt with a friend of mine. This came as a shock to her at the age of 40. Married in her early 20s to a young man home from a mission, she dropped out of college. He went on to college. They had three children, they got a mortgage, they have two cars. They’re living the American Dream, except he fell in love with somebody else and they got a divorce. She is now out in the marketplace with three children and two cars and a mortgage. And she came to me and said, “I’ve been looking for a job for ninety days and the top offer I got was $11.30 an hour.”
 
You think it’s hard getting an education now; try it then. And I want to say this kindly, so don’t take offense at what I say. All of you young women here need an education. Somewhere, we instill a little genetic code that says something like, “I don’t need to get nearly the education of my husband, because he’s going to be very successful and he’s going to take care of me and my children.” The majority of women in this state of child-bearing age, 19 to the early 40s, the majority are working to support their families. The majority are working.
 
Now you’ve got to make a decision. Do I want to work for $8.50 an hour, or do I want to have my degree and work part-time and make $30.00 an hour? Now my oldest daughter took five years to get a nursing degree. She worked in a cardiac unit in the V.A. Hospital. She doesn’t work there anymore. She’s very fortunate; her husband does take care of this family and she doesn’t have to work. But until just recently, she worked one day a week at the V.A. as a nurse, and made as much in a day with full benefits, as a less-trained person who works forty hours a week.
 
Some of you here want to be a nurse; go for it. Go for it! You can do it in two years. Two, two-and-a-half years you can be a registered nurse. Go for it. You want to be a teacher? You want to get your associate’s degree here? Go for it. Get some experience in some teaching. Get into it. Teaching is a wonderful career. It’s not the highest paid; you’re not going to be paid what an attorney is. But you’re going to get a good salary; you’re going to get benefits and a pension.
 
So now is the time. Don’t put it off. Do it now. If you’ve got worries, fears, apprehensions, forget it. Get over it. Stay where you are and lift.
 
Now of course, keep your life in balance. I don’t want to go over the top here, which I probably am. You need balance, in your spiritual life, your educational life, social life, family life. Keep it balanced. I don’t know of a place where you can do this better than right here, because you’re balancing your education with your spiritual life. Make the most of it. And four years from now, or two years from now, I hope every young man and young woman in this audience can hold up that piece of paper and say, “Today I stand before you as a young man or a young woman who overcame my fears and my apprehensions, and I have my degree. And I have a better start on life than I had when I started.”
 
Education is going to bless your life in every way that I know, so hang with it. And I pray that the Lord will bless you in all of your pursuits. Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure to be with you today. Thanks.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

21 Oct. 2008

Transcript

What Kind of Leader Are You? 

Sister Rebecca Merrill:

