Summer 2014

Five Beliefs to Guide Your Life

20 May. 2014

Transcript

Five Beliefs to Guide Your Life

My brothers and sisters, what a privilege it is for me to be with you today. I look in your faces and I see the strength of the Church sitting in front of me. As you were filing in today on this rainy day I turned to President Richards, and I said, “How many hours of credit do you have to give these kids to have them come out on a day like today?” And he said you didn’t get any extra credit for that. If I were you, at the right time, I think I’d try to renegotiate that. I’m not sure it will do any good, but it’s just something you might think about.

I’m grateful to be with you today, particularly at this important time and this important place in your life. I have pondered and I’ve prayed about what kind of a message I might leave with you today, and I suspect that when all is said and done, I will be talking to you about the same things that so many people have talked to you about, and if you think it’s overdone, you might just remember that this is the concern that I and the other brethren of the Church have.

You are an extraordinary group of students. I know something about you – I have been following you for a lot of years, and I know what takes place here. While I know some of you personally as I’ve seen you walk into the room here, I feel that I know and I understand all of you to some extent. You’re a very diverse group of young people. I know that you come from many countries. I am told that you represent 60 countries out of this group and this school. I know that 80 percent of the brethren that I see here are returned missionaries. What an incredible statistic – both of these statistics. Some of you come from very poor environments, I am aware of that. Some of you had to almost crawl out of some of the ghettos, if you will, that you lived in. Others of you come from more affluent backgrounds. I know that you are attending a very distinguished college; one of two that received nationwide honor as a model of efficiency. The reason this college received that model of efficiency is because of the administration, because of the faculty, and I’m sure it is because of you also—the students—and so, congratulations to you. I think there is no other student body that I know of that is quite like you.

Now I know also that some of you are struggling maybe with temptation and maybe with sin in your life. Some of you are maybe struggling with your faith and your testimony. That would not be unusual for young people of your age. Some may be lonely, discouraged, and maybe some of you are even homesick for your native country. But all of you, everyone here, is concerned about the future. And that is why you are here, is because you are taking it seriously. And you know that there is opportunity that lies ahead. And so all of you have hope for the future and are preparing for a wonderful and beautiful and productive life. That is your dream. And all have faith, and desire to please God, and to be successful. That certainly is evidenced, not only by your attendance here, but the missionary service you have given.

But I also know that every one of you will be tested. That’s part of the plan. That’s the plan of salvation, as we call it, and it’s what is referred to in the Book of Mormon so many times as the plan of happiness. And I know there are going to be times in your life when you are going to say, “Where is the happiness part of what I am going through?” But again, that is part of the plan; it was established before the foundation of this world. We all voted on it, we raised our hands. In fact, the scriptures say that we shouted for joy when it was explained to us. But I also know that Satan rebelled in that plan, and that rebellion and that war continues today. And you are the victims of that war. But we’ve been warned, and we’ve been forewarned; we know what to expect, we know how it all comes about.

In the 89th section of the Doctrine in Covenants, we read, “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days”—these would be your days, this would be today, March whatever it is, 4th, I believe, today—“I have warned you, and forewarn you.” Now I know that that scripture was applying to the introduction of the Word of Wisdom. But it is so apropos to what is happening today in almost every aspect of this civilization that we live in today. In 2nd Nephi, the 28th chapter, we are warned again: “For..at that day,” –the year 2014—“…he” ––Satan—“[shall] rage in the hearts of …men…. He [shall] pacify, and lull them… [to] carnal security,” and teach and try to convince us that all is well in Zion. (See verses 20-25)   

Paul gave this warning over 2,000 years ago: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Now I want you to think about those scriptures for just a moment. Think about where we are today. Think about what those scriptures were prophesying, some as far as over 2,000 years ago, and where we are today. You are the victims, as I am and my family is, of this great and continuous war that is taking place.

In 1996 at the opening session of the Kansas Senate, a minister by the name of Joe Wright was asked to give the prayer opening that senate. Here is what his prayer said: “Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness, and to seek your direction and guidance. We know what your word says, ‘Woe to those that call evil good.’ But that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word and called it pluralism. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the airway with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fathers and called it enlightenment.” And then he closes his prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

When I was about your age things were different. Civil marriage usually lasted until death do you part. Divorce was rare. Temple divorce was almost unheard of. The most serious warning that they gave to us as teenagers as I grew up, and some of those who are mature like me may remember this, was to keep the Word of Wisdom. Don’t smoke. We weren’t being taught and warned against pornography. We weren’t being taught about immorality that much. We weren’t being taught about abortion, these kinds of things. Keep the Word of Wisdom and don’t smoke. Teenagers giving birth was almost unheard of. Abortion was not heard of. If abortion was performed, it was usually in a back alley someplace. Religion was sacred and was protected by the governments of the world, particularly our government in the United States. A college degree was almost a guarantee for gainful employment.

