Fall 2013

Nations Flow Unto "Mountain of the Lord's House"

02 Oct. 2013


Nations Flow Unto "Mountain of the Lord's House"

Thank you, choir, for that beautiful number. I have never heard that hymn, “The Olive Tree” before, and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you. I’d like to invite the choir and those sitting in back of me if they would like to maybe move to the side so they could see the screen. I think it would be much more meaningful to them if they would like to.

I couldn’t help but notice when President Nelson announced how many children and grandchildren my wife and I have, that many of you gasped for air. People often say, when they hear that, “Well, how old are you really?”

I say, “Well, it would be well for you to know that my wife and I were some of the last ones off the ark. That’s how old we are.” But my wife and I are grateful to be here with you today and look into your faces and see these wonderful young people attending the LDS Business College. As President Nelson said, our oldest son graduated from the LDS Business College before he attended BYU, and enjoyed his time here very, very much.

And Elder Fernando, I want to thank you for the invocation you offered. It was very obvious to me that you had an accent, and I asked the president where you are from. I said, “It sounds like he is from India.”

He said, “He is.” And thank you, Sister Pease, for your thoughts and words today as well.

To you young people, I think the first thing I would say to you today, is you live in a very exciting time of the world, and particularly in the Church. When you contemplate that the Church is just establishing this year 58 new missions—how many of you are returned missionaries? Will you raise your hands? Now, how many of you are contemplating missions, that haven’t gone on missions yet? That’s what I’m saying—and you lost a lot of students here recently when the young ladies went on missions. And so you live in very, very exciting times. When you think of all the missionary work that is going on—58 new missions being established. I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to go down and speak to all the students at BYU and Utah Valley University taking the missionary preparation class. Typically they would have about 2,000 in that group, but there were over 2,500 in that group. And that’s why I say that you live in very, very exciting times. Missionary work is spreading across the Church today in greater abundance than has ever taken place since the restoration of the gospel.

I think also it will be exciting for you to see what’s happening in the literal fulfillment of a prophecy that I’ll show you on an overhead in just a minute. What’s happening—of how many people are coming to Church headquarters to find out about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My wife and I had this opportunity to be called to this calling—it was a three-year call, and after six years, about a year ago, the First Presidency called us in and said, “Ben and Sue, we think after six years of your three-year call we ought to give you a rest.” So they finally released us. But we were grateful for the opportunity to serve there, and we had two wonderful couples who served with us full-time as well. They’re both here today. I didn’t know one of them was going to here, but your hosts that were seating you today—the Thorpes—where are you? And the Longs stand with them, please, in the back. These two couples were full-time couples that served with us also during this time, and they served not only five days a week, but they also served every Sunday and sometimes on Saturday. Without them we would have never been able to fulfill this calling, which was a wonderful experience for my wife and me.

I might say also that it was by far the busiest, most demanding call that my wife and I have ever had in the Church—busier than being a bishop, busier than being a stake president, a mission president, a temple president, and a general authority. It was that busy. And I think you’ll understand in the short time I’m going to spend with you this morning.

If the visitors we had come visit were at least an ambassador level or higher, then we had the opportunity of taking them in and introducing them to the First Presidency and sitting in the meetings with them. Lest I forget, I just have to share with you to start with a very cute experience we had with one of our very first visitors years ago. She was a princess of Norway, Princess Martha Louise. She was 35 years old, and as we prepared to take her in and introduce her to the First Presidency, I said, “Princess Martha Louise, you need to know that President Hinckley is now 95 years old.”

She said, “Thank you.” Partway through the meeting, she said, “President, are you really 95 years old?”

He said, “Soon to be 96!”

She said, “President, you look absolutely marvelous. You look wonderful! It’s amazing how well you look.”

And he leaned forward in his chair and he said, “Look closer.”

He always had that wonderful sense of humor when you were ever around President Hinckley. It’s been a blessing in the life of my wife and me to have the opportunity to serve intimately with Presidency Hinckley and his counselors, including President Faust, President Monson at that time, and later on with President Monson and his counselors, President Eyring and President Uchtdorf.

If you’ll notice in that scripture, we are seeing a literal fulfillment of that scripture. Sister Brown, would you stand up and read that scripture to us, please? Now that you’re awake, please?

Carolyn Brown:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.”

Elder Banks:

I knew I could call on her. She used to teach my son when he was here. That’s how long she’s been here.

We are seeing a literal fulfillment of that scripture, found in Isaiah and 2 Nephi, that talks about and they shall flock unto the mountains of the Lord. Look at that overhead. This is typical of the number of people that my wife and I, the Thorpes and the Longs have hosted. We would host generally anywhere from 600-700 people a year, from 80-100 countries every year. That’s the number of people that we hosted that were coming to find out more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I’m taking a lot of these slides out of here because there isn’t time, but to give you some idea, these are some of the venues we would take them to visit, depending on how much time they had. Where do the referrals come from? Why do these people come here? Where do these requests for hosting come from? These are just the sum of them, but they came from many other places as well, the requests to host these people.

Our objective was to help build bridges of understanding. Ours wasn’t like yours when you were full-time missionaries or when I was a mission president—to convert people. We were to introduce people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of them had never heard anything about our Church or even knew of our Church before they came to Salt Lake City and Church headquarters. So our responsibility was to introduce them to the Church and make them friends of the Church. But it was always interesting as we would take them to different venues, they would ask a lot of questions which would open up the opportunity to teach the doctrines of our Church to them.

Who were the people that we hosted? I’m going to show you some overheads of some of the people we visited with, and give you a cross-section of the type of people we visited. We hosted presidents of countries. I don’t know if any of you remember when President Vicente Fox, a former president of Mexico, was here to visit the First Presidency. He visited with—in this picture, you’ll see President Vicente Fox, his wife with him, and one of their sons, standing next to President Monson. This was a very unusual visit in the fact that, partway through the meeting, President Fox said, “President Hinckley, can I ask a favor please?” He said, “Of course.”

I want you to contemplate about this. Partway through the meeting he said, “President, would you please give me a blessing?” Can you imagine that? A president of a country who had never been here before, asking the president of our Church to give him a blessing.

The president said, “I’d be happy to.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Hinckley stood up. He didn’t put his hands on his head, but he stood in front and asked all of us to arise. And [President Fox] also had part of his cabinet that was there in the room with us also, in the First Presidency boardroom that you’re looking at there. President Hinckley pronounced a beautiful blessing upon President Fox, his wife, his children, the country of Mexico, the people of Mexico, and the Church in Mexico. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

Afterwards we took the pictures and left the room. As we walked out, President Fox turned to me and he said, “Elder Banks, President Hinckley truly is a man of God, isn’t he?”

I said, “He is.”

He said, “You could feel it, being in his presence.”

That’s the kind of impact visitors would have, when they had the opportunity of visiting with the First Presidency.

We also hosted many first ladies. I am just showing one of them. This is Pilar Garcia, first lady of Peru. I show this to you because, when she was here with an entourage of people, she said, “I’ve never seen snow before. Can we go see some snow?”

We took her up to Park City Ski Resort. She said, “I want to make snowballs so I can take them back and show the people back in Peru what snow looks like.” And so again, a wonderful visit with a wonderful woman.

We hosted many, many ambassadors that I mentioned we would take in to meet the First Presidency. This happens to be the ambassador of Russia. Do we have any students here from Russia? Good. We hosted the ambassador of Russia and many visitors from Russia over the years. [Screen displays a picture of the Russian ambassador and the First Presidency.]

 It would be interesting to know that we hosted an ambassador from North Korea. Does that surprise you? It does most people. But we hosted the ambassador from North Korea, and the Church has done some humanitarian work in North Korea that most members of the Church know nothing about. I’m not going to get into the details other than to tell you that what we’ve primarily been doing in North Korea has been taking fruit trees there and showing them how to plant and grow fruit trees to help them feed their people. This visit from the ambassador and his right-hand person who was with him at this visit, came because we were going to give them 100,000 fruit trees when they came to visit this year, to plant in their country.

We hosted Prince Turki Al Faisal, part of the royal family of Saudi Arabia. There’s a long story to tell you about him, but I’m going to skip over that because I want to share some other things with you. We hosted the ambassador from Vietnam, and we are making some inroads there. I can’t go any further than to tell you that we are making some inroads there. He was a very delightful man; he was very anxious to find out about the Church and some of the doctrines of our church, about the humanitarian work that we do.

We hosted the ambassador from Jordan, Prince Zeid. Now the reason I show you this picture, you’ll see Prince Zeid standing in the back next to his flag. Can you see that in the back of the picture there? If we had ambassadors come to visit then my wife would make arrangements for the International Children’s Choir to come and sing for the ambassador and their wife and the group that was with them. The thing that was so remarkable, these young people would walk in dressed in costumes of the world, and the native costumes of the world, and they would always be carrying the flag of the visitor that they came in to sing to. And they would walk in singing a song in their native language. Kathy Sorensen, their director, would teach them a song in their native language and I don’t know how she did it. Whether it was Russian, whether it was Arabic, whether it was Spanish, Portuguese, whether it was German or one of the Chinese dialects, she would teach them to sing in that language. You can imagine how that melted their hearts when these children came in singing the song of that country and sometimes their national anthem in their native language. They always wanted to have pictures taken with the International Children’s Choir.

Prince Zeid, at the dinner we held for them that night—Elder Holland was there and there was a group there, and [Prince Zeid] said, “I want to tell you”—and he said—“I say this in all sincerity, and I’ve never said this in a group before. But of all the places I’ve visited throughout the world, I’ve never [been] received more warmly than I have by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have made me feel at home.”

We hosted this ambassador from the United Nations. There are ambassadors to the United States and ambassadors to the United Nations. Now many of you may think that we’re known all over the world, but we aren’t. I share this one example with you. A few weeks before she came to visit, we had a group of three men from India. They were not Hindu; they were Muslims. We had them down at BYU visiting with the religion department, and partway through the meeting one of them said, “Can I ask a question?”

I said, “Of course.”

He said, “Why is it that a lot of people in the world do not like Mormons?”  How would you answer someone if they asked you that? I’m not putting you on the spot, but he put me on the spot.

I said, “Well, I think it’s easy to answer that for you.” I referred to him by name. I said, “You have a prophet Mohammed.”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “We have a prophet also.” At that time the prophet was Thomas S. Monson. I said, “The difference is, we believe our prophet receives modern-day revelation.”

He said, “I understand, then, why you are not accepted around the world.”

I share that with you because, when the ambassador was here, as my wife and I were walking, taking her up to a dinner we were hosting that night with Elder Holland, and in this picture, do you know this woman sitting on the end of this picture? Do you recognize who that is? That’s the former governor of Utah, Olene Walker. We had her come to the dinner as well, with her husband.

But as we were walking to this dinner up in the Joseph Smith Building, she said, “Elder Banks, let me ask a question. I don’t mean to be offensive, but,” she said, “why is it so many Christian churches in the world don’t accept you? Why is it that a lot of people in the world don’t like Mormons?”

And I said, “Well, to answer that, Ambassador, the reason other Christian churches don’t accept us is because we do not adhere to the Nicene Creed. We believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are three separate individuals, where the Christian churches believe they are three in one, as a result of the Nicene Creed. Then we believe we have a living prophet today who receives modern-day revelation, and these are the main reasons that we aren’t accepted by other Christian churches and other people don’t accept us.”

She said, “Thank you. I’m happy to know that.”

I share that with you because it’s important to realize that we still have a great work to do and that’s going to multiply now, when you see all the new missionaries going out among the world.

I show this picture to you, and you may wonder, “Why in the dickens are Elder Banks and Sister Banks dressed like that?” The Marriott family back in Virginia have a beautiful farm out in Hume, Virginia, and once a year in the fall, in conjunction with the Public Affairs Department of the Church, they host a Western barbecue out at their ranch for all the ambassadors and their families, and all their children come. They’re advised to come in Levis or just sport clothes, and when they come they’re given cowboy hats and neckerchiefs, and just have a day of relaxation out at this wonderful Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia. They have a wonderful time; they have games for the young children, they have games for the teenagers, they have displays, and they have a wonderful Western barbecued meal and then they have one of the performing groups from BYU—whether the ballroom dancers or different groups that perform there perform for them as well. And it’s a wonderful event that the ambassadors and their families look forward to every year.

The ambassador from Pakistan, Husain Haqqani, a wonderful man. He is no longer ambassador. He was going to retire. I said, “Are you going to go back to Pakistan?”

He said, “No, I’d like to stay in the United States and teach at one of the American universities.” And I think that’s what he is doing, back in Washington, D.C., teaching at one of the universities. He was very helpful to us. My wife and I had the opportunity to meet him back in D.C. in his embassy, where he invited us to have lunch with him, the three of us, where he told us what we needed to do to make it easier for our Area Presidency to get into Pakistan without so much red tape. A wonderful help to us.

The next one is consul general from … actually, ambassadors are a higher position, but consul generals are a more important position for the Church. Do you have any idea why? Let me share why. Consul generals are the ones that okay your missionary visas for you to go to their countries, and that’s why they’re so important to the Church. Every consul general has to okay missionaries going to their country from our church, and that’s why consul generals are so important. And this consul general, was very interesting because partway through out tour she said, “What do you have to do to become a Mormon?”

I said, “We can tell you.”

And she said, “Where can I get a Book of Mormon?”

And I said, “We can help you.” So at that time I asked my wife—we were leaving the Humanitarian Center, and I asked her to run over to the Distribution Center and get a Book of Mormon in English and also Swahili, which she did. We got to the meeting with Elder Holland; I passed them to him so they couldn’t see, and said, “Why don’t you present them to her?” Which he did. The man between her and Elder Holland was her assistant. Do you know who the other man is? If you don’t, shame on you. He’s a general authority. That’s Elder Sitati, from Kenya, Africa. You can see him on the stand during general conference every time. A wonderful, wonderful person.  And so I don’t know what has happened, if she has been baptized, but she said, “What do you have to do?”

The next photo here is one of the consul general of Thailand. And the reason I show this—he was such an impressive person. He sent me a letter after, and I just want to read to you a statement out of it: “It was the best ever trip I’ve ever made anywhere. I did gain an invaluable insight into some core principles and operations of the Mormon Church.”

Now listen to the rest of this: “Indeed, I was moved by what I saw during the trip, having seen with my own eyes the powers of faith, generosity, and dedication of the people. The many incredible projects the Church has been doing for members and the humanity could be perfect models for our community and our country. I would try to digest and look for ways to emulate and look for ways to apply some of those things for our country. Thank you so very much indeed.”

How can you not appreciate something like that, to have someone from a country like that say he’d like to see it implemented in his home country?

We hosted the Supreme Court justices from China, the first time that’s ever taken place. We hosted the breakfast with Elder Oaks there, and some of the attorneys from BYU Law Department who came to this breakfast for the Supreme Court justices.

We also hosted a lot of educators. This happened to be an African women delegation. Yesterday on the elevator I met two young men, one from Zimbabwe and one from, I think it was Ghana. Are you here today, you young men? If you are, stand up. You said you were going to be here today, unless I scared you away. But anyway, we host a lot of people from the different African countries. You’ll notice in this picture, as we hosted this luncheon we invited the general presidency of the Relief Society, the Young Women, and the Primary to attend that luncheon. If you look close in that photograph there, that picture, you’ll see them also with this group of educators.

Some time ago someone asked me, “What countries haven’t you hosted?” At that time, I said the only country we had not hosted here at Church headquarters at that time was Somalia. But since then we’ve hosted many people from Somalia, so there is no country in the world that we haven’t had the opportunity to introduce the Church to.

Do we have any Samoans here today? I hope so. We hosted a group of Samoans from Washington. The man that called was the president of an organization in the state of Washington, the Samoan community. He said, “There’s only three of us in this group that are members. If we bring them down there, could you host them for lunch and show them some things?”

I said yes. They love to eat, and we hosted them for lunch and then we took them on different tours around. When he got back home, after he had been home for a couple of months he sent me an email and said, “Elder Banks, we’ve already baptized eight of them.” And their visit here to Church headquarters, this Samoan community from the state of Washington.

You young people here today in this wonderful choir that sang for us—we hosted the German Vocalis Choir. They are young adults throughout all of Europe, and they meet once a month and they travel sometimes over 200 miles just to come to a choir practice to be part of this choir. They came over here, and we hosted them to sing at many venues. They sang with the Tabernacle Choir. We had them meet with the First Presidency, and of course they were thrilled to meet President Uchtdorf, who spoke to them in their German language. And there have been several marriages come as a result of that. Now I don’t know if that’s going to happen in this choir, but it did in that choir.

This is Martin Luther King III. Martin Luther King III came out here to thank the First Presidency and the Church for helping with humanitarian help for an organization that he helps in Louisiana. He came at the time we had the open house for the new Draper Temple. We had a luncheon for them at the chapel next to the Draper Temple. It was hosted by Elder Ballard and then he took a tour of the Draper Temple and enjoyed himself very much. He’s written letter after letter commending the Church and thanking them for all they do. Martin Luther King III.

This is a picture here—Carolyn Tanner Irish, who some of you may know was the Episcopalian bishop here. She just recently retired. And she invited to come out the new Episcopal bishop for the entire United States, and that is the person you see standing next to President Monson, and her husband is next to her. She is a pilot—she flew out on her own private plane. Carolyn Tanner Irish called me; she said, “Elder Banks, we have a new bishop that’s been installed for the entire United States, and she’s coming out for the dedication of the remodel of our building here. I think it would be nice for them to meet the First Presidency. Could you make arrangements for that?”

I said, “I’ll be happy to.” Again, can you imagine the head bishop of the entire Episcopal Church of the United States wanted the chance to meet the First Presidency? It was a wonderful meeting, as well as with the Presiding Bishopric.

I love this picture. These were religious leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan. They lived right on the border next to each other. They didn’t speak Arabic; they spoke Farsi. And they came dressed like they were—only about half of them spoke English, but we had a wonderful time with them. As we finished our tour down at BYU—this was with Erlend Peterson, the International Vice President at BYU, we had a wonderful visit. As they prepared to leave, they paid my wife a wonderful, wonderful compliment. They turned to my wife and said, “Mother Teresa, it’s been wonderful to meet you. We hope to see you again someday.” I thought that was a wonderful tribute, to be called Mother Teresa.

This here is Cardinal George from Chicago that was invited to speak at the BYU Forum one day. Standing between myself and Elder Ballard is Bishop Wester, who is the head bishop of the Catholic diocese in Utah, and other visitors there as well. First they met with the First Presidency, had a wonderful visit with them. Again, building relationships with other religions so we understand each other better.

This was a very, very unusual visit. Akbar Ahmed is considered the most authoritative person in the United States on Islamic culture and religion. After 9-11, he was asked to speak on every radio and television station in the country as time permitted. He is shaking hands there with Elder Wood of the Seventy. He brought with him—I think it was six of his doctoral PhD students, and he was taking a tour across the United States, meeting all the major religions and writing a new book on how to have Christians accept Muslims and Muslims accept Christians. We spent three days with him. It was a wonderful visit. He sent me a copy of his book.

As we were coming back on the third day from BYU, he turned to my wife and he said, “Elder Banks, I’d like you and your wife to attend our four o’clock prayers with us this afternoon.” I’d never been to a Muslim four o’clock prayer.

I said, “Okay, we’ll go.” We did. We went to their four o’clock prayers at the mosque, and my wife had to go and put a headscarf on. The women went into a separate room where they could watch on television. I went with Akbar Ahmed and the Imam met us, we went in to where they were going to have their prayers, myself not being Muslim and only one of the students with him were Muslim. We all had to sit in the back while they knelt on their prayer rugs and the Imam offered prayer for them.

When they were through, Akbar Ahmed said, “I want you to bring all the women in now, and I want to talk to everyone and ask some questions.” They brought all of the women in and they sat in the back of the room. And he said, “Elder Banks, come up and sit with me here on the floor.” I thought, “Oh boy, I don’t know if I like that or not.”

But I did, and he brought them in and he said, “You all live here in America now. You live here in Utah.” And they were from all different Muslim countries that were living here in Utah in the valley here. And he said, “What is it that you like about living in America, now that you are here?”

A woman raised her hand and she said, “I was able to vote for the first time.”

Another man raised his hand and said, “I like living here and being able to speak what I can speak and not get into trouble.”

Another man raised his hand and, “I like the diversity of living among people.”

Another man who it was very apparent he was very wealthy, you could see by the way he was dressed, raised his hand and said, “Professor Akbar, I think it is well for you to know that we just built a new mosque down in the Redwood Road area, and the Mormon Church gave us a lot of money to help us build that mosque. They help us in many ways.”

It went on for many other questions, and then he was ready to end. He said, “I think before we end this meeting, I’m sure Elder Banks wants to speak to all of you.” I didn’t want to speak to them at all, but—I was tongue-tied, but I came up with something to speak to them about, and I hope it went well with them. But this was a wonderful visit as well, meeting with the Muslims.

This is the most unusual visit that we ever had in the six years we had this calling. This particular sect of Hindu swamis—you’ll notice that they are all dressed in orange, but if you look at the corner of the picture, you’ll see one—you can just barely see one dressed in white. There were eight Hindu swamis, and two Hindu priests dressed in white. The reason this group is so unusual, they belong to a particular sect and they had made a vow the rest of their life they would never again look at a woman or talk to a woman or touch money or spend money the rest of their lives. To join this sect they had to be a college graduate, they had to have their parents’ permission and also made a commitment that if they joined this sect they would never again speak [to] or see their parents or siblings the rest of their lives. That’s how radical they were.

Well, we had a wonderful two-day visit with them. They invited us—we fasted with them. I took Keith Longson with me. I told my wife, “You’re not going with us on this one.” The only thing that was hard about this was they wanted us to eat with them, and hot food doesn’t bother me, but Brother Longson, who is in the back here, he had some of their hot food and I think he had to go to bed for a week to cool it down. But we had a wonderful visit with them.

The reason they came here was that they had heard about all the wonderful programs we have for the youth in our church, and they wanted to find out about the program for youth in the Church. Before they left, we went down to the Distribution Center. I asked Brother Longson to go in ahead of time and tell the women not to come up and approach them. If they do, they just look at the ground. But the reason they had the two Hindu priests—if they have to speak to women, they do it. If they have to spend money, they spend it, because they won’t touch money either. They spent $500 buying every manual they could—they even bought [copies of the] Book of Mormon, missionary discussions, and everything to take back to them. There is more, but time doesn’t permit. Unusual visit, isn’t it?