My husband has asked that I take just a minute and tell you how grateful I am to be with you this morning, and grateful to be with him. As we just corrected, we now have 23 grandchildren, and two of those were born within the last three weeks. We’re very grateful for them.
As I look at you today and your bright smiling faces, and I can feel your testimonies, my mind is drawn back many years ago to a time when I was 17, just a recent member of the Church. And a patriarch laid his hands upon my head and told me, among other things, that as I looked ahead at the future I did not see clearly. And he was so right. I was an only child; I was very interested in school and had a PhD on my mind. Joining the Church changed a lot of things in my life, among them my coming to Utah to go to school and my third day here running into this handsome man over next to me.
Now, 41 years later, 7 children and 23 grandchildren, 57,000 diaper changes, 40,000 meals prepared, economic disasters, significant health challenges, incredible joy—it’s just…life is amazing. I just have to say that probably, as you look ahead at your future, you do not see clearly either. But with the Lord as your companion it is marvelous. No matter what, whether it is challenge or joy, life is wonderful. I’m so grateful to be a member of this Church. I’m so grateful to know that God the Father lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son. And I’m especially grateful today for the gift of the Holy Ghost, because I know that as we—all of us very different in our life experience—sit here today and in every situation like this, we can be taught of the Spirit, specifically and specially according to our needs. I know that’s true, and I bear you that witness and again express my joy in being with you today, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 
President Merrill:
I’m really glad you got a chance to meet Rebecca. Let me tell you a few more things about her. She didn’t see clearly. She probably would have avoided me, but she’s had a great opportunity to influence a lot of lives. She’s always kept right up front the importance of her role as a mother and grandmother, but she’s had some other interesting opportunities to use her talents. And the Lord does things in way that you don’t recognize, or don’t realize. She didn’t get her PhD, but she’s had several gifts and one of them is to be able to write. Things worked out and she was able to be Steven Covey’s chief assistant and help write The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which has been listed as one of the top 100 books of the last century in terms of influence, and still going strong. Co-authored First Things First with Steven and myself, and several others. [She] just recently finished working with Steven M.R. Covey on a book The Speed of Trust, which you may have read which is I think, a current classic—hits at the core of many, many issues.
So you just never know. We’ve had the opportunity to be together, to go on book tours and go to several countries and places, and meet a lot of wonderful people and have some experiences that you’d never anticipate.
The Lord knows how to handle our lives so much better than we do, and one of the most important things I think is to have faith and trust and confidence. And if we walk uprightly, He will lead our lives in the way that’s the best for all, from His perspective, because He loves all His children. He has a plan, and He has things in mind for us. Our great challenge is to be malleable and worthy and obedient, that He can use us in the most important ways.
One of the privileges that I have in my current calling is being able to associate with the apostles and prophets, and you’ve heard this before but I’ll just say it again. For my personal testimony, we have an interesting world we live in. Things are changing. That’s been a constant, but right now they are changing at a remarkable rate. One thing I do not pick up at all in those circles is anxiety and fear. It is just not there. There is great hope, faith, confidence, trust in the Lord—concerns about things, particularly about things like sin, false ideas, things that lead us away and destroy faith—but there’s a great confidence. These are prophets, seers and revelators. The Lord is in charge, is at the helm. If we are obedient, if we are true, we’re on the earth at this time for important reasons. There is nothing happening that is a surprise to God, and if we go forward in peace and faith our lives will be wonderful.
Yes, they may be challenging, but that’s always been true. And challenge is part of the journey we signed up for, and it’s how faith is forged, and one of the major reasons we came to earth and are having this experience. So just a reminder: the adversary works off of fear and anxiety. As the Lectures on Faith so beautifully teach, “faith and fear cannot exist in the heart and mind of man simultaneously. One will supplant the other.” Our challenge and opportunity is “Faith in every footstep,” and I might add, faith in every thought.
We have the choice about our thoughts, what stays, and we can choose faithful thoughts or fearful thoughts. It’s a choice. There will be plenty of fearful thoughts circling around us, and the adversary will do all he can to get them into our heads. The more we choose him, and faith and truth and love, the greater our faith will grow. And there’s a power in faith—a great power that creates worlds.
Now something else Rebecca said I want to emphasize. She talked about that we’ll be taught by the Spirit, and the Spirit is the true teacher. I’d suggest it’s very important that you listen today, and feel in the operative word. What I say may be a carrier, or it may not be, but if your heart is right and you are seeking, you will receive the message the Lord would have for you. That’s so important.
In our general authority training meetings the Friday before general conference, we were invited in on Friday. It was an interesting discussion. Elder Bednar led a discussion. He suggested to us that—with all the Brethren there, and sisters—as we were reviewing the teachings that we’ve had, and he said, “Let’s just review them.” And what was said and what was learned and what was felt. And later, Elder Nelson added what was observed. Key words. So when we’re just—as you’re thinking about an experience—this and others you’ll have this day—what was said, what was learned, what was felt. And sometimes we learn a lot through just what we observe. Those are simple ways that we can help to learn by the Spirit and be taught from on high, which is the most important thing.
I’d like to spend a few minutes and share a few thoughts with you and some scriptures today, about the idea of being a leader. The first question you might ask is, “Who wants to be?” Sometimes we look around, and we see the leaders as the center of a target, and we say, “I’m not sure I’d want to be a leader.”
Let me suggest you already made that decision before you came here. Part of being on the earth in the last days and being the covenant people is that we signed up to be a leader.
Years ago, I was…I’ve been influenced by a lot of people in my life. Let me just mention two briefly. One, I was a young teenager living in Carmel Valley, California, and there was an older man in our neighborhood who was out walking. He looked like an interesting person—kind of a powerful personality. He was older—it turns out he was in his nineties, but he just looked like somebody you wouldn’t ever want to mess with, you know? He just had that sense about him, and I was curious, so being a brash teenager I just went up and introduced myself and one thing led to another. We got acquainted. They called him “The General,” which is one of the reasons I was interested and intrigued. And I got to know General Harold Townsend. He was a retired general, had spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia way before Vietnam was…you read about it as a war, but when communism was spreading in that part of the world. He had a lot of interesting experiences. He’d take me down into his little room—he had no family left, direct family; there were some cousins I believe he was living with the last few years of his life who had a room for him. He’d take me down, and he had one of those big foot lockers that weighed, I don’t know, a ton it looked like. It had labels all over it and had been scarred. They don’t make them like that anymore; it was almost bomb-proof. But you could tell that thing had been around the world. He’d open it up and pull out things. He’d pull out this little Brownie camera that he had and these kind of brownish, black and white pictures that he’d taken all over the world, and show me.
Now you have to remember, this was in the days before CNN and that kind of thing, so he’d pull out pictures of bodies laid out in the jungle minus heads. You don’t think that got my attention? It freaked me out! Well, he’d tell me—he’d start telling me stories about where he was when he took these pictures, and what happened. And I didn’t honestly realize until later what he was doing, but all his stories, as I look back, had a common theme. He was trying to pass on a little bit of a legacy to me. And his theme was simply this: Leaders make the difference.
He would tell me stories about how these villages would be infiltrated by what we now would call terrorists—little troops—and threatened, and sometimes destroy a whole village. And every now and then there would be a leader who would stand up, provide an alternative, fight back, and he’d talk about these warlords as leaders, the tremendous toll they’d take on the people and the suffering they would cause. They were leaders, but of a different kind. And his stories constantly had that theme, of the joy and goodness or the pain and suffering that are the inheritance of leaders—good leaders and evil leaders. And you could tell he kind of, after his years of experience, saw the world through the glass of leadership—the impact of good leaders or the terrible effect of evil leaders.
I came to believe that was the message he was trying to give me, is to think of the world and look at it through the eyes of leadership. Now think of your experience. Can you think of some really bad things that influence your life that flow from somebody’s leadership or lack of it? Can you think of some good things? Our lives are influenced every day by leaders of one kind or another.
Now, like many of you as a missionary I had a great mission president. All mission presidents are the greatest mission presidents, right? So I had the greatest too. He was an interesting man who—I had two, but I’m going to talk about the second one—who really influenced my life. He was a leader. He taught us. He set the example. It was interesting, in Texas, he ended up staying in Texas. He decided that that’s where he wanted to live. He ended up being in the Dallas Temple presidency and a patriarch in that area. But I saw this one area that we worked in that had just a handful of members, and through his influence and others, and a wonderful family that lived there, the Porters, the little branch in Denton, Texas grew and now it’s a center of strength in that part of the Church. In fact, I’m going to go back this summer for the 50th anniversary of the Church in Denton. To watch the impact of people like Sam Elias, of the Porters, of the Ragsdales, over a period of years. I was in their home a few years ago and we were sitting back trying to remember the number of members of the Church that had come from the Ragsdales after the Porters helped them come into the Church. We couldn’t—in fact, then we said, “Well, we can’t do that; let’s just try to count the number of full-time missionaries from these families.” And we couldn’t number them.
I was in the general authority training six months ago and Elder Martino came up to me, an Area Seventy, and he said, “I’m just excited to meet you.” It turns out he was a little boy when his parents joined the Church because of the Ragsdales, and the Ragsdales were a family that I was one of the missionaries to. It’s just interesting how you see the effect of some people who made some choices to lead and set an example, and how it’s affected so many lives and whole communities for good.
What kind of leader are you? What kind will you be? We live in a day where you can be a leader or a victim. There’s not much middle ground, and we have to make choices. You have a wonderful opportunity to learn some important and good things in a spiritual environment. My, how rare that is. In all the people that have been on this planet in the history of the world, you are in a very, very small minority—miniscule in terms of numbers. Why are you here then? And some of you have come through some rather interesting paths to get here. You’re not here by accident, and the experiences you have, have potential in ways that you will not realize.
Let’s turn to a scripture, and thank you for bringing those. I notice that many of you did, and saw the little assignments. Turn to the 115th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. We’re just going to look at verse five. I’m going to have you actually turn to it. We often during the sacrament meeting don’t take time to do that, because then people start wandering reading the verses and it’s better sometimes just to listen to a verse or two. But here I want you to get your fingers and your head into the scriptures to feel the spirit of some of these things. And you may then after go back and read around these verses.
Let’s just in this one look at verse five: “Verily I say unto you all.” This is speaking to all members of the Church in the last days, as the verses before it bring out. So it’s for us. “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations.” Now is that to you or to the Church? I suggest it’s very personal. Part of our discipleship and our covenants as followers of Jesus Christ, particularly in these last days, are the covenants and responsibilities we have and take upon ourselves to be a light, to be examples, to be leaders. We don’t live for self alone.
It’s interesting—the adversary’s constantly trying to do things to get us to think selfishly. What’s in it for me? It’s about me. It’s about mine. What are you feeling? What are you going through? Are you happy today, because of this or that? The Savior’s life was a life of service, of giving, of focusing on the individual, of blessing others. Yes, you have to pay attention to your needs, so that you can bless and help. You get an education so that you can better bless and help others. The motive—or the scriptural word for motive is often the word intent—what is our intent? I suggest that is something that is very important to think about. And the world around us will seep into and twist our thinking into being self-focused. The Spirit will move us out to think of others. It’s a great key to life, joy and happiness.
Now, with the idea that we were called to lead, let me suggest something you’ve heard before, but maybe you’ll think about it and feel it a little differently. The Savior is the perfect model or example of what that means. He’s the leadership example. Now sometimes you hear this and then somebody will write an article, and it’s all usually good, but it will have examples of some of the techniques Jesus used in leadership. I’d suggest that maybe we look at it through broader glasses, and look at patterns and principles, and think of not only His mortal ministry, but His entire—we know more about Him: we know He was Jehovah, we know about His mortal ministry, and we know now, and we look more broadly and see some of the principles and patterns, that we then maybe can learn to understand what happens.
I’m going to suggest four lessons that we can remember, simple lessons that will help us in leadership. The first one, looking at the Savior’s model, is to clarify and purify your purpose. So whether you take on the challenge of education, a new job, a committee, an assignment, a project at work—wherever you may be, one of the first things to determine is, “What am I trying to do?” In fact, you’ll find over time—and this is true kind of universally—that I’m about convinced that almost more than any other thing, your purpose and your motives will influence the outcome. It may look good, but if secretly inside your motive is selfish, it will poison the fruits. They will be bitter. And if you don’t have a clear purpose, you won’t have very good luck getting results. One of the things we find studying organizations in my professional work is that the organizations that are the most effective and the project leaders that get the most done have the ability to focus on a few simple things at once. They usually sort down priorities, have a clear purpose, usually not more than three at a time, and focus their efforts and energy, and excellence almost always comes by focus. You look at a project manager that has a list of 28 projects and you can almost predict absolutely he’ll be mediocre. You just can’t perform to get results in that way, spread that thin.
Now that doesn’t mean over time you can’t do 28, but you break them down and focus your efforts and energy. Clear. What is it we’re trying to do and why? What is our intent?
Purity of motive—now this is critical to the Spirit and the kingdom, but it’s actually very important on a very practical level. You’ve worked with people and you just kind of—well, they’re saying the right things and moving the right way, but you just kind of feel uncomfortable. It’s something like, “Where are they coming from? What really is their agenda?” Something just leaves you feeling discomfort, and so there’s not a complete trust you put in those people, in that project. And trust affects communication; it affects almost everything that happens in a group. Real trust has to be earned by being trustworthy. Motive is critical. The intent.
If you want to do an interesting search on your computer, just go into your scripture program and look up the word intent, and look at all the scriptures that use intent. Now some are talking about, oh, they intended to go back to the city and do this, you know, simple. But you start looking at the promises and the words around intent, and just say—nowadays, we often use the word motive. What’s the motive? In fact, it’s the key to getting a testimony; Jacob talks about riches “if you seek them with the intent”—or the motive—to bless others, after you have faith in Christ. (See Jacob 2:19) You see, motive is critical.
Great leaders focus a lot, first within themselves and then in what they’re working on, to be clear in purpose and motive. And it usually takes some purification—some clarification and purification. How about the Savior? Was He clear with His purpose? Yes. What was His purpose? To help the Father and bring to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)  He was very clear.
Can you imagine—we can’t, but we try. I remember standing by the Garden of Gethsemane, the voice on a little speaker in my headset of our guide, who was recounting some scriptures and what the Savior went through in the Garden of Gethsemane, and how He maintained focus. And you start thinking of the pain and the suffering and the physical, through sin and of all the people in all the earth at one time. It just gets beyond our scope. Why was He willing to do that? Why did He put Himself forward and suffer as no being less than Him can suffer? And He’s also clear. The scriptures say it’s because of charity—His pure love for us. It was a very personal, loving thing. His purposes and His motives are perfect and pure. That’s lesson number one.
Lesson number two, I’d suggest, is create good things. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, let me just suggest that here’s a little reading assignment. Go to the book of Abraham, and let’s just turn there quickly and I’ll point out a few verses, a few words. One of the ways, interestingly, to get patterns of scriptures is to look for a few key words. We’ll go to Abraham 4. This is one of the great accounts of the Creation. I’ll just read a few verses, and then you look at this and see if they start to jump out.
Here’s a word that can jump out: Counsel. We heard a little bit about that a few minutes ago, and it’s one of the things that you’re working on in your culture. Counsel. What is a council? It’s not just a group where you get together and reach consensus. It’s a method of revelation. It’s a process of receiving and gaining the will of the Lord. And you’ll find that the Gods, in the Creation, counseled together. Notice that word, that’s used in several places. It’s used in [Abraham] 5:2, 3. Just try highlighting the word counsel or councils in these chapters.
Try highlighting the word organized. For example, here’s a verse, [Abraham 4] verse 15: “And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven.” Verse 16: “The Gods organized the two great lights.” Organize, organize, organize is used throughout these two great verses. Counsel, organize.
Another interesting word to highlight is the word do. And they, the Gods determined to do everything they said they would do. Isn’t that interesting? If a leader says to you, “I will do this,” do you have trust that they will do it? The Gods did everything that they said they would do.
And here’s another word: Watch. They watched, not to be a snoopervisor, but they watched so that they know when to bless, to help, to fill in, to support. Great leaders watch what’s happening. They pay attention. They’re there to help, support, to uplift, to make sure it’s done. Not like a whip, make sure it’s done, but to provide the help, the light, the guidance, the support, the preparation, so that results happen and there’s integrity in the system. Counsel, organize, do and watch.
Now there are other words you can pick out, but I suggest you read those chapters and just highlight those. And then say, “Now wait a minute. What does this mean for me?” Well, let me give you two quick examples.
One: I went to a ward as an area Seventy a while ago, and I went into a sacrament meeting that was absolutely reverent. I mean, it was amazing. People weren’t talking in the chapel, they weren’t walking around. The deacons were in their seats, they were dressed right, they were quiet, they were focused, they were reverent before the meeting started. People were on the stand on time. It was like everything that people talk about doing, they were doing. And there was just a great spirit. There was quiet prelude music. People came in quietly and sat down. You could feel the spirit in that meeting.
So after I said to the bishop, “How did you do that?”
He said, “Well, we decided in our ward council that reverence was a major problem. We tried to figure—okay, that’s the goal. We tried to say, ‘What has the Lord already said about this?” and we studied some scriptures. We prayed. We came up with the distinct feeling that the Aaronic Priesthood was the solution. So we counseled with the Aaronic Priesthood: what could be done, what are the principles, how do you invite reverence? The Aaronic Priesthood took the challenge and charge, and they started preparing the sacrament early. How should you be there and prepare? They started talking with their families: “Now listen, you can’t talk in the chapel. You need to talk outside. We need to be there in church on time.”
They took the lead, and over a period of months, through the leadership of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums, this ward developed a pattern of reverence that was the best I’ve ever seen. How did they do it? Well, they counseled, they set up a plan, they organized. They did what they said they were going to do. They watched to make sure it worked, and helped each other.
It’s kind of the same pattern as the organization of the world. I could give you other examples. Study this, and it will help you figure out how to do class projects, run a business, organize a family, or create any other beautiful and good thing. The Lord set the example, because who was the Chief Creator under the Father? Again, the Lord is the example.
Lesson three: Teach correct principles. Now, we know Joseph Smith’s statement reported by John Taylor. When he was asked how he dealt with his people so well, he said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” As other prophets have said, the implication is that “I teach them correct principles so that they can govern themselves.” I learned this idea early from that mission president. I was in his office one day and there was a little book, and on the back it had this quote. And it hit me like lightning. I don’t know how to express it, but this is one of the greatest ideas I had ever heard, and it has actually formed a major part of my professional life as well as working in the Church. There is a difference between teaching methods and techniques and principles. Principles and practices—that’s the way the scriptures teach.
You do this and—why, even the Old Testament, which is so full of technique and method, people lost it when they realized that it was all, every jot and tittle was pointing toward the great and last sacrifice. That’s what it was about. If you lose the principle, you get lost in the details, and we constantly do that in our jobs and our education and our lives. We think, “Do this, do this, do this,” we get into the details without understanding the principles. And it’s not either or, it’s both, but the principle is the foundation. To learn to teach and think in terms of principles is one of the most important things you’ll learn in being more effective as a leader and as a student. Constantly ask yourself, “What’s the principle? Why does this work? Is it tied to an eternal principle? Is it just a practical one?” It’s the best we have. What’s the principle? It’s a way of thinking.
Teaching in principles breeds ability to empower people, because then when the techniques change, the principle is there and you can come up with new techniques to solve the problems in new and effective ways. So I suggest the scriptures—when you once start looking at this, you’ll find the scriptures are just loaded with principles. All kinds of examples when you violate them—how they’re applied, how they’re not applied, what happens—but in the Book of Mormon it gives us a clue. Often it will say, “And thus we see.” In Moroni and Mormon it says, “And thus we see.” That’s a clue. You’re about to hear something. Be constantly looking for them. What’s the principle? It’s a key characteristic of perfected leadership.
Last lesson, number four: How do you exercise righteous influence? The 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants—you’ve heard it: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by [patience]…long-suffering…love unfeigned.” (verse 41) Read those last 15 or 20 verses in the 121st section personally, and say, “As a parent, as a project leader, as a quorum president, as a Relief Society counselor, do I seek to influence righteously?”  Leadership is about influence, but there’s righteous influence and there is all other kinds. If we follow the Savior, our influence will be righteous influence.
And there are specific guidelines and specific warnings and specific promises. It’s a beautiful section, describing on a very practical level how to influence the Lord’s way. And I’d suggest it applies in the Church and in any priesthood calling, and in the world. And if we learn to influence through the Spirit of the Lord in the world, that’s one way, and an important way, that we can literally fulfill our charge to let our light shine and be a light unto the nations.
And the light we will hold up is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the source. For He is the way. He not only shows the way, He is the way. He is the truth. He not only teaches the truth, He is the truth and the light, and is the light and life of the world.
May we focus on Him, seek His guidance in becoming the leaders we can be, starting now, is my prayer and witness to you, and I offer it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  

The Spiritual Nature of Creativity

28 Oct. 2008

Transcript

The Spiritual Nature of Creativity 

 
It’s great to be with you today. I am a graduate of LDS Business College, and I really enjoyed my time here, and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was nice to be in a smaller classroom than some of those that were the classrooms I had at the University of Utah. So I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the education I received here.
 
From Moses 3:4-5 we read, “And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth,
 
“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” From this scripture we come to know that everything was created by the Lord spiritually before it was created temporally.
 
I believe that this concept of the spiritual creation has a broad application beyond that of God’s creation of the plants and animals. I believe the concept of spiritual creativity extends to every aspect of our existence. In ways that we do not fully understand the physical world, I believe, is subservient to our spiritual direction through our dominate thoughts, imaginations and desires of our hearts. A “can do” or “can’t do” attitude actually brings about a physical manifestation of those thoughts and beliefs, whether positive or negative. God placed within us the seeds of this great power of spiritual creation, which through our agency can be used for good or evil.
 