Here’s the picture that you live in today: pornography is rampant. It has become almost acceptable for most people. It represents our most debased appetites. When I was in my other world working for a corporation, we had a company in Germany, and I often travelled over there, and I met with the controller over there often. And one day, he knowing that I was man of faith and a religious man, he asked if he could speak with me for a few minutes. I went into his office, and then he was almost in distress. He could hardly contain himself because what he wanted to talk to me about was a young adult daughter who was living with another man, unmarried. This is in Germany. Today, living together before marriage, or even living together without marriage is becoming mainstream. Traditional marriage is becoming exceptional in our world today. In Europe today, 80 percent of all firstborn are born out of wedlock in the developed part of Europe. Marriage without commitment takes place today. There are marriages that I know that people really aren’t committed to make it last. They say, “We’ll go for awhile.” Even adultery, think of this – you know the instances – even adultery in high, visible places has become accepted by us. Illegal drug use has become acceptable and mainstream; we see it all the time.

      And so now I ask, is this the new norm that we live in? And the answer that I have is yes, this is becoming the new norm. Yes, those prophesies that I read to you are being fulfilled. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20) That is the warning.

      Elder Hales gave an example in the April 2013 General Conference referring to conditions today. He referred to a talk he gave in conference in 1982, He put his hand up like this, and he said, “This is where the moral standards of the Church are today,” and then he put his second hand up, and said, “This is where the world is, and their standards.” Then he said, “Today, this is where the Church is, and here is where the world is.” And this of course is where we are.

      Now the first hymn, when you open up the church hymnbook, was written in the early 1830s by Parley P Pratt. The first verse of that hymn reads as follows:

 

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;

Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled!

The dawning of a brighter day,

Majestic rises on the world.

      (“The Morning Breaks,” Hymns, no. 1)

 

That hymn falls shortly after the restoration of the gospel. Up to that point in time, there had never been much noted progress in the development of mankind. I know you can go back hundreds and maybe even thousands of years, and the great discoveries were fire, the wheel, and maybe the printing press. And we just kept living along with that. After the restoration of the gospel, almost immediately we had the industrial revolution that took place; and how powerful that was through our country and through other countries. And then today we have this other revolution, the technological revolution, that has caught me by surprise that I can’t even keep up with it. But you can.

So in spite of the rage of Satan in today’s world, in spite of the challenges he will put before us, this is the point that I want to make: We live in the greatest time in the history of the world. Make no mistake about it; we live in the greatest time in the history of all the world. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ and we know the plan. We even know why we have adversity in our lives, and what we do with it when we get it. We are armed with the truth and the saving ordinances and covenants that we enter into, both at baptism and later in the temples of our Heavenly Father. We are armed with truth and these saving ordinances to help prepare us to come back into our Heavenly Father’s presence. We, you right here, are the people of hope and optimism. We live in a time when the prophets from the beginning of time looked forward to, prophesied of, and helped prepare for. And today we live in the time when we have living prophets to warn us, to teach us and guide us.

With that background now of where we have been and where we are today, I want to suggest five beliefs to guide your lives; five beliefs at the breaking morning and the fleeing shadows that we live in.

#1: The first one I want you to believe in, and I want you to believe earnestly: Believe in yourself.  I tell an experience with the permission of President Packer – I just talked to him a couple of days ago and asked him if I could tell this experience. Some time ago, a few years ago, in a general priesthood meeting, on a Saturday night session, when he approached the podium, he began with these words: “For years I have been trying to learn and discover who I am. I have pondered that thought, I have read the scriptures, I have prayed about it. Today I can tell you who I am.” And then he said, “I am nobody. I am Boyd K. Packer, nobody.”  That kind of startled everyone in the audience. And he had some scriptural justification for making that statement, because you’ll remember in the first chapter of Moses when our Heavenly Father was calling Moses to his great work, the first thing he did was showed him all of his creations and everything that was in the world; and Moses’ comment after he’d seen that was, “I cannot even say I am as much as the dust of the earth.” (See Moses 1:10; see also Helaman 12:7, Mosiah 4:2)  And we also received from 2nd Nephi when Nephi learned about what happened, he said also, “I’m not even as much as the dust of the earth.” But then President Packer picked up and said, “I am nobody, until I receive the priesthood [or I receive a calling for you sisters]. And then I am somebody. Then, I can do what the Lord wants me to do. I am empowered and I know who I am.” And so I would add to President Packer’s statement of nobody until you receive the priesthood. I would say you are nobody until you learn to be who you are, and what your divine potential is. Once you learn that, it all changes.

If I was to teach you, or attempt to teach you one of the most deep doctrines of the church, I might turn to page 301 of the songbook to teach that doctrine: “I Am a Child of God.” It is so simple that even a child could teach it. It is so deep and so profound that even the most sophisticated and educated might miss it. You see? We see it, we must believe it, we must internalize it, and we must live it. President Packer has said on many occasions to the general authorities and in priesthood sessions I witnessed that we live far below our privileges.

Some years ago, I happened to be in Brazil, and I was meeting with the employees of the presiding bishopric. I was meeting with the managers. And we had a new manager there that I had not met before. So I asked if he would tell me a little bit about his life. And he told me this story. He said: “I was 8 years of age, out on the streets, living in the favellas,” and you that are from Brazil you know what that is, it’s a very low slum area. And he said, “I met the two missionaries. I took a liking to them and I took them home. And they taught my family, my father my mother and my brother and my sister. So I joined the Church. After I joined the Church I decided I wanted to be like the missionaries – I wanted to go on a mission.” He said, “I spent those young years preparing myself to go on a mission. After I’d completed my mission, I met this beautiful young lady who was also a member of the Church. We got married. At the conclusion of our marriage I decided I wanted all of the education I could possibly get. We went to school in Brazil, then we got to BYU, I got an MBA. And then I got hired by a wonderful international company, and I travelled the world with that company and I did well and was successful, and at this very young age, I decided I wanted to do something more. So I left and came to visit with the Church.”