You know who the Community of Christ Church is? This is their new First Presidency. The First Presidency called us and asked my wife and me—they were coming to meet them, [and] they asked if we would come and bring them in to meet the First Presidency. Wonderful visit. I wish there was time to tell you more about it other than to say it was a wonderful visit. The meeting with President Veazey, President Robinson, President Schaal—since that time, President Robinson has moved back to Australia and they have called a woman into their First Presidency. President Hinckley was very thoughtful, asked if there was anything he could do to help them. We spent a day hosting them as well.

This is one of the Fancher families. The Fancher family are descendants of the families that were massacred at Mountain Meadows Massacre, and for many years they were very bitter toward the Church. But because of the great effort of Elder Marlin Jensen and Rick Turley, they have made them friends of the Church, and we hosted them to a lunch along with President Eyring, you will see in that picture. There is more to tell you, but time doesn’t permit, other than to say that they have turned around now and are friends of the Church and accept us and have forgiven us.

Another very unusual visit was Joseph Safra. President Nelson served a mission in Brazil; you’ve got others here from Brazil who served missions. Joseph Safra was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He is Jewish; his grandfather was fearful he might become part of the Holocaust during Hitler’s regime, and moved his family to Sao Paulo, Brazil, from Lebanon. He started in the banking business and has been very successful. Joseph Safra is the third generation of that company in the banking business, and the family—the Joseph Safra Family Foundation, they have assets of over three billion dollars. The Church does some banking with them, and he does some humanitarian help. He wanted to come out and see what we did humanitarianwise. He flew up on his private jet with his wife, his wife’s hairdresser—and that’s true, sisters, his wife’s hairdresser had to come with them, to take care of her hair—and then he brought a cousin that takes care of their New York bank, and the cousin that runs their Monte Carlo bank.

He flew in in the morning, we hosted a breakfast for him with the finance people of the Church. We took him on tours of various facilities, we had lunch with the Presiding Bishopric and the Humanitarian people, we had this meeting with Elder Nelson and Elder Didier, and then we went over to finish the visit at the Family History Library. As we left Elder Nelson’s office to go over to the Family History Library, he turned to me and said, “Elder Banks, I am so impressed with what your church is doing humanitarianwise, I’d like to make a million-dollar contribution to your humanitarian effort of the church.  I’d like to make it right now before I go back to Brazil. Tell us what bank to transfer it to.”

We don’t get many people wanting to give us a million dollars. He said, “I’d like to transfer it right now.” The Church accepted it, but they left the money in Brazil. And because there has been an outbreak of measles in northern Brazil, they are using it there for the immunization of children for measles in northern Brazil. A wonderful man; we had a wonderful visit with him.

This was a bit of an unusual visit. We got a phone call—if you’ll notice, the person standing next to Elder Perry is the president of Utah State University. He called me one day and said, “Would you mind hosting a luncheon? I’d like to host a luncheon for all the general authorities that graduated from Utah State University.”

I said, “We’d be happy to.” So you can look there and see your commissioner there, Paul Johnson, I believe is in this picture. No, I guess he isn’t. But anyway these are some of the general authorities that graduated from Utah State University. I thought you would like to see that.

I show this one just quick-like. This is the president of Arizona University, a new president. There’s Paul Johnson, your commissioner, standing next to him, along with Cecil Samuelson, president of BYU. Do you know why he came up here? He said, “What do I have to do to get more Mormon students to come to Arizona University? They’re wonderful, they made a difference at Arizona State. I want to do the same at Arizona University. I’d even like the ones from Utah to come down to Arizona University.” Don’t leave here to go down, but I’m just telling you what he came for.

He said, “I want to get Mormon students. They do something for a university that no one else does.” So that’s why he came to see what he could do to see if he could get more Mormon students to attend the University of Arizona.

Any of you basketball stars? Anyone recognize who that is? Dikembe Mutombo. We had a wonderful visit with him. He’s from DR Congo, as you know, and his mother died of cancer. He wanted to build a hospital in memory of his mother, which he did. And Yao Ming wanted to help make part of the financial contribution, which he did. They named it after his mother, but after they got it all built, the water going into the hospital was dirty. You can’t have dirty water in a hospital, can you? He heard the Church had some humanitarian projects to get clean water in the hospital, and so he contacted the Church, the Church helped him get clean water in there. It’s an operating hospital now in his village, and he came here to thank the Church. It was a wonderful visit with him. He only wore a size-25 shoe and his legs were so tall he couldn’t get them under the table while we ate dinner. He had to reach back to get his food to feed himself. But a wonderful man. He lives now, I think, in Orlando, Florida—no, he lives in Georgia, Atlanta Georgia. They just remodeled that temple and he went to the open house of the temple in Atlanta, Georgia. He has a real interest in the Church.

Last two overheads. Recognize who that is? David Archuleta. He wanted his band to come and find out about the Church. We had a meeting with Elder Ballard and Elder Cook. We talked about the Church, then we took his band on a tour to the visitors center here. While we were there, the phone rang and it was President Monson. “Have you got David Archuleta?” he said.

I said, “We do.”

He said, “I want to meet him, too. Bring him over here.”

I said, “Okay.” So I said to my wife, “I’ll take him and his parents; you stay here with his band.” I took him over and the president asked him to sing for him. He said he would; he kept all his secretaries there, and we took a lot of wonderful pictures of him.

The last two I’ll share with you is Chaplain Roseberry and Alan Blum. Chaplain Roseberry was studying to be a chaplain of another faith, and a minister. He came on a tour here and was so impressed. The Spirit touched him and to make a long story short, he went home and sent me an email and said, “I’m going to have the missionary discussions.” And then he [sent another one] and said, “Since I’ve been having them, no one in my church will talk to me; my neighbors won’t talk to me. But I know it’s true.”

He has joined the Church and he’s been here a couple of times at conference. He is the elders quorum president in his ward. He said, “Maybe one day I can be an LDS chaplain.”

Alan Blom—he’s Jewish. His family are the oldest diamond cutters in the world. He came here on a request. On a business trip to Los Angeles he met a member of the Church. He did business with them, and he suggested he come up here. We hosted him. He was so touched when we finished he said, “Can I go home and get my wife and bring her back to see what I have seen?”

We said, “You bet.” His wife was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.

He brought his wife back, we spent another few days with them. And every place we took them, there were tears in their eyes. As we finished, he said, “I’d like to have the missionary discussions.” He knew what it would mean if he joined the Church, because he was very active in the Jewish faith, as is his family.

To make a long story short, I said, “It’s best if you go back to South Africa.” I called the Area president, the mission president, and said, “Make sure you get good missionaries to teach them.” They joined the Church, even at the disgust of his family.

And he said, “What I felt in Utah, I came and was so impressed. I’m going to turn my businesses here in South Africa over to someone else to run and I’m moving to Utah, because I love the spirit there.” He now lives down in Provo, has a lovely home down there. The ward welcomed [him] and his wife there, and he started a cultured diamond business here. I had him speak with me a few years ago when I spoke once before to the students taking the missionary preparation class at BYU and Utah Valley University, to show them what happens when someone is touched by the Spirit and becomes members of this Church.

My time is up. I’m sorry to have rushed so quick, but I hope you can see that you live in marvelous times. You live in marvelous times when there are new missions happening, you live in marvelous times where you see people coming to Church headquarters to find out about this church that you belong to. I pray that you will be faithful members of the Church all your days of your lives, because you are the future leaders of this Church. You are the future bishoprics and stake presidencies and mission presidents, temple presidencies and general authorities. You are the future Relief Society, Young Women presidencies and Primary presidencies, and wives of general authorities. The Lord is counting on you. He is proud of you, and I pray the Lord’s blessings upon you as I bear my witness to you that I know that Jesus Christ, a God Himself, came to this earth to fulfill all righteousness through His Atonement. And having had hands laid upon my head years ago to be called to be a special witness of Jesus Christ, I bear that witness to you and leave my blessings with you and thank you for your attendance here today, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


08 Oct. 2013


Upcoming Talks to be processed:

Oct. 15

Robert Bennett

Oct. 22

Brent Cherrington

Oct. 29

Terry B. Ball

Nov. 05

Wendy Ulrich

Nov. 12

Steve Gibson

Nov. 19

Gary L. Crittenden

Nov. 26

Elder Marlin K. Jensen

Talks to be Uploaded:

Sept. 17

Elder Enrique R. Falabella

Sept. 24

President Richards

Oct. 08

Dr. Alan J. Hawkins

2013 Summer Devotional Series

May 07

President Richards

May 21

Mitch Pendleton

Jun. 04

Kenny Mays

Jun. 11

E. Jeffrey Hill

Jun. 18

Leslie Robbins

Jun. 25

Melanie Conover

Jul. 02

Craig V. Nelson

Become Well-Educated in Spiritual Things

09 Oct. 2013


Become Well-Educated in Spiritual Things

Thank you. I wanted to share this with you, and I’ll explain that in just a moment, but the introduction reminded me of my experience in South America as a young missionary. This is intended to be a message of hope, this little story that I’m going to share with you as you begin a new semester. I know and remember—as a matter of fact, as I went to school, especially in the university-level classes, I found myself having nightmares, about missing a class or, worse, missing a test or not being prepared. Have any of you had that experience? Two or three. I still have those nightmares, and I’ve not been in classes for a long time. But there is something about the intensity of being in school, and particularly after graduation from high school, that puts an emotional demand and sometimes a drain on each of us.

My experience is this: that you can succeed, that you can accomplish and do. And I suspect, and I feel very comfortable in promising you, that you will do things you have not dreamed of. When I was preparing to go to South America, they had us attend language training classes, which were then held in the predecessor of the MTC. It was called the LTM—Language Training Mission—and it focused on the language, and there was a little bit of doctrinal or scriptural work that we would be taught.

I was not the shiniest or the brightest star in the LTM. My companion and I were paired up together, fortuitously. Both of us struggled with trying to learn Spanish. And we just kept plugging away because that’s all we knew what to do, but at the end of our time, just as we were leaving to go to South America, our teacher told us, “You were the two worst Spanish-speaking missionaries ever to attend the LTM and still go to the mission field.”

Well, that gave us lots of encouragement. Fortunately, I wasn’t shiny enough to even realize what he was trying to tell us, and we went anyway. And we had a wonderful experience, as is evidenced by the miraculous growth that has occurred, and that we can see and measure in the Church as it grows around the world, but that same thing happens inside of you as individuals, as you go through life. You grow and change and develop and do things you never dreamed of.

Both my companion and I stayed and had successful missions. The mission was divided—he ended up staying in Peru and I ended up in the Colombia Venezuela Mission. Later in life, both of us had an opportunity to serve as mission presidents. He returned to Peru where he served, and we were assigned to serve in the Spain Malaga Mission, which meant learning another language. The Castilian Spanish is a little different than the Spanish I learned in South America. My wife actually speaks much better than I do. I can get the message across, but her pronunciation and accuracy is far better than mine.

What I had brought to share with you is our name tags. Some of you have been on missions; some of you will go. But this is the name tag we had when we served in Spain. The reason this came about, having these name tags posted in the frame, was as I interviewed missionaries as they were completing their missions, we visited about their experience. And a couple of things I would talk to them about, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

One of those was the suggestion that when they got home, they took their name tags and they put it into some kind of a plaque, a frame of some kind, and hang it on the wall near the door of their bedroom so that as they came and went they could see and remember their experience that they had while serving in the mission field—what they learned, who they had become. Every missionary that went home was different than when they had arrived, and if they went back to try to fit in where they left off, they would find themselves not fitting. And if they tried, it would be a mistake anyway. So I tried to give them just that much encouragement anyway, to remember who they had become and what they knew, what they had experienced, so they might move on in their lives and move forward.

They were thinking about careers and trying to decide what classes to take, what they wanted to be when they grew up. What I knew that they didn’t know is that it probably didn’t matter what they started with, because it would probably change in their life over time. I’ve had probably a dozen careers—not only jobs but different roles that I’ve worked in. And each one, drawing upon basic skills, but each one a little different. And if I hadn’t gone to school to train for that one career, I might have taken different classes than those I did. So my objective was to encourage them to move forward, like they had in the mission field. And one of the things I would ask them is, “What are the things that have helped you be successful in the mission field?”

And inevitably, it would always go back to this little pamphlet called the Missionary Handbook. Some call it “The White Bible.” What it has in it is principles to be a successful missionary. These have been prepared by the Brethren along with the other material that missionaries were given. In those days—this was pre-Preach My Gospel—that was being just introduced as we returned home. But in this pamphlet, there are guidelines and what they will refer to as mission rules. There is a schedule that’s outlined; there are suggestions on what to do on Sunday and holidays and preparation days, suggestions on writing letters. Most missionaries start writing quite a few letters, but by the end they start to slow down a little bit. The moms like to have letters that come. Mission presidents get phone calls from mothers when missionaries don’t write letters. So there’s an encouragement to do that. There are other guidelines and suggestions.

Many of you who have been on missions probably have this. But I would ask this question: “Did this book or pamphlet help you become a successful missionary?” Inevitably the missionaries would say yes, that what I learned here helped me become a missionary much quicker and much more effective than I might have been otherwise. And I pointed out that this would no longer be a guiding standard for them as they went home, but that as they met with their stake president and were released that that would then release them from the obligation and commitment they had made to study and follow the principles in the white handbook, or the Missionary Handbook.

But I said, “Are there things in this pamphlet that would help you be successful after your mission?” There are some things that don’t apply, like wearing white shirts and ties or the specific dress and grooming standards. Although we would hope that everyone would still dress and groom appropriately, it didn’t always need to be a white shirt and a tie. But there were things that they would find that, yes, if they continued to do it—like studying the scriptures and things—would continue to guide them and help them in their future life as students and then in their careers.

And so I made this suggestion. I said, “Why don’t you create your own handbook? Create a handbook of success for you. Create a handbook of successful principles, things that you could start with, perhaps pulling from [the Missionary Handbook] or perhaps pulling from The Strength of Youth that you’ve had and seen before. But after that, adding things that you discover as you move forward in your careers.”

I don’t know how many have done that, but I know a few have. Generally as you move through life, you discover along the way—sometimes by trial and error, and sometimes by mistakes—things that contribute to helping you become successful. And the essence of my message to you today is to create your handbook of success—principles that you learn, know now, and will discover that will help you become successful in whatever endeavor you pursue.

Now some of you aren’t quite sure. That’s all right. Most of us don’t know what we want to be when we grow up, even now. We still are learning and discovering things that interest us. Or we’re invited to serve in areas and ways that we did not know or anticipate. But if we look for those principles of success, they can apply to us and we can use them. And I would encourage the missionaries, and I encourage you, to review that on a regular basis. Review those principles so that they keep fresh in your mind things that will help you be successful.

Just a few months ago, Sister Packer and I had an assignment that took us to Asia. We visited a number of countries and had many meetings, and met many, many people—government officials and members of the Church and nonmembers and investigators. As we left, and as we entered each country, we had to show our passport. In the passport, we also had medical information that was required before a country would let us come into their country and do our work. We had to show who we were, where we were coming from, and that we would not bring a disease or something into the country that would be a problem or a concern for them. Security has become a greater issue in these days.

Even coming back into the United States we had to present the same documentation. They were credentials for us to even get back into the country, to prove that we were citizens and were legitimate to come.

Now each of you is on a journey, a journey of life. It has a purpose, sometimes known and sometimes unknown. Many people in the world—most, percentagewise—do not know of the plan of salvation. But nevertheless, it is the purpose of why we are here, to be born, have our bodies, to gain experience, to have good experiences and some bad experiences, to go to school, to learn, to find a companion, to marry, have families, to mature and grow old. And then we have graduation. And after the graduation, believe it or not, there’s still another final that is going to occur for each of us, where we will be asked to present our credentials. The test will include looking not only at what we have done, but at what we are—who we have become, what’s inside.

The scriptures teach us that we should become perfect. It says, “Be ye therefore perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) It has been interesting to me to note that it doesn’t say “Do things perfectly.” It doesn’t talk about what we do but what we are to be. And the Savior asked the question, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” and then answered, “Even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27) To become like He is.

I want to share with you a few things you might consider putting in your book of success, or your handbook of success. One is [to] look for and find and accumulate all of the credentials that you need to be able to return to our Father in Heaven. The plan of salvation tells us what that needs to be. The plan of salvation is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it contains everything that’s needed so that we can work out our immortality and our eternal life. It includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement. It includes all of the doctrines, the laws and commandments, the principles that Heavenly Father wants and needs us to fulfill so that we have the right credentials. The plan makes it possible for all—every person can graduate and qualify with the right credentials, to be exalted and return to our Father in Heaven.

The scriptures teach us about that plan, and so in addition to the credentials, I would encourage to study the scriptures regularly, because in there we discover what it is that we need to do. This is the only way that we can return to our Heavenly Father, for it says in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

And so next to the scriptures, you might write, “Learn the doctrine of Christ.” And then as Elder Bednar teaches, act on the knowledge that you have. You are going to accumulate information and knowledge, some of process, some will be reference information. All of these different types and pieces of information are great to know but better when applied. And so act, and follow.

You may even want to create a list of standards of things you will do, things you will not do. Some are obvious. We don’t want to put our hand on a hotplate, because that has a detrimental effect. We’ve learned that, sometimes the hard way, but there are many other things that you can learn to avoid similar consequences, which leads me to the principle or law of consequences. We have our agency to choose, but along with the agency comes consequences of the decisions that we make. Those come automatically. If we pick up the end of the stick that is decisions, the other end has consequences on it. We can decide on the decisions, but we don’t get to vote on the consequences. They come automatically, sooner or later, in one form or another as consequences of the decisions that we have made.

The education that you are gaining now is of critical and paramount importance. I encourage you to get all that you can, both formal and informal. I have found in my career that, as I continued to learn and grow after graduation, that that really became the best and most important product of my education. It was the capacity to learn—to learn independently and on my own. And I discovered that those things that I had done early in my career are paying dividends now and along the way for things that I’ve been able to do.

My initial field at work was programming as a software computer engineer. Later, to design computer systems that controlled factory automation systems, controlling robots and designing systems to improve manufacturing. None of my classes had some of those things in them, but what I learned along the way helped me as I moved into those opportunities. Some of that education is formal on disciplines of academic subjects, but some of it that you should not forget or miss, is what is missing from most universities. Fortunately, you are here attending the business college, where you get some of what is missing in other universities, and that is the education of the whole person. That, along with the education of the mind and the intellect, is the education and growth of the spirit.

I’d like to share with you some words that President [Boyd K.] Packer shared at a graduation ceremony at Weber University, then a college. He was asked to speak in 1983 at the graduation. He said the following: “And regardless of what your transcript of credit may say, one part of your education may have been neglected, leaving you developed only to a grade-school level. Now that you are graduating, you would do well to concentrate on those things that are scarcely touched upon in universities of our day.

“For instance, you who have studied chemistry can mix a complicated formula without blowing up the chemistry lab. But have you learned to blend the ingredients of a happy marriage without having it blow up in your face?

“You who have studied language can now construct proper sentences and convey even the finest shades of meaning. But will you use that ability to sell unwitting customers something that they neither need nor can afford? Or will you [make a] promise, without quite saying so, [of] great returns on investments that are actually worthless?

“You who have studied accounting can keep complicated ledgers of principal and interest and increase. But [can you and] do you intend to pay back your student loan?

“You who have studied drama can write or direct a play, or interpret the lines in any script. But can you get your act together offstage? Will your role in life be as a bumbling comedian, [or] as a villain, or as the star of a self-made tragedy?”

He continued: “For it is not necessarily the education of the intellect which is the crowning achievement in life. It is time you learn, if you have not already [done so], that there is a part of [y]our nature, the part we term spiritual, that needs training as well. It is the spiritual part of your education that is most easily neglected. And consequently, we see many who are academic and intellectual giants but morally are puny and stunted and diseased.” (“The Essence of Education,” Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 22-30, http://scottwoodward.org/Talks/html/Packer,%20Boyd%20K/PackerBK_TheEssenceOfEducation.html)

There’s a truth or a principle there that could be added to your book of success. Principles. Which brings me to the next suggestion, that of learning the language of the Spirit. Many of you already know a foreign language. Perhaps that foreign language to us is your native language, and English is the foreign language. Those languages require discipline, they require learning the words and the phrases, they require us to learn how to speak and articulate. They teach us also how to listen and distinguish from the sounds that we hear.

The language of the Spirit is how the spirit that is inside each of us communicates to the Holy Ghost, and it’s the means by which we receive inspiration and direction from the teacher who knows all. He can teach us things that are not written or seen. We can know of things of the past, of the present, and of the future. He can help us know things that are true or things that are false. While it’s helpful to accumulate knowledge, knowledge that is false can be a detriment.

Knowing how to distinguish truth from error becomes a great asset in one’s career. It will cause you or facilitate you to do things automatically, without knowing why, which when done and you look back, you will ask the question, “Why did I do that? Wasn’t it lucky that I turned or I stopped? How did I know how to help my child?”

When I was a young father, with our oldest or firstborn son, this little baby receiving his injections that are normal for a baby, he had an adverse reaction to one, causing a high fever. While we were in the car, the two of us together, he had a reaction and he had a convulsion that caused him to stop breathing. As I sat at the stoplight, I looked over and could see something was wrong. I could tell he was not breathing. I had to do something immediately. I did not have time to go find my Scoutmaster and to learn how to do CPR. I didn’t have time to go find a book to read on it. I didn’t have time to learn how to give a blessing. I didn’t have time to become worthy. I either was, I either had, or I didn’t, and it was critical in that instance that I could give a blessing and perform CPR.

Each of you will be faced with opportunities, with decisions where you will be asked to do something. And either you are or you are not; either you have and know or you do not. I challenge you to be prepared, to have the language of the Spirit with each of you individually, to cultivate and develop that talent. With my son, I was able to resuscitate him. We were not long in getting to the hospital, and now he is a Scoutmaster teaching others CPR and has his own children and, I suppose, having similar experiences.

The Lord will bless each of you as you move forward in your lives. I would encourage you to create your handbook of success, to accumulate principles that will help you succeed in this life as you move forward. Much of what is important you will learn by trial and error, applying what you have experienced and learned here. Learn all you can, go forward with faith, and He can teach you all things that you must know.

I bear witness of the Holy Ghost, that He is real, that He does communicate with us. I bear witness of the Savior Jesus Christ, that He is the Redeemer, that He activated the Atonement for us. I bear witness of our Father—your Father and my Father, for each of us are brothers and sisters—of our heavenly family. I bear witness of these principles in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Small and Simple Steps Lead to Perfection

09 Oct. 2013


Small and Simple Steps Lead to Perfection

We’re shrouded in black up here, it’s raining—why are you here? I hope that’s not a bad omen. Thirty-six years—that is the definition of long-suffering, of patience. That’s how long my wife has been dealing with me—my quirks, my idiosyncrasies. I love her and have been blessed to have her in my life [for] every one of those 36 years.