This power becomes even more pronounced in the like-thinking of groups of his children—for good, as in the case of the City of Enoch: “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness” (Moses 7:18) —and also for evil, as related in Genesis 11:6-7, when God, seeing a people united to build the Tower of Babel, upset the power of their synergistic thought and purpose which is related as follows: “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
 
One of the classic stories from the scriptures of how the Lord leads us along through this process of inspired spiritual creation is that of the brother of Jared (see Ether 2 & 3). Herein, Jared and his people are facing a formidable challenge—that of crossing the vast ocean to the Promised Land. The Lord directed the brother of Jared to build barges following his specific instructions, well suited for the difficult journey ahead. But when the barges were finished, Jared noticed a problem he did not know how to overcome—that of having light inside the vessels. He took this problem to the Lord, and rather than answering his question directly, the Lord desired the brother of Jared to go through the growth process of coming up with another solution. As the windows and fire in the vessels was out of the question, the brother of Jared came up with another solution to the problem, but for his solution to work, he needed the Lord’s help.
The brother of Jared went to work and did what he was capable of doing; molting sixteen small, glass-like stones out of a rock. He then took these stones to the Lord, asking that he touch the stone with His finger that “they may shine forth…unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
 
“Behold. O Lord, thou canst do this” (Ether 3:4-5). We all know the miracle that transpired with the Lord’s honoring the brother of Jared’s faith-based request, as the Lord stretched forth His hand and touched the stones one-by-one, the veil being taken from off the brother of Jared’s eyes wherein he was privileged to see “the finger of the Lord” and the marvelous vision that followed.
 
A wonderful illustration of what is possible with the Lord’s help when we combine righteous desires with faith utilizing the creative powers God has given each of us. Likewise, we see many applications of the principle of spiritual creation in everyday life. This building in which we are meeting today began as an inspired idea in the mind of someone, who then conveyed his dream first to designers and engineers to translate his concept into architectural drawings; then to builders and craftsmen who with hard work transformed what was once just a dream into the physical reality of a beautiful and functional building.
 
During the time the LDS conference center was being designed, I understand President Hinckley took an active role working with the architects in communicating concepts of what he had seen in “vision” into the beautiful and amazing “reality” that building is today. A similar process was followed to bring Brigham Young’s inspired vision of the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle into reality during their design and construction.
 
Also from Ether 3:15-16, the Lord told the Brother of Jared, “Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
 
“Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and…even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” We were all created in the image and likeness of God.
 
I believe as part of being created in God’s image that we were also created to develop the gifts and talents within us to help us become like our Savior Jesus Christ who is the great creator of heaven and earth and all things in them. In the beginning we see, think, and then do. As an example of this, I have a grandson named Carter. He is six months old. When he first came home from the hospital he was trying to see the world around him. He later began to thrust his arms and hands out to touch things. Now he sits up by himself and holds objects in his hands and moves them about, studying them again and again. He also looks around the room at everyone entering and studies their every move.
 
 In our schooling years we develop interests and talents. Some draw for hours and hours and others play an instrument. Some may be interested in science and others in history. Some love to sing and others love sports. I believe that in addition to our natural desire to develop certain talents and skills that the Spirit of Christ plays a role in our successful pursuit of these talents and skills.
 
From the Doctrine and Covenants 84:46 we read: “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that harkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” From this scripture we learn that everyone is given the Spirit of Christ. As we grow and follow the Spirit of Christ we will find creative answers and solutions. As members of the Church we also have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion that will reveal truth. Truth is important to creation because truth is the knowledge of things as they are, as they were and as they will be. The Holy Ghost and the Spirit of Christ will only give us direction if we are seeking the spirit by prayer, scripture study and by keeping the commandments.
 
Christ indicated how important it was for us to develop our talents as indicated in Matthew 25:14-24:
 
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents,
“And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
“But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
“After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
“And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliverest unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
“And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
“His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
“Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
“For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
“And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping [and wailing] and gnashing of teeth.”
 
The servant that had five talents traded to gain five more and the servant that had two talents traded to gain two more. I am sure that the creative process was employed in gaining these additional talents. These two servants took the talents and skills they possessed and expanded from them to create a better benefit to their lord and thus they were rewarded to become a ruler of many things and accepted into the joy of the lord that follows such great accomplishments. The servant who hid his talent or skill was not a contribution to his lord and his lord would have made more of his talent not giving it to anyone. He was therefore cast out of the lord’s presence.
 
We must become contributors or we will be cast out of the joy that comes by becoming contributing servants of our Lord. The spiritual nature of creativity follows everything we do in life. If we have a family we need to creatively teach and lead our children in the ways of truth and righteousness. Every child is different and we need to be in tune with the Spirit to discover the best creative way to reach and touch a child. In our professional careers there is always a creative way to do things more effectively and productively.
 
First you need to really get in and learn your job. I have found in most jobs that there is a learning curve. When I was in the cosmetic business, employed as a compounder of cosmetic products, I learned that you always followed the directions on the formula because if you did not sometimes there was some ingredient that might not go into solution properly and the whole batch costing thousands of dollars could be ruined. It was only after making the batch according to the directions and making it successfully that you could look at creative ways of making the batch quicker and better. In finding better ways of compounding cosmetic batches, I became a leader in the cosmetic compounding department and eventually became a formulator of cosmetic products in the lab. I also found that you need to be prepared for the many different ways that creative thoughts can come. Most of my creative thoughts come in the morning and I have learned to go and write them down right after I receive them. Some will come when you are discussing a problem with others.
 
My friend was having difficulty keeping his bottled water product in the retail stores because of the major beverage companies that were coming out with bottled water and were paying millions to buy out all of the shelf space. We were talking about adding vitamins to water as a way that would make his product unique and different from the typical bottled water on the shelf and I grabbed an extra cover cap to a push-pull water bottle cap and I forced it over an existing cover cap already in place on another water bottle, and that was the beginning of a new product that could store vitamins in a chamber above the water bottle cap. The patent was issued two years later and was called The Separate Container for a Water Bottle. The product that we came out with was called the H2O VitaCap. One device can lead to another, and we also have a patent pending on a plastic chamber placed above any water bottle that by the push of an upper plastic button can tear out the bottom of the chamber to release a vitamin powder into any water bottle.
 
Once you have disciplined yourself to really learn your job and have lived your life in such a way that the Spirit and the Holy Ghost are your constant companions, then you will have the confidence to look at new and better creative ways to accomplish your job in a more efficient and productive way. Your new creative and productive way of obtaining positive results will then be rewarded by promotions and greater inner joy and satisfaction in a job well done.
In Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28 we read:
 
“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;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”
 
Here I think the Lord is saying to be engaged in a worthwhile job and do it well. The power is in you to do your job well. Once you have learned your job, use your own free will to make your job better and produce extraordinary results. Sometimes opportunities for significant creative ideas and products can come when you least expect it, but great creators have the vision, determination and dedication to make their vision become a reality.
 
My dad was a great inventor and entrepreneur. He sold drugs for the Upjohn Company for ten years. He learned his job well and performed well for the company. He also invested well in real estate and uranium stocks. After selling drugs for ten years he decided to go into business for himself and started a new company called Deseret Pharmaceutical with two other former drug salesmen that he knew. As he was visiting a doctor selling some of the new companies’ drugs, he saw a big pile of cloth masks doctors used in their surgery. One doctor was smelling each cloth mask and finally settled on one from the pile. My father asked the doctor, “Would you pay a nickel for a new paper mask you used once and then threw away?” The doctor said yes, and that was the start of a journey that let him through trial and error to find the right people and equipment to manufacture the first paper filter masks for doctors. He discovered that paper filter masks could actually filter out almost all bacteria and the filter masks became the standard in the operating room.
 
It was not just seeing the need but finding the people, equipment and marshalling the resources to produce the product and make it a reality. Throughout the remainder of his life he could always look back with great satisfaction at this contribution to the medical field. I know that the Spirit of Christ was leading him in his quest to produce this product, and it was leading many other great people that made this product a reality.
 
One successful creative solution can lead to others. It was not long after the filter mask was being produced than the product idea for the disposable scrub brush was developed for the operating room, which scrubbed and cleaned surgeon’s hands better than methods that were previously being used. Some creative solutions can come by witnessing human suffering and funding ways to lessen it.
 
One day my dad was visiting a hospital and he happened to see a young woman in a hospital bed with a catheter tube inserted into her arm. He noticed that the needle was stuck into the vein and left taped there in place. This young woman had her arm also taped to a board to keep it straight and immovable. My father could see that it was difficult for her to maintain this position and she seemed to be in real discomfort. He knew there was a better way. He met with some engineers and invented a product that started the catheter feeding tube with a needle into the vein but then withdrew the needle and then left a soft, pliable Teflon tube in the arm so the needed feeding fluids could feed the patient. This alleviated the discomfort of leaving the needle in the arm.
 
Soon the name Deseret Pharmaceutical was changed to Deseret Medical, because the company quit selling generic drugs and was known for its highly successful disposable medical products. Many other successful medical device companies have developed their roots from the people that made Deseret Medical a success, including my father’s own company Sorenson Research.
 
I also need to add, my father’s success helped lead to my mother’s success. And her story is she went to a video store to buy CDs for her grandson. He wanted to buy CDs that she didn’t think were appropriate to buy. And then she came home and she saw his little sister dancing around the room to “Phantom of the Opera.” And then she had the idea—that’s when you can reach children. And she developed her Artwork for Kids program, and for the last ten years she has proven that creative thinking actually improves reading, writing and arithmetic. It helps children become more stable. But it was also the success my father had that helped us to form a partnership with the universities and schools to provide funding to train these specialists and the legislature allocated the money to hire the specialists. And so a great need is being fulfilled, but it also came with a great idea.
 
I know that the Spirit of Christ was behind all of the great discoveries and developments throughout the history of mankind. Perhaps the biggest development in our day came when from a young boy sincerely looking to find the correct church.
 
When he read the scripture in James 1:5-6—“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering,”—Joseph Smith said that never did a passage of scripture some with more power into the heart of man than this scripture did at this time into his heart. Joseph Smith needed an answer and the Lord needed someone pure and true to restore the gospel to the earth. This is true with all of our worthwhile pursuits. We need to find an answer to improve and progress, and the Lord needs people he can work with and help provide the answers. We need to live our lives in such a way to qualify for the Spirit of Christ and the companionship of the Holy Ghost in our lives, so that when we are looking for answers and solutions to progress and achieve and make the great contribution that we can make that we will be prepared to receive from the Spirit the correct answer we are seeking.
 
In this life and throughout the eternities, as we continue to develop these creative abilities in a positive way under the direction of the Spirit, I believe we can eventually become like our Father, “And there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take into his heart to do but what he will do it” (Abraham 3:17). And I say this in Jesus’ name, amen.

A Spirit That Goes to the End of the Line

04 Nov. 2008

Transcript

A Spirit That Goes to the End of the Line 

 

 

Well, brothers and sisters, I’m really grateful to be here. I’m grateful to have come and heard that beautiful number. I hope you’re going to do a CD. I’ll buy the first copy, if you’ll do it. I just thought it was beautiful. And if I could share with you—it’s just good to be with those that I can see, and those that are, I understand up on the ninth floor, Brother Herman in my ward and others, just to feel the Spirit of being here with you at LDS Business College. Thank you for coming this morning, and I hope that I can share with you just a few stories, some pictures, and you can have a feeling and appreciation for what the Church does worldwide.

It all begins with what they just sang, doesn’t it? That we are children of our Heavenly Father—a Heavenly Father who knows each one of us by name, and where we are and where we live and our needs, and He knows the needs of many people around the world. And then He realizes that we can reach out and help one another.

From the 26th chapter of 2nd Nephi, I thought of this scripture as these young men were singing. For he said, “He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black or white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (v. 33). I think the question then, comes to us: If our Heavenly Father has said through his prophet that all are alike unto Him—there’s no distinction, everyone is equal—then we have to ask ourselves the question: Are all alike unto me? Do I treat everyone the same? Do I strictly adhere to the same teaching?

President Monson has said so aptly: “Along your pathway of life, you will observe that you are not the only traveler. There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.”

You know, during the last 22 years, the Church has reached out in a very vigorous way, worldwide, to assist people. Now, it has been a real success. It has been a wonderful thing to do. And as was mentioned, the Church has reached out in 167 countries. I’ve had the privilege of being in 87 of those countries, and I have found that the members of the Church there have made a difference in the lives of their neighbors and friends.