And then I asked him, “Did anyone else in your family join the church?”

And he said, “No, I’m the only one who joined.”

I said, “Well, where is your brother and your sister and your family? What’s happened to them?”

And he said, “They are still in the ghetto, doing what they’ve been doing for centuries.”

And then I said, “How did you get out of there?”

Now I knew the answer to that, and he answered me like it was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard. He said, “It was the gospel, of course. I learned who I was, I learned my potential. And I began to live it. I learned that I could be far more than I had ever imagined.”

So learn and believe in yourself.

#2: I want you to believe in the future. It is hard to keep up with. I hold in my hand what’s unbelievable, and only you and Brother Burgoyne understand all of this. I can’t even begin to comprehend it—it’s one of the greatest miracles in the world. It’s changed the lives of most for good and bad. I can hardly imagine what’s next. When I was in the corporate world we had a company back in the sixties that had a new IBM computer that took up the size of most of your bedrooms, and it had 14K in it. And we were running the company on it. You see? We were doing accounts receivable, accounts payable; we had what we called disks we put in because we didn’t have enough capacity. This (in my hand) has 30 gigabytes, and dozens of dozens of … I can’t understand it. We’re talking today about putting people on Mars--people are signing up to go on Mars to live. We’re talking about smart cars. This is the dispensation of the fullness of times. You know the brightness of the future, and know why you’re here; you also know why you have adversity. Training and adaptability has got to be your key, and that’s why you’re here at this college. Self reliance is a never-ending endeavor, even in the future that you live in; both spiritual and temporal self-reliance. You must live providently. I have always advocated you live below your means—not within your means – below your means. And save and prepare for the future. Prepare for marriage and family that God ordained before the creation of the world. That’s part of His whole plan. In fact, it’s so fundamental to the plan that if Satan is able to destroy marriage he has destroyed the plan and he has won. That’s not going to happen, but that’s where he’s aiming. Move forward with hope and with optimism.

#3: The third thing I want you to believe in, and this may surprise you, I want you to believe in Satan. Believe he’s real, believe he has a mission, and that mission is to use every means he has to destroy you and bring you under his control. The TV, the smart phones, and all the wonderful things that have happened here for the spreading of the gospel and all the scriptures—everything we do with this, you see, he uses it also. In your life, there will be Korihors who will approach you to attack you. Korihor taught, and you remember this, out of the 30th chapter of Alma, he taught that there is no God. I hear that today. He taught belief in Christ is a foolish and vain hope. I hear that today—those who believe in a remission of sins are under the effect of a frenzied or deranged mind. He taught their derangement is caused by following the traditions of their fathers and the whims of corrupt leaders. I hear that today. Man is a creature, whatsoever man does is no crime. Korihor taught there is no sin, and no need for a Savior. Those who encourage people to keep God’s commandments are stripping away individual rights and privileges. Korihor is the ultimate atheist. He’s the ultimate secularist. He’s the ultimate pessimist, and he is the ultimate servant of Satan. The devil deceived him, and after he was struck dumb you may recall he wrote that the devil deceived him, and he appeared to him in the form of an angel. He is enticing, and he is in attack mode. As the Savior said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (3 Nephi 14:15).  And then the Savior also taught, even the very elect shall be deceived. (See Matthew 24:24).  Believe Satan is real.

#4: Believe in the Atonement. Alma teaches that it is infinite, it is eternal. Believe it is for sins, believe the Atonement is for suffering, depression, and believe it is for you. Some years ago I had a stake conference on the East coast. Part of my assignment was to interview a young man who was 21 years old to see if he was now prepared to go on a mission. General authorities don’t usually interview young people for missions. They gave me a dossier to read on the airplane as I flew out there, about his past. As I read that, my heart ached for him, and for his father, who was also his bishop. He had committed every sin I could think of. I believe he invented some sins, and I wondered, “Why am I interviewing him?” Because we don’t send young men like this on missions. After the Saturday night session of conference, I retired to the stake president’s office to wait for this interview. As I was waiting there, a handsome young man dressed like a missionary and with a radiant countenance about him approached, and I wondered, “How am I going to excuse myself, because I’ve got this other guy I’ve got to talk to.” And when he entered the room he stuck out his hand and introduced himself, and that is who I was to interview. I asked him only one question. I asked, “Why am I interviewing you tonight?” And then he unloaded. He told me things about transgressions in his life that weren’t even on this list, and he went on. And then he started to teach me about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He taught me what he had been doing for a solid year to prepare for this very interview that was taking place tonight. He taught me about what happened in the Garden, and on the cross. And then when he got through, he said, “I believe the Atonement is powerful enough to rescue even a boy like me.”