It’s great to be here. I’m kind of celebrating a one-year anniversary here at the College, and it’s been a great year. Before coming here, I had spent the previous eight years teaching ninth-graders in Bountiful, Utah. Now think about that for a minute. I’d been spending all day, every day, with 14- and 15-year-old, twitterpated bundles of energy and enthusiasm, and I walk into my first class—it’s a night class, a Book of Mormon class—and I’d spent all day with my little ninth-graders, and I walk into that class and two or three minutes to go until that class starts. I just kind of hint that I’m going to walk towards the teaching stand, and as I kind of get ready to go and walk up there, the students get quiet. And the students get out papers and they start to take notes—you know, getting ready to take notes. And I almost start laughing. What is this? This is not ninth-graders at the end of May, wanting to get out of school. But that’s who you are. You are amazing. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light on the hill. You are cities set on a hill. How did you get that way?

After Brother Nelson asked me to do this, I’ve been thinking about how you got to here, how you got to where you are today. You are amazing. You are Saints, you are holy, you are virtuous. And as I thought about that, I thought of some words that Alma had said to his son Helaman. He said, “Now you may suppose that this is foolishness in me, but behold, I say unto, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, and small things in many instances doth confound the wise.”

The Lord also says to Joseph Smith in D&C 64: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” (v. 33)

In 1 Nephi 16, the Lord says: “Thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (v. 29)

In D&C 123:16 it says, “You know… that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm.”

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that over and over the Lord talks about this principle as He teaches His prophets. Small and simple things.

President [Henry B.] Eyring talked about this principle. He said, “Most of us have had some experience with self-improvement efforts. My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in things we do often. There is power in steadiness and repetition. And if we can be led by inspiration to choose the right small things to change, consistent obedience will bring great improvement.” (“The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest” [an evening with Elder Henry B. Eyring, Feb. 6, 1998], 3  Quoted in “The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion,” Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, (2012) https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-teaching-and-learning-a-handbook-for-teachers-and-leaders-in-seminaries-and-institutes-of-religion/the-objective-of-seminaries-and-institutes-of-religion?lang=eng )

So small changes can lead to great improvement. In fact, I think that is what perfection is all about. Small things in our lives, small improvements—it’s not one giant leap to perfection; it’s just small steps every day.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Nobody becomes perfect in this life…. becoming perfect in Christ is a process. We begin to keep the commandments today, and we keep more of them tomorrow…. We can become perfect in some minor things…. If we chart a course of becoming perfect, and, step by step and phase by phase, are perfecting our souls by overcoming the world, then it is absolutely guaranteed—there is no question whatever about it—we shall gain eternal life.” (“Jesus Christ and Him Crucified,” BYU Fireside, Sept. 5, 1976, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=657 )

That’s a pretty bold promise from an apostle—a guarantee of eternal life. Small and simple steps that we take every day.

Elder [Russell M.] Nelson said, “Brothers and sisters, let us do the best we can and try to improve each day. When our imperfections appear, we can keep trying to correct them. We can be more forgiving of flaws in ourselves and among those we love…. We need not be dismayed if our efforts toward perfection… seem so arduous and endless. Perfection is pending. It includes thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions. It is the end for which we are to endure. It is the eternal perfection that God has in store for each of us.” (“Perfection Pending, Oct. 1995 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/perfection-pending?lang=eng )

I love that phrase, “Perfection is pending.” We can improve. Perfection may not be here now, but with small and simple steps, perfection is pending. So what are these small steps that can lead to perfection?

Today I want to look at a few of these small and simple steps that can, I think, maybe get us closer to perfection. Most of you are quite young, so it is only the more seasoned among us that will recognize this story.

He was 6 feet 1 inch tall. He was 190 pounds. He won five Olympic gold medals, one Olympic bronze medal, in two different Olympics in two different sports. He had won 52 United States national championships; he set 67 world records. In his entire competitive career, he never lost a race, and retired with an unbeaten amateur record. He was the fastest swimmer in the world. He was becoming the first—he became the first person in history to swim 100 meters in less than one minute. In 1950, he was chosen as the greatest swimmer of the 20th Century.

Now, in addition to all this, he was chosen by Hollywood to play the part of Tarzan, King of the Jungle. You older ones know who I’m talking about. This is Johnny Weissmuller. He was the King of the Jungle! He was amazing!

Now my question for you today is, who is beating his time today? Twelve-year-old girls. In 2008, a girl named Lia Neal placed in the Olympic Trials and would go on to swim in the London Olympics just recently and won a medal there—she swam faster than Tarzan. That’s pretty cool, to be able to swim faster than Tarzan. Did she get there overnight? Did Johnny Weissmuller become the amazing swimmer that he was overnight? No. It took small and simple steps.

President Richards knows who you are. I’m starting to appreciate and know more and more who you are, the longer I’m here. You are already great but can become greater. C.S. Lewis said the following: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…. There are no ‘ordinary’ people…. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (The Weight of Glory,a sermon delivered at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, June 8, 1941, http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/april10p5.htm )

It’s hard; it takes work. But as a student body, we can swim faster than Tarzan. Jesus taught: “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” Wow. Continue in patience until you are perfected. It sometimes might seem daunting, frustrating, this quest for perfection that we are all on, but as divine sons and daughters of God, we can do it.

So my first step, my first clue for you, is President Hinckley’s clue for each of us. Simply, we try a little harder to be a little better. That’s what Johnny Weissmuller did; that’s what Lia Neal did. That’s all we need to do—just try a little bit harder to be a little bit better, and improve just a little bit each day.

Are we saying our personal prayers morning and night? If we are not, that’s an easy place to make a small, simple change in our lives. If we are very consistent in saying our personal prayers, that’s still a great place. We just try to be a little bit more dedicated, a little bit more sincere in our prayers.

Personal scripture study, paying a generous fast offering—yes, you can pay fast offerings. Please do. But do as much as you can. Making the sacrament more meaningful in our lives on Sundays. Small things that we can do on a regular basis to improve.

President Eyring talked about the small and simple act of inviting the Spirit into our lives. He said, “I was sitting in my home ward…and I felt a very faint prompting from the Spirit to act that day. I bear you my testimony that the scriptures are not being poetic when they describe the Holy Ghost as the still, small voice. It is so quiet that if you are noisy inside, you won’t hear it…. I am confident that because I went and did the small thing that I felt impressed by the quiet voice to do, I made it more likely that I could receive a spiritual nudge again.” (“Listen Together,” BYU Fireside, Sept. 4, 1988, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=825 )

We don’t need to be jolted or slapped around; it’s just the quiet, small, simple nudges that if we will heed and listen to, the Spirit will become part of our lives. And in that small and simple act of inviting the Spirit into our lives, we can be perfect.

Now, that’s a lot to think about for step number one: try a little bit harder to be a little bit better—just simple, daily improvement. But it can make a huge difference in our lives.

Small and simple step number two: You may not be aware of this, but right next door in the Tabernacle is where mission calls used to be announced. You didn’t get a big, white envelope in the mail; you went to general conference and they would announce your name over the pulpit. And you’d find out there about your mission. “Oh, that’s exciting; I’m going on a mission.”

Well, Elder [Jeffrey R. ] Holland tells about a man by the name of Eli H. Pierce, and that’s how Eli H. Pierce got some interesting news. Now, let me tell you a little bit about Eli H. Pierce. He was a cigar-smoking, pool-playing gambler. His language was probably more appropriate to the barrooms that he used to spend all his time in or to the railroad where he used to spend much of his time. “He bought his cigars wholesale—a thousand at a time—and regularly lost his paycheck playing pool.” This is not your ideal missionary candidate. And yet on October 5th, 1875 his name was read over the pulpit right next door as a missionary. He was called to go on a mission.

Now he wasn’t there, of course; he was out in some railroad shack, smoking a pipe at the time, I think he said, and reading a novel. Now if there are any in the English department here, the novel may have been of such a nature that it was a more serious transgression than the smoking. But as he sat there, one of his workers, fellow workers, telegraphed him. The message came across the telegraph, and Eli Pierce got the telegraph. This was his reaction to this, and this is a story that Elder Holland had told and loves this story about Eli H. Pierce. Listen to what he said:

“As soon as I had been informed of what had taken place, I threw the novel in the waste basket, the pipe in a corner [and have never touched either to this hour]. I sent in my resignation… to take effect at once, in order that I might have time for study and preparation. I then started into town to buy [scripture]…

“Remarkable as it may seem, and has since appeared to me, a thought of disregarding the call, or of refusing to comply with the requirement, never once entered my mind. The only question that I asked—and I asked it a thousand times—was: “How can I accomplish this mission? How can I, who am so shamefully ignorant and untaught in doctrine, do honor to God and justice to the souls of men, and merit the trust reposed in me by the Priesthood?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” BYU Devotional, March 18, 1980, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=869 )

Eli Pierce made great changes in his life. It started, though, with him simply throwing a pipe in the wastebasket, in the garbage, and walking away. Step number two, small and simple step number two: repent. Repent often and regularly. It’s a simple step; it’s something that maybe is as simple as throwing something in the garbage and turning your back on it and walking away. Simple, but can lead to great things.

I loved what the Lord told Joseph Smith to a man by the name of Oliver Granger in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said to Oliver Granger in section 117, “When they fall, they shall rise again.” (See verse 13) Now He didn’t say “If they fall,” He said, “When they fall.” We will all fall. But the small and simple step of regularly repenting will keep us on this path of pending perfection.

Okay, on to step number three. President Hinckley’s biography was titled Go Forward With Faith. For me, that’s step number three, and it’s a great one. He said, “These are the best of times in the history of this work. What a wonderful privilege and a great responsibility are ours to be an important part of this latter-day work of God. Do not be sidetracked by the wiles of Satan that seem so rampant in our era. Rather, let us go forward with faith, with a vision of the great and marvelous future that lies ahead as this work grows in strength and gains in momentum.”

President [Boyd K.] Packer tells the story of going…he was a young general authority and he went to Elder Harold B. Lee for some counsel. He had a difficult problem he was dealing with, and so he asked Elder Lee for some counsel. Elder Lee said, “The trouble with you is that you want to see the end from the beginning…. You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.” Elder Packer concluded by saying, “During the 29 years following that experience, I have learned over and over again that all of us must walk by faith—near the edge of the light….each of us must learn to take a few steps into the darkness of the unknown.” (“The Edge of the Light,” BYU Magazine, March 1991, http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2536 )

 Go forward with faith.

I think of Naaman, a Syrian captain who has an incurable disease, leprosy. Go forward with faith. “Are there not better rivers in Syria? He wants me to wash seven times in this stream, and he didn’t come out even to meet me? He sent his servant out to tell me what to do?” He went forward with faith, and he washed seven times in the Jordan, and he came away washed clean. (See 2 Kings 5) Go forward with faith. A simple, wonderful message.

My wife, again I appreciate her being here. She’s an artist; she illustrates children’s books. She does beautiful watercolors. Once in a while she’ll show me a sketch or a painting she’s done, and ask me what I think. Well, I’ve learned a few things in these 36 years of marriage. One of them is to be careful how I respond to such a request. So I give her some feedback. She has a much better eye than I do, and she should never give too much weight to any of my comments, but whenever I do give suggestions, the biggest frustration she feels is that I’ve told her something that she can’t change. It’s too late. “You want me to change that? It’s…” Anyway, it’s the same with small and simple things in our lives. It’s far easier to do these small and simple things early, consistently throughout our lives.

Elder [David A.] Bednar said this. He said, “In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, [it’s] a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.

“Each…prayer, each episode of…scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls.” (“More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Oct. 2009 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/more-diligent-and-concerned-at-home?lang=eng )

We can change. I do testify to each of you. “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) You are truly Saints. You are holy ones, virtuous ones by definition. And it’s the small and simple things that you do on a daily basis that will make the big difference in your lives. As fathers, mother, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters—as children of our Heavenly Father, we have been chosen, we have been called to be here at this time. What a blessing in our lives; what a marvelous opportunity we have to be here, knowing the amazing opportunities you have before you, that I have in front of me, I want to be able to tell my Heavenly Father, “You can count on me. Here I am. I will do the small and simple things. If there are hard things to be done, I will do them, one step at a time.”

Elder [M. Russell] Ballard—and I’d like to conclude with this thought that he gave—he said, “When God asked who would come to earth to prepare a way for all mankind to be saved and strengthened and blessed, it was Jesus Christ who said, simply, ‘Here am I; send me.’ (Abr. 3:27)

“Just as the Savior stepped forward to fulfill His divine responsibilities, we have the challenge and responsibility to do likewise….

“ ‘Father, if you need [someone to raise] children in righteousness, here am I, send me.’

“ ‘If you need [someone] who will shun vulgarity… and speak with dignity and show the world how joyous it is to keep the commandments, here am I, send me.’

“ ‘If you need [someone] of faithful steadiness, here am I, send me.’

“Between now and the day the Lord comes again, He needs [men and] women in every family, in every ward, in every community, in every nation who will step forward in righteousness and say by their words and their actions, ‘Here am I, send me.’” (“Women of Righteousness,” Ensign, Apr. 2002, http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/04/women-of-righteousness?lang=eng )

You are amazing, and we have the opportunity to be perfect. Don’t be discouraged. Satan will try to counterfeit with his counterfeit plans of small and simple steps, to try to keep us away from the small and simple steps leading to perfection. But with Elder Nelson, I testify that perfection is pending. It is possible, and what a marvelous opportunity we have as Latter-day Saints, to be engaged in this great work. I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Strive to Harmonize Work and Family Life

10 Oct. 2013


Strive to Harmonize Work and Family Life

What a spirit is here. Wow. I was sitting on the stand; my wife, Cami, nudged me and said, “This is a beautiful group of students.” And it is. What a wonderful, beautiful group of students that is beautiful on the outside and on the inside.

President Richards got one thing wrong in my introduction; we had our 17th grandchild yesterday. So we’re excited. And we have four more coming before the end of the year. That’s what happens when you have 12 children. The truth be known; professors often study those things they have the most difficulty with, and if you can imagine having a position at Brigham Young University and having 12 children and 17 grandchildren, and having responsibilities in the Church, sometimes it’s difficult to find harmony among all of those responsibilities.

Do any of you ever feel stressed? A few polite chuckles there. I would say that a lot of you do feel stressed, but actually that’s not the way of the Savior. The Savior is a path of peace. He wants us to feel the comfort of the Holy Ghost with us constantly, He wants us to feel the guidance of the Spirit in our lives, He wants us to serve in every area that we are. And my particular talk today is to look at particularly harmonizing work and family life. But as we talk about this, it can be finding harmony among any callings in life. It could be your schooling and your family life, or your Church responsibilities or your community responsibilities—they all fit together.

At Brigham Young University, I teach a class on the Proclamation on the Family. (See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” at https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation) And the Proclamation gives us clear guidance about family life, and one of the things it says is that it is our responsibility to both provide for and to nurture our families. It says that it is the father’s primary responsibility to provide but also the father’s responsibility to partner with his wife in nurturing the family. It also says that it’s the mother’s primary responsibility to nurture her family but also to partner with the father in providing for the family. And so, both of these are important responsibilities, and to do them together, being fully involved as a spouse and parent, and adequately providing for the family—it’s tough. It’s difficult to do that.

Bishop Keith B. McMullin said, “As we meet with Church leaders around the world, one challenge seems universal: having enough time to do everything that needs doing.”[1]And that is a challenge. As we struggle to juggle, we have to make decisions constantly. We may wrestle whether to work late on an important work project and sacrifice a family activity that we had planned. Or maybe we have to struggle about an important family engagement—maybe a birthday party—when something happens at work that demands attention. How do we make those decisions, and how do we do that in harmony?

What I would like to do today is to share a metaphor—the way that we can think. Oftentimes, it’s easier to change the way we think about something than it is to change external circumstances. We may not be able to change the due date on an assignment in class, but the way we think about that due date, either with dread or with confidence, might make the difference in how we feel about it.

So the metaphor that I would like to introduce is a musical metaphor. Instead of thinking about juggling all of these responsibilities, I would like you to think about your life with a metaphor of harmony. And just as a conductor and a composer can create and direct a beautiful piece of music that has lots of different parts, I would invite you to be the composer and orchestrator and conductor of your own life’s symphony.

This metaphor, in my scholarly research, is gaining more momentum. In the past, people who have looked at work and family have looked at work/family conflict. And they’ve emphasized how work gets in the way of family life and makes family life more difficult, and how family life or having children makes work life more difficult. But this metaphor is actually looking for how these different aspects of work and family actually benefit each other.

When I was a researcher at IBM, once we did a study to find the best managers at IBM. What were the characteristics of the best managers at IBM? Guess who we found were the best managers? They were mothers. They were not just any mothers, but mothers of teenage children—made the best managers at IBM. And why was that? If you can manage a home with teenage children, you can manage anything.

But in serious, there is so much to be learned in the workplace that can benefit our homes; so much to be learned at home that can benefit the workplace. So I hope you will think of, as we go through this devotional, ways that we can harmonize our work and family life. There is no one sure-fire cure for doing so, but I’d like to share seven things—seven suggestions. And as we go through each of them, I would invite you to examine your own heart, see which of these suggestions you might implement so that you can claim the blessing of greater harmony and less stress in your life.

The first suggestion is to enhance energy in your life. It used to be thought that it was the amount of time that you spent that caused conflict among different activities. But the research shows now it’s not the amount of time but the amount of energy that is either consumed or created by the activities that are engaged in. And so one suggestion is simply to look at ways to increase the number of energy-creating activities. When I’m in the classroom and ask the students, “What are some of the things that bring you energy?” I get a lot of responses. Commonly I hear people who will say, “Well, exercise increases energy. When I go out jogging and I come back, I feel energized.” Some people don’t believe that that’s the case. Others will say that music creates energy, and listening to the kind of music that we heard today certainly is an energy creator.

It is very interesting, but in almost every class there is a student—typically a young woman—who will say, “Cleaning brings me energy. When I see a messy room and I clean it up, why, I feel energized.” That’s not how I am. Others will say reading or taking a nap or other things are ways. But the principle is, find the ways that create energy for you, and then do more of those things.

When I give this type of seminar to a group of business people—and you’re LDS Business College—one of the things that we found in our research is that typically a job is energy-depleting, and typically family life is energy-creating. So actually, one strategy is that, while you are at work, several times a day, is to connect with your home, with your family life, with a loved one.

When I first started at IBM, it was very segmented. It was keep your work at work and your home at home. But we found that IBM-ers are more effective and more productive when they do connect with their loved ones during the day. So that’s one suggestion.

Another suggestion with energy is the principle of spillover—whatever emotional state you have when you leave work, you carry that over into the home. And so if you organize your work to do something interesting or engaging at the end of the workday, then you will bring more energy home with you.

A final suggestion for work and family harmony relating to energy is to use your commute time to create energy. As you’re going to and from work, do something that creates energy. One of the things that I do is to sing. No one likes to hear me sing, so I don’t sing for others very often. But I like to sing, so on the way to work I’ll roll up the windows and sing loud with some of my 1970s music, and it brings me a lot of energy. But the principle is just using that time to create energy.

The second suggestion is to increase quality time. As you look at your life, see if you can organize it to put each moment to its best use and to be flexible. You’re all students—you know there are certain times when you study better than at other times. Try to organize your life such that you can study at those times that are most beneficial.

When we have limited time, it’s important to take advantage of the moments that we have. I wanted to read a quote by Elder Dallin Oaks. While he was in his third year of law school and also had important Church responsibilities, he recalls: “My favorite play activity with the little girls was ‘daddy be a bear.’ When I came home from my studies for a few minutes at lunch and dinnertime, I would set my books on the table and drop down on all fours on the linoleum. Then, making the most terrible growls, I would crawl around the floor after the children, who fled with screams but always begged for more.”[2]

I think that’s an example of quality time—of using the time that you have. He could have easily just sat down exhausted, but he took that time for a special moment. There are certain times that are extremely valuable. In the research that I have studied, there are people who look at rituals for saying goodbye in the morning, and rituals for when you come home. And those families that have something that they do for the minute or two before someone leaves the home are much stronger.

For example, kneeling in prayer and having a prayer and then having a big hug is something that will be helpful. One of my colleagues at BYU, Jason Carroll, says that if you hug someone that you love for 18 seconds, it releases endorphins in your system and you feel connected to that person. So why not take 18 seconds before your loved one leaves for the day to give that person a hug and feel that closeness?

Mealtime is also a very important quality time. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Happy conversation, sharing of the day’s plans and activities, and special teaching moments occur at mealtime because mothers and fathers and children work at it.”[3]Perhaps arranging the family schedule so that they can eat, the family dinnertime together, will be something that brings a lot of harmony in one’s life.

A recent study of National Merit scholars found that these extremely bright high school students that won these top scholarships, the thing that they had in common was that they almost always ate dinner with their families and also engaged in stimulating conversation.

Another important crossroads time is when you come home from work—when someone comes home from work, having a ritual of connection there. Cami and I have one of those—as was mentioned, we’re blending a family and we’re quite affectionate and we’re in love with each other, but sometimes it’s a little bit uncomfortable to express that affection among, with the children around. So we have a ritual where we have a mudroom and when I walk in the garage door, she meets me in the mudroom and closes the door, and then we get two or three minutes of heaven in the mudroom to become reacquainted.

I promised that I wouldn’t embarrass her, and I guess I broke my promise.

Bedtime is another time. Some research shows that actually what you do right before bedtime has the most likelihood of staying in your brain by the time you wake up. Because while you are asleep, your brain goes through the day and it prunes off everything that it thinks that it doesn’t need. When you wake up in the morning, generally you’re refreshed and focused. So doing something right before you go to bed is very high quality.

In a family, it’s very special to have a routine of putting the children to bed that might include stories, songs, brushing your teeth, prayers—a variety of things. Research shows that children who have a specific routine that is followed faithfully are more likely to sleep well and be refreshed during the night.

The third suggestion is to learn to bundle—to do two or more things together at the same time in harmony. If you look up on the screen, this couple is doing six things at the same time. They are getting Vitamin D in the sun, they are improving their marriage as they talk and they walk, they are walking the dog, they are giving their child novel experiences to enhance their—well, the list goes on and on. But finding two or more things that you can do at the same time in harmony is beneficial.