Just two or three little observations, and then I’ll show you some pictures. I’ve determined that we are successful in what we do because we are part of the inspired Welfare Services Program of the Church. The whole essence of welfare is self-reliance—that we go to school, that we learn, that we support ourselves, that we take care of our own needs. And then we turn around and we reach out as far as we can to help others. So the Church is successful in its emergency response and its humanitarian work because we adhere to the same principles as Welfare Services. With our storehouses, with our supplies, with our members that are so willing to donate time and effort, we can reach out at lightning speed. When some organizations are determining what they might do or what the needs are, we’ve responded. We’ve been able to place trucks of goods just outside the footprint of a hurricane, and then have been able to move in immediately.

Ken Hackett, who is a good friend of mine and executive director of the Catholic Relief Services worldwide, said to me once, “Wherever we go, the Mormons are always there, and they’re usually there before we are.”

I said, “Can I quote you?” and he says, “Yes. I think you’ll quote me whether I say you can or not.” We are there, and we’re grateful to be there. And President Monson and others are generous, as the resources of the Church are established, so that we can do that. And the members of the Church are so very, very generous.

The assistance that we do worldwide doesn’t come from a government grant we receive or from other funds. It comes just from members of the Church across the world donating just a little extra—first of all donating as they should to the fast offering funds of the Church, and then donating a little extra to the Humanitarian Fund. And those little extras go together to allow us to respond in a very effective way, very often and usually not with cash directly, but in kind and assistance as it happens. We have distributed hygiene kits and school kits and quilts and blankets and food boxes and medical supplies.

The second observation I have made is that everything we do has a spirit that goes to the end of the line. How do I know that? Because I have been there. I have had the privilege of representing you in the distribution of these goods on the other end of the line. And as you give a hygiene kit to someone in need, there’s a spirit to it. Besides the toothpaste and the bar of soap and other things that are in it, there’s a spirit that carries all the way to the end of the line, because of the sacrifice of Church members making it possible.

The third observation is that people around the world are grateful for what is done for them. People want to care for themselves. Most people aren’t asking for a handout, and people are very, very grateful. They have said, “Will you please go home and thank those that have made the difference?” So you’re part of that group that I would say thank you to for making the difference.

President Marion G. Romney gave a very wonderful quote when he said, “There’s an interdependence between those who have and those who have not, and the process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. Both are sanctified.”

So we have the givers and we have the receivers, and both are sanctified and both are edified. I’d like to tell you a little bit about the givers and a little bit about the receivers. Out at the Humanitarian Center—and if you haven’t been there, particularly if you’re from another country or out of state, sometime you ought to have a tour and just see the items that come together and the things that go out. They’re packaged, and there’s a message that they come from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t put proselyting packets in it; we don’t put invitations to attend meetings. It’s just pure humanitarian help. Of course we hope that this will help people come to Christ, and that they could receive the saving ordinances. But we don’t do anything as an ulterior motive. It’s an Ammon approach. It’s feeding the sheep. It’s tending the horses, and then waiting when the king calls you and the work goes forward. We have so many that do so much.

There’s a little note came on this quilt: “Hi. We’re from Ivins, Utah. This is a little town [they said] that’s about the size of your family pet. It’s down near St. George. But we’re some of the nicest guys that live in the state of Utah. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We worked long and hard on this quilt. We got poked by needles and cut by scissors, but we did it to help people in need. We hope this makes a difference.”

And it does make a difference. Young Women make quilts. Do you know, we have shipped literally thousands of quilts. A blanket is a wonderful gift, but the quilt carries a message all the way to the end of the line. I remember one time out to the Humanitarian Center of seeing another little note on a quilt that had the most clashing colors of red and orange I had ever seen. A little boy had penned a note and he said, “Whoever gets this quilt, I hope you like it because I picked out the material all by myself.” There is a spirit that really goes to the end of the line as these things happen.

I remember one time out to the Humanitarian Center helping a woman in the front door, and I said, “What have you brought us today?”

She said, “Thirty-eight baby blankets, and I made them all this week.” She said, “I’ve sewed and I’ve sewed and I’ve sewed. My husband went on a trip. It’s an addiction. I wish he would have taken the sewing machine cord. Oh, not really.” And then she just drops them on the counter and out she goes.

I was there when another wonderful group of sisters was there and I stepped over to them. I said, “What have you brought?”

They said, “We want to tell you about what happened at home first.” And then they said, “We are the stake Relief Society presidency in central Utah, in the little town of Genola, Goshen Utah Stake. And they said, “We’ve put a quilt on every Tuesday morning at our stake center and anybody who wants to come in and put in a few stitches or catch up on a little bit of gossip or anything, we’re just grateful to have them stop by.”

“But,” they said, “there’s a special sister in our stake that we wanted to come. She was depressed. She was discouraged. She would hardly leave home. She wouldn’t get up and get dressed. It was a challenge for her and a challenge for her family. We said, ‘Come over and help us.’ She said, ‘Oh, I think I’d ruin the quilt.’

“So after about the third time, she said, ‘Okay, I’ll come and I’ll watch.’ So we sent the word out to all of the sisters that we knew were regulars, ‘When you come and you quilt, just let those pieces of yarn lay, don’t pick them up, because we think we have somebody that will pick up the yarn.’”

And then they said they asked her to do that, and she said, “Well, I guess I could do that.” And so she picked up the yarn, and then she became a regular yarn picker-upper, and then later she began to quilt.

Do you know, a few months later I saw that same group of sisters out to the Humanitarian Center and I said, “How’s my sister that you’ve been helping out?” I never knew her name.

They said, “Oh, she’s just wonderful. She’s moved from our community now, but she still sends packages back of goods to come into the Humanitarian Center.” What we do to help others blesses us. It makes a difference for us, doesn’t it?

The school kits have been a wonderful gift. I remember one time taking the ambassador for Kenya and his wife through the Humanitarian Center. She took the school kit and dumped it all out, pencils and paper and scissors and erasers. She said, “I wish I could have had one of these when I went to elementary school under a tree in Kenya. Would you send one of these over for every student in Kenya?” Well, we send out about half a million a year of these.

I don’t know if we have anyone here from Haiti, but Haiti’s a country with a lot of challenges. The minister of education from Haiti was here at the Humanitarian Center. She saw the school kits. She had an idea. She went home and she talked to our area leaders, and she said, “Could we have school kits?” We’ve shipped 100,000 school kits to Haiti. And then we’ve shipped the components of another 100,000 kits so that our members of the Church in Haiti can have the privilege of putting them together and getting them out, so that we can have that kind of a young man, who doesn’t have paper and pencils, to have something to work with.

Isn’t it marvelous that we are able to reach out? We provide food. We’ve done a lot of food boxes, particularly with the hurricanes that we’ve had lately. These are groups that come together and box food, and as that box of food is opened up, they realized that it is often product that has been produced on our farms, has been canned in our canneries, has been boxed in our storehouses and it’s been given to them. And there’s a spirit that goes all the way to the end of the line.

I want to show you about some of the other things that we do. Let me tell you just one story, and then we’ll talk about the measles campaign. These boxes of food are reminding me of an experience that we had in El Salvador not long ago—oh, several years ago. There was an earthquake in El Salvador. We have sixteen stakes, or we did at that time, members of the Church in El Salvador, and many, many in need. Following the lead of area leaders and the approval of the Brethren here, we set out an airlift of food boxes and hygiene kits to El Salvador. Then the word came back to us from a man by the name of Roberto Kriete, chairman of the board of Taka Airlines, the regional airlines in Central America, where he said, “Anything you need to get into El Salvador, you take to my terminal in the Los Angeles Airport, and we’ll bring it down, space available.”

That was a wonderful offer. Airlifts are expensive. So we began to put pallets down there, and they began to put them on their planes, and it went down and it blessed members of the Church and it helped the community, and several months later I was invited into El Salvador along with a member of the Area Presidency, at an appreciation dinner for those that had done a lot to help with the earthquake. And as I was there representing the Church, my fortune was that I was seated right next to Roberto Kriete.

I said, “Mr. Kriete, we are so grateful for what you did to help us get our goods into El Salvador. Do you know that you took in the equivalent of seven truckloads of goods for us?”

He said, “I know that.”

I said, “You also have to know that there was a little bit of jealousy with some other humanitarian organizations, that you were favoring us.”

He said, “I know that as well.”

I said, “Why would you do us the honor?”

He said, “Three reasons: First,” he said, “when you brought that first planeload of goods into El Salvador, they brought me a hygiene kit and they brought me a box of food. And I looked at it, and I said this is exactly what our people need right now. I knew I would be bringing what they need and I wouldn’t be hauling junk on the airlines.”

I said, “What’s the second reason?”

He said, “Well, the second reason is kind of personal. My family and I landed in Las Vegas, rented a mini-van, saw the sites up through Utah, went to Yellowstone, flew back to El Salvador. No one really knew who we were. But as we crisscrossed across the state of Utah and elsewhere, people were so friendly that even my children started to say, ‘Well, Dad, it’s those friendly Mormons again, isn’t it?’”

And I thought, I thank the Lord for all the friendly Mormons across the state of Utah, and the assistance we give.

I said, “What’s your third reason?”

He said, “Well, that’s the most important of all. My third reason is Sam Pace.”

And I said, “Who is Stan Pace?”

“Well, he’s one of you that walks the walk. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He’s a consultant with a company that helped me restructure the airlines. He’s a marvelous man. He’s a good father. I think he helped me restructure my family more than anything else. I would have done it all for Sam Pace.”

And I thought, I am so grateful for members of the Church that make these kinds of opportunities happen, that we were able to build that kind of friendship and that kind of assistance.

Let me tell you about the measles campaign. You know, this has been a really exciting experience. We want healthy children around the world, and about the year 2000, the World Health Organization said, “You may not hear about measles in the United States very much anymore, but there are 47 countries around the world where we still need to get children vaccinated.” Only about 50% were vaccinated, and it was resulting in about 900,000 worldwide deaths from measles, from the most vaccine-preventable disease there is. And so World Health and Red Cross and UNICEF and other organizations came to the Church and said, “Would you help fund vaccinating children—it’s going to cost about a dollar a vaccination—so that we can catch up around the world and get children vaccinated, and we can cut this mortality rate from about 900,000 a year to less than 100,000 in a ten-year period.”

I went to Zambia at the direction of the Brethren and observed this, and recommended that we do it. But then the most wonderful part of it all was that when President Hinckley approved this, with the vision of a prophet, he said, “Let’s not only put money towards doing this, but wherever we have members of the Church, let’s have them be a voice in their community of telling others that we can vaccinate our children. Can they help get the word out?”

And so, five years later, 35-some-odd countries later, 60,000 Church volunteers have helped get the word out. They’ve marched in parades, we hired a town crier in Benin to get the word out, our members in Nigeria put the aprons on and helped man the vaccination posts, other members put on a badge and started going out door to door. We have had thirty couples go out in Africa on a short-term basis and organize members of the Church, because we want it to be a local initiative of the Church that they do. We had the Primary children sing to us in Nigeria, and then all roll their sleeves up and receive their measles shots. And it’s not very much fun.

But the Church has made a real difference. In Benin you receive your vaccination card, and in Nigeria and many other places around the world your thumb is painted to show that you have been vaccinated. It has made a marvelous difference.

I can think enough to suggest that maybe we put money towards it. But I’m grateful for President Hinckley and the Brethren who said, “Let’s put our members to doing this.” It was reported in meetings I was at a month ago that there were 198,000 deaths in 2007. We have dropped the mortality rate on an annual basis from 900,000 worldwide to 200,000, and we’re with them for the haul of going on down. There’s another spot or two, to show you where this is happening outside of Africa as this has been done in Mongolia.

But you know what? Again, it’s the givers and receivers. The givers—our youth and others in Mongolia as they put up posters, they got the word out. They were unified. They came away with a great blessing.

And then President Hinckley was always saying to us, and President Monson since then, “Now, what percentage of our own children are vaccinated?” Well, you can’t go give the message and not have your own children vaccinated, so it’s been a great work. Mongolia, can you see those twins? We don’t want to lose either one of those twins.

The Philippines has a lot of strength to it and so we had a humanitarian couple that had worked in Africa go in and do several days’ training, and then they had couples from all across the Philippines that organized 10,000 young adults—10,000 like you—that did just this. They put on a yellow vest that said, “Mormon Helping Hands,” and started out to tell families with children to get the message out. And World Health and many other organizations have come back and said, “We couldn’t have done it without you. We can provide the vaccine, we can do surveillance, we can be cautious, we can do everything. But if we don’t get the people out, we can’t be successful.”