When he got through, I put my hand on his shoulder, and I said, “When I get back to Salt Lake, I will be recommending that you serve a mission. I’m only going to ask one thing of you – just one. When you get in the mission field, I want you to be the best missionary in the entire Church. That is all.” I came back; I made my report. I didn’t think anything about it for about two or three months. I was speaking at a devotional in the MTC. After the devotional  I was standing in front of the podium shaking hands with some of the missionaries, and I saw a young man coming forward, and I knew I was in trouble because I couldn’t remember where I had met him, and I knew what he was going to say in about 1½ seconds. And sure enough, when he got there he stuck his hand out and he said, “Do you remember me?” After I apologized and said, “I’m sorry, I know I should remember you, but I meet a lot of people and I just don’t remember.”

And then he said, “Let me tell you who I am.” He said, “I am the best missionary in the MTC.” And then we both got emotional, because what I was witnessing right there was the full effect of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And so I say, believe. Believe in the Atonement. The 19th section of the Doctrine and Covenants says, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that all might not suffer if they would repent.” (verse 16)

#5: The fifth and the last thing that I want to suggest to you, and that is believe in Faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over pessimism, and the unknown. I will almost guarantee you that the Korihors will confront you as wolves in sheep’s clothing. The message may be very enticing. Questions and doubts will arise; it happens to all of us. There is much about the gospel that I do not understand. There is much that I hear people criticize about the gospel that I do not understand. I do not know how Christ could go into the Garden of Gethsemane and take upon Himself the sins of all of us – all of our hurts, our pains, our sufferings. I can’t explain the details of the Creation of this earth. I can’t explain the timeline of it. I know what the scriptures said. I can’t comprehend the magnitude of the blessings of exaltation, and I can’t tell you where the city of Zarahemla was. And I have read the Book of Mormon several times.

But I know the important things. I know the covenants that are required to obtain exaltation. I know the Savior. I’ve had to rely on Him. And what I don’t know, I bridge that gap with my faith. And by that faith is how I show my loyalty, my love, and my devotion to my God. President Uchtdorf in his recent conference talk gave a wonderful statement: “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” (“Come, Join With Us,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/11/saturday-morning-session/come-join-with-us?lang=eng.)

 Brigham Young said we’re all on the good ship Zion, headed for the celestial kingdom. While we are on that ship, we are going to be tested. We may even be offended. We may even be offended by a bishop, or a stake president, or a general authority. Don’t jump off the ship. Keep your faith. (See Journal of Discourses, 5:329)

So in summary, five things: Believe in yourself—and I want you to remember this: Your adversity will define you more than your successes. I shall repeat, your adversity will define you more than your successes. Believe in the future; it’s the greatest time of all to live. Believe in Satan; he is present. He is in attack mode and you and I are the victims. Believe in the Atonement. It is the Savior that made it all right. It’s the Savior that put the “happiness” into the great plan of happiness. And believe in the power of faith. That’s what is going to save you.

The future is bright, God is good. He has a plan for you. Make wise decisions, wise choices, and go for it.

 

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;

Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled!

The dawning of a brighter day,

Majestic rises on the world.”

 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 


Remembering and Stretching Help Us to Grow

04 Jun. 2014

Transcript

Remembering and Stretching Help Us to Grow

Good morning. President Richards is very kind and warm in his comments and introduction. But another thing you need to know is that I do have some interesting peculiarities. My children tell me that I have an offbeat or perhaps bizarre sense of humor. And to let you know a little bit about how that works, when President Richards said that we should be prepared to follow the impressions of the Spirit, the thought that came to my mind was, “The impression might come to me to just run screaming off the podium and get out of here so that I don’t have to share this devotional message.” So I started immediately praying that the Comforter would come, and help comfort my heart. And I appreciate the music we just heard, and Brother Pearson’s testimony. It did bring comfort, and hopefully what I share will in some way contribute to what you have felt thus far.

      There are many memorable stories that begin with the phrase “once upon a time.” My desire is to share a few thoughts with you today that perhaps may be memorable. So to begin, once upon a time, when I was a college student like you, I was called to be the teacher development teacher in our ward. Now, teacher development was something that we, a calling we had in the church in those days. Most of you, well, none of you students and perhaps only a handful of other people in the audience will even know what teacher development was. But teacher development was a particular course where they had someone called to teach all of the teachers in the ward principles of good teaching. And so while they were in an assignment they would take the course, and the instructor would teach them, and then observe them in their teaching opportunities to see how they were performing and applying the principles that they were being taught in the class.  I never perceived myself as a great teacher. But I was at least willing to accept the calling and do my very best.

      In that assignment, I was watching one of the teachers, and she wanted to make a particular point in the lesson and to do so was using an experience from her personal life. And so as she began, she apologized for using a personal experience. The thought struck me then, and I shared it with her, and I have reflected on it a lot since then: The only experiences that we have are personal, so we should never apologize for using a personal experience for sharing with others things we have learned that we have found of great value.

      In the spirit of sharing some personal experiences that I have found valuable, I’d like to convey some thoughts that perhaps will help us remember lessons learned.

      Remembering is an important element of becoming. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that remember may be the most important word in our language. He stated, “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember,’ because all of us have made covenants; our greatest need is to remember,” (“Circles of Exaltation” [address to religious educators, Brigham Young University, 28 June 1968], 8).