The best present that my wife ever gave me was a tandem bicycle. Sometimes exercise isn’t fun when you do it alone, but it’s really fun when you do it with someone that you love. With a tandem bicycle, you can each get as much exercise as you want. If you really want to go for it, you can pedal as hard as you want. If you’re tired, you can put your feet up and let your partner do all the pedaling. And you’re always close enough to talk. It has just been a great thing, and we have bundled a lot of good marital time with exercise time together.

Another example of bundling might be you need to run errands at the store and you take a family member with you, so that you can have some good family time. And so forth. Elder Robert D. Hales counseled parents, in one form of bundling: “As you drive or walk children to school or their various activities, do you use the time to talk with them about their hopes and dreams and fears and joys? Do you take the time to have them take the earplugs from their MP3 players and all the other devices so that they can hear you and feel of your love?”[4]

So one of the ways to harmonize, then, is to bundle—to do two or more things together in harmony. And I invite you to think of, what are some of the things that you might bundle together?

The fourth suggestion is to focus on the most important things. One of the reasons that we’re so stressed is that we try to do everything, and not everything is important. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”[5]

The First Presidency also wrote: “However worthy or appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”[6]

To focus on important things, we must have boundaries with our time and our space and our energies. One of those important boundaries for us is to keep the Sabbath Day holy, to be able to set aside that day as a day that we will worship the Lord. An IBM executive that I knew, Bob Egan, who is now retired, was the only IBM executive that I ever met that was peaceful and was able to harmonize work and family life. He told me that he made a commitment that he would never work on the Sabbath Day, and so in his more than quarter century at IBM, he never did. And it was a great blessing to his family. . . . [and] he had a very successful career.

Another important thing is to spend quality time in vacations with family members. In our society today, oftentimes people bring their electronic devices with them on vacations, and it kind of ruins the effect of the vacation.

And it is very important to take care of yourself physically if you want to experience harmony—to eat the right things at the right times, to get adequate rest. In the United States today, the average person gets 6½ hours of sleep a night. Guess what the optimum amount is? Eight hours and 15 minutes. And what do you suppose happens when we get too little sleep? Do you think we’re happy and joyful and energized? No, we tend to be grouchy. So getting enough sleep is very important, as well as exercising and laughing. I’d encourage you to laugh. There’s research that shows that those who laugh get sick less frequently and get well faster when they are sick.

They did a study. The average preschool child laughs over 400 times a day. The average adult laughs about 15 times a day. So we should be more like the preschool children. So I encourage you to focus on the most important things.

The fifth suggestion is when you are out in the workplace, to choose to work flexibly. I have spent my academic career studying the benefits of flexible work arrangements for employees and also for families. And the research definitely shows that when you have flexibility in when and where you work, that a lot of good things happen.

Just one brief story. I was one of the first three telecommuters at IBM. I was working from my home in Logan, Utah, but my office was in Armonk, New York. And my manager had said that they were going to try it out. Nobody was doing it; they were going to try it out and see if it would work. I had to be sure to have a professional ambience in my home office there in Logan, Utah.

But one experience which made it into Reader’s Digest as an “All in A Day’s Work” was quite comical. I was recording my voice-mail greeting at the same time that my six-year-old daughter Emily got out of the shower, couldn’t find anything to wear, and came downstairs draped only in a towel. My wife was folding clothes in the laundry room, and when she saw Emily, said in a loud giggly female voice, “Look at you! You have no clothes on!” When I got several comments about my voice-mail greeting, I listened to it and this is what I heard:

“This is Dr. Jeff Hill with IBM Global Work Force Diversity. Look at you! You have no clothes on! I’m not available right now.”

But that being said, there are a lot more options now to work flexibly in the workplace, and as you get your own careers, look for those options.

Number six is to simply simplify your life. If we’re doing less, it’s easier to find harmony. Elder Neal A. Maxwell counseled us in general conference shortly before his death, to find something we don’t need to do and just stop doing it. He said that we’re doing too many things, that we should look at our lives and look at what is it that’s adding value to our lives. And if it isn’t, find our way to disengage.

Now I speak from experience as someone who has difficulty in saying “no” when people ask me to do things. But it requires, in order to find harmony, a lot of times we have to say “no” to less important things in order that we can say “yes” to more important things.

To simplify also, we can let go of material possessions that have a cost in resources and also have a cost in time. And as we compose a life of modest means and focused time, we will gain more harmony.

The final and most important suggestion to create harmony is to center our lives on the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There’s a quote that I love from Elder Howard W. Hunter, who said, “I am aware that life presents many challenges. But with the help of the Lord we need not fear. If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, nothing can go permanently wrong.”[7]

Isn’t that beautiful? If we are centered—actually, I could just give this talk with just one suggestion, which is to center your life on the Lord Jesus Christ. Because that is really the answer to all of our problems. We center our life on the Savior in our home by building spiritual patterns—the simple things like daily family prayer, daily family scripture reading, weekly family home evening, and monthly fasting. All of those things bring the Spirit of the Lord into our lives and help us to find harmony in all aspects of our lives.

I’d like to conclude by inviting you once again to see among these items, what is it that you could do to bring more harmony into your life. What can you do—one small thing—to enhance the energy that you have? What is one way that you could put time to better use and find quality time? What are some things that you could bundle together in harmony? What are some things that you need to focus on more? How can you work flexibly in your schoolwork and your occupational work and your family life and your Church work? What can you do to simplify in your life? What can you let go of that you don’t need to do? And how can you center your life more on the Savior?

I’d like to conclude with a quote from N. Eldon Tanner: “The happiest people I know are those whose lifestyles center around the home. Work is very important, and success in one’s profession or business is also essential to happiness, but remember what we say so often: ‘No other success can compensate for failure in the home.’ ” (David O. McKay).[8]

May each of you create of your life a beautiful symphony that combines all of these important, God-given facets. And may you consecrate that life unto God, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[2]Hill, E. Jeffrey. “Finding Harmony as We Struggle to Juggle,” Ensign, Feb. 2012, http://www.lds.org/ensign/print/2012/02/finding-harmony-as-we-struggle-to-juggle?lang=eng&clang=eng

[3]“To the Mothers in Zion” (pamphlet, 1987), quoted in “Finding Harmony as We Struggle to Juggle.”

[4]“Our duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Gneration,” April 2010 General Conference, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/our-duty-to-god-the-mission-of-parents-and-leaders-to-the-rising-generation?lang=eng.

[5]“Good, Better, Best,” October 2007 General Conference, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng.

[6]First Presidency Letter: Strengthening Families, Feb. 11, 1999, http://www.lds.org/pa/display/0,17884,5154-1,00.html.

[7]The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1997), 40. Quoted in “Finding Harmony as We Struggle to Juggle.”


Conquer Fears, Develop Good Habits, Set Goals

10 Oct. 2013


Conquer Fears, Develop Good Habits, Set Goals

 I’d like to compliment the students of LDS Business College. I’ve worked in four or five places, and the students here are the most kind and gracious students, not only to each other but also to the faculty, that I’ve ever worked with. So I want to compliment you.

I’ve given this talk three times in my head, and it went really well, so I’m hoping that we can have the Spirit here and that will happen again. As far as the finance goes, that’s just—I don’t know, I just like it. Some people think it’s weird, but I get a kick out of it.

Okay, we’re going to talk today about maxing out our agency. My philosophy in life is—in fact, I’ve kind of made a life study out of how can you get the most freedom, the most opportunities and the most happiness just by the way you live, by the choices you make and the habits you have. So living within the laws that Heavenly Father has given us and within those parameters, how can we maximize our mortal experience? How can we become the best person possible? I believe in continual improvement. I believe in striving for excellence. And kind of one of my mottos in life is “Make choices that give you more choices.”

Winston Churchill said this: “To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.” (http://www.movemequotes.com/10160/)

That quote actually has meant a lot to me in my life, because I want to be prepared for opportunities that come. I don’t want to have Heavenly Father saying, “Well, I would have given this to Lisa, but she’s not ready, so I’m going to give it to somebody else.” I want to be prepared. So how is it that we—how are we prepared for the work which would be our finest hour?

I’ve come up with a couple of things that I think would make a big impact in a person’s life. The first thing is fear; we must overcome fear. We must live courageously. I’ve kind of watched and just noticed that, more than any other thing, fear prevents people from living their dreams, from becoming the person or doing the things that they really want to.

We’ve all felt fear; we’re all going to feel fear in the future. But some people make excuses as to why something can’t be done. They talk around the topic; they never identify the thing that scares them. That’s fear. Other people claim, “Oh, it wouldn’t work anyway,” and they don’t want to do it. That’s fear. Some people just talk and talk and never act, and that’s also fear.

Sometimes we don’t want to admit that we’re afraid, so we avoid and dismiss and procrastinate. It doesn’t matter if the fear is real or imagined; it holds the same power in our mind. So the more you try to accomplish, the more fear that you’re going to have to overcome that you’re going to come up against.

I have come up against fear in my life. I was born a pretty conservative person, not a huge risk-taker. I’m the oldest of six, and so I was to set the example. Yet at the same time, I had this huge passion for accomplishing really big goals. So those two things kind of conflict. I’m a conservative, and yet I really want to do big things. So these two things are in constant battle. But if you talk to my family, my friends, and my colleagues, they would say, “She’s not afraid. She never has fear.” But that’s not true. In reality, it’s something that I’ve had to overcome again and again. I’ve had to wrestle fear to the ground, have it walk beside me haunting me, and I’ve had to look it in the eyes and go for it anyway.

When I was little I used to be really shy. Really shy. And when I was 12 years old I was asked to speak in church, and I was terrified. I pretty much wanted to throw up. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to play sick. I wanted to get out of it. I just didn’t want to do it.

I remember lying in bed before I had to give my talk—so this would be Saturday night—and I thought, “I would rather take a bullet to my big toe than speak in church tomorrow.” Maybe a little dramatic, but that’s how I felt at 12 years old. Public speaking was not my idea of fun. And so now I speak in public for a living. But that didn’t happen overnight. I served a mission in New Jersey, I worked at the MTC for a while, and I’ve also taught for a long time. So it’s something that I overcame with practice or repetition.

In my classes my students are asked to give an oral report, and sometimes I get dirty looks from students when they’re just about to give their oral report. But so far nobody has died, and I’ve seen some wonderful examples of courage as my students teach each other the gospel. We’ve had some really strong spirit in our class.

So let’s talk about how we overcome fear. What are some things that you can do? And it’s best if you plan out ahead of time what you’re going to do, instead of just ignoring it and saying, “Well, I’m not going to do big things because it’s not easy.” You have to realize that fear, failure and frustration are part of life. It’s just something that you experience. And if you know ahead of time that you’re going to come up against that, then it’s not such a big deal. It’s expected when it happens. It’s not devastating. If you’re afraid, it’s okay. If you’re frustrated, it’s okay. If you feel like a failure, it’s okay. It may or may not be true, but it’s okay if you feel that way.

You can also practice whatever it is you’re afraid of. Practice. We get better with practice.

I think one of the really powerful things that I’ve done is exercise gratitude, where you either think in your head or write down the things you are grateful for. And gratitude brings in the Spirit, brings in this power that overcomes fear. You feel powerful, you feel courageous, and you feel you can do whatever it is that’s freaking you out.

I worked in the temple, the Salt Lake Temple. They do live endowments, and I was an interpreter for sign language. And for seven years, I had to memorize different scripts, and I had to stand up in front and obviously it’s not my first language, so it was really difficult for me to memorize these things. And then I would, without any prompting, stand up and you would have to sign for an hour. And I remember the first time I did that, I thought I was going to pass out or something, which I didn’t. But I remember waiting for people to come in and all of a sudden the idea came to me: What are you grateful for? I started listing all the things I was grateful for. The fear dissipated, went away, and this power came into me. And so I think gratitude is really powerful.

Sometimes we just have to have courage in the face of fear. You can’t always make the fear go away. But you can do it anyway; you can just go for it. Sometimes we have to do things that scare us.

You can also prepare by talking to other people who have done what you want to do. You can read, you can study. You can also talk yourself through it and say, “You can do this. You can do this.” Or “I can do this. I can do this.”

I think another effective thing is asking yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and then don’t make things up. You’re not going to pass out while you’re giving a talk in church. So if you’re willing to work through your fears, you’ll discover that you can accomplish some incredible things.

I’m going to talk about habits for a minute. We can max out our agency by developing good habits. Now this is something that is overlooked by a lot of people. They don’t think about it; they don’t plan a lot for habits. They don’t look at their habits, examine them. Yet this one thing, little thing separates people who are successful from those who are not—your habits. So I want you to think about your own habits right now. What do you do when you get home from school? What’s the first thing you do? Do you automatically go in and sit down in front of the television and all of a sudden it’s 10:30 at night, with no homework done? What are your habits? What are the things that you do?

Let me read from—this book is called The Success Principles. It’s by Jack Canfield. He says: “Psychologists tell us that up to 90 percent of our behavior is habitual. Ninety percent! From the time you get up in the morning until the time you retire at night, there are hundreds of things you do the same way every day. These include the way you shower, dress, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, drive to work [or school], [and] … shop [for groceries]…. Over the years, you have developed a set of firmly entrenched habits that determine how well every area of your life works, from your job to your health and …relationships.

“The good news is that habits… [allow us to] plan [our] day… in the shower, [to do two things at once]. The bad news is that habits…. [lock us into behavior that may limit our growth and success].

So “whatever habits you currently have established are producing your current level of results.” If you want to be more successful, you have to drop some of your habits—staying up late, procrastination, being late to appointments—“and replace them with more productive habits”—eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising. (The Success Principles, Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer, HarperCollins, 2005, p. 247.)

Robert J. Ringer said, “Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success.” (Million Dollar Habits, found at http://www.mind-trek.com/milliona/ffp01.htm)

Tommy Newberry in his book, which I really like—it’s called Success Is Not an Accident—he says: “Your habits determine your outcomes. Successful people don’t just drift to the top. Getting there requires focused action, personal discipline, and energy to make things happen. The habits you develop from this day forward will ultimately determine how your future unfolds.”

So how do we deal with this? First we identify habits we want to get rid of—things that are negatively affecting us. Once we’ve identified negative habits, then we select a better, more successful habit and set up a system that will support your new habit—deadlines for yourself, plan ahead so you can arrive on time, listen twice as much as you talk by asking questions. So this is my suggestion: I would try to form a new habit once every quarter of the year, once every three months. So you sit down and determine, what are the four habits that I want to accomplish in the next year’s time? And every three months you try to work on—for three months at a time, you work on a new habit. And you just work on one at a time. Hopefully, after three months it becomes a part of your life. So essentially, within five years from now, you would have twenty new habits and potentially be a completely new person. That becomes pretty powerful.

All right, let’s talk about the habits of successful people. One of the habits I think successful people have is they are willing to take responsibility for their own choices and actions. So we have to accept responsibility for ourselves, our behavior, and our choices. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Let him learn of prudence of a higher strain. Let him learn that everything in nature, even dust and feathers, go by law and not by luck; and know what he sows, he reaps.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants 6:33, “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.”

Let’s go to a quote from Tommy Newberry about success, or about accepting responsibility. He says, “This God-given natural law was old when the pyramids were new; like gravity, it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everywhere in the world, regardless of whether anyone has ever told you about it. It is simply impossible to harvest something that has not been sown. Though many squander their entire lives attempting to do just this, only to end up in frustration. Success is the effect generated by right thinking and right actions. Success, and failure for that matter, are not accidents but consequences. If you want to know what you have sowed in the past, look around you and see what you are reaping today.”

You begin your climb toward your full potential as a human being the moment you accept and absorb the truth that cause and consequence are inseparable. The mark of a fully mature and mentally healthy individual is the acceptance of complete responsibility for one’s life. When you accept total responsibility, you recognize that you are the cause of all of your choices, decisions, and actions. When you are anchored in the reality of responsibility, you are far more likely to act in ways that will not later become a cause of regret, frustration, or embarrassment. Life is a two-for-one deal. With every choice, you get a free consequence.”

Nathaniel Branden said, “We are not passive spectators but active contestants in the drama of our existence. We need to take responsibility for the kind of life we create for ourselves.” (“Passion and Soulfulness,” http://www.nathanielbranden.com/discussions/relationships/passion-and-soulfulness/.)

I think another habit that would benefit—that benefits people is hard work. I’ve discovered an important secret, and that is that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to pay the price, and you have to do the work. There are a lot of infomercials and other things out there selling the shortcut to success, get-rich-quick schemes. And you might be able to trick others, but you can’t trick yourself, because confidence and growth come from doing the work and not looking for ways to avoid it. See, you have to do the work. You have to pay the price. That’s the plan of salvation. Satan is the author of shortcuts. He tried to take a shortcut himself to glory, and you see where that ended up. We can’t become like God if we take shortcuts.

Let’s talk about keeping a long-term perspective. I think this is huge. People who have a long-term perspective make better choices than those who do not. Nolan Watson, who was the youngest CEO on Wall Street at age 26, said this about making choices, making long-term choices or having a long-term perspective. He said it “comes from a place of making the right long-term decisions as opposed to the right short-term decisions, which often turn out to be the wrong long-term decisions. There are a lot of people who are focused on the ‘now’ instead of the obvious long-term things. The long-term things are easier to predict. I don’t make a decision unless I think it’s the best in the long run.” (from an article dated Dec. 21, 2012, available at http://seekingalpha.com/article/1077661-sandstorm-ceo-nolan-watsons-exclusive-interview-for-seeking-alpha. )

So when you’re young, you can get away with things like two hours of sleep a night or eating junk food all the time. But what I have noticed is that when you reach the age of 36-40, your personal choices become public information. So you want to develop the habits now that you’re going to be happy with when you’re older, and it is true, to some degree, that you can get away with that now. But those aren’t the habits that you want to develop.

I want you to think about the long-term consequences of the following choices. So where would you end up if you made these choices? Where would you end up if you hit the snooze button twelve times every morning? You don’t need to raise your hand if you do this, okay? Where would you end up if you invested thirty percent of your income monthly? Where would you end up if you spent more than you make every month? Where would you end up if you robbed a bank in a rabbit mask? There’s a lot of people that are making decisions that are going to limit their choices in the future.

Watching TV for eight hours or more? I had a roommate and that’s what she would do. If she was in the house, she would watch TV. And sometimes on Sunday she was able to watch more than eight hours of TV. And there was a permanent dent in the couch where she was. She was not a happy person. What if you played video games all night long and then you fell asleep at church or on the job? There actually was a girl in my ward who would play video games all night long and then she would sleep out in the foyer on the couch because she was too tired to stay awake. Where would you be if you wrote down goals and you systematically accomplished them?

Long-term consequences of driving 120 miles an hour down I-15? I had a student tell me that he did that—not here, at the U. What are the long-term consequences of cheating in your classes? The long-term consequences of exercising several times a week? The long-term consequences of being last to help but first in line for dinner? Or the long-term consequences of eating only a diet of double cheeseburgers, chips, and soda? The consequences of never, ever flossing your teeth?

I think you get the idea. If you look at where do I want to be, how is this choice going to affect me in the long term versus just right now. If we keep the long-term perspective in mind, we will make choices consistent with our long-term goals, and it makes it easier to accomplish our goals.

Tommy Newberry says, “If you live your life like most people do, you will get what most people get. You will settle for what most people settle for. If you want to lead an extraordinary life, find out what the ordinary do and don’t do it. That is the simple but true formula. Remember, no one plans to become mediocre. Mediocrity is the result of no plan at all. High achievers are motivated by pleasurable outcomes. Underachievers are motivated by pleasurable methods.”

Okay, I’m going to explain that. I’m going to say it one more time: “High achievers are motivated by pleasurable outcomes. Underachievers are motivated by pleasurable methods.” So the world can be divided into feelers and doers. Feelers take action and initiative only when they feel like doing so. In other words, they feel their way into acting. If they don’t feel like doing something that will advance their goals, they won’t do it. If a feeler feels like exercising, he will. If he doesn’t, he won’t. A feeler’s decisionmaking ability is wired to his short-term emotional appetite. He’s a prisoner of the desire for instant gratification, and will naturally suffer the long-term consequences of this short-term perspective. Feeling-driven thinking is shallow thinking, and lacks character, conviction, and maturity. Feeling-driven thinking is also a habit.

Doers, on the other hand, act their way into feeling. After determining what needs to be done, doers take action. They just do it. If they don’t feel like taking action, they consider that emotion to be a distraction and take action in spite of it. They refuse to let their desire for short-term comfort divert them from their long-term goals.

So there’s a secret to overcoming the feeling-driven choice making, or bad habit, and it’s called the no-exceptions rule. So once you make the 100 percent commitment to do something, there are no exceptions. It’s a done deal, and non-negotiable. You don’t have to think about it again and again, you don’t have to re-decide every time. There are no exceptions no matter what the circumstances. The discussion is over; there’s no other possibility. You don’t have to wrestle with that decision again and again. It’s already been made, and it makes life simpler.

If you’ve made the 100 percent commitment to exercise every day for 30 minutes no matter what, then it’s settled. You simply just do it. It doesn’t matter if you went to bed late last night, if you have an early morning test, if you have a full schedule, if it’s raining outside, or if you just don’t feel like it. You do it anyway.

I’ll use a personal example. When I was teaching previous to now, I had to be to work at 7:00 a.m. But I decided that I wanted to go work out every morning, and so that involved me waking up at 4:30 so that I could be at the gym when it opened at 5:00. Have any of you consistently woken up at 4:30? It’s slightly painful. Physically, it’s painful. Like, when you wake up, you think “Ow.” So it actually, it took me three months…I would make the decision while laying in my warm bed. Not a good place to make long-term decisions. I would lay there and think, “Do I want to get up and go to the gym today?” And I would think, “Uh, comfortable surroundings, no, I’m not going to go in today.” So I kind of got tired of that. I got frustrated with myself after about three months and I said, “I am going to the gym no matter what.”

So I put my alarm on the other side of the room so that I had to get out of bed. Maybe you have tried this trick on yourself. So I had to get out of bed and I…the first morning I jumped out of bed and I just stood there like this: “Don’t get back in bed.” And I knew the bed was still warm, right? “Don’t get back in bed.” And I stood there—okay. And I realized that the first five minutes were the most painful, of getting up. If you could just get out of bed then that was half the battle. And so eventually I started waking up about two minutes before my alarm, which I kind of felt satisfied with. If you wake up before your alarm…I just got into a habit, and so I would go every single day, no matter what. The ironic thing is that I didn’t get sick during that time either, so I didn’t have to use that as an excuse not to go.

So you can train yourself, or you can develop habits, and if you exercise every day like that, it really makes a difference in how you think and what you think about. And you have endorphins running through your body and that’s always good.