That’s just one of the things that the Church has been involved with and it has been an exciting forum.

You know, I wanted to share with you that a year ago, we saw the Ohio Midwest flooding. In the town of Findlay, Ohio near Toledo we met Bishop Jones. He was a marvelous leader with vision. He called on the leaders in Cleveland to come in and help out. As they came in and began to pick up and clean up, one man said to the group that was there, “You’re not from here, are you?”

They said, “No, we’re from the Cleveland area.”

He said, “You wouldn’t know that I’m the Methodist minister in this town, would you?”

They said, “No, sir, we wouldn’t.”

He said, “But I lost something special that I intended on reading—it was given to me by a couple of your young men—in my flood. And I was wondering if any of you could get me another copy of the Book of Mormon.” And then they worked and helped him and he said, “You know, I am so impressed with you folks that I’ve got to ask for a Sunday off so I can come to your meetings.”

They went to another place, and they helped an elderly man clean his home, and as they came out they saw a flag in a tree. With Scout training, those young men and the young women too said, “Let’s retire the colors.” So they called the man out and they brought the flag, tattered and torn, down and they pulled it out and folded it and put it into a triangle and handed him his flag as the last thing they did. They said, “We all left with tears in our eyes.”

I want to share with you just a few of the other things that we’ve done in the last year. Peru, in the area of Pisco about three hours south of Lima, had a devastating earthquake. Fifteen thousand homes shook down within a few minutes. We are in the process of building 400 homes for Church members, where they’re doing a lot of work. But as soon as this happened, Mrs. Garcia, the First Lady, had been here and toured the Humanitarian Center and had attended General Conference. She got a hold of the area presidency and wanted to know if we could provide some of the medical supplies that she had seen at the Humanitarian Center. So we flew in medical supplies and hygiene kits. But the most marvelous thing again were the members of the Church. Members of 23 stakes in Lima came out to help brothers and sisters and neighbors and many others, first of all to make sure and rescue all the survivors, then to help bury the dead, then to help them into provisional tents and other shelters. And then, to rebuild homes with the few dollars that are given by the Church and a lot of labor that is given by the home recipients, making sure that it has the rebar and the other things that are needed. You see the final product of stalwart, good members of the Church, with a little home that had been rebuilt where they had lost their home. It’s been a marvelous thing to see what we’ve done.

Some of you are from southern California. You remember the fires, the devastating fires across San Diego and up in Running Springs and up above San Bernardino and other places. In the Poway California Stake, just to help out, they decided they could make a sifter for all the families that lived—members and nonmembers—within the confines of their stake, so that they could help them sift through the ashes. It paid off. I was out where two sister missionaries found a one-carat diamond in their sifting, and the woman was ecstatic to think that it had been found.

Our youth had a great experience as they did that. We distributed about 18,000 cleaning kits, and in that cleaning kit are brushes and liquids and other items that are needed, and then people were around right behind to help clean up. The wonderful experiences that happened as this occurred. You know, one member of the Church said, “Our wonderful volunteers shoveled, cut, carried, sorted, sifted, raked and swept. They did it with smiling faces. Most were filthy, sufficiently sore and very wet. I thought I knew the Saints. I’ve taken the sacrament with them. I’ve gone to the temple with them. But now I know them.”

Who are you—the giver or the receiver? That’s the missionaries from the California Carlsbad California Mission. Can you see someone there you know? Is there someone here? Step up and show us who it is. That’s exciting. I was showing this to a group that came out to the Humanitarian Center from BYU—Idaho, and one of the sisters said, “Well, I’m there.” Right there. Our missionaries are absolutely loved and appreciated and we get so many notes and thoughts.

You know, we hadn’t even finished with the fires of California and we had the flooding in Centralia, Washington south of Tacoma. Again, the cleaning kits, the volunteers that were out, the experiences that were there, the mud, the filth. But there we were, involved in the excitement that went on.

And then we shift forward a little bit and maybe you remember in the spring, the earthquake in China, and you think, “China? Can we help in China?” Of course we can, and the Church wants to be there and the Brethren have the vision and they approved it. The members from Hong Kong all went down and across the border out of Hong Kong and put together 10,000 living kits. And then these living kits, which are some food and some other basic items that were put together, were transported into the area of need. And when our priesthood leaders went into that part of China, they were allowed to be there and to help with the distribution to the end of the line. We didn’t do it for the TV camera that was there; we didn’t do it for any other purpose than just reaching out to the individual need. It changes hearts. It changes minds. It changes feelings. It helps those in need. It’s a win-win.

And then, more recently, we helped with the 2008 hurricanes that we’ve gone through—Ike and the rest of the family. Our chapels have become temporary bishop’s storehouses. Do we help those who are not of our faith if they come to our door? Absolutely. At the Pine Trails building in Houston, we couldn’t get our truck unloaded and we had a line of people a block long. We helped them all. We were there and provided other supplies. But again, we had the volunteers that came and the missionaries that were involved. And as they scrubbed and they helped, they made a difference. One set of missionaries told me that in the Texas Houston Mission that as they finished their work, the wife said, “You just have made my husband his happy 82nd birthday.” So they all stood around in their yellow t-shirts and sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

Then at another place, they were cleaning out on the perimeter of a property and a man came out. They asked permission to come onto his property to clean, and they began to work away at it. And then he came out with a pen and a pad of paper and he said, “I want all of your names and all of your addresses. I just happen to be the mayor of Katy, Texas, and I’m going to issue a proclamation recognizing the Mormons and the work you have done in this community. And I want each of you missionaries to have a personal copy of that proclamation.

And then another group of missionaries said, “Well, we had an interesting experience. We asked a woman if we could clean up her yard, and she looked us over and said, ‘Yes, if you will pick up every twig and you will clean it perfectly.’ And they thought, ‘Boy, she’s snippy. She’s difficult to deal with.’”

She went into the house and they cleaned and they worked and then she came out and offered to pay them. She thought she had hired them. And they said, “No. We’re missionaries. We’re just here to help out.” And there was great satisfaction as that happened.

Just before I read President Monson’s quote, Sandra and Don Barnes said, “The soap and towels and toothpaste were such a welcome sight in Slidell, Louisiana. Our friends who are members of your church have always been there for us, but they couldn’t be this time, so you came instead.”

And then another woman wrote. She said, “I want to thank you for all you have done for us. The box of canned goods was great. I just had soup and the Son is still shining.” Son, S-o-n. Another person said, “I looked at the hygiene kit and I looked at the bar of soap. I’m a Baptist. I wondered if I washed with it if I’d wash the Baptist off of me and make me a Mormon.”

And then another person wrote, “I’m speechless. God answered my prayer today. Tears rolled down my cheeks as your church members cleaned away the debris. I’m a nurse. I’m used to giving, not receiving. What they did reminded me of what Christ did for me on the cross. I can’t convey my gratitude to you.”

So striving together we can feed children, we can provide hope, we can preserve lives. And it again is that adage, the great teaching of our Savior: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these…”—who have you done it unto?—“ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). I bear witness to you that the work of reaching out to people around the world by the Church in a humanitarian way by the members of the Church in a sweet, wonderful way, the donations that come, the things that go out, make a difference. Thank you, each one of you, for who you are. You’re here to prepare so that you can have those opportunities of giving throughout life. But don’t forget as you’re here as students that you can give, you can be a humanitarian. You can be kind to each other. You can reach out to those that are in need. As you do so, you’ll feel better. Life will be better, and your testimony of the Gospel will be strengthened.

I bear witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the prophetic calling of President Monson, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Do Good; Do More Than Just Ponder on It

11 Nov. 2008

Transcript

Do Good; Do More Than Just Ponder on It

 
Do Good; Do More Than Just Ponder On It
D&C 6:13:  “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
 
Let me repeat, “If thou wilt do good.”  
 
When I was working as a stake clerk about a month ago I heard a little girl angrily tell her Dad in the chairs outside my office, “I’m never going to be good again.” I wanted to tell her how important being good was. It reminded me of an experience I had when I worked in a restaurant as a waiter in my sophomore year in high school. The working environment was not always the best. However, there were a lot of good people that worked there. One of the waitresses was getting married in the Washington D.C. temple. On her last night while we were cleaning up she told me that we would probably never see each other again. The last thing she said to me was “Bob, be good.” That small statement has stayed with me and often I have used it on my own kids and told them to be good.
 
To be good you must do good.
 
D&C 6:34: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.” I can testify that in this life earth and hell will come against you, and the Lord will protect you if you are serving him and doing what is right. I have seen Him protect me and my family. Do good to your family, friends, and co-workers and the Lord will support you.
 
Most of you have very busy schedules; you’re going to class, you’re studying, you’re working, you’re attending your Church meetings, socializing, raising a family, and on and on. This may shock some of you but most of you will find that life gets busier rather than slower after college. But remember this; there is always time to do good. There is always time to say good things.
 
I would like to emphasis 7 important ways that we can do more than just ponder on doing good.
 
  1. Love God and testify of Him in word and deed
A couple of weeks ago I was in Kissimmee First Ward's fast and testimony meeting. A girl around five or six years old walked up to the pulpit twice, panicked and ran away. The third time she approached the pulpit her mom was with her. Her mom told her what to say, which was, “I’d like to bear my testimony.” The girl couldn’t say that. She froze. Finally she said, “I love Jesus," and she went to sit down. No one in that meeting would ever deny that she loved Jesus. Her testimony added to ours. No matter who you are or how old you are, there is power in testimony. If you have pondered on your testimony and not borne it lately, do something about it.
 
Some of you may remember my son David Wiser who attended LDS Business College last year. He left on his mission to the El Salvador Brazil Mission in April. He wrote to us about how difficult learning the Portuguese language was for him. He was having a hard time in the Brazil MTC. Bev and I wrote him and told him that the Lord had called him to that mission. We told him that he wouldn’t be graded in the mission field, like he was graded in college and at school.
We also told him that as long as he kept the commandments and worked his hardest, the Lord would bless him there. He was still nervous about his language, even after our letter. We told him he couldn’t fail. In his letters he continued to mention his continuing struggles with the language.
 
His first week out of the mission home down there, he was in the field with a senior companion. They had just talked about baptism to one of their investigators. This investigator was a young man; he didn’t want to give up his friends, he didn’t want to give up his lifestyle. That’s why he said he didn’t want to be baptized. And then David's senior companion turned to David and said to David, “Would you bear your testimony?” So in Portuguese, David bore his testimony and the Spirit was there, and the investigator felt the Spirit. He said, “I want to be baptized.”
 
This was David's first baptism and he no longer worries much about the language. In D&C 84:88, “For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” The Lord helps us when we do his work.
 
In your home, at Church and at college, life is better when (4 Nephi 1:15) “And it came to pass that there were no contentions in the land because of the love of god which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”
 
  1. Ponder on it, then ask for the Lord’s help
Even prayer requires action on our part. We must study on the issue before praying.
 
D&C 9:7-8:  “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
 
  1. Read and ponder the words of God, then act.
One of the best examples of this is in Joseph Smith—History 1:13-15, and I will pull out some extracts.
 
“I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God.” 
Joseph not only pondered on this scripture, he decided to put into action God's words. In verses 13 and 14, “I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’… so, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.”
 
When Joseph found himself alone in the woods, he kneeled down and offered up the desires of his heart. It is interesting that at the time Joseph went beyond pondering about good and put into action his plan, the adversary attacked him. Then later the Lord came to his rescue.
 
In verses 16 and 17, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,”—I think of this in Spanish as I read it and so it makes it kind of difficult—“which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
 
Heavenly Father called Joseph by name and he knows each one of you by name. He cares about each one of us. He will change us and mold us as we put into practice the words of God.
 
I know of an individual that felt he had lost his testimony. He was in high school. At a certain point he decided to try to gain a testimony. He started to read his scriptures on his own. He read about hope in Christ, and this hope in Christ really affected his heart. He decided he didn’t know or have the testimony of Christ, but there was a hope in Christ. He started building back his testimony, continuing to read the scriptures. It took time but he received a larger testimony than he had before. Eventually he went on to serve a mission.
 
True disciples of Christ do more than ponder; they act on the word of God.
 