      There are over 350 scriptural references admonishing us in one form or another to remember. One of my personal favorite scriptures on that is Alma’s counsel to his son Helaman, where he said, “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God,” (Alma 37:35). That message must have had a profound impact on Helaman, because we see that same message being conveyed and communicated other places in the scriptures. That scriptural passage went to his son, who then taught his sons, Lehi and Nephi. In the seven verses that summarize Helaman’s message, found in Helaman chapter 5, we find the word ‘remember’ 13 times. And then in verse 14 of chapter 5 it emphasizes, “And they did remember.”

      The last time I had an opportunity to speak at a devotional at LDS Business College was on my father’s birthday, 2½ years ago. Because of the timing I had spent a lot of time reflecting on the things my father taught me and remembering the lessons that I had learned. As President Richards indicated, today I find myself at another unique inflection point, because my wife and I have been called to serve a mission. As a result I’ve spent some time remembering other lessons learned from personal experiences.

      If you pay attention to things in the world around you, you can learn a lot because everything that we see is to help us focus on Jesus Christ and can be very instructive; even simple things. In fact, Yogi Berra—just checking to see if anyone recognizes the name—a few—Yogi Berra is a Hall of Fame professional baseball player and manager, who is known for his wit and offbeat sense of humor. And he made some very interesting comments about just observing. He actually made a lot of interesting comments, such as, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Or, another classic, “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” Anyway, he noted this interesting insight, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

      A similar message from a more spiritual source, President Boyd K. Packer, also stated, “We learn from experience and observation,” (Teach Ye Diligently). Unless we are quick to observe, as Amaron noted of Mormon, some lessons may not readily be learned or appreciated at the moment. But upon reflection and serious pondering, deeper understanding can come and will distill upon us as the dews from heaven. Learning through observation can come in profound ways from very simple things. One of those simple things is a common, everyday, elastic band.

      I would like to talk about that elastic band, but in order to appreciate my qualifications to talk about it, you need to know a few more things about me. First of all, I grew up in northern California where we had early-morning seminary. Our classes began at 6:30 a.m. every day. During my senior year in high school, I delivered 500 newspapers to apartment buildings and newsstands in our town, and had to be finished in time to get home and get to seminary on time. Now, since most of you are probably connected to some digital device and have no idea what a newspaper even is, I brought one, just as a visual aid.

      In the olden days, long sheets of paper, news stories and advertising and other important information, was printed on these pieces of paper called newsprint. And to make them easier for paperboys like me to deliver them safely on to the sidewalk or the front porch of people receiving them, you’d put an elastic band around them so you could throw them with a little bit better accuracy. Thank you for catching.

      My days started very early, and I saw a lot of elastic bands that year. At the time I really didn’t take much opportunity to think about an elastic band. In fact, if I ever did think about them it was with some level of disdain. But fortunately, I have come to realize that some of life’s lessons are not always learned or appreciated in the moment. Some things take a little bit more time to ponder. As I have grown older, and hopefully a little wiser, I have come to recognize that the Savior, as the master teacher, frequently used common, everyday images to convey His message as He taught the people. He used things that were very familiar to them.

      With the passage of time and some reflection I have thought more about elastic bands and have gained a greater appreciation and some insights about this simple, common, everyday item. As you consider an elastic band all by itself, it really isn’t worth very much. After one is created, when viewed in its natural state, it’s not very attractive, and it really does very little. They come in various sizes, shapes, colors, but most of us just ignore them or throw them away if we happen to see one lying on the ground. However if you stop to think about how an elastic is used, it teaches profound lessons of life.

      An elastic can only fulfill the purpose for which it was created when it’s stretched. In the stretching process, its value increases. In that sense, our lives are very similar to elastic bands. Our value increases when we are stretched. Think for a moment about some of the stretching experiences that you may have had in your own life. Each of these stretching moments helps us look inward but also heavenward, to find out who we really are. And as the Lord allows these stretching opportunities we find out that we are truly dependent on Him for all things.

      During my working career at the Church, as President Richards has shared, I’ve had a couple of significant stretching experiences that have been particularly poignant and have allowed me an opportunity to learn from the Brethren some lessons that might also be valuable for you. So, just to give a little bit of context to what President Richards said, let me share a couple of these personal experiences that have provided me with these unique opportunities.

      The first happened about 20 years ago, just before general conference. President Gordon B. Hinckley, who at the time was serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, invited me to his office, and in essence said, “Roger, we would like you to be accountable to the First Presidency for the allocation and expenditure of the tithing funds of the church. How do you feel about that?”

      Clearly when a prophet asks you to do something, “no” is not an option. So I responded, “President, if you have confidence in me to fulfill that assignment, I’d be willing to do whatever you’d like me to do.”

      He then said, “Fine, then let’s move forward on that basis.” In that role as the budget officer of the Church, I met regularly with the First Presidency and other brethren to consider how the tithing funds would be allocated to the various programs and activities of the Church.

      After experiencing that opportunity for a number of years, after one of our regularly scheduled meetings, President Hinckley invited me into his office again. This time he said, “Roger, the brethren in Church Education,” at the time that was President Eyring as the commissioner of Church Education, and Elder Ballard, who was chairman of the Executive Committee, President Hinckley said, “Those brethren think that they need to have you working with them. How do you feel about that?” Again, “no” was not an option. So I moved into the role that I’ve now had the privilege of occupying for the last 15 years. And in my most recent assignment I continued to enjoy frequent association with the presiding brethren of the Church. As a result, I’ve learned much by listening and observing.