Let’s talk about goals. If you want to max out your agency, you need to set and work on goals. I often hear people say that others have been successful—they have a great job, they have a great family, great house, or great life—and they call it lucky. That person is lucky. Everything always works out for so and so. But it’s really not luck or chance; it’s a choice. Tommy Newbury, again, says, “An extraordinary life is simply the accumulation of thousands of efforts, often unseen by others, that often lead to accomplishment of worthwhile goals.” You are rich with choice.

Michelangelo said about the Sistine Chapel, and also his sculptures in stone: “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” (Wikiquotes, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Michelangelo.)

Okay. I would like you to raise your hand if you have goals. Good. Okay, keep your hand up if you have written them down in a journal or notebook. Okay, keep your hand up if you review your goals periodically. Okay, then keep your hand up if you have a written copy with you right now. Okay, a couple of people. Awesome.

Goals can be really powerful. They’re really motivating. When you write down goals, it should be something that you really want to accomplish. The test for a goal, if you write it down, is, will I get up at 4:30 in the morning for this? If the answer is no, then you’re not committed to the goal. If you’re willing to sacrifice sleep or something else for the goal, then it’s a real goal.

President Ezra Taft Benson said this about goals: “When we set goals, we are in command. If we know where we are going, we can judge more accurately where we are now and make effective plans to reach our destination. If we keep a goal firmly in mind, we will know when we have reached it. This gives us a sense of accomplishment and the challenge of establishing fresh, new goals—always keeping the long-range objective in mind. If we can state our goals clearly, we will gain a purpose and meaning in all our actions. Clearly understood goals bring our goals into focus just as a magnifying glass focuses a beam of light into one burning point. Without goals, our efforts … may be torn by conflicting impulses or desires.” He gave that in a mission president’s seminar in 1974 in Salt Lake. (Quoted in Sampson, Robin, Wisdom: An Internet-Linked Unit Study, Heart of Wisdom Publishing, p. 99)

So I’m going to give you a little challenge, and that’s to make a compelling list of goals in all areas of your life—financial, spiritual, physical, health, family, school—and to work on those and to review those. You need to write down what you want to become. Maybe picture yourself in thirty years from now. What do I need to write down so that I can accomplish that?

John Roans says, “You want to set a goal that is big enough that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming.”

And Andrew Carnegie said, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” (Quoted in Foy, Terri Savelle, Imagine Big: Unlock the Secret to Living Out Your Dreams,Regal, 2012)

John Goddard, who was a legendary goal setter, he at age 15 created a set of 127 life goals that shaped his life for decades to come. And some of them are like “wrestling bears” and stuff like that. You don’t need to put that on your list, but whatever works for you, whatever you are motivated by.

I had about 284 life goals; I have them down to about 50 lower than that now. But goals are motivating, goals are inspiring, and goals also help you keep a long-term perspective because you are willing to sacrifice to accomplish a specific goal. So I would write down, what do I need to do to accomplish this goal? How am I going to accomplish this goal? And then come back to it periodically and review your goals. It keeps your perspective in mind and also it helps you be open to opportunities, to see opportunities that will help you accomplish your goals.

My goal for you—I get a kick out of watching people accomplish goals—and my goal for you is to become very successful and to be able to max out your agency by making choices that will give you more choices.

I want to end by reading Winston Churchill’s quote again: “To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which will be his finest hour.” And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Choose Not to Hold Back

10 Oct. 2013


Choose Not to Hold Back

How many are here to a devotional for the first time because you are a brand new student to the College?  The rest of you old timers know the drill, so you know what I’m going to say here for a second. For those who are here for the very first time, I want to tell you how this all works, no matter which week or who the devotional speaker is. The speaker may say something that is interesting, and may have bullet points and may say, “I have five of these and three of these things to remember”—that’s all well and good. But I’ll tell you what you should write down in your book: the things that the Spirit teaches you, the promptings of the still, small voice. What a wonderful opportunity we have every week to come and practice hearing the still, small voice for us, our individual needs, our wants, and our righteous desires. So I invite you today to start. Learn to listen with your heart and record what the Spirit would have you know. And then it won’t matter what the speaker says. You’ll have a great meeting.

Now I was going to sing in that choir of faculty, staff and administrators, but then I realized it’s customary for the speaker to thank the choir for a wonderful job. If I sang in the choir and then came down and thanked the choir, it would sound a little self-serving. So I decided not to do that. But I do want to thank the choir. They sounded pretty good, didn’t they? They are here because of their hearts and their skills.  Everyone who works at this College carries a temple recommend and, if our hearts are right, can help you develop the skills right for you. I testify to you that every person in that choir has a heart directed to you.

I want to introduce the thought that has been pressing upon my mind and heart. Then I’m goingto call on some people to come and express their thoughts. They’ve had about a half an hour’s warning. Those are the best thoughts, aren’t they? You don’t have time to be nervous. And when you’re not thinking about being nervous or focusing on yourself, the Spirit can do wonderful things through you to lift other people up and bless their lives.

So today’s theme is “holding back.” Here’s my wish for you—here’s the conclusion: that you choose to not hold back while at the College. You’re in a temple of learning at LDS Business College, in a building dedicated by a prophet of God, for the purpose of discovering your talents, layering a skill on top of those talents, and learning to tell your story to the world. Now that’s a pretty good deal, isn’t it? But some of you because of fear, because of a whole bunch of other reasons, will hold back. You will miss the opportunities Father in Heaven has already designed for you here, and for the purposes that He brought you here. So my prayer is you will not hold back.

Now, Randy was brave enough to talk about an experience he had the first time he blessed the sacrament. I bet somewhere in the world there is more than one young man who did it four times and refused to do a fifth and never came back. I’ll bet there’s more than one young man at the priest table who held back for the rest of his life.

I know a family who took a trip to Europe, to France. One of the daughters in that family took French in junior high and all through high school and for a couple of years in college. To the amazement of the family, when they got to France, she wouldn’t speak French. She held back.

I also know of a young woman who will not try to do something new, to take a risk, because for her, she has to be perfect at it the first time. So she holds back.

I also know of a young man who, because of events and teasing received in his life early in elementary school, continues as an adult to think of himself as less than his peers. He devalues himself and withholds a greater contribution because he holds back.

Now brothers and sisters, what’s the consequence? When we hold back, we deny ourselves opportunities for growth, and to strengthen the talents God has given us. Consequently, we miss out on those attendant blessings, and we may even fall short of fulfilling the specific mission God has for us.

Let me tell you a little story about my grandfather. He was an apostle, and he wrote this. His father was a patriarch, by the way, and when he was made a patriarch he practiced on his children. It seems a little odd, but he practiced on his children. So Grandpa wrote this. He said, “I received a patriarchal blessing when I was only eight years old, and among other things it said, ‘Thou hast not come here upon the earth by chance, but in fulfillment of the decrees of the Almighty to accomplish a great work.’”

Grandpa says, “Then it went on to detail about what I could do, and all my life as a boy I prayed that if I did not come here by chance, that the Lord would help me to live up, so that I would not be deprived of the privileges of doing the work that He sent me here to do.”

I cannot imagine anything that would be more disappointing than to return after this life and have the Lord say, ‘Well, LeGrand, we sent you to do such and such, but you wouldn’t do it. You got off on a detour, and we had to raise someone else up to do your work for you.’”

Then Grandpa continued: “If the veil could be parted and you could see who you were then, and then have a recollection and a vision of what awaits you, what the Lord had in mind for you, the noble and great ones who have come forth in this day and time, I do not think that any of you would while away your time. You want to make sure that you are using those gifts and talents that God has endowed you with for the honor and glory of His name and the blessings of His children.”

Now, many of you have traveled a very great distance to be at this College, and there has been a very great sacrifice on your part, of time and effort and money, possibly from friends and relatives and family as well. I invite you, brothers and sisters, to not hold back.

Now I’m going to ask a few people that are hereto come to the podium. I’m impressed to have them come and do this. Spend no more than two minutes and share with us an experience in your life of either holding back or not holding back, and what the consequences have been and what you’ve learned from it. I invite Miles Hunsaker, who is the program director of our interior design program. And then we’ll hear from Barbara Thompson. Barbara has worked here at the College for a while, and she’s about to depart to take a new job down at BYU. Then we’re going to hear from Tracy Williams. He’s the director of the Institute program here at the College. And then from Brent Cherrington, who is the chief information officer at the College. Then we’re going to hear from Mitch Pendleton, one of our brand-new, full-time faculty members. And then finally, I’m going to call upon my own daughter, Lauren Richards Wall. And then we’re just going to see how this talk develops. I pray for them. I pray for you, that you may hear what’s important to be heard. Brother Hunsaker.

Brother Miles Hunsaker:

It’s good to be with you, even standing right here. So the story I want to share with you is about one of my students. Her name is Haley—a great student, very committed to her schooling. She had an internship toward the end of her program here at the College. It was in Orem, and ended up being a full-time job for her after she graduated. So after about three months of working there, she called me one day and said, “Brother Hunsaker, can I come and talk to you?” Absolutely.

She came to talk to me and said, “You know, I know this is a good place for me to be, but I just feel like there’s a different place I should go. But I’m scared.” She grew up in Orem, she was working there, she hadn’t really moved anywhere from that point. We had a discussion about what possibilities she had or maybe thoughts or ideas she had. I encouraged her to pray about it, to spend some time and pray about it, get some impressions from the Spirit. So she spent the weekend considering the options, and then she came back to my office and we had a discussion.

She said, “You know, I’m impressed that I should look at St. George, but I’m nervous about moving. I don’t know what this means.”

I said, “Well, let’s look at that. Let’s look at what the options might be.” I said, “When do you want to go?”

She said, “Well, I don’t know that I want to go.”

I said, “Well, let’s just plan. You plan a trip to go down. Here’s a lead; here’s a company that I know down there. Go down and visit with them.”

She came back and she was full of life. She said, “I know that I belong there.” They offered her a job—they created a position for her as senior designer which was amazing for her as a new graduate. So she moved down. A lot of faith—she was scared. She was very nervous, but she did it.

She moved down to work for that company. They were one of the largest construction  and development companies in St. George. She was published several times in magazines, had clients in California that she flew out to meet with—this just exploded her career. [She] met her husband and started a family, and she was able to have her career to the point where she could taper back, work part-time, and raise her family.

I had a chance to run into her a couple of years ago, and it was incredible to hear her story. She bore witness to how important it is to follow the Spirit, to also take a chance, to step out of our comfort zone and to do what we know we should do but to consider what the Spirit has for us in store. That’s my story about Haley.

Sister Barbara Thompson:

I will do my best to express myself in a way that will send the intended message I have. I had a really easy story I could have shared about Sheri Dew and the BYU basketball team. It’s really good. Look it up—you’ll find great strength from it. But I feel prompted to share a story that’s obviously very personal. So again, I hope I express myself in a way that’s a blessing.

This experience was right after I graduated with my master’s degree from BYU. It was a few months after September 11th, 2001. The economy was terrible and I had a lot of options on where I could live. If I moved to Arizona, my sister’s father-in-law could hook me up with a job at Mesa Community College. And I had other options. But I felt I needed to move to the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon area, so I did. It was kind of blind faith, and I went. When I got there, I finally had time to look for a job and saw that I was living in the highest unemployment area in the nation. So it was a lot of fun. You couldn’t even find temp work there because the thousands of engineers and IT people that had been laid off were taking all the temp jobs. So this was quite a challenge for me. I had just worked so hard in school for seven years and had student loans to pay off and really wanted to breathe a little bit, because I felt I’d already been stretched so thin in school.

So in this situation I did a lot of praying and fasting and receiving blessings. And the Lord said, “Be still and know that I am God,” that “this is where I want you.” My agenda was, “I need a good job. I need to move forward in my career.” Heavenly Father’s agenda was, “I need to teach you something more important than getting a job and starting off in the career you want.”

So this actually went on for a really, really long time. My first year there I spent going to temp job to unemployment to temp job to unemployment. I don’t know how much you make a year now as college students, but I had made $12,000 as a graduate student the year before, working 10-20 hours a week. The year after that I made $8,000. So that lets you know how tough that was. This went on for a really long time. My family was concerned and my friends were concerned, and I was holding back some of my faith because of the opinions of others telling me that I was really stupid to stay there, that I had given up and I was living beneath my privileges. I was holding back because of my fear and uncertainty. I had worked hard and felt I had earned that security of having a job.

So I pressed forward. I did everything I could to learn about finding a job and learned about resumes and interviewing and cover letters and networking, and did everything I could. And still I wasn’t finding what I felt I needed. And Heavenly Father kept saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” So I wasn’t holding back in effort or time, because I’m one of those people that want to plan every detail of my life. But Heavenly Father was asking me to hold back my agenda and embrace His. And through that process I came to know Him more than I had ever known Him before, because He was there with me every step of the way and He suffered the things I suffered with me.

One thing He promised me through this was that one day I would have an abundance of opportunities, and also that when I was in situations where I needed the answers I would have them, as if I had read them from a book.

Several years later I was working at BYU-Idaho career services, where I worked for four years. I was taking these exams to certify as a resume writer nationally and an employment interview professional. I didn’t feel ready for them. I hadn’t been at my job very long, and I really didn’t feel ready. One of the exams was three days long, and I just did it because my department was paying for it and my boss expected me to do it. So I did it, but I was worried it was going to be a waste of their money.

When I was taking that exam, the answers came to me because the previous 5 ½ years of craziness I’d been through had taught me how to think and how to be a good career counselor. When I passed the exams, they didn’t give me any feedback, so I called them and said, “Do you have any corrective feedback? I know about four or five people reviewed this.” They said, “No. No one had any feedback for you.” I remembered that blessing that said the answers would come to you as though you read from a book.

And then I started experiencing all this abundance of opportunities where I had BYU-Provo calling and saying, “Hey, would you consider working down here? We could really use your skills down here.” And I had BYU-Hawaii saying, “Hey, we love what you’re doing there; could you come and work here?” And luckily the Lord let me come to LDS Business College for two years. I just want to testify that Heavenly Father keeps every single promise when we don’t hold back. When we hold back, all we’re doing is suffering in vain. When we let go and open our hearts and say, “Whatever you want, Heavenly Father; this is about you and your work, not me and mine,” that’s when we come to know Him and that’s when He can take us much higher than we ever thought possible. I’m grateful to have had some small experiences of that in my life. I’m grateful to know that Heavenly Father’s plan is perfect and that He knows a lot more than me. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brother Tracy Williams:

It’s nice to be with you this morning, and it’s fun to barely see your faces. I’m grateful for the spirit you brought with you as you’ve come today. I’ve thought of the following phrase that kind of fits with what holding back, often why it happens. And it goes like this: Don’t allow fear to rob you of the action and power of faith.

We all face experiences that are frightening and new. You may be here going to school in a foreign land, trying to speak a language that’s not your native tongue, a strange city, new roommates—lots of different things you’re facing. I’m reminded of a group of young men that were put in a situation they had never been in before. They were asked by their leader the following question: “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?” (Alma 56:44).

And these 2,000 young men said, “We will,” never having fought before. Many of you are going to face things that you’ve never faced before. You can and you must decide if you will face the challenges. All challenges are opportunities to grow and to progress and fly.

I’d like to share two short experiences. One took place 17 years ago in the Uintah Mountains. They’re the mountain range that’s east of the Wasatch Front that you see here. My daughter, who at the time was 14, wanted to hike King’s Peak with me and a group of other youth, and so I was taking them on a trip. As we got to the summit, she was starting to get sick from the altitude.

I said, “Do you want to stay here?”

She said, “No!”

I said, “Can you make it?”

She said, “If you’ll hold my hand, I can make it.” And so we hiked the final couple of miles to the very top. And as we got to the top, I almost had to carry her because she was so sick.

And as we were coming down it got worse, and at one point I turned to her and said, “Sweetheart, there will come times in your life when you will learn and lean back on this experience to face other hard things that will come in the future.” Today she is a mother of three children, living in Victor, New York which is about 20 minutes from Palmyra. She’s had many opportunities to fall back on that experience.

The last experience has to do with flying. Sailing often occurs by facing the wind. Sometimes we think it’s the wind that catches from behind and catches the sail. It’s from the wind that faces and hits us face on. And often times to maneuver, we do a term or maneuver called “tacking.”

When I was a little boy in 1959—I was 5 years old—my father took me to the elementary school and we flew a kite. We had it on this ball of string and it was going up and up, until it got to the end of the string. And being a little child I said, “Dad, cut the string. It will fly higher.”

He smiled and said, “Son, it will not. It will come crashing to the ground.”

I said, “It won’t. It will fly.”

He said, “Okay,” and he took out his pocket knife and cut the string. The kite began to wobble crazily and then nose-dived to the ground, some 200 feet and shattered into pieces. I looked at it and I looked at him, and he smiled. He said, “I told you.” And then he said this line, and this is my final thought for you. He said, “Son, if you want to fly, you’ve got to face the wind, and you’ve got to take it.”

Don’t be afraid to fly in the wind, face the challenges, exercise your faith, and to grow. I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brother Brent Cherrington:

For me, holding back has a synonym. The synonym is procrastination. A number of years ago as I was living in Ogden, north of here, I had the distinct impression, because my children were going to school there, that I should run for the Board of Education. The time was coming up and there was an opening on the board in my particular precinct. I procrastinated and didn’t file for the office, and another individual won.

A short time later, the company I was working for, which was interestingly enough the Church at that time, invited me to go to a meeting with a Christian minister whose name was Zig Ziglar. I don’t know if any of you have heard of him; he died just a short time ago. I listened to Zig Ziglar and he mentioned how we all have this potential within us to do what we want to do. He wrote a book called Just Do It. So I went to the seminar and I was all fired up, but the time had passed for the precinct that I was living in to file. It just so happened that the individual who won the election was called on a mission and had to vacate the seat on the school board. So I went down and applied and was selected, and it has made—as Robert Frost said—it has made “all the difference.”

The effect that it had on my life since that time—I was a computer programmer before, nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s something I enjoy doing—but it got me interested in education and led to a master’s degree in education and then led me here to the Business College. It has made all the difference in my life.

I encourage you to not procrastinate your feelings and the impressions that our Father in Heaven leaves with you, because He is directing your lives. I believe it. I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brother Mitch Pendleton:

I’ve been prompted to share a couple of things. The first one is about my wife. I want to share with you that she is amazing, and she is my rock. I married way up. We were both older when we got married, and I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks from now and you’ll get to meet her and feel of her spirit. But before we were married, she did not hold back. She went on a mission. She was not going to do that but she was prompted so she did not hold back. She served very faithfully, amazing experiences happened to her, and then she came home and finished her degree. Then, prompted again, she went to law school. During that time is when we met, and our story goes from there. She did not sit around, she did not hold back but realized she was a daughter of God that needed to go forth and live up to the potential that was within her.

Let me share another quick story from the scriptures. Genesis 22 provides an interesting setting for, I think, one of the most powerful stories in scripture. Abraham is commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. I don’t think we can understand what that man went through, but he did not hold back but gathered wood and, being beckoned, was told, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.” (v. 2)

What that man must have gone through, but he followed that. He was directed by the Lord to show himself, to prove himself, and he did not hold back. May I offer you my testimony of going for it? You are here for a reason and a purpose. You might not know that now, but you will. The Lord will bless you and you will gain insights here that you have not yet received in your life. It will be important that you follow the Spirit, that you follow those promptings, that you keep yourself worthy for following those promptings. And as you do so, you will be blessed. Don’t hold back. Go for it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sister Lauren Wall:

I think I need a Primary stool. So I am sure I’m not the only one of the last 30 minutes who hasn’t thought of all the times in their lives that they may have held back and missed an opportunity. I thought about the time I was a senior in high school and tried out for the boys’ golf team. I made it! Well, I missed the first three years because I didn’t have the guts to do it.

Or, I had a pretty good impression when I was a junior, going to school up at the U, that I should change my major. But that’s kind of intense, so I didn’t do that. So I’m a political science major and I dislike politics.

But it started me thinking. There is this really cool story that my father showed me when I was deciding whether or not to go on a mission. It’s when Joshua has taken over for Moses in leading the children of Israel. And he needs to sort of prove he is the new prophet, so they get to the waters of Jordan and they need to cross it.

The Lord says, “Well, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to send the priests down; they’re going to hold the Ark of the Covenant, and they need to step into the water. And then I’ll let you know what to do after that.”

So the priests go down, they take the Ark of the Covenant, which is super important. They step into the water, which, can you imagine the faith? It says in the scriptures that it’s flood season, so it’s not a little trickle they’re trying to cross. There’s a bit of a flood going on, and they take a step into the river and it parts. (See Joshua 3:1-17) And then they have to stand there while the children of Israel try to get through this river. Can you imagine looking up, you’re holding the Ark of the Covenant, you’re looking up the river, there’s maybe a wall of water, I don’t know, and thinking, “You know, it could come at any moment. I’m just going to stand here in this riverbed.”

But that to me is the essence of how our Heavenly Father works. It says He took them to the brink of the water, and then He made them get their feet wet. But I think that’s how our Heavenly Father works. And that is one of the biggest reasons we hold back -- we don’t want to get our feet wet.

So then I thought of a time when I didn’t hold back. When I was 21, I prayed to go on a mission. On the day that I fasted and prayed, I got a call from the stake president and I got a new church calling. When I was 23, I decided to pray again, and this time I was living in Illinois for just a short time. I prayed, I fasted, and on that day I got a call from the stake president in Utah, giving me a church calling. So I was thinking apparently this whole mission thing wasn’t supposed to happen.

Then I got to be 25, and I got a new car, and I got new golf clubs, and I graduated and got a new job that actually was in my major, and I went to a fireside.  The speaker was Elder [Dallin H.] Oaks. I sat there for a few minutes, and I had this impression that it was time for me to go on a mission. Honestly, I was like, “Are you kidding me? Really? That’s what your plan is?” And I fought it, and fought it for a little while until I knew that I couldn’t. But that in itself has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. The things that I learned, just for me, on my mission I have been able to apply at work, in my home, in my new marriage—the Lord knows what is best for us.

There’s a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that says, “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you, and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” (D&C 68:6)

I know that for all of the different reasons we could hold back—whether it’s making a new friend, whether it’s putting our all into classes—if we trust in our Savior, He will give us the guts to do the things that we need to do in order to be the best that we can be. I know this to be true, and I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

President Richards:

Well, how do you like my talk so far? I think it’s been a pretty good one. Let me sum up a couple of things, because they gave my talk. Let me just amplify a couple of things. From Miles, I want to amplify following the Spirit and reaching out.