  1. Accept callings from the Lord, and then follow the Spirit.
When I was in the Bishopric of the University 42nd Ward there was a student from back East. She heard about LDS Business College and felt the impression that she should come to school here. She accepted the Lord’s prompting to come here. Her boyfriend came with her. As she faithfully attended Church and worked on becoming a better person, the Lord gave her more and more responsibilities, more and more callings, and she did all of these with a great spirit.
She also continued to work and go to school during all of this. Her boyfriend only seemed to be in Church because of her. It became apparent over time that her testimony was growing while her boyfriend’s was not. He hardly attended Church and his career appeared to be going nowhere. Finally, she broke up with him. She ended up marrying an active member of the Church with a strong testimony who knew where he was going. She followed the spirit on little things—the first impression, the prompting to come to LDS Business College, that eventually lead to her finding the right person to marry.
 
In the October 2008 general conference, President [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf counseled us that, “Every priesthood holder stands at a unique place and has an important task that only he can perform…..
 
You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way” (“Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign, November 2008, p. 53).
 
  1. Love your family and demonstrate that love.
When my eldest daughter was around five years old I was in an elder’s quorum meeting, and  we were reading a scripture in D&C 68: 25:  “And again, inasmuch as parents have children  in Zion, …, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
 
I thought, “That is only three years away.” I brought the issue up with my wife, Bev. We wondered if we were doing enough. We were always trying to have scripture study, but with a young family it was very difficult. We felt our responsibilities as parents and loved our children. How could my wife and I make sure we taught our children everything we should? We knew the Book of Mormon contained all the doctrines to obtain salvation, so we decided to make daily scripture study from the Book of Mormon a priority. Even while we were building our home when our children were small, I still remember reading our scriptures by flashlight with our children nestled in their blankets. Some our best family times together were when we were reading the scriptures.
 
It is by the Word of God that you can influence family the most as described in Alma 31:5: “The preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just; yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them.”
 
Keeping the family close to the gospel helps the family receive the blessings of the Lord for generations to come. My mother and father were good and loving parents—they are good and loving parents. My wife was endowed with a loving spirit and insightfulness. As a team we tried to create a loving environment at home. A couple of years after my daughter moved away she came and talked to me, and she told me that she didn’t realize how unloving and unforgiving the real world was, because our home had been a celestial haven from the world. She now works on creating a loving environment for her children.
 
When my wife and I were away from home on a recent trip we called my daughter. After talking to her for a while, Clarissa, my two-year-old granddaughter asked to talk to us. She told me several times, “I love you, Grandpa.” That made our trip better than before. I care far more about my children and grandchildren than my self, my career or my hobbies.
 
Be kind to one another. Remember your family and friends’ birthdays. Pray for each other. Help family members succeed. Provide good memories. Do things together. The best way to end each day is by telling family members that you love them. My wife did a great job of this. It was hard for me at first, but she has a way of loving people, and she told our children enough that she loved us that it’s become a habit. Even now that our kids are married, they’ll still, when they leave, say “I love you.” That’s important.
 
One of the greatest challenges in this life is determining what is really important. In obituaries and funerals that I have read and attended, where you work is briefly mentioned. Families tend to describe characteristics of their loved ones and the times they had together. They remember acts of service and acts of love.
 
Your careers are important, but don’t let them get in the way of having a close and loving family. I was told a story about this accounting partner of a large firm who spent endless hours working his way up the organization. He had not spent the time with his family. He finally obtained money and position and now planned to make it up with his kids. He was just starting to spend time with his teenagers when a tragic hunting accident took his life. Don’t wait to build family relations.
 
Even though cultures vary throughout the world, there is one thing that we have in common. We love our families and we love to talk about our families. If you are away from your family here at the school, attend your family home evening groups and support each other. Be like family to other students within your student wards. Make a difference now and always.
 
  1. Think about others and do something for them.
My wife and I were talking about how, no matter how much you believe in the gospel, you can not make someone else believe it. They have to gain their own testimony. You can't make them read the scriptures; you can’t make them go to church. But you can love them and you can encourage them. We should help others feel a part of what is going on. This life passes by fast and we never know when God will call us home. Make time for others.
 
Often members of the Church do not ask for help when they should. I have an example where I did the same thing. Some years ago I was laying sod in my back yard. I had not asked for help and my sons were not around. My wife and one daughter were helping me. The sod was shipped from Idaho and it would die soon. Because our house is on the side of a hill, hauling sod was strenuous. As the day went on I realized that I wasn’t as young as I used to be. We didn’t have much left in us. We were kind of leaning on the ground, holding some pieces of sod, not doing much. I was even wondering if I might have a heart attack. Out of nowhere the neighbor’s 16-year-old daughter came over, looked at us and said, “You should not be trying to do all of this by yourselves.” And she started to help us. She didn’t ask if we wanted help; she just started to help. Soon her dad and some others showed up. This was a service we will not forget. The interesting thing is when my wife mentioned the experience to this girl, who now is a young adult, she only vaguely remembers it. The little things we do for others may mean a lot more to them than to us.
 
We had a service committee in the University 42nd ward. There was a student who was always at all the service projects and eventually the Lord called her to be over the service committee. She loved service and her countenance showed it. When she took over the position, more people seemed to want to join the service committee than ever before, and it was just amazing the difference she made. Each of us can make a difference like that.
 
Brooklyn, of the LDS Business College class of 2003 wrote, “The classes at the College are small and intimate, something that was so beneficial for me. I felt like my professors were investing themselves in my success—they had the time and were willing to sit down with me and mentor me. I felt like I was cared about and that I was being cheered on.” She wanted to give back a little and ran for vice president of finance on the student council. In that position she helped create a campaign called, “Learn to Live, Start to Give.” She said, “I became impassioned! I wanted to help provide others with scholarships so they would have the same opportunities…at the College. I wanted the students to learn to give with an open heart.” I witnessed her outstanding service. Each one of you can achieve things you never dreamed of, with the Lord’s help.
 
Today is Veterans’ Day. It is dedicated to those who have served our country. We have at least one student in Afghanistan that I know about. When he finishes his tour in Afghanistan he plans to return to school here. I would like to thank him, my dad, and our nation’s veterans for fighting for our freedom.
 
I would like to relate the importance of small acts of service by using the following scripture in Alma 37:6-7: “But behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” We can make a bigger impact on someone’s life through small acts of kindness than we will ever know.
 
Consider through the holiday helping someone in need. Listen to someone that needs to talk to you. Thank others. Help someone with their studies. Find out if your friends have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
 
Often we think of all of the good things we want to do, but we do not leave time to do these things. If we schedule time to do good things, the Lord will prompt us on what we can do. There is always time to serve the Lord your God.
 
  1. Plan your career and life, and then move boldly.
Do more than ponder on what you will do in your career and life; move boldly. As you think about what you want to do for your career and community, prepare yourself. Each of you must boldly pick your career and work at it as hard as you can. Even if you change your career, you should do your best. I was going to be an engineer, and when I was going to Utah State I was two years through the worst classes of engineering and then I took a business course. I loved the business course, so I changed my degree. I have never regretted my decision. So we need to be ready for change, even if we have plans.
 
One day a new student custodian—this was in the other building—showed up in my office to empty my garbage. He said boldly and friendly “Hi,” and appeared to be enjoying working and what he was doing. I saw him often over the next month. When a student accounting clerk position opened up, he applied. Many others had noticed his attitude, and he got the job. He went from there and continued to move up in the organization because of his service attitude and how hard he worked. In fact, he even took accounting courses to get better. During that time he stayed active in the gospel, obtained his bachelor’s degree, and married. Often while moving up, he did make mistakes. It was how he handled them that made a difference. We all make mistakes. We must learn from the experiences and move on.
 
Administration, faculty and staff at the College often must move boldly after studying out an issue. In some cases we may find we must make slight or major adjustments in direction to follow the will of our Lord. As we were planning the move to the new campus, BYU Salt Lake Center personnel asked us if they could share our bookstore. The sharing of the bookstore would give them more space for other academic needs. We had to assess whether the existing space that was already planned just solely for our College could provide for both. This new plan would also save the Church money. After planning and coordinating, we came to an agreement and a design that satisfied the needs of both campuses. We plan as well as we can and then let Heaven take care of the rest.
 
On October 15, 2008 while receiving a Presidential Citation at LDS Business College, President Henry B. Eyring told us to “move boldly, but expect correction” from God. His counsel applies to every one of us that are either attending or working at the College. Let me just repeat that: “Move boldly, but expect correction” of God.
 
Lehi’s family moved boldly when they left their homes, possessions, and riches in Jerusalem. His family moved boldly when they moved into tents in the wilderness, which was mostly desert. They moved boldly when they went back to obtain the brass plates. Before leaving to obtain the brass plates, Nephi said to his father, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). They boldly crossed the desert. They found the land of Bountiful, then they boldly built ships. They boldly crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The Lord asked them to do these things, but it still took boldness to do the Lord’s will. The Lord blessed them and often corrected them. How many of us are ready to make such bold moves and sacrifices when asked by the Lord?
 
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.” Let’s move boldly and expect correction. I testify that correction helps us improve.
 
In D&C 6:33: “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.”
 
In conclusion, let me read that first scripture, D&C 6:13: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” Plan to do good, and then follow the promptings of the Spirit. Let’s ponder the good things we should do and then let’s do them. Our testimonies will grow as we do good things.
 
I testify that the Lord will support us as we do his will. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He supports us in what we do. I also testify that He will mold us into something we never dreamed of, something better than we could have ever been, if we’ll just do good and follow the commandments. I also testify that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet of God who directs this Church, that Joseph Smith restored the true church here on the face of the earth, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and will help us become better people. I know this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 

In Concert with the Lord’s Purposes and Designs

18 Nov. 2008

Transcript

In Concert with the Lord’s Purposes and Designs

 

My brethren and sisters, it’s wonderful to be with you today. I enjoyed this beautiful reminder in music of the necessity for unity in our lives, among each other, in our communities. Certainly we have seen over the past number of months over the elections here in the United States a lot of divisiveness, a lot of nasty things being said. It’s time to heal, not only politically, but for us to be reminded as this helped us to remember, it’s good to be united with each other with things that are holy and good.

It was wonderful for me to come in and greet a number of you today. I’ve known you in Moscow and in the Ukraine, in missions and other places. It reminds me that we have to be nice to everybody all the time. I have to say that when I served as the president of the Europe East Area, Elder Uchtdorf was my counselor, and then when I served as president of the Utah South Area, he was also my counselor. And now that he’s President Uchtdorf, I can tell you that I’m very happy I was nice to him.

Anyway, it’s wonderful to be with you. It’s a great pleasure for me to be with young men and women who are so anxiously engaged in education and learning, and bettering your life. Even with increasing numbers of students in universities and colleges across the world, where so many are having opportunities now that they’ve not had before, you still are among the great minority of young people who have opportunities for education, for the opportunity to express yourselves, to study what you wish to study, to pursue a life you wish to pursue. And I hope that each of you spends time on your knees each day thanking Heavenly Father for the opportunity for education and learning.

Education is the disciplining of your mind and spirit. I would like this morning just to reflect on a few thoughts regarding the pursuit of education in our lives, both temporally and spiritually. For me, education is the opportunity to discipline our minds and our spirit. Its very process is the unfolding and the discovery of the potential that lies in each one of us, and certainly in each of you. The education of your mind, the unfolding of your self and your potential both temporal and spiritual to a determined purpose is undoubtedly the hardest thing you’ll ever do in this life. Education is hard work. It requires dedication and focus on what it is you wish to achieve.

Now I’d like to discuss a couple of principles with you that I have learned through my life. I have spent a good deal of time on campuses in my younger years, not so much since I became more involved in my calling now. But I look back on my years of education. My wife and I and my family were in school for 12 years after we got married, and it was a long road, and I learned lots of things of value. I hope then, today, to pass some of these on to you.

The first thing that I wanted to spend just a minute with you on is the fact that each of us, each man and each woman, is a unique being. No one comes into this life with what is called tabularaza—that is a blank page, a blank mind. We each bring with us forgotten experiences, inclinations, gifts, talents, abilities that have been developing since the moment of our creation. Our mortal experience, of course, draws upon them, and our education enhances and fortifies and further disciplines them. One of the great challenges of our lives is to discover what is the unique part of us and to develop it.