      There are many stories behind the lessons that I’d like to share with you today. Right now I’m just going to share some basic principles and perhaps a little bit of context. Perhaps, in some future occasion, I’ll have an opportunity to elaborate and give more detail. But for simplicity, I’ve summarized these lessons into four general categories:

      1. The importance of time

      2. The importance of wise money management

      3. The importance of working and counseling together

      4. The importance of having character in your working environment

      So if we start with the importance of time. In our organization, meetings start on time, which usually means early. Once I was running a little late for an important meeting, which included the First Presidency, and got there five minutes before the scheduled meeting time. Unfortunately, I was the last person in the room, and I had the agendas for everything we were going to cover in the meeting. That’s not a very comfortable situation to be in, by the way. Which leads us to the next interesting principle, and that is respect for other people’s time.

       President James E. Faust once taught, “When you are early for a meeting, you are wasting your own time, but you have the right to do that. But, if you are late for a meeting, you are wasting other people’s time, and there is a commandment about that. ‘Thou shalt not steal’,” (Exodus 20:15).  Another great lesson is that punctuality has both a beginning and an ending time. Elder Maxwell said that we talk about things eternal, but our meetings don’t have to be endless.

      Another important thing and the most value or limited resource that we have in the Church is the time of the Brethren. If you were to take the cumulative time of the 15 men that we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, for one week, you would have a total of 9 million, 72 thousand seconds. If the total membership of the Church was divided equally into 15 groups and each of those men spent one week without eating, sleeping or doing anything else except focusing his attention on each one of us as an individual member of the Church, we would each get 6/10 of one second of an apostle’s time. Now when you think of how much of their collective time is spent on church education, as students and faculty, staff of this wonderful institution, you know that you are part of a very special group that is important to them.

      Second, the importance of wise money management. The first principle is that there is never enough resources, in time or money, to do every good thing. So be wise in choosing the things that you will do. That principle is applicable to the Church and also useful in our lives as individuals and families. Elder Hales gave a marvelous talk a few years ago about what it means to be a “provident provider,” and I commend the entire talk to you. But in brief, in his message he said, “The three most loving words in a relationship are, ‘I love you,’ and the four most caring words for those we love is, ‘We can’t afford it.’ ” He went on to say, “We all need to learn to say to one another, ‘We can’t afford it, even though we want it,’ or, ‘We can afford it, but we don’t need it, and we don’t really even want it,’ ” (“Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,”  General Conference, April 2009).

      Second, when budgeting for your expenses, it’s important to remember a principle that was affectionately referred to as “Hinckley’s Law.” That is, things will take longer and cost more than the original estimate. And third, spend less than you make.

      Next, the importance of working and counseling together. Every person has unique experiences and knows something that you do not know. Find out what others know, and learn from one another. A great example of the consummate learner was President Eyring’s father. Professor Henry Eyring was one of the most notable and respectable chemists of his day. During his career he received every national and international recognition for chemists, with the exception of the Nobel Prize, and there are many who think that he should have received that during his career as well.

      But even with all his education and experience, Brother Eyring was always seeking to learn from other people regardless of their station in life. One example comes from an event shared by his son, President Henry B. Eyring. He said one afternoon on his way home from the university, his father stopped at a service station to get gas for his car. For those of you who don’t know what a service station is, back in the olden days you used to pull into what we call a gas station and an attendant would come out, he would put gas in your car, he’d wash your windows, he’d check the oil, and everything with a smile.

      Anyway, while Brother Eyring was waiting for the service to be completed, he got out of his car, struck up a conversation with this young man at the gas station. When he got back into the car, President Eyring asked him the question, “Dad, why did you take the time to talk to a gas station attendant?” His father said, “Look, I can learn something from anybody. Everyone has had experiences that I haven’t had.” And so he took the opportunity to learn from someone else.

      Next, learn how to ask insightful questions. I have learned that sometimes questions are asked for a person to gain understanding of a particular subject to learn something you know that they don’t know. President Hinckley was also the consummate learner and was always reading and inquiring of others in his quest to learn as much as he could. Sometimes questions are asked to see if you understand the subject. And sometimes questions are asked to direct a message to somebody else in the room, and you’re just being the catalyst. But make sure you learn how to ask insightful questions. Next, use the most effective, which is frequently the simplest way to communicate.

      Fifth, handle things at the appropriate level. Know when to make a decision, and when to act. And also learn what needs to be discussed and presented for approval. Finding the balance between those two is more of an art than a science, and learning the art comes with experience and counseling together. It’s also important to know that not everyone sees things the same way. Unity comes through counseling together after thoroughly discussing the issues. And 90 percent of revelation comes in knowing the facts and then asking the right questions, and getting inspiration from the Lord.

      In our organization, particularly Elder Ballard, but many have taught about the importance of councils. The purpose of councils is not to convince others to agree on our position, but to seek revelation. Everyone should prepare properly for counseling together. But once the council has begun, we should set aside our own personal beliefs and issues and be willing to seek for spiritual guidance.

      Next, timing is everything. When an idea is not approved, it may not be that it’s a bad idea, it may just be that it’s not the right time. Some things take a little bit of time to mature and develop, or for circumstances or situations to change in order for that idea to be implemented.