One of the ways we hold back is a reluctance to stretch just a little bit more. Brothers and sisters, the Lord expects us to stretch just a little bit more. I heard a colleague express it this way once. He said the Savior works on the frontiers, finding new ground, new avenues for our lives, pushing at the frontiers. And then he said, “The problem is that most of us want to spend our lives in the settlements, because it’s convenient and it’s stable and it’s consistent.” Life is like trying to go up a down escalator. When we pause we fall back. When we pause we hold back.

From Barbara, I learned that one of the remedies for holding back is to trust God and His plan for you. There was a plan for Barbara; she didn’t get to see it. There is a plan for you. Most of the time Heavenly Father just tells us to move our feet in a direction. And it’s when we look backwards we see how it all fits together. So brothers and sisters, we cannot hold back because it interrupts the plan that Heavenly Father has for you.

From Brother Williams—every fear hides a vision of your God-given potential and the plan for you. The Saturday after graduation here on Temple Square, Sister Richards and I came back to look at the flowers. It was Saturday morning, it was a little cool. Lots of marriages were going on in the temple. There was a father with about a 4-year-old little girl, pretty pink dress, very tiny little legs. They had walked out of the east side of the temple and were going to come down the sidewalk on the south side of the temple inside of Temple Square. You could see the look on that little girl’s face as she held her big daddy’s hand. She saw how far they had to go to the end of the sidewalk. Just as we were passing her, she turned with great faith in her father, doubting nothing, and lifting up her arms she said, “Daddy, will you lift me up now?”

She had gone as far as those little legs would carry her, but she could see the journey still in front of her. And for a season, she needed to be lifted.

Now can I share with you some a few quick points?  Let me give you some ideas about what holding back looks like at the College. To be here and not to take advantage of the full environment of what LDS Business College has for you is holding back. To come to class not prepared to engage in the discussions, or an unwillingness to contribute to the learning process—that’s holding back. To see another whose hands hang down, who temporarily has feeble knees, and withhold your succoring is holding back. In the parable of the Good Samaritan you know that there were those who held back and those who lifted.

Not doing your very best every day here is holding back, because you are living beneath your potential and your privileges. Taking the sacrament without an honest commitment to just be a little bit better this week than last week is holding back.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said this: “Frankly, it is our prospective selves we betray by holding back…. [There is no need for us] to ask ‘Lord, is it I?’ (Matt. 26:22).  Rather, let us inquire about our individual stumbling blocks, ‘Lord, is it this?’ [And] we may have known the answer for a long time and may [simply] need resolve more than [we need a] response.” (“Consecrate Thy Performance,” April 2002 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/consecrate-thy-performance?lang=eng.)

Finally, not seeking to identify and strengthen your God-given talents here is holding back.

So what are the remedies?

Number one: Trust in your divine potential.

Number two: Trust God’s plan for you. He is in charge.

Number three: Trust in the power of your college experience to help you hear and respond to the still, small voice. The easiest way to become familiar with that voice is to immerse yourself in the scriptures. A great place to hear it is in the temple. The best action you can take to hear that voice is to be in service to someone else. And the best practice you can do to hear that voice is to pray more deeply, with a greater intent to take action.

In short, brothers and sisters, the best remedy for holding back is to be in the right place, doing the right things, at the right time, with the right intent of heart. If you do this, you’ll have a great summer. Give the Lord a willing mind, and your faithful heart, and watch what He will do with you.

I bear you my testimony that God lives, that He, through His Son and His appointed servants who hold priesthood keys, is involved in the details of your life if you will let it happen. You are not the driver of your plan; He is. At best you have a seat in the back, and the ride will be bumpy. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. And when you go through those bumps, you will become like Joseph [Smith] who, as he talked about all that he faced said he was like a rough stone cut out of the mountain. Every time he bumped up against a trial, it knocked off a sharp edge, until he became a   smooth shaft “in the quiver of the Almighty.” (See History of the Church, 5:401.)

Brothers and sisters, may this summer be a summer of shaping. It can be if you will let it. It is my testimony. I leave you with my great love for you, my great excitement for this semester. I express Father in Heaven’s love to you now if you cannot hear it from Him now, in the name of His sacred and Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, amen.

U.S. Constitution ‘Ordered’ Our Freedom

15 Oct. 2013


U.S. Constitution ‘Ordered’ Our Freedom

Good morning. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you today, and I’ve been given as my assigned topic one of my favorite topics. I address it in my classes at the University of Utah; I’ve talked about it in political settings; I’ve spent some time studying it, and I think it’s something very much worth your while as you gather on this particular occasion. The topic is the U.S. Constitution, how it has influenced the Church and American citizens and others throughout the world. There is only one problem with this assignment—it has been given before to other people who are more qualified to address it than I. And I’m glad that you all have a notebook on which you can write things down, because I am about to give you a homework assignment stemming from this. The most significant, from my point of view, the most significant discussion of the Constitution in a spiritual setting occurred in 1991 as we were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights, at a devotional held at a Church school. It was a devotional at BYU, and the speaker was the president of BYU, Rex E. Lee.

Rex Lee had been the solicitor general in the Reagan administration; he was widely acknowledged as the finest advocate ever to appear before the Supreme Court among the then-sitting members of that court. They were all, regardless of their ideological stripe, disappointed and sorrowful when he left the position as solicitor general. They said, “You’re the best advocate we have ever seen.”

And he gave a devotional entitled “The Constitution and the Restoration.” Now I could with profit simply take the 35 minutes, 40 minutes assigned to me, and read it to you. But since you are college students, I assume you can read, and therefore I tell you that if you go to your IPad or whatever it might be—and I know all of you have two or three whatever it might be’s—Google “BYU speeches,” and then when you get into BYU speeches, in the search section, put “the Constitution and the Restoration.” You will find Rex Lee’s masterful sermon—and it is that, in a devotional—a masterful sermon on the meaning of the Constitution, the structure of the Constitution, and most importantly, the impact of the Constitution on the restoration of the gospel.

I will quote from it later on in some length, but if you get nothing else out of this, that tag or that direction of where you can go to get Rex Lee’s view on the Constitution will have been worth your having me come here.

Let me put it in a context for you. I tell my students at the University, “You cannot separate political science”—that’s what my degree was in—“You cannot separate political science from history. The two of them are inextricably intertwined.” And so if we’re going to talk about the political theory behind the Constitution, we’re going to have to spend some time on the history.

The history of this country and its freedom goes back to Europe, and particularly Great Britain and particularly Scotland. I have a bias for Scotland—your president went to East High; I went to Scotland on my mission. So all things good come from Scotland.

It was in the 1700s, as the dominant European doctrine about humans and their relationship to each other that found its ultimate expression in what they called “the divine right of kings” was breaking down. The whole idea behind the divine right of kings was that it was God who determined who the king should be, by virtue of who was born into the king’s family. That was God’s decision, therefore the king was the king because God had made him the king, which meant that the earls and the barons and the other nobles were earls and barons and nobles because God had determined they should be. And the peasants or surfs were peasants or surfs because God had determined that that was their place. And that was the binding view of society that kept feudalism together for a long period of time. That’s a bit of an oversimplification; we could get into the economics, but that’s enough to give you the flavor of what was going on in philosophical circles as the British began to think about human relationships in a different way.

Adam Smith, Scotsman, wrote in 1776—a good year for literary compositions—The Wealth of Nations, as he talked about how human beings react with each other economically. John Locke, a Scotsman, wrote about the concept of inherent rights, natural rights—that human beings had rights simply because they were human beings, conferred upon them by nature and therefore God, rather than by governments. And Locke talked about three particular rights that human beings had. Human beings had a right to life. No one could take that away from them, unless of course they had committed some sort of crime that violated law that was legitimate law. Then they could be put to death. But they had an inherent right to life and liberty. They had a right to control their lives, that went into the face of this doctrine of everybody should know his place in society and stay in his place. You were endowed with liberty. And the third was property. You had a right to own things. And Locke wrote extensively about life, liberty, and property.

And across the Atlantic, in America, those who were studying law and philosophy and other things in universities—and there were very few of them, statistically—read these philosophies coming out of Great Britain and embraced them. And they were living, of course, in a monarchy. The English king, the British king, was in charge and he had the right to make the law, he had the right to enforce the law, and he had the right to judge under the law.

The British were beginning to edge away from absolute monarchy. King George the 3rd was not as strong and dominant a king as King Henry the 8th had been. And there was a Parliament, and there was some legislation, and a prime minister and debate and all of that, but the lingering doctrine that led to the concept of divine right of kings was still very much there.

It was still very much there when I was on my mission in the 1950s. If you want to catch a complete and fascinating demonstration of how it was very much there, watch “Downton Abbey,” as you see his lordship and you see the footmen, and each one firmly in his place.

I won’t go into the French and Indian War and the economic problems that came out of that and the decision of the British Parliament, obviously endorsed and supported by the king, that war had been fought primarily for the benefit of the American colonists, so it made sense for the American colonists to pay the costs of the war, and let’s have some new taxes in America. And these taxes are only fair because it’s the Americans, as I say, that benefitted from the war that ran up the bills that the taxes will pay off.

Most Americans didn’t know or care about those taxes. We must remember that America at that time consisted of thirteen separate colonies, each one with a separate charter from the Crown, each one with its own form of colonial government, usually a governor appointed by a king. And they really didn’t have all that much to do with them. But they had one thing in common. They were old enough that they felt their roots were more in America than they were in England, most of them. But they made their livings living on farms and working in ways where the stamp tax and the other taxes that came as a result after the end of the French and Indian War didn’t apply to them at all. They scraped by at subsistence living standards. By our standards, we would say all of them were at sub-subsistence level. They lived in log cabins; they scraped their living out of the ground. They didn’t know or care very much about John Locke or Adam Smith or, for that matter, King George.

But the elites among them cared—the lawyers, the bankers, the merchants, the ship owners, the people who were doing business across colonial lines and indeed, across international lines, not only partook of the British economy and British attitudes of law, they partook of the British philosophies and they read John Locke. And they said, “This is an intrusion on our liberty, and we have inherent rights. This is an intrusion on our property.” And they began to petition the Parliament and said, “It isn’t fair for you to put these taxes on us when we don’t even have a seat in Parliament.”

Well, of course you don’t have a seat in Parliament; you don’t live in England. You’re colonials, and in the pecking order of the king at the top and then the aristocracy and so on, the colonials came in at the bottom. And we know what’s best for you and we will tell you what’s best for you, and you will pay these taxes. And so the fight began, and the dispute got worse and worse. And the most famous American in the world, well-known in Great Britain for his accomplishments, who considered himself an absolute Englishman to his core, went to England to see what he could do to try to smooth all this out. He was a man named Benjamin Franklin. And he got humiliated by the English Parliament and the English government. He was forced to stand while they told him just how insignificant he was—wouldn’t let him sit down. He stood there at attention while they told him this and told him that and told him the other thing, and then dismissed him. And he got on a ship and came home, and his best biographer—the subtitle of his biography, he calls him “The First American.” He went there an Englishman, he came home an American.

And he and others in the colonies who had partaken of this same philosophy began to get together, and they created a gathering which they called the Continental Congress. And they began to talk about this. And one thing led to another, and then the British decided they were going to put down this rebellion with force and they sent Redcoats into Massachusetts to enforce the collection of the taxes and they were fired on by the farmers and it started to get really ugly. And ultimately the Continental Congress, made up of the elites, decided they were going to revolt and declare their independence.

Now there was one delegate at the Continental Congress who really shouldn’t have been there. He was not elected as a delegate from his colony, but the fellow who was couldn’t go because he was too busy, and so this young man who was an alternate delegate was sent in his place. He got to Philadelphia; he didn’t know anybody and he didn’t have anything to do, because he wasn’t part of the ferment that was going on. The driving force in that whole thing was a delegate from Massachusetts named John Adams. But John Adams had heard of the young Virginian. His name was Thomas Jefferson, and he knew that Jefferson, among other things, was a superb wordsmith.

And so Adams assigned to Jefferson the responsibility of writing all of the colonies’ grievances down in a formal declaration as to why they were going to become independent. And Jefferson did. He too had read John Locke. Now he edited him a little bit. When it got to the Declaration of Independence, it became “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There were other things in the original draft of the Declaration which were dear to Jefferson’s heart, which John Adams and Benjamin Franklin didn’t like. And so they took them out. They left that phrase as it was. But Jefferson originally circulated his version of the Declaration of Independence to show everybody how much better it was than the official Declaration. Later on, as a politician, when people began to revere the Declaration of Independence as secular scripture, Jefferson very humbly and politically wise, said he had written it all. Nothing ever changes among politicians. That still happens. Anyway.

So they declared their independence, they fought the war, they won the war. And they had achieved the first of three vital ingredients to freedom. They had won their freedom. That’s not enough for you to be free. You have to win the freedom, and then you have to order the freedom, and then you have to keep the freedom.

Winning the freedom is the easiest part. That’s what we’re discovering in the Middle East today, as people rise up against what they consider to be their tyrannical governments, they overthrow them, they have won the freedom, and now what do we do? And many times, the answer to that is we lose our freedom again to a new group, a new force, a new strong man. The French, not long after the American Revolution, won their freedom, killed their king, and weren’t able to order the freedom in any cohesive way. I don’t know whether this is an actual statement—it’s out of a movie, but it’s a great line, a movie about Napoleon, who in the movie at least, said to his mistress, “The crown of France is lying in the gutter, waiting to be picked up on the end of the sword.” And that’s what he did, and the French got a dictator more brutal than Louis the 16th. And Napoleon was determined to conquer all of Europe, not just France. They couldn’t order their freedom, and they went into disorder, and they’ve had all kinds of problems ever since. They keep amending their constitution. It’s the first republic and then it’s the second republic and then it’s the third republic.

So the extraordinary thing about the Constitution, and the reason I’ve given you the background I have, is that you must understand how important it was. It was the ordering of the freedom that had been won at the Revolutionary War. Without it, the country could very easily have drifted off into anarchy and ultimately splintered and become a group of unconnected, weak, individual countries scattered along the eastern seaboard, waiting to be picked off at the end of a sword, as others came back up and they would conquer this one and that one.

They tried to make it work on the same basis that it had worked during the war, but without a common enemy the Continental Congress was of no use to them. Now the interesting point, and Dr. Kissinger has made this point—he said, “The American Revolution was led by the elites, not by the common people rising up.” And it was the elites who got together in Philadelphia and ordered the freedom that their movement had created. The father of the Constitution was James Madison. The midwife was Alexander Hamilton. But the pivotal figure, without whom it would not have come into being, was George Washington. He was the only figure of enough stature in all thirteen colonies to be respected enough that when he presided over the Constitutional Convention, and when he allowed himself to be made available to be the first president, all could agree we will have this new kind of government.

The Constitution was under no circumstances widely approved. The ratification fight was very, very bitter, and as Rex Lee points out, opposed by some of the leading elites in the country, including people like Patrick Henry and George Mason, who fought against its ratification as hard as they possibly could, because they said it’s going to create a strong central government and we don’t want that. We want to keep it all among the states. And Madison cajoled and bargained and compromised and stitched together a document that most of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention could sign. Not all.

Edmund Randolph, who offered the Virginia Plan at the opening of the Convention, walked out and refused to sign it. The delegates from New York went home. They said, “We have more important things to do; you’re wasting your time.” All except one, and that was Alexander Hamilton. He had no authority whatsoever to stay behind, but he did and he signed it on behalf of New York.

You look at the Constitution and here are the names of the delegates listed by states, you get to New York and there is only one name and it was Alexander Hamilton. And he didn’t care whether he had any authority to do it. He signed it.

Well, it got ratified, but the core tactic of the fight against ratification was a fight over the Bill of Rights. Now you may think that the fight over the Bill of Rights, whether it should have or should not have a Bill of Rights in it, the “Bill” being an 18th century word for “list.” You might think that was a philosophical fight. As Rex Lee points out, it was a tactical fight. Patrick Henry was saying, “You can’t ratify the Constitution without a Bill of Rights.” So the thing to do is to go back into convention and insert a bill of rights. Have a further meeting and write a bill of rights, and then resubmit it to the states. The fact is, that will kill it. They were lucky to get out of the first convention with a document they could agree on. They go back into convention and, with all of the opposition building up in the country, no, it won’t survive. We’ll say we’re doing it because we love a bill of rights, but what we’re really doing is coming up with an excuse to kill it. Does that sound familiar? I won’t go any farther than that, but read this morning’s newspapers about what people are saying, what they really believe and then ask, “What’s the real tactic going on here?”

Okay. The political process hasn’t changed in 300 years. Interestingly enough, Madison, who said—and ratification in Virginia was a very near thing. If Virginia had not ratified, it didn’t matter if every other colony ratified, because Virginia was the biggest state of the thirteen, and without Virginia you wouldn’t have a country. And Madison barely got it ratified in Virginia by promising to put in a bill of rights after it was ratified. And New York was prepared to defeat it, and without New York you weren’t going to have a country. You had to have Virginia, and you had to have New York, and you had to have Massachusetts. And Massachusetts was the only one that had ratified it.

Well, Madison finally got it ratified in Virginia, whereupon Hamilton said, “Okay, if New York doesn’t ratify, I will go to New York City where there is support for the Constitution, and New York City will secede from New York State and we will ratify it. And New York City will be part of the country and you won’t.” And the threat was strong enough that, by a two-vote margin, the New York convention ratified, and you had a country.

Rhode Island didn’t; North Carolina didn’t. George Washington was sworn in as president of a country with eleven states. The other two came later. And then James Madison did put forward a Bill of Rights, and it was adopted, and the Constitution was amended. And we had ordered our freedom. Now there was more to it than that; I won’t take the time to go into all of that. The Washington administration had to set a whole series of precedents essential to ordering our freedom. We still have things that go all the way back to Washington that are not in the Constitution, but that are just part of the way we do things because Washington did it that way. And gradually, things emerged.

The role of the Supreme Court emerged, because John Adams appointed John Marshall chief justice. Thomas Jefferson won the election, became president—Jefferson and Marshall were cousins, both from the Virginia elite. They hated each other, and Jefferson spent all of his life as president doing everything he could to change the Supreme Court, because Marshall kept handing down rulings that Jefferson didn’t like. And Jefferson thought, okay, I’ll appoint a different justice and he’ll vote against Marshall, and Marshall kept getting Jefferson’s justices and then convincing them that he, Marshall, was right and the decisions kept being unanimous against Jefferson over and over again. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} All right. George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson—where did they come from? Extraordinary group of talented men, coming from a tiny little country whose population was less than the current population of the state of Utah, who had that kind of vision and that kind of capacity.

Well, it’s time to turn to Rex Lee, and he talked about that, and we Latter-day Saints have a view about that. And this is what Rex Lee has to say:

“We know that in fact the events whose two-hundredth birthday we observe did not come about just by chance. The descriptive phrase most commonly used by many members of the Church is that our Constitution was ‘divinely inspired.’ Unfortunately, some Church members have deduced from that general, non-scriptural description more than the scriptures or the Constitution or common sense will sustain.

“That is, from the general label ‘divinely inspired,’ some assume that the Constitution is tantamount to scripture, and therefore perfect in every respect, reflecting in every provision and every sentence the will of our Heavenly Father, just as is true of the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants. That view cannot withstand analysis. Our Constitution has some provisions that are not only not divine, they are positively repulsive. The classic example is contained in Article V, which guaranteed as a matter of constitutional right that the slave trade would continue through at least the year 1808. There are other provisions that are not as offensive as the slavery guarantee, but they were quite clearly bad policy, and certainly were not divinely inspired in the same sense as are the scriptures. Moreover, regarding the Constitution as tantamount to scripture is difficult to square with the fact that our republic has functioned very well, probably even better, after at least one of its original provisions (requiring United States senators to be elected by their respective state legislatures rather than by the people at large) was amended out of existence by the Seventeenth Amendment.

“In my own view, this whole issue is resolved simply by examining what the scriptures say, rather than resorting to the generality ‘divinely inspired,’ which you will not find anywhere in the standard works. Probably the most helpful statement is contained in section 101, verse 80 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men I raised up unto this very purpose.’ ” (“The Constitution and the Restoration,” BYU Devotional, January 15, 1991, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=687.)

I’ve spent all this time giving you the background of the wise men whom the Lord raised up to this very purpose. But I hope you understand that they were still men. They still had their free agency. They were still capable of making mistakes. Go back to President Uchtdorf’s magnificent sermon at the opening of General Conference on Saturday, a week ago, when he talked about even the prophets who have led this Church have been men, capable of making mistakes. Stop and think about it for just a moment. If they weren’t, it would mean the Lord had taken away their free agency and made them nothing but puppets. Instead, He called them, ordained them, blessed them, revealed things to them. But they remained human beings, struggling to work out their own salvation. The same can be true, in a slightly different context, of Madison, Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, Marshall, Franklin, the others who ordered our freedom.

Yes, the Lord raised them up, and they did a magnificent job. The Constitution has been described as the finest document ever struck off by the hand of man. But we must understand that it had human things in it, like the political compromise over slavery, which eventually—talking about keeping the freedom—led us into a war where we almost saw—well, we did see—the country break apart over that issue.

And that’s what I want to close with, because Rex Lee has talked about the Seventeenth Amendment and how it changed the Constitution for the better. Frankly, I don’t think it made much difference when Americans all lived on farms, how senators were elected. But let’s go to the Civil War, when the Constitution fell apart. And after the war was over, the Constitution was rewritten.

 And when people say to me, “Read the Constitution, Senator,” I say, “Yes, I do.” I read the Constitution, but I don’t stop at the Tenth Amendment. I read the whole Constitution. The Twelfth Amendment, that partially cleaned up Madison’s mistakes with regard to the Electoral College. The Thirteenth Amendment that freed the slaves. But it did more than free the slaves; in Constitution theory, the Thirteenth Amendment said that states do not have the power to take away individual’s life, liberty, and property by state law. The Fourteenth Amendment says that specifically, and then the Fifteenth Amendment says the states do not have the power to deny citizenship to the people that live within their boundaries. The Sixteenth Amendment says the federal government will have its own source of revenue, as a modern industrial state must have, if it is to survive. And the Seventeenth Amendment says the states must allow the people to elect their senators.

Later on, there were states that allowed women to vote; Utah was one of them. But the Constitution said no, the states don’t have the power to determine who gets to vote; every woman in every state gets to vote. Later, it did the same thing with 18-year-olds. We have amended the Constitution to bring it into the 21st century, but we have kept all of its important doctrines intact. And we have made it better.

When Joseph Smith went to Washington to plead for redress of the grievances of the Mormons, for the abuses they had sustained in Missouri, he was told, “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. Go back to Missouri and petition before the courts in Missouri.” These were crimes in Missouri; they must be dealt with in Missouri. And constitutionally, that was correct. Today, after the passage of the 14th Amendment, Joseph Smith could go to the Congress and say, “The federal government has the right to interfere in the affairs of the state of Missouri, and give the Mormons redress for what happened there.”