The Lord revealed that “to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11-12). But each of us, you and I, each has something that is uniquely ours—something that makes us uniquely us. And one of the great pitfalls of life, for me, is to think that we have to be just exactly like someone else. When we envy others their gift, or feel that somehow we must have one exactly like it, that someone is more gifted than I—then it seems to me that we miss the beauty of our own gift. We miss the beauty and strength and power of that which Heavenly father put in us.

We can spend entirely too much time acting or speaking or dressing like someone else, when we ought to be focusing on our own abilities and our own talents and developing them. This process takes courage, as you know. It also takes a willingness to try many things and to fail at some things along the way. It takes introspection and it takes education. But in the end, it is those who have discovered their own uniqueness and developed it who make the lasting contributions to the goodness of the world. And each of you is in the process of discovering that in yourselves.

I hope that, if you have poetry inside of you, that somehow you will bring it out. I hope that if you have music, if you have the desire to write, if you have the desire to create, if you have the desire to be the best legal secretary—whatever, it is that gift that you bring to the world. And the more you can bring that out in yourself, the more you can discipline, the more you can use it to create, then the better off we all are. And so, I want to say that each of us, you and I, has something that is uniquely ours, and to focus on that.

Secondly, I have learned that education takes both time and experience. The education of the mind is significantly more than the accumulation of knowledge, as important as that is. It is more than the accumulation of facts or figures, or even the mastery of a specific discipline. True education is beyond knowledge, understanding, or the ability to see the appropriate relationship of the various elements of knowledge, and to respect them.

For me, however, the consummate attainment of education is wisdom, or the judicious application of knowledge and understanding in our lives. Well might we follow the counsel in the book of Proverbs: “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; … Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:5-7).

The close link or bond linking knowledge and understanding and wisdom is also exemplified in a conversation that Solomon had with the Lord. “In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said…“Ask what I shall give thee” (2 Chronicles 1:7).

“Give me now wisdom and knowledge,” he said. (v. 10)

“And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself…wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee” (vv. 11-12).

Well, I don’t believe that Solomon was granted these gifts without effort on his part. Certainly he thought through the problem. I think he was a man of great power, leading a great nation, many wonderful things to do. Yet what did he ask for? It was for wisdom and for knowledge.

In our own case, the education of our minds and the acquisition of knowledge and understanding and wisdom are not achieved by two years at a college or four years, or even twelve years of higher education. The two or so years you spend here at the LDS Business College places into your hands only the foundation of knowledge for a specific and chosen discipline. But understanding and wisdom in the use of that knowledge will take you a lifetime.

I am reminded of a wonderful Russian proverb that I quote to myself all the time. It is that “We will live and learn our whole lifetime, and still die a fool.” And I just find that so wonderful to think about, because of the difficulty of acquiring for ourselves—not knowledge, but understanding and wisdom.

Thirdly, education of the mind is the product of consistent effort and personal discipline. I was interested in an article that appeared last week in USA Today. Maybe some of you saw it. I hope none of you were in it. It states that nearly one in five college seniors and 25 % of freshman say that frequently come to class without completing readings or assignments. I know that’s not you. And many of those students say they mostly still get A’s. The survey doesn’t address whether these students are lazy, busy, intimidated, bored or geniuses. Students report spending about 3 ½ hours a week preparing for each class. That’s about half what instructors expect from a typical student, and that was part of the article from USA Today. I suppose that many of the study hours may have taken place cramming for an examination, or meeting a deadline for a written report as we heard today about the conclusion of the semester now—hardly the stuff of consistent and personal effort and disciplined work, I think.

How far it is from the observation made by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not obtained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept
Were toiling upward in the night.

This kind of effort has very little to do with grades, and everything to do with the achievement of true education. I cannot resist, really, the temptation to say a word about the importance of concise and clearly written goals, as Josh Bennett reminded you today. I hope you were listening. Such goals in our lives, and in our education, bring purpose and life to our effort and discipline.

I was just on a mission tour—and many of you have served missions; others are getting ready to go—I’m continually amazed that the missionaries want to work hard, and they want to work harder, all the time working harder. And then I ask whether they have set goals to discipline their effort, whether they have something in mind to achieve by their effort. And how quickly a discussion can change when that question is asked.

I recently read an interesting study about goals that I think you will be interested in. A study was done on Yale University’s graduating class some years ago. It asked seniors a long list of questions about themselves, and three questions were about goals. They were: Do you have set goals? Do you write them down? Do you have an action plan to achieve them? Only three percent of the class answered yes to these questions. Now, you would think from Yale University, among the best of the best focused, hard-working students, that they would have well-defined, written goals. But only three percent did.

Twenty years later, a follow-up study was done. It turned out that the three percent who had said yes to goals reported that they were more happily married, were more successful in their careers, had more satisfactory family life, and had better health. But get this—97% of the net worth of that graduating class was in the hands of that three percent. The power of written goals.

And you need to put it where you can see it every day, and many times through the day, whatever your goal is, whatever you wish to obtain. You need to write it and put it on the front of your books. Put it in your books. Put it on the mirror where you shave or comb your hair. Put it on the dashboard of your car. Put it on the door before you leave. Whatever. But your ability to achieve is somehow really tightly connected with your commitment to write a goal down, put it where you can see it, and then have a plan to achieve it.

When I was finishing my dissertation, I had a hard time getting at my dissertation after my qualifying exams. I was just diverted by good things, as we were taught today about Elder Oaks. But my department chairman finally pulled me off to the side and committed me to write my dissertation by the end of the year. And when I committed to write that dissertation by the end of the year, he then told me how to achieve it. It was very simple but very powerful. He said, “You will write your dissertation by the end of the year, yes. How many months does a year have?”

Well, I was a graduate student; I knew that. I said, “Twelve.”

He said, “Then I want twelve goals. And how many weeks does each month have?”

“Four.”

“Give me four goals for each one of those twelve. And how many days?”

“Seven.”

“Then give me seven goals for each one of those four.”

What was he teaching me? He told me that if I achieved my goal today, then I would achieve my goal in a year. One of the things that is so difficult for young people to understand is that time passes quickly, and at the beginning of the semester, it seems like the end of it looks ten years off. And one day frittered away may not mean much. But it’s one day that does not bring you closer to your goals. So the power of daily goals, written down, and a plan to achieve it.

Fourthly, there must be more in your education than selfish motive. The purpose of educating your mind is to bring something into the world that is worthwhile and of service to our fellowmen. True education is never selfish. It reaches out to others.

So here are the four fundamental principles of true education: The discovery of our own unique qualities, time and experience, effort and discipline, and beneficial service to others.

I have applied these four principles to secular education, but they are equally valuable in the process relating to the education of our spirit. The Lord counseled us to “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Let’s look at these principles very briefly in the time that we have, as they relate to our spiritual growth and spiritual development or spiritual education.

First, the discovery of our own unique qualities, talents and abilities. Each of us is a son or daughter of God. This places in us wonderful potential and lofty goals. This mortal life has purpose and meaning. No less important and no less interrelated in our spiritual education than in our secular is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and wisdom, as they relate to the spiritual matters of our lives. It is certainly true that knowledge of spiritual truths can be approached by study. We are counseled often to study the scriptures and to study the words of the living prophets. However, I have come to the conclusion in my own life that study alone will not and can not bring full comprehension of spiritual matters. Some truths must be revealed to be known, and the first step in receiving such revelation is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Events in my life over the last few years, including the death of my wife, having suffered some time with cancer, and meeting a new woman with whom I can share my life—I have learned by my own experience that I am grateful for my knowledge of the plan of salvation. I am grateful for my knowledge of priesthood ordinances. But it is my faith that brought me understanding. It is my faith that brought me solace and comfort.

The writer of Proverbs points out that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). And if we desire understanding of spiritual things, then we must employ our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, the purpose of our life’s work must be in concert with the Lord’s purposes and designs for us. I think of the words He spoke to Moses: “I am the Lord God Almighty,…thou art my son,…and I have a work for thee [to do]” (Moses 1:3-6). Each of us has a work to do in this life. Each of us—each of us—has something to do that no one else can, and when we pursue it, identify it, discipline our minds to achieve it, and discipline our activities and our lives to accomplish it, then our lives are in concert with that which the Lord would have us do.

One of your College’s cultural beliefs provides the framework for the time and experience step in our spiritual education, wherein the Lord says that He gives us “line upon line, [and] precept upon precept, [and] here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30).

The Lord’s educational program for each of us is a lifelong educational process. It never ends. You may look at us on the stand and think that we are ancient, and we probably are in some ways, but I can tell you that we struggle, just as mightily as you, to bring about good things. We work just as hard on our own individual righteousness and faith, as you do because it is a lifelong pursuit that never ends. It never stops. It always grows. We never reach the end of it. And the further we go, the more expansive it becomes. The more we move down the road of life, the more wonderful things there are to see and do and understand. And so, we are involved just like you are involved. Life is to learn from, not just to endure or to experience.

Well, in effort and discipline. What about that, in our spiritual education. To Abraham, the Lord said, “We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25).

I am reminded of—just very quickly, I will share a story with you from something that happened in Moscow, in Russia. I was asked by President Packer to speak with our staff in our Moscow office about things that were troubling them, the problems they had in their life. And it was interesting to hear their responses. All of these wonderful Latter-day Saints who were temple recommend holders and often went to the temple and sacrificed much to do so—as we spoke, I understood that many of them, after their baptisms, went through a period of some inactivity, some introspection, some deciding a very critical issue. And it seems to me that every one of us must make a decision in our lives, that we will accept or not accept the standards of the gospel as our own personal standard. And this was the cause of their inactivity. They had made the decision to be baptized, but they hadn’t yet made the decision to endure to the end. Only when they made the decision, often in a difficult moment where friends or family poked fun at the Church or poked fun at them or ridiculed the standards of the gospel—only in those moments did they have to decide. Then, “Is that me? Or isn’t it? Do I accept those standards for my personal standards, or do I not? And if I do, then I must stand up. And if I don’t, then I will go away.”

That’s called enduring to the end. That’s a harder decision for me—that decision to accept for ourselves a standard of life, a standard of living, of integrity and honesty and commitment that is tested in moments of opposition and difficulty. And so effort and discipline are every bit as much a part of our spiritual education as our temporal. And of course, the purpose of our experience is to be of service to our fellowman.

Well, those are the four things that I have learned, among others, about education. It’s a difficult process. It’s a hard road that you’ve put your foot on, lifelong—one that requires your best effort.

I pray that you will be successful and above all, that you will enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process of education. It is wonderful and a great blessing to have mentors and teachers who point you to good, interesting, wonderful, powerful ideas. Take advantage of this period of time in your life. Enjoy it. Don’t run from it. Use it for the betterment of yourselves and the betterment of our world.

I leave with you my testimony that God lives, and that the Church is true. The priesthood we bear is the Holy Priesthood of God, with ordinances that open the power of the Atonement of Christ to our individual lives. I bear witness to living apostles and prophets on the earth. May we have the courage to follow them in difficult and trying times, that our lives may be blessed with peace and safety, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 


Evidences of the Savior's Love

25 Nov. 2008

Transcript

Evidences of the Savior's Love

 

One of the great blessings in my life has been the opportunity for 18 years to work with students and faculty, and I want to say that truly you are lights in my life, and I am grateful for all of you.

“I Feel My Savior’s Love” is one of my favorite songs, and today I’m going to use the words and the ideas from that song to discuss the power of the Savior’s love in our life.

The first verse talks about the first step in coming to know our Savior, and that’s recognizing His love. It reads:

I feel my Savior’s love

In all the world around me,

His spirit warms my soul

Through everything I see.

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

Often we recognize God’s love in very simple things. I grew up in Ogden, living in the foothills at the base of a mountain, and the mountains in Ogden are very different than the mountains in Salt Lake. They’re rugged rock, and the shades of the mountains vary from various colors of brown to a salmonish pink. One evening when I was about seven, I was out in my front yard playing as the sun was setting. And as it set, the light from the sunset diffused in such a way that the colors of the mountain came alive. It looked like it was vivid or alive. It glowed. And even the sky above was rose tinted. I think it was the first time I recognized something so beautiful, and even at that age I knew that that beauty was created by God. I was filled with wonder and awe and fear.

I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes, absorbing all of that beauty, and then I ran into my house to tell my mother that the end of the world was coming.