      Another important one, be careful about integrating sacred things into common usage. We are taught in sacred places that things should be treated as sacred, and they should not be allowed to become part of our daily vernacular or daily conversation. So be careful of using ideas or words even, that are taught in sacred places and have them become common.

      Next, when faced with challenges, it is wise and humble to ask what is the Lord trying to teach us with this? Or what do we need to learn in going through this experience?

      Next, the importance of character in your work environment. First, Elder Holland taught us that when you are in a position of leadership, you don’t necessarily have to have your hands on everything, but you do need to keep your eyes on everything.

      Another important lesson I have learned is to pay attention to the details. We should remember the adage, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” If you always do your best, others will notice. If you make a mistake, others will notice. In fact, President Monson notices every misspelled word on any document that we take to the Board, so we have to be very careful in proofreading, at least once or twice or three times, to make sure that it is correct. It’s better when you do your best.

      Which leads us to the next principle, and that is credibility takes a long time to develop but can be lost in an instant. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it and move forward. Learn from it, but don’t repeat the same mistake. And also don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” followed by, “I’ll find out and I’ll get back to you.” Another important lesson is to make sure that you take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously. An appropriate humor often helps to diffuse a very tense moment. We’re running out of time, I won’t tell you a story about that one.

      The last principle on the list is one that I heard frequently from President Hinckley, and this is because of my tendency to want to make sure all the details were correct. And, worrying about what might happen “if,” he said, “Roger, you worry too much. Have faith, things will work out.” So if we return to the concept of stretching, some of the more challenging moments in life come when we are being stretched. Perhaps the most challenging times are those where we can’t see the end from the beginning. So I would just suggest that we all follow the philosophy and attitude that President Hinckley was known so well for, and that is, go forward with faith. Or, perhaps as President Harold B. Lee taught a young Boyd K. Packer, “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,” (as quoted by Boyd K. Packer, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ—Plain and Precious Things,” general conference, April 2005).

      Regardless of the circumstances of each of our lives, know that God loves us, and His love is all-encompassing. He will not let us be stretched to the breaking point when we are obedient to His commandments. For He will not suffer us to be tempted or stretched above what we are able to bear.

      The ultimate stretching that ever took place was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then on Calvary. The Lord’s heart, soul, and body were stretched to include all of us. He understands our worries, He understands our joys, He understands our trials, He understands the stretching that is taking place in each of our lives. The prophet Alma declared, “He shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled…that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people,” (Alma 7:11-12). Jacob tells us that the Lord “remembereth…and stretches forth his hands all the day long, with his arm of mercy extended…” towards you (Jacob 6:4).

      Perhaps one final thought on remembering lessons by observing. During some of the most painful moments of the Savior’s life while He was on the cross, He was concerned about the welfare of others: His mother, His disciples, the criminals who were being crucified with Him, and even those who carried out the crucifixion. As we experience our own stretching moments we likewise need to think beyond ourselves and think of the needs of others. As we think about the frequently cited parable of the Good Samaritan, we should cultivate the attitude of the Samaritan, rather than the priest and the Levite. Each of the latter two asked, “If I help, what will happen to me?” The Good Samaritan asked, “If I don’t help, what will happen to him?”

      If we want to become like the Savior as He has commanded us to do, we need to be stretched, even if it feels unpleasant. Sometimes it may even hurt. But in the stretching process we will grow and increase in value to Him, and to our fellow beings. To that I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

The Lord’s Spirit Abides in His Temples

04 Jun. 2014

Transcript

The Lord’s Spirit Abides in His Temples

      Good morning, brothers and sisters. What a beautiful way to begin a presentation, after that lovely hymn played in such a skillful way. It’s such an honor to be here at the LDS Business College, and you’re kind of hid away, you know? I know you’re in a big building back here somewhere, but it isn’t exactly the same look that you often get when you visit a university. Nevertheless, I am honored to be a part of this special group, and thank you, President Richards, for that lovely introduction. It was the second best introduction I’ve received of late, actually. I went to speak a few weeks ago to a place and the person who was to introduce me didn’t show up. So I introduced myself.  Actually, it was quite sensational, as I made myself look very well indeed.

      You know I do envy the faculty and the president. I know envy is not a quality you should try to develop in your life, but the fact that you have a chance to work with these wonderful students every day…for 30 years I did that at Utah State, and it’s an inspiration to be around you. I reflect off and on the statement of President Benson, and maybe you’ve heard it said before, but it inspires me, and I come to you with a lot of humility, in a sense, knowing who you are. No one said this about my generation, but he has said, “God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord…Some individuals will fall away, but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head, even Jesus Christ.” While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. He said, “It is that God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. Make no mistake about it, you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is in us.” They’ve saved you to the last generation.” (President Benson, “In His Steps,” Stake Fireside, BYU, March 4, 1979).

      We’re about ready to move on to the next generation, wherever that is, and I look back at you and realize that you have a lot to look forward to. Some of it’s very frightening, and yet very challenging. That’s why I’m kind of glad I’m nearly out of here. Because what I see coming forward to your generation is a rather frightening experience in some ways. But imagine that, here I am, my wife and I sitting in the presence of God’s children, who were saved for the last inning, because you were so powerfully influential in the pre-life. Now, God bless you, for that great faith which you’ve already developed and will continue to develop and prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming. I know you’ll be a big part of that.