How did it happen that the Constitution was ordered to preserve our freedom in a modern industrial state? Back to the words of the 101st section. This is my belief. When the Lord said “the hands of wise men whom I have raised up,” I hold Abraham Lincoln to be as much of a constitutional scholar and founder of our freedoms and one who ordered our freedoms as Benjamin Franklin or George Washington. And what that say to me is, the Lord didn’t just wind them up in the days of the Revolutionary time and then say “Good luck.” The Lord has had His hand on this nation all the way through. And when the time came, from the flaws of the original draft of the Constitution exploded in our face in the form of the most horrible war we’ve ever had, the Lord raised up another wise and good man.

That’s why I’m optimistic about the future. With the help of the Lord, we won our freedom. With the help of the Lord we have ordered our freedom. And with the help of the Lord for 200 years, we have kept our freedom. Why should we fear that He’s going to abandon us now? His track record is better than that.

I close with this quote from a man named Paul Martin Wolf, who is quoted by Rex Lee. He closed his devotional with this quote, that is a cautionary tale to all of us as we think about the Constitution, particularly as it’s being booted about in today’s political atmosphere:

“The Constitution has been too often misused for personal gain. Individual desires have been palmed off as scholarship. Politicians have pandered to the public by compounding misunderstandings of Supreme Court decisions, not correcting them. Constitutional pronouncements appear everywhere, from bumper stickers to talk shows. Too many people appear in classrooms, pulpits, campaign platforms, and mass circulation magazines, telling us not what they believe the Constitution means, but what they insist it says, giving appearance that they are the sole heirs of James Madison’s wisdom.”

There are lots of disagreements about the Constitution, lots of disagreement of what it should be, and there always has been, all the way back to the Founding Father. Alexander Hamilton, as secretary of the Treasury, wanted a national bank. James Madison was appalled—the  Constitution does not allow the creation of a national bank; this whole proposal is unconstitutional. It passed the Senate by a wide margin, passed the House narrowly. In the House, there were seven members of the Constitutional Convention. Four of them voted for it; three of them voted against it. One of the three was Madison himself.

It got to Washington. Should he sign it? With Madison insisting it was unconstitutional, Washington asked his Cabinet for opinions. Thomas Jefferson, secretary of State—clearly unconstitutional; you cannot sign this bill. Edmond Randall, attorney general—clearly unconstitutional; you cannot sign this bill. Alexander Hamilton, the secretary of the Treasury—oh, this is a really great idea. Sign this bill. Washington signed the bill, and America’s finances were put on a sound basis at the very beginning.

     We should all revere, honor, and study the Constitution, but we should all—myself included—be a little careful about how firmly we tell everybody else what it really means. May we be true to the great heritage we have received at the hands of the Lord by being dedicated American citizens is a prayer I offer for all of us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


7 Ways to Go Forth in the Strength of the Lord

11 Nov. 2013


7 Ways to Go Forth in the Strength of the Lord

Oh, you look good. I heard some counsel once from Elder Bednar. He said, “You don’t speak to an entire congregation. You speak to an assemblage of ones.” Assemblage of ones. As I looked over you during the opening song, the announcements, and this wonderful choir number, I saw “ones”. I’m grateful to be here. I’m grateful for a little gift of the Spirit Heavenly Father blessed me with when I was appointed to this position in 2009.That little gift of the Spirit is a love for you.  It is overwhelming at times. It is obviously not the same kind of love I have for my wife or for my children or for my parents. It is a unique love. I cannot describe it. But it is powerful. It would be wrong for me to say that it is a flavor of the love that Heavenly Father has for you, because that would be presumptuous. But if it’s not, it’s got to be very close. Very close.


A colleague at the College sent an email the other day that sparked a thought I think is appropriate to share. He referred to the 17th chapter of Matthew, starting at the first verse.  . It is when Peter, James, and John accompany the Savior to the top of the Mount of Transfiguration and saw marvelous things. They saw Moses, and they saw Elias. They felt the Spirit there. Then Peter, after seeing those two visitations and after feeling what he felt, the only thing he could say to the rest of the group was this: “It is good for us to be here.”(v. 4)

Brothers and sisters, it is good for us to be here at LDS Business College.


Now today for a minute, I want you to think about seven-word phrase that maybe had an impact in your life. I’ll give you just a minute to ponder seven words, then I’ll suggest a few.


Here are some I’ve heard in the past. “Will you marry me after the semester?” Or, because devotional is held at this time of the day and doesn’t get over until quarter after twelve, “Have it your way at Burger King.” I’ve heard that. In a couple of weeks, I’ll hear a hoped for phrase of seven words: “There will be no midterm this semester.”


Here’s one you should all laugh at: “Really, honestly, the dog ate my homework.”


Let me tell you the seven words I am thinking of, seven words that have eternal consequence and open the doors of celestial possibility. Do you know what they are? “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him.”


Seven words, brothers and sisters, that can change your life and give it greater meaning than you can imagine. Seven words that draw us here to this College. It’s only because of that event that we are, in fact, here. I bear testimony to you that those words were, in fact, spoken. They came from the lips of the God of the universe, the Eternal Father of our spirits. He was referring to the exalted Christ, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Jesus of the New, His very Son, the Firstborn of spirits, the Great I Am.


I testify to you those words were spoken to a 14-year-old humble and searching boy, Joseph Smith. It happened on a specific day, it happened at a specific spot, in a grove of pretty common trees—of beech and oak and maple. For as long as the earth will stand, I add my voice to millions that declare that grove to be sacred. Because those seven words were spoken, and exalting and restorative events followed, you and I are here at this place in this very unique time and season in both our histories.


As a result of that event, you and I can accomplish whatever is lovely, praiseworthy, or of good report.(See Thirteen Article of Faith) You and I can learn what Heaven would have us learn, that we might “be prepared in all things” for when the Lord shall again magnify us and send us forth on the calling to which we were commissioned before we came to this earth. (See D&C 88:80)


You and I are here, and we can accomplish those things as a result of those seven words, on one condition:  that you and I learn how to go forth in the strength of the Lord. So today I want to share with you seven ways to go forth in the strength of the Lord. Are there more? Yes. Could there be less? Yes. Are there specific ones for you? Yes. Who will tell you that? I pray the Spirit will tell those ways for you today, and that the seven ways I have marked out for a moment are simply just starting points for the Spirit to tailor the message to you.


So, are you ready? Here’s my seven—add them to what you can think of.


Number one: Prepare your heart and then your mind.The order is very important. When we do not lead with our hearts first, they can become hardened to spiritual and to secular truth. And what usually follows is a blinded mind. We become blind to the truth of all things—things, as Jacob said in the Book of Mormon, “things as they really are.” (Jacob 4:13)


Too many of my friends—smart friends, brilliant in the sight of the world, friends that went on missions and had very successful careers—fell away because their hearts were not fertile ground for the seed of the gospel to truly take root or they stopped watering the plant of their testimony. Some succumbed to the ridicule of others in that “large and spacious building,” (1 Nephi 11:35) or they were “blinded by the craftiness” (D&C 76:75) of others and the precepts of men.  Forever learning, they were, and are, “never [coming] to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) For a while, they had “a form of godliness,” but they never obtained “the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19) Their testimony had been recorded in their journals, maybe in letters to their parents from the mission field, maybe letters to their mission presidents. But that testimony was never written in “the fleshy tablets of their heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)


The opposite is also true. When our heart is right and our mind is open, we can receive the blessing to have the ability and capability to learn faster and deeper and better than ever before. How do we know that? Parley P. Pratt said it and the Brethren have repeated it. It is a blessing for our taking when we lead with our heart first, and then our minds.


You’re all very familiar with the fourth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Remember how it goes? “A marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your”—watch the order—“your heart, [your] might, mind, and strength.” (v. 1-2)


In your heart, we treasure up the words of eternal life. And then, the scriptures say, our tongues may be loosed, that we may speak spiritual and sacred things with great impact and with great conviction.


I have a colleague here at the College. He quotes wonderful, long sections of scripture and he quotes even longer sections of what the Brethren have said about you and about this College. One day I made a mistake—I said to him, “How do you memorize this stuff?” That was my telestial question. I will give you his celestial response.


He simply said, “I don’t memorize them. I put them here [in my heart].” To me that is a wonderful example of treasuring up in our heart first.


Now you say, “My goodness, President. We’re talking about calculus here. We’re talking about anatomy and physiology here. You mean to tell me that I can treasure up in my heart macro-economics (which, to a banker is the only true science there is, I will tell you)?”


Treasuring up, brothers and sisters, whether it is scriptures, quotes from the Brethren, or your school work, is the process of studying something out, living it, applying that knowledge to new circumstances, valuing it, and living worthy of the blessing to receive it in your heart. When you follow that process, trust me, calculus has meaning. And if you don’t use it here, I suspect in the next world, next to astrophysics, you might need calculus to do a world. I’m just saying.


Now if you’re accounting students—I joke with you that in the next life there is one accounting at the pearly gates with St. Peter, but after that I don’t think there are any debits to the left and credits to the right. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


So let’s summarize this first one. We prepare our heart first and then our mind. Here’s the conclusion to this first of seven points: You go forth in the strength of the Lord when you prepare your heart first to receive and then your mind.


Number two: Learn by study and by faith.I know you know about the study part. So what does it mean to learn by faith? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What does that mean? President Howard W. Hunter: “Faith makes us confident of what we hope for and convinced of what we do not see.” (“To Know God,” Oct. 1974 General Conference, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1974/10/to-know-god.)


How many of you picked courses in the hope you would learn something. Raise your hand—come on. Given the second week of the semester, is it clear what you’re going to learn yet? No it’s not, but you have the hope to do it. What don’t you yet see in your life that President Hinckley was speaking of? You can’t see where you’re going to be five or ten years from now. But I tell you what—your Father in Heaven sees it and He knows it, and He is shaping your life’s experiences here to prepare you for that mission referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants 88:80. The mission he commissioned you with before you came to this earth is what studying by faith suggests.


President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “We pray for enlightenment, and then go to with all of our might and our books and our thoughts and our righteousness to get the inspiration. We ask for judgment,” he said, and “then [we] use all our powers to act wisely and develop wisdom. We pray for success in our work and then study hard and strive with all our might to help answer our [own] prayers. When we pray for health,” he says, “we must live… laws of health and do all in our power to keep our bodies well and vigorous. We pray for protection and then take reasonable precaution to avoid danger. There must be works with [our] faith.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 122)


So brothers and sisters, exercise your faith and your willingness to be obedient.    Align yourself with the will of heaven, and then rest assured you will reap the rewards of this scriptural promise: The “good things of the earth” shall be yours, and it shall “bring forth… its strength” unto you. (See D&C 59:3)


Now, a final thought about learning by study and by faith. If you want to know what someone knows, have the faith to take the action to do what that person does. Let me state it very simply. It is a principle of learning. I hope you experience it in every class, when you do a project, when you do group work, when you hear somebody who speaks to the class. Here’s the principle, stated as simply as I know how: If you want to know what somebody knows, do what they do.


I’ll tell you a story about Elder Craig Cardon. Julie and I are neighbors to the Cardons. He’s a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. When he’s not on assignment, he’s in our high priests group. When you are the teacher, you’re not supposed to call on general authorities to make comments, but you can look at them long enough and sometimes they will join the discussion. I marvel at Elder Craig Cardon’s insight and his wisdom, and I remarked to Julie, “I wonder how he got that way.” I mean, this is a fellow that had a wonderful career, successful in real-estate development in Arizona. This is a hard-core business man, and wow! He is just full of the Spirit, full of knowledge and knows how to apply gospel principles to secular situations.


So one night I got up and I looked out the window—it was about 4:45, and the light in the study of Elder Cardon’s condominium was on. I have tried for the last year to beat Elder Cardon up in the morning. Haven’t done it yet. I finally gave up. I’m not getting up at 4:30 whether he does or not. I’ve accused him of having a timer on the light in his office, and he’s just set it for 4:30. But I know better. He is up and he is deep in the word of God. If I want to know what Elder Cardon knows, I ought to do what Elder Cardon does. I will leave the Spirit to interpret that for you. It is a true principle.


So let’s conclude the second point: Going forth in the strength of the Lord means learning spiritual and secular truth in order to live in the world and not be of it.


Number three:: Leverage your God-given gifts and talents into strengths.Doctrine and Covenants 46:11: “Every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 88:33: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”


Doctrine and Covenants 82:18: We are counseled there to improve upon our talents and to seek others. Paul, in First Timothy, counseled us to not neglect the gift that is in us. (See 1 Timothy 4:14)  2 Nephi 2:27: “All things are given… [to us] which are expedient.”


So how do you leverage your gifts and turn them into strengths? You work at it. You discover what they are. You start with your patriarchal blessing, then you come let us help you add on those talents. Come learn the skills necessary to turn those talents into strengths, so you can go forth in the strength of the Lord to do what? To strengthen your families, to strengthen your communities, and to build the kingdom of God on the earth.


Do you know why I think we’re called a church? Because there’s no listing in the Yellow Pages under “kingdom.” This is the kingdom of God. Some gifts and talents were given to you by a loving Father in Heaven before you stepped foot on this earth. He is shaping your life and giving you opportunities to build those talents and gifts into strengths that you may carry off the kingdom triumphantly. I invite you to rise up early with Elder Cardon and set the day right by immersing yourself in the word of God. And ask this prayer in your heart: “Father, show me how I can serve someone else today with the gifts Thou hast so graciously and mercifully given to me.”


So let’s conclude the third point. You’ve been given gifts and talents. They will either become strengths through your efforts to develop them, or you will lose them. The parable of the talents tells us that. These gifts and talents are given for you to strengthen your families, your communities, and the Lord’s Church.


Number four: Live with honor.Be true to the promises, commitments and covenants you have made. Living with honor, brothers and sisters, includes the dress and grooming standards. It is the easiest to follow and easiest to break. I will tell you that the dress and grooming standards are. Listen carefully to the words, because they should be familiar: The dress and grooming standards are an outward manifestation of an inward commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have ears to hear, hear it.


Do you know the story of Ephraim Hanks? How many saw the movie, the story of Ephraim Hanks? Back in the day, some of those men wore their beards all the way down to their waist. It was a trophy. I mean, it takes a while to get that to happen, doesn’t it?  So Ephraim goes to a dance, and Brigham Young is at the dance, and Brigham tells Ephraim to go home and shave.. What does Ephraim do? He goes home. He shaves it, but he leaves his very nice moustache, and he comes back to the dance. Brigham goes up to him and says, “Ephraim, I said to shave it all.” Ephraim Hanks leaves the dance, goes home and shaves again. Now I don’t know what Ephraim said in his little heart, the first time going to his house. I know what I would have said in my little telestial heart the second time I went to my house. But he shaved it and he came back. Brigham Young later said this about Ephraim Hanks: “He was a man always ready to lay down his life for the authorities of the Church, as well as for the cause of Zion and her people.” Hurray for Ephraim Hanks.


So let’s summarize the fourth point. When you prove to the Lord you can be trusted to live up to the covenants you have made, and are quick to observe the counsel of prophets including as it relates to the dress and grooming standards of this—His—institution, you will go forth in the strength of the Lord, I promise you.


Number five: Stand in holy places and be not moved. Have you ever thought about what a holy place might be? Let me give you four ideas.  A holy place might be geographic. It can be a physical environment—sacrament meeting. Liberty Jail was a physical place, but the environment was made holy. At the beckoning of those who would have destroyed him, Nehemiah in the Old Testament would not come down from the walls as he was engaged in the work of rebuilding them. H said, “I am engaged in a great work, and cannot come down.” Those walls represented a holy environment. (See Nehemiah 6:2-3)


A holy environment can be a moment in time. It can be a moment when the Holy Ghost testifies to you. A holy place can be a moment in time when you read your patriarchal blessing, when you feel God’s love, or when you receive an answer to a prayer.


I had a friend who was a property appraiser. Once he was called to appraise a home, and when he went in, he saw clutter and trash. It was one of those places where you did not want to have on leather-soled shoes.  A family was living in it. As an appraiser, he had to measure every room for its size. He stepped over the trash for half an hour. He finally got downstairs to one room. The door was closed. He opened the door and the room was spotless. The bed was made; there was a little mirror on the wall. On the mirror was a little picture of the temple. On the bed stand was a copy of the Book of Mormon. On top of the copy of the Book of Mormon was a Personal Progress book. Brothers and sisters, no matter where you are, you can create holy places and be not moved.


So when we put ourselves in places and environments, thinking righteous thoughts and seeking uplifting moments of time, when we are in holy places and we are not moved from them, we will move forward in the strength of the Lord. I promise that.


Number six: Stay connected to the powers of heaven. The Savior provides this counsel in the 43rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 16: “Ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken.”


How do you get that endowment of power? You get that endowment of power by being connected to heaven. How many of you own a cell phone? How many of you have ever forgotten to plug the cell phone in? There are no more incoming calls, there’s no texting. There is no GPS to tell you where you are and where you need to go and how to get to your destination. . Your life and your soul are just like that. You have to stay plugged in.


Here is a story told by President Harold B. Lee.  He was president of a stake and they had a disciplinary council. It was a difficult one. They excommunicated a man for doing something to a lovely young girl, and the next day the brother of the man who had been excommunicated came into his office and said, “Brother Lee, you’ve got it wrong. My brother is innocent.”


President Lee invited him to sit down and said, “Can I ask a few questions?”


He said, “Yes.”


He said, “How old are you?”


“I’m forty-seven.”


“What priesthood do you hold?”


“I think I’m a teacher.”


“Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?”


“Well, no, I use tobacco.”


“Do you pay your tithing?”


“No. And I don’t intend to as long as that blankety-blank man is the bishop.”


“Do you attend priesthood meetings?”


“No sir, and I won’t as long as he’s the bishop.”


“You don’t attend your sacrament meetings either, then, I suppose.”




“Do you have family prayers?”




“Do you study the scriptures?”


“Well, my eyes are bad and I can’t read very well.”


Then President Lee said, “In my home, I have a lovely radio.” He wrote this a long time ago. “And it has tubes in it.” Those tubes, by the way, control the flow of electricity—convert it from alternating current to direct current to run the radio. The tubes are in there to keep the radio running. President Lee said, “You know, inside of each of us have a ‘Keep the Word of Wisdom’ tube.” He said, “You have a ‘Pay tithing’ tube; you have a ‘Stay morally clean’ tube. And when all those tubes are functioning properly, you get a very clear signal. But when you stop, almost imperceptibly, the message becomes harder to hear. There is static in the background. You pick up channels you’re not intending to pick up.” (This story is paraphrased from a story told at the 15 May 1952 devotional at Brigham Young University, not available at present in written form.  It was retold by Elder Marvin J. Ashton in “A Still Voice of Perfect Mildness,” BYU devotional, Feb. 20, 1990, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=28)


I think there is something for us in that story. So let’s summarize number six: You must engage in those daily activities to keep you connected, and if you desire to move forward in the strength of the Lord, you know what that list of things are. You’ve known them since Primary, and now “for heaven’s sake” just do it.


Number seven: Endure to the end of the season of life which you are in. Endurance, brothers and sisters, means something more than just suffering through. It means embracing the moment. It means taking advantage of all the trials, both good and bad, that come your way. They are there for your growth, development, exaltation, and for the mission with which the Lord has commissioned you.  When you leave the College you will enter the next season of your life. And when you feel tired, and enduring feels too much, you ask to be lifted up.


One of the most tender experiences Sister Richards and I had this last year was during a walk on  Temple Square. We watched a father with a little three- or four-year-old daughter.  They were holding hands while they walked.  She was in this cute little dress. They were outside of the temple waiting for maybe a bigger brother or sister to come through. They came out of the southeast corner of the temple grounds and started down the walk moving west. It’s a long walk when you’re three or four. She looked down the long sidewalk, she looked up at her father just as we were passing, and simply said, “Daddy, will you lift me up now?”


Her father, without hesitation, swept her up into his arms and they walked together. Brothers and sisters, endure to the end of the season of life which you are in. When the walk to the end looks too long, you too can simply say “Daddy, will you lift me up now?”


Now let me conclude. I heard a great line from a Protestant minister on YouTube. I give him all the credit in the world. It’s good doctrine. It starts like this: “You are the one. This is the place. And now is the time.” (See Jentezen Franklin, “I am the One,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpqqOK09CYs.)


Do you remember Gideon in the Old Testament? The Lord came to him and told him he was the one that was going to save the children of Israel from the Middianites. He basically said, “Hey, I’m poor. I’m the least in my family.” In essence, what Gideon was saying to the Lord was, “Not me! Not here! And not now!” (See Judges 6:14-15)


But Gideon stepped up. I believe he applied many of these same principles, and he went forth in the strength of the Lord to accomplish the mission given to him.


Moses—you remember the incident of the burning bush. Moses basically said, “Ooh. Really?” And he keeps this conversation going with the Lord all the way through the third chapter of Exodus into the fourth chapter. Finally he says to the Lord, “You know, I am slow of speech. I can’t talk.” (See Exodus 4:10-12)


I believe that the great Jehovah, in his frustration—the scripture doesn’t say frustration—but the Lord basically looked at Moses and said, “Moses, who made your mouth?” I believe Moses applied these principles, he stepped up and, like Gideon and like others in the history of the Church, moved on in the strength of the Lord to fulfill the mission to which they were previously foreordained.


Brothers and sisters, you will believe in the work you do. You will have a testimony of that work after you do it. Now let me recap. Seven ways to go forth in the strength of the Lord:


·         Prepare your hearts first and then your minds.


·         Learn by study and by faith.


·         Leverage your God-given gifts and talents into strengths.


·         Live with honor.


·         Stand in holy places and be not moved.


·         Stay connected to the powers of heaven.


·         Endure to the end and receive your crown.




You can do it! Why? Because you are the ones. This is the place. And now is the time in your life. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.




Early Saints Spread the Gospel Far and Wide

11 Nov. 2013


Early Saints Spread the Gospel Far and Wide

It’s good to be with you today, brothers and sisters. I have stood at this pulpit many times, and each time I do I think of history. This building was not constructed until long after Brigham Young had passed away. But Brigham Young actually stood near where I am standing today and spoke to the Saints many times. If you look at early records of Brigham Young’s speeches, you will see that he spoke in what was called “the Tabernacle.” And you may be led by today’s structures to think that the Tabernacle mentioned in those speeches from the 1850s was the Tabernacle that’s over there. But in fact, the original Tabernacle on Temple Square was constructed on this corner. It was a low-slung, gabled building with a sunburst on the gable that faced south, and as it was originally arranged, there was a pulpit on the west end. Brigham Young spoke to a crowd that was kind of spread out north and south. They had no public address system, so he was able to project his voice that way by kind of standing in the middle of the crowd.