Many years later, I was working as an aide in an intellectually handicapped classroom, and we were with the children at the zoo. I was not very happy to be there because, although most of the children were very obedient and willing to do what they were told, there were a couple of them that were rebellious and very difficult to handle. We finished walking around the lower part of the zoo and we were walking slowly up the hill when I lifted my eyes, and above the trees I saw the head and neck of a giraffe. And without any warning, this powerful feeling started to envelope me. I was filled with gratitude as I realized the grace and beauty of this animal that God had created.

Now think about your own lives. What have you seen in your own life that has helped you to recognize the love of the Savior? I have shown you two very simple examples of the myriads of evidence that surround us, that show us that our Savior loves us.

In Psalms 33:5 it reads: “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” And as we begin to see and recognize with our souls as well as with our eyes the beauty of the world around us and the blessings of living in the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we open our eyes to recognize the power of the Savior and His love for us.

In Alma 36, Alma is telling his son Helaman about his miraculous conversion and rebirth. We all know that Alma was in darkness for three nights, racked with pain and torment and sorrow. But finally he remembered the words of his father about one Jesus Christ, who was coming into the world to atone for the sins of the world. Alma changed the course of his life when he, recognizing the power of the Savior, cried out within his heart, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me” (v. 18). This awareness and recognition is a necessary beginning for our own spiritual growth, and for Alma it happened very quickly. But for us it takes time and experience for the love of the Savior to sink into our hearts. As we have these experiences, they become part of the process of coming to know the Savior.

The second verse of the song reads:

I feel my Savior’s love,

His gentleness enfolds me,

And when I kneel to pray,

My heart is filled with peace.

The first time I realized the gentleness of the Savior’s love was when, just after I turned 16, I went to receive my patriarchal blessing. When I was 16, people didn’t prepare for patriarchal blessings like they do now. Today, your parents probably would have a family night, or you would talk about the blessings. You would probably fast and pray, and your parents might also. And your parents and even your brothers and sisters might go with you to the blessing. My mother gave me the address of the patriarch, and all alone after school, I walked to his house, knocked on his door, and he invited me in. I had never met him before.

He visited with me for just a moment, and then he invited me to sit on a hard, straight-backed chair, turned on an old-fashioned recording machine, and laid his hands on my head and began to bless me. As he spoke, a warm and tender feeling began to flow through my whole body. It was so intense, and yet the gentleness was so profound that silent tears ran down my cheeks. I knew God knew me. I knew God loved me, and I felt enfolded in His arms.

This verse also talks about God revealing His love through peace as we pray. About twenty years later I was studying the Book of Mormon, reading in a very thoughtful and serious way, and as I came to Ether 12:27, the words “if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness,” just stood out for me. The promise indicates that if we humble ourselves and exercise faith, weak things will become strong to us. I decided that it was time for me to face my weaknesses, and that I would pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal them to me.

My intention was to just list them all on a sheet of paper and then work on them one by one, and feel that sense of accomplishment that comes as you cross them off. So for two days I fasted and prayed. Every day I prayed several times a day. After two days there was no answer. So I ceased the fast, but I kept on praying several times for two days longer. Then, after two days, as I was driving my young daughter to her dance lessons and thinking about what I had been seeking to know, and very quietly a voice came into my mind and said, “Karen, your weaknesses will be revealed to you one by one, when you are ready.”

At that very same moment, the car filled with that same gentleness and warmth that I had felt and described before. It filled me and lifted me, and the message that came into my heart was that God loved me and accepted me for who I was at that very moment. The peace and the joy of that experience lasted for several days, because I knew how much God cared about me.

In the interpretation of Lehi’s dream, the angel asks Nephi if he knows the meaning of the Tree of Life. And Nephi says, “Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things” (1 Nephi 11:22).

And then the angel added: “Yea, and the most joyous to the soul” (v. 23).

Alma, again in Alma 36 as he was recounting his experiences of recognizing the Savior’s love, says: “Yea, I was harrowed up [no more] by the memory of my sins…and oh, what joy and marvelous light I did behold…my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! …There was nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (vv. 19-21).

As we have these kinds of experiences, our desire to follow the Savior increases. Elder John H. Groberg writes: “God’s love transforms us. When filled with God’s love we can see and do and understand things we otherwise could not see and do and understand” (John H. Groberg, “The Power of God’s Love,” Ensign, Nov. 2004). Thus when we receive his love, we are willing to submit to His spirit and we have that mighty change of heart that Alma talks about.

The next verse of the song describes the change of the heart as yielding our hearts to Him. It reads:

I feel my Savior’s love

And know that he will bless me.

I offer him my heart,

My shepherd he will be.

God wants us our desire to know Him to grow to the point that we’ll turn over our will to Him, and allow our will to be consumed in His will. Neal A. Maxwell writes: “Surrender of the mind is really a victory, because it introduces us to God’s stretching and higher ways…. As we yield our hearts, He trusts us, and our blessings of understanding and knowledge increase. We gain a more enhanced individuality, and we are then more capable of receiving all that the Father has” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, Dec. 2008).

Helaman, in Helaman 3, explains both the process and the blessings of yielding our hearts to God. He writes: “[Yea, and] they did fast and pray…and become stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, [even] unto [the receiving of] joy and consolation…even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (v. 35).

As we offer Him our hearts, we accept Him as our Shepherd and we come to know His voice. The 23rd Psalm has always been one of my favorite scriptures in helping me to understand the Savior’s ever-present love and His role in my life as a shepherd. The first lines read:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Our Savior knows the places that will nourish us with opportunities for our faith and our knowledge and our testimonies to grow. He knows how to bless us through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost and the living water of the Atonement that will calm and bring peace to our spirits. And as we partake of these blessings and opportunities, our souls are healed and our righteousness brings glory to him.

The next lines read:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they [leadeth] me.

A shepherd’s rod is a club about three feet long, and it has a huge knob on the top of the club. The shepherd uses it to beat away the wolves from the flock. A rod is also a sign of power and authority. A staff, which is longer than a rod, is used for guiding the sheep. The Savior knows that as we go through life, we are going to face trials and temptations, sorrow and trouble. But He will protect and guide us if we trust in Him.

The next lines read:

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The Savior has prepared sacred altars for us—the sacrament table, the altars at the temple where we make and renew sacred covenants. The promises and blessings that come from these ordinances and covenants will fill our lives with abundance as we understand and honor them.

The last two lines are an individual affirmation:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

They testify of the great promises of God and that those who partake of these blessings and take the Savior as their Shepherd will receive all of the promises and will be honored in this life and in the life to come.

One line of the verse of the song “I Feel My Savior’s Love” that we just read says, “I feel my Savior’s love, and know that He will bless me.” Mormon, in Moroni 7, teaches us that one of these blessings is that the pure love of Jesus is bestowed upon the true followers of Jesus, and that, filled with this love, they can become like Him. They have that power to do that. This love is also called charity; it’s the pure love of Christ. And as this love changes us, as we become more like Him, it expresses itself in our loving and serving others.

The final verse of “I Feel My Savior’s Love” reads:

I’ll share my Savior’s love

By serving others freely,

In serving I am blessed,

In giving I receive.

You’ll remember that the Savior said to his apostles on the eve of his crucifixion, “As I have loved you, …love [ye] one another” (John 13:34). If we follow this admonition, then the pattern of the Savior’s life as He lived among men on earth should be the pattern that we try to follow in our own lives as we serve others. So how did He show His love for us when He lived upon the earth?

I’ve listed some of those things, and as we go through them, we could each ask ourselves how we could take each example and apply it in our own lives as we serve others. The first of those is that:

  • He left an exalted position to come down among men.
  • Second, He knew that He was God’s son, and knowing that gave Him clear perspective.
  • Third, He was not influenced by the world.
  • Fourth, He taught us His commandments, which are eternal truths.
  • Five, He chastened us.
  • Six, He alo blessed others, including the sick and the sinner.
  • He prayed to the Father for strength and guidance.
  • He also prayed to the Father for us for strength and guidance.
  • He encouraged those who were weak.
  • He allowed us to learn.
  • He called others and entrusted them to do His work.
  • He desires that we all return to our Heavenly Father.
  • He faithfully fulfilled the commitments that He had made to His Father, in Gethsemane, as He suffered and atoned for our sins, and on Cavalry, where He died for our sins.

As we try to understand this love, we see that it has no bounds, and we begin to see others as God’s children, with divine potential. He wants all of us to have that opportunity to feel that love, and so He uses our hearts, our hands, our might, our strength to accomplish His purposes.

We have a good friend, Jim, who served as a bishop in Texas about fifteen years ago, and he shared the following story with us. One early Sunday morning in his bishop’s office, he got a call from another bishop in his stake. The bishop told him that he was calling to give him a “head’s up” about a woman who had just moved into Jim’s ward. The bishop’s Elder’s quorum had helped move her the previous day. The bishop told him that the woman had many problems, that she was demanding, manipulative and hard to please. And he also told him that although he was sorry that Jim would have to work with her, that he was very glad that she was leaving his ward.

Well, right after sacrament meeting, the woman was at the door of the bishop’s office, wanting to talk with Jim. She was not very clean; her hair was dirty and stringy, her clothes were rumpled, and she did not give off a very happy aura or attitude. The bishop’s call had already made Jim apprehensive, and as he listened to her wants, her needs and her expectations, he felt overwhelmed. Finally he stopped her and said, “I’d like to get to know you better. Why don’t you tell me how you gained your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

That question led to her past history and a whole litany of problems that had occurred during her childhood and growing up years. Frustrated, Jim bowed his head and quietly prayed, “Father, how do you see this woman?” As he lifted his head, sitting in front of him was a beautiful woman, a daughter of God. Humbled and amazed, Jim understood. The moment of revelation only lasted for a short time, but Jim understood.

Elder [David B.] Haight taught, “God does not love us because we are lovable, or because we have a pleasing personality, or because we have a good sense of humor. He loves us in spite of who we are or what we have done” (David B. Haight, “Love All,” Ensign, Nov. 1982).

Alma’s experience is another example for us as he tells Helaman, “From that time”—meaning the time of his miraculous conversion—“…I have labored without ceasing… [to] bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste…the exceeding joy [that I tasted]” (Alma 36:24).

As we carry out our Church callings, as we look for other ways to serve, as we extend kindness and love to others, and as we follow the whisperings of the Spirit that sometimes come to tell us who needs to be loved or served, those we serve will not only feel of our love, but they’ll feel of the Savior’s love.

I remember many years ago feeling deeply disappointed because I felt that I had been overlooked for a position that I wanted very badly. I felt that I had failed, that I had been rejected by my peers whom I respected, and that I didn’t want to face the world. In my mind I knew I was being foolish, but the negative feelings persisted so after several days, I finally knelt down and just poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father.

Within twenty minutes, my doorbell rang. As I opened the door, standing on my front porch was Sister Scoville, a unique wonderful woman in her early eighties who was also my visiting teacher. She had in her hand some little booklets from a Christian organization that she subscribed to that was sponsored by Norman Vincent Peale, who was a prominent Christian minister at that time. And she said to me, “Karen, I suddenly felt that maybe you should read these booklets.”

Each one of them was a message about how to face discouragement or disappointment using God’s love and positive thinking. I don’t remember anything specific about what I read. But I will never forget the love and gratitude I felt to Sister Scoville for listening to the whisperings of the Spirit and following the promptings, and the love that I felt to the Lord for answering my prayer.

President Monson has said, “Of all the blessings in my life,” and he has had many, “one of the sweetest is the feeling that the Lord provides when I know that He has answered the prayers of a person through me” (Thomas S. Monson, “How Do We Show Our Love,” Ensign, Jan. 1998). And you will remember that the Savior said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

The chorus of this song reads:

He knows I will follow him,

Give all my life to him.

I feel my Savior’s love,

The love he freely gives me.

Elder [Robert F.] Orton, in a 2001 conference stated: “Given the purpose of our existence, if we do not love our neighbor and God, then whatever else we do will be of little consequence” (Robert F. Orton, “The First and Great Commandment,” Ensign, Nov. 2001). I love the scripture which says we should be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17) .Recognizing the love of the Savior in our life, coming to know Him, yielding our hearts to Him, and loving and serving others will help us to be rooted and grounded in love. Are we?

Does He know that we will give all our life to Him? It’s my prayer that each of us will have that desire in our hearts. I testify that as we enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ that He will make us whole and complete, through the power of His Atonement, which is the greatest evidence of His love. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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