So even though this building is not the Tabernacle today, the first Tabernacle stood right here near where I am speaking.

Tomorrow, of course, we celebrate the arrival of Brigham Young in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. And it is appropriate each year on Pioneer Day that we remember and honor those who came before us—those original pioneers whose sacrifices helped make possible the blessings that we enjoy today. But of course, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had more pioneers than just those who arrived in the Valley in July of 1847—166 years ago. There have been Latter-day Saint pioneers throughout Utah and throughout the rest of the United States. And in fact, what I am going to show to you today is that there have been pioneers throughout the world.

I want to pause at this point and relate a story that I didn’t put into my written remarks, but I think it’s appropriate for this occasion. A few months ago I was in Otavalo, Ecuador. Anyone here from Ecuador? Otavalo, Ecuador, is a place where we have a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse and some faithful Latter-day Saints, many of whom are Otavalo Indians. And I was interviewing a couple of the pioneering Otavalo from that part of Ecuador, and there were three in the room with me that I was interviewing. There was a father and a mother and a son. The father told his story, about how he came in contact with the first Otavalo convert and was nurtured by him, and developed his testimony and served a mission, in spite of having virtually no earthly possessions to his name.

And then I interviewed his wife, who told a similar story about how she grew up and served a mission as a teenager, and then went through lots of trials and tribulations, eventually met this good Otavalo man and they married.

And after I heard their wonderful stories and recorded them, I turned to the son, who was then serving in a bishopric. He was probably in his 30s—mid 30s—a faithful Latter-day Saint, a returned missionary. And as I turned to him, I said, “What’s your story?” And nearly the entire time, he had sat with his head down. And when I addressed that question to him, the head slowly came up, and I noticed that there were tears in his eyes.

He said to me, “All my life, I have honored the American pioneers. I have admired the sacrifices that they made for the Church, how they crossed the Plains to Utah. But today, for the very first time in my life, I have come to realize that we have pioneers right here in Otavalo, and they are my parents.”

It’s in that spirit that I want to address you today. And I want to begin by going back to New Testament times. When Jesus parted from His disciples after His resurrection, He commanded them, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”[1]

Not surprisingly, the disciples of Jesus Christ in this last dispensation have followed this same commandment to teach all nations. Just four years after the Church was organized in 1830, Joseph Smith gathered all of the priesthood who were in Kirtland into a 14-foot square schoolhouse. “When we got together,” Elder Wilford Woodruff recalled, “the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work…. When they got through, the Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.”

And then he prophesied: “It is only a little handful of priesthood you see here tonight, but this church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.”[2]

Today, I want to talk to you about this prophecy and how it’s been fulfilled—how through the efforts of pioneers in every land the Church has spread throughout North and South America and is filling the world.

The Church was restored, we all know, in North America. Joseph Smith was living in upstate New York when he had his first vision, of the Father and the Son, and the subsequent visits of the Angel Moroni. New York was also the home for other key events in the Restoration. The first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in New York, in E.B. Grandin’s print shop in Palmyra. And of course, the Church was organized in Fayette. The good news spread rather rapidly, however, and it soon swept into nearby states and eventually moved into eastern Canada. Joseph Smith’s father and brother were the first to go there; Brigham Young and his brother also went there later. And Joseph Smith himself went there in 1833.

Among the famous early converts to the Church in Canada was John Taylor. Later the president of the Church, he was an English emigrant who was living at the time in the Toronto area. In fact, many converts came from Upper Canada, as Ontario was then called, including my first ancestors to join the Church, Theodore and Frances Kimberly Turley. My ancestors joined near Toronto, in a little village that was appropriately called Churchville. I recently went there, and you can see from the sign [shown on video screen] it was a town established in 1815. Churchville was a fruitful area for missionary work in the 1830s when my ancestors were baptized.

Converts to the Church in the 1830s in Canada included such notable individuals as Mary Ann Mercy Fielding. Mary became the wife of Hyrum Smith the martyr, brother of Joseph Smith. She was also the sister-in-law to the first Church president, Joseph Smith Jr., mother to Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church, grandmother of Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth president of the Church, and great-great-grandmother of Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

John Taylor, the Fieldings, and others came into the Church through the efforts of Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve. In April 1836, before he left Canada on his mission, Elder Pratt received a blessing from Elder Heber C. Kimball, in which Elder Kimball declared: “Thou shalt go to Upper Canada, even to the city of Toronto, and there thou shalt find a people prepared for the fulness of the gospel. And they shall receive thee. And thou shalt organize the Church among them, and many shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth and shall be filled with joy. And from the things growing out of this mission shall the fulness of the gospel spread into England, and cause a great work to be done in that land.”

This prophecy came to pass. And among those who went with Elder Heber C. Kimball on the first mission to England in 1837 were Canadian converts John Goodson and John Snyder, as well as Isaac Russell, who converted my ancestors. The mission in England proved enormously important to the Church, because it came at a time of widespread apostasy in Kirtland. Under these circumstances, the Prophet Joseph Smith felt something must be done to save the Church.

“About the first day of June 1837,” remembered Elder Kimball, “the Prophet Joseph came to me where I was seated in the temple in Kirtland and, whispering to me, said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my gospel and open the door of salvation to that nation.’”[3]

And so Elder Kimball and his companions went as commanded and had great success, not among the rich and famous, but among the humble people of the land who saw in the gospel of Jesus Christ the spiritual and temporal salvation that they so badly needed.

The first Latter-day Saint missionaries crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Liverpool, England, on July 20, 1837. From there they traveled to Preston, where they arrived at election time and saw a banner that read “Truth Will Prevail.” For missionaries out to spread the gospel, this banner seemed auspicious. “Amen! Thanks be to God! Truth will prevail!” they exclaimed. They preached first in the Vauxhall Chapel, which has now been torn down, but this is an artist’s rendition of it [displayed on screen].  It was at this chapel where Joseph Fielding’s brother James was a resident minister. And the missionaries who preached there soon found both success and rejection. Members of James Fielding’s congregation believed their words, but the minister also came to realize that the success of his brother and the other Latter-day Saint missionaries meant a reduction of his congregation and, by that, threatened his livelihood. So he forbade the elders from baptizing members of his flock.

“They are of age,” Heber C. Kimball replied, “and can act for themselves; I shall baptize all who come unto me, asking no favors of any man.” So Elder Kimball prepared to baptize and went to the River Ribble, which runs through Preston. And soon, nine candidates presented themselves for baptism. “These were the first persons baptized into the Church in a foreign land,” Elder Kimball reported, “and only the eighth day after our arrival in Preston.”[4]

And then he related the following story: “A circumstance took place which I cannot refrain from mentioning, for it will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the gospel. Two of the male candidates, when they had changed their clothes at a distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the gospel that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first.”  As you might expect, the younger of the two men—George D. Watt, shown here—“being quicker of foot than the elder, outran him, and came first into the water.

“The circumstance of baptizing in the open air being somewhat novel, a concourse of between seven and nine thousand persons assembled on the banks of the river to witness the ceremony,”[5] Elder Kimball reported.

From Preston, the gospel spread to other parts of England. This first mission of members of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1837 was followed in 1839 by a second mission, led by Brigham Young. The members of the Quorum who went to the British Isles on those two missions led the way for the gospel to spread to other parts of the British Isles and across into continental Europe.

Orson Hyde went all the way to Jerusalem, where he offered a prayer commemorated today in a park across the Kidron Valley from the ancient city. Here’s a view of the old city from the Orson Hyde Memorial Park, and here’s one of the signs that you can find there now, explaining this both in Hebrew and in English.

Elder Erastus Snow led the way in Scandinavia, arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark—somewhere near where I took this photograph recently—in 1850. He stayed his first night on this street, shown here, before taking up quarters in the building that still stands today not very far from this location. The following year, 1851, Elder Snow oversaw publication of the Book of Mormon in Danish, the first translation of the scripture from English into another tongue.

This is a statue that stands today near the docks in Copenhagen, and it commemorates the migration of Latter-day Saints from Denmark to the United States. Today when you walk the streets of Salt Lake City, you’re most likely to hear the English language first, and it’s typically American English, followed second by Spanish. Those are the two most typical languages you hear. But if you walked these same streets in the 1800s, you would have been likely to hear not just American English, but a very healthy dose of several British accents as well as Scandinavian languages. Salt Lake in the 1900s even had its own Scandinavian newspapers, like this one, the Beekoban, which meant “beehive.”

In our course of study this year in the Relief Society and the Melchizedek priesthood quorums, we’re studying the life of Elder Lorenzo Snow. And we have read about how he took the gospel to Italy. Of course, the gospel spread to other parts of Europe as well. John Taylor, our British-born Canadian convert, became the member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was responsible for publishing the Book of Mormon in both France and Germany. The year 1852 saw the publication of the book into four languages—Italian, Welsh, French, and German.

I’ve got two title pages from the German here [shown on screen]. The left is the first edition from 1852, and often the first thing people notice about that is that the angel has wings, which is not consistent with our theology. I wanted to show you that we do have a correlation process in the Church whereby errors are fixed. The title page on the right is from the 1862 second edition—same angel, but his wings have been clipped.

The French and the German translations are a particular marvel to me, even though all of these translations being done as rapidly as they were can be considered marvelous works and wonders. But there’s a mystery surrounding the French and German that I haven’t figured out yet. Somehow, Elder John Taylor was able to coordinate the publication of the French edition in Paris and the German edition in Hamburg—the French using a type font that looks very familiar to us today, and the German using an old Frotteur script that doesn’t look at all familiar to us, even to German speakers today. And somehow he did that—two different publications with two different type fonts in two different countries in such a way that if you had uncut copies of both, you could collate them like this and end up with a French/German copy of the Book of Mormon, with the verses exactly facing each other on opposite pages. Now that’s a typesetting wonder. There is only one known copy in the world of this first edition French/German diglot, and it’s the copy that we’re showing here. This is the rarest copy of the Book of Mormon in the world.

At the same time the gospel was spreading in the British Isles and Continental Europe, it was also taking root in the Pacific. George Q. Cannon and his fellow missionaries, who arrived in the Sandwich Islands in the 1850s, were not the first Latter-day Saints in Hawaii. The first Latter-day Saints in Hawaii were the passengers on the ship Brooklyn, which was full of members of the Church who stopped there in the 1840s on their way from New York to the west coast of the United States. Many of these people eventually joined the Saints here in Utah.

Elder Cannon and his companions, however, were the first Latter-day Saint missionaries in Hawaii, and they enjoyed great success. During Elder Cannon’s stay in the Islands, he with the help of Jonatana Napella, his first convert, and others, translated the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. Elder Cannon encountered opposition in his efforts to publish it, however, and had to bring the manuscript back to the mainland with him. He returned to Utah in 1854, married the young woman who waited for him, and then went to the San Francisco area to work on the Church’s newspaper shown here, theWestern Standard. It was while he was in San Francisco in 1855 that Elder Cannon finally published the Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon from the manuscript that he prepared in Hawaii.

Now you may think that this early mission to Hawaii in 1850 was the earliest mission to the Pacific. But it wasn’t. Years before this missionary journey of George Q. Cannon and his companions, another set of missionaries left for the islands of the Pacific. Joseph Smith was still the president of the Church when, on June 1, 1843, four missionaries left Nauvoo on a mission to the Pacific. The four were Addison Pratt as well as his companions Noah Rogers, Benjamin Grouard, and Knowlton F. Hanks. They traveled east from Nauvoo to Bedford, Massachusetts, which was a whaling town. Elder Pratt used to be a whaler. And there in New Bedford, they boarded a whaling ship, The Timolian, and just a month out to sea Elder Hanks passed away, becoming the first missionary to die at sea. He died of what was then called consumption; today we would call it probably tuberculosis.

The three remaining missionaries continued onward. They went across the Atlantic, they rounded the southern tip of Africa, and they sailed into the Indian Ocean, finally arriving on April 30, 1844—while Joseph Smith was still alive—at the island of Tupuai in what is today French Polynesia. This is a photo [displayed  on screen] I took from a plane as I was arriving at Tupuai, the second time I have gone there. Their ships stopped at the island just to resupply, but Elder Pratt quickly bonded with the people of the island, because he had spent some time in Hawaii as a whaler and knew a few words of Hawaiian. For those of you who are linguists, you recognize the similarities among the Polynesian languages, so he was able to get his meaning across with them and they quickly found friendship with him. So when his companions left to go to other islands, Addison Pratt remained behind on Tupuai and had great missionary success there.

So to put this in context, remember Joseph Smith was still alive when they arrived there—or another way to put it is to say that the gospel of Jesus Christ, the restored gospel, arrived in that tiny island of Tupuai more than three years before it arrived here in Utah.

These people in Tupuai are wonderful Latter-day Saints. I’ve been there on a couple of occasions, I’ve met with them. You can go to the island of Tupuai and find that about 50 percent of the people on the island today are Latter-day Saints, and some of them descend from these early converts of Addison Pratt, so you can find seventh generation members of the Church there. Just as we have monuments outside of this building on Temple Square, they have monuments as well. Here’s a very remarkable early monument [shown on screen] to Addison Pratt and his mission that you can find on the north shore of the island of Tupuai.

Well, the gospel continued to spread across the Pacific. When Addison Pratt returned to North America, the Saints had moved west to Utah and abandoned the Nauvoo Temple, where many of them had been endowed. Elder Pratt had never been endowed, so before he went back to Tupuai, he went to this historic site just north of here, Ensign Peak. And because there was no temple at that point, the Church leaders performed Elder Pratt’s endowment up on that peak, just as ancient prophets communed with God on mountaintops.

Going back to the Pacific, this time to Australia, three years before Addison Pratt left Nauvoo on his first mission, William Barrett, a 17-year-old Latter-day Saint in England, was called to serve as a missionary in Australia. He appears to have baptized a man who later became a mission president in Australia, and soon other Latter-day Saints followed. Today, of course, the Church thrives in Australia. We have this temple in Sydney and this one in Brisbane, among others.

In the 19th century, Latter-day Saints were expected not to stay in their homeland but to gather to a central location. One group that left Australia onboard the vessel Julia Ann faced a tragic and difficult trip. Partway through their journey, the ship struck a submerged coral reef and sank, leaving the passengers who survived standing waist-deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no land in sight. Can you imagine yourself standing waist-deep in the ocean, no land in sight, in the middle of the night, with your ship having sunk and just the bell sticking above the water, clanging every time a wave came by? How would you feel under those circumstances?

Well fortunately, when morning came they could see in the distance what appeared to be a small island. They had managed to get one lifeboat from the ship, and they used that to get to that small island and eventually sent a delegation off in the rowboat to try and find help. Many weeks later they were rescued, and it still took them a long time to get to Utah because everything they owned was gone. They had to figure out how to pay their passage from there to California and from California to here. But some did, and those are some of the early pioneers I think we should honor during this July 24th season.

Over time the Church spread throughout much of the Pacific, including places like New Zealand, Samoa, and Tonga—places where we have temples today. Joseph Smith said that the purpose of gathering was to build temples, so when we have temples in an area, it means that the people have successfully gathered there.

Another place where the gospel spread was in South Africa. In August of 1852, a special conference was held roughly on this site where we are right now, in the old Tabernacle, and a decision was made to send out over 100 missionaries to preach the gospel. Among those sent out were William Walker, whose picture we have here, as well as his companions, Jesse Haven and Leonard L. Smith. In April of 1853 they arrived in Capetown, South Africa, and went up on this prominence, the Lion’s Head, where they dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel in this area. The Church grew rapidly in South Africa, then slowly spread to other areas. But the growth of the Church was slow until the priesthood revelation of 1978, and then it spread rapidly—particularly in West Africa, where entire congregations of investigators had already organized groups under the Church name.

Today the Church is growing throughout much of Africa, and the Saints on that continent are among the most dedicated and devoted members of the Church in the world. We also have temples, not only in Johannesburg, but also in Accra, Ghana, shown here, and Aba, Nigeria, with others that have been announced.

We had a New Zealand speaker here today, and I mention New Zealand in passing. There’s a very interesting connection between the history of the Church in New Zealand and Salt Lake City that I want to point out today, as you’re considering how to commemorate July 24th. Early missionaries to New Zealand found particular success among the Maori people. In the 19th century, when people were asked to gather, some Maori Saints gathered to Salt Lake City.

In the 1890s, the first group of Maori Saints to gather here arrived in California on their way to Utah, and among these Maori Saints were Fivi Nufonga, a Maori chief, and his wife, Merrimeta Fonga. They emigrated to Salt Lake and then went down to Kanab, Utah, hoping to establish a farming operation there where the temperature was more akin to what they were used to. They had some financial difficulties there, ended up coming back to Salt Lake and they spent much of the rest of their lives serving in the Salt Lake Temple, doing work for their ancestors and others.

They passed away here in Salt Lake City, and if you go up to the Salt Lake City Cemetery, you can see this monument—this headstone—[shown on screen] to these great New Zealand pioneers who migrated to Utah.

Among others from the Pacific who came to Utah were Hawaiian Saints who wanted to be close to the temple. They went out to Skull Valley. Skull Valley was a very dry area, as the name implies, and it’s still dry today. If you go west from the Salt Lake Valley to the next valley over, where Tooele and Grantsville are located, and then go one more valley west, you will get to this area of Skull Valley. There these Hawaiian Saints and other Polynesians built a town which they called Iosepa, which is Hawaiian for Joseph—calling their town after Joseph F. Smith. They built up this community and made it a garden in the desert, and remained there in this community until an announcement was made about a temple to be built in Laie, Hawaii, at which point many of them returned. Although some of them remained, and there are many descendants of these people in the continental United States today. President Heber J. Grant ended up being the one to dedicate that temple, because Joseph F. Smith passed away before it was completed.

Moving rapidly through many other areas, in 1852 this missionary work that was begun in the old Tabernacle here sent missionaries to China, among them Hosea Stout, whose picture is here [on screen]. They faced a number of challenges, political as well as linguistic, and returned. But they were the first foray into China. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the gospel finally took hold in China—the most populous country in the world—and surrounding countries.

Today of course we have Church members in China and a Church website, about the Church, in China.

Now let’s go briefly to the second most populous country in the world, India. The first Latter-day Saints to reach India were British sailors who arrived in Calcutta. Other Saints soon followed and in 1853 missionaries took the gospel to other regions of India and established several branches, including one that lasted into the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 20th century that missionary work got started again in India in a serious way. And today there are two missions there, and here are some of the missionaries [shown on screen] who were serving there two years ago when I was visiting.

Most parts of the world had one place where the gospel got established very well and remained, and became sort of a beachhead for the spread of the gospel to other parts of the world. And one of those places for Asia was Japan. The early missionaries who went to Japan went under the direction of President Heber J. Grant, who was then an apostle. He took with him three companions, one of whom was 19-year-old, almost 20-year-old Alma Taylor. Now many young men are called on missions at age 19. He got the responsibility to learn the very difficult Japanese language without an MTC, and the responsibility of translating the Book of Mormon into Japanese. Remember, he went in 1901 at age 19. In 1909, when he finished the Book of Mormon project, he was allowed to come home. You think two years is bad; try eight.

That mission was closed down in 1924 because of lots of difficulties, but when the mission was started up again after World War II, my mission president, shown here—Harrison Theodore Price and his companions—were able to locate some of these early converts to the Church. In 2001, the Church dedicated a monument representing the 100 years of the Church in Japan.

The gospel spread into other areas. One of the places, of course, where the Church has flourished the most is in South America. Parley P. Pratt was the president of the Pacific Mission when he went to Chile in 1851 with a pregnant wife. She had a baby there, which passed away. Last year when we were in Chile, we dedicated this monument to that early missionary effort of the Pratts.

In 1925, Melvin J. Ballard, the ancestor of Elder M. Russell Ballard, went to South America and began the work that has continued, in fulfillment of a prophecy that was made by Brigham Young, who in 1875 had the Book of Mormon selections translated into Spanish and who established the groundwork through which other people later on settled that area, including ancestors of mine like these I’m showing you here, who settled in the Mormon colonies and learned Spanish. These Spanish speakers, including my father, shown here, were able to use their Spanish in helping to take the gospel into Mexico, Central America, and South America, as Brigham Young had prophesied.  But in 1925, when Elder Ballard was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he dedicated all of South America near this spot to the preaching of the gospel.

And of course, sort of a last bastion, at least for me as a child of the Cold War Era, was Eastern Europe. As someone growing up during the Cold War Era, I thought it was going to take global thermonuclear war for the Iron Curtain to fall and for the gospel to spread into Eastern Europe. But I also remember in 1974 President Spencer W. Kimball prophesying that if we would do our part, the Lord would do His part to open the way. And of course we have seen since that time how the gospel has spread slowly into Eastern Europe where today it flourishes.

My oldest daughter’s husband served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia. And I went to Eastern Europe recently, and while I was there I visited St. Petersburg. And I met with the new St. Petersburg Stake presidency that you see here. I was telling my son-in-law about it and he said, “Just a minute.” He went into his back room and he pulled out one of his mission photographs. And in the mission photograph, taken many years earlier, he showed the counselor that’s on the left in this photograph. At that time he was a new convert to the Church, and my son-in-law was serving as his branch president. And on the back of his mission photo he had written, “Future leaders of the Church in St. Petersburg.” Now twenty years later, you’ve got this stake presidency there.

I could go on and on and talk about how the Church has spread to all of these areas, but what I want to point out is this: In October of 1831, just a year and a half after the Church was organized, the Lord said in this verse, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.”[6]

Remember, this is just a year and a half after the Church is organized; members of the Church are just a tiny body of believers at this point. But they had the Spirit of the Lord with them, which prophesied what would happen.

I’ve shown you a tiny glimpse today of how the gospel spread from here to Canada, to England and to Europe, to Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and so on. I’m sure most of you have heard the words that Joseph Smith wrote to Editor John Wentworth in 1842, but I hope after hearing this description of what has happened since that time, these words will have greater meaning to you. And I will close with them.

Joseph Smith wrote: “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations…. the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”[7]

I testify that this is happening, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



[1] Matthew 28:19-20.

[2] Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57; punctuation and capitalization modernized.

[3] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Bookcraft, 1967), pp. 103-4,

[6] Doctrine and Covenants 65:1-2.

[7] “The Wentworth Letter,” Ensign, July 2002, http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/07/the-wentworth-letter.