      In a few weeks, you’ll be invited to attend an open house for the new Ogden Temple. I’m going to say “new,” because it is truly a new facility. And it starts August 1. I trust and hope all of you will find a way to get to that location. It will be followed some months later, I presume, by the Payson Temple here in Utah. And then the Provo Temple that’s being built. Now, don’t pass up the opportunity to participate in those wonderful events. Ruth Ann and I have had a chance around the world to visit and be a part of some of the dedication of these beautiful temples. I think the one that stands out, in my mind, other than Rexburg where we were certainly involved in that opening, was the one in Perth, Australia. Perth, Australia, is the farthest place you can go and still be in the Church. It’s the place they send general authorities when they want to forget you. Well, anyway, it is a long way off into nowhere, and we were honored and blessed to have a chance to be there. And prior to the dedication, we hosted a number of people in the open house. I remember one day walking into a room that I was asked to be, and there sat six Catholic priests, some nuns, and a whole bunch of ministers from other churches. My heart just sank a little. But they were so kind and generous, and polite in all they said and asked during that tour. But I realized that I was in for a bit of a challenge as I tried to explain what we did in the temples.

      And so after a brief introduction of what happens in Mormon temples, we walked across the road out at the stake house into the temple. Now remember, these people, and all the others who went through, had never been inside that temple, never even been inside a Mormon church anywhere. They had no idea what they were about to experience. We walked up to a desk and I said, “This is a recommend desk.” I said, “You know, this is the house of the Lord, and therefore we expect everyone who comes in this house to be worthy of His presence. So we ask the bishops in our church to interview people to verify their worthiness, their honesty, integrity, their morality. And once that’s been verified, they are given a recommend, and it’s at this desk they present it.”

      I said, “Now look on both sides of the recommend desk, pictures of Jesus Christ, and will you please, also, as you go through the temple, note the numbers of pictures that depict His life and His teachings, for indeed, it is His house.” I then just took them directly into the baptistry. I said, “You know, when Jesus was upon the earth, he said, ‘Except [you]… be born of the water and of the Spirit, [you] … cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5).

      And I said, “I’ve always wondered, what about all the people who lived before Him? And all the people since who haven’t heard of Him? Are they just lost? Do they never have a chance to go back to heaven at all?” And I said, “I think the apostle Peter had an answer to that. On one occasion he said, well, ‘For this cause was the gospel preached [also] to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit,’ ” (1 Peter 4:6).  I said, “Apparently they had a doctrine in the early church that these people were taught the gospel.” And I said, “I wonder why? Were they just teasing them and making them feel bad? Aggravating them because they didn’t have a chance to be on earth when Christ was here, or even since?” I said, “The reason I ask that question is that Jesus said, even though you’ve heard the gospel, in order to get into the kingdom of God, you must be baptized,” (See Doctrine & Covenants chapter 18). I said, “What is fair about that, if you get to hear it, but can’t do it?” And then I suggested that maybe the apostle Paul had an answer to that question.

      One day he was arguing with some people about the Resurrection. As a means of proving the Resurrection, as it were, he said, well, “Else what shall they do once you’re baptized for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” (Paraphrased—see 1 Corinthians 15:29). Thank you, Paul, for that little scripture, you saved the Mormon Church. No, no. But isn’t that a marvelous little comment? And often that marvelous book, one little sentence that gave us an education that in the early church that they had a doctrine that you could be baptized for people who had already died.

      And then I said, “That’s why in the Mormon Church we do research for our ancestors.” I’ve gone out and found out my great-grandfather was James Bond. Truly, he was. He did not act like the one they have around now, but nevertheless, that was his name. And I said, “We found his name, and those beyond him, and brought their names to the temple. And in their behalf, we have baptized them and given the opportunity to go back into the presence of the Lord, if they so choose to do.”

      And then I said, “Now follow me into the next room. We call this a blessing room, or in our church we call it an endowment room,” since they don’t know all our terminology. I said, “You see, in this room we learn about Jesus Christ, and we commit ourselves to keeping the commandments, to being good people.” I said—I shouldn’t have maybe, I said, “Look, if you’ve got a Mormon working for you and he doesn’t measure up, you say, ‘Have you been to your temple?’ And if he says yes, you say, ‘Well, I understand in that temple you’re asked to make commitments to be honest and have integrity, and you need to shape up some, you know?’ ” And so, in fact, the other day I was with a group of youth, and we were talking about the temple, and I said, “Look, if your mom and dad start yelling at you and giving you a bad time, just raise your hand, and say, ‘Isn’t it time to go to the temple?’ Because in the temple they promise to be good to you, and if they’re not, they need a little upgrade, yes indeed. And so there you are.”

      “It’s in this room though, that we learn a lot about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. His love for us; it’s a beautiful, beautiful instruction period that we receive. And we make a covenant or a promise that we will be good people.” And then I said, “Now follow me into a room we call the sealing room.” And as we sat there, I said, “Look, it’s in this room that we can bring couples and have them sealed together forever. We know that when the apostle Paul, or Peter was on the earth, the Lord said to him, ‘I give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that whatever you seal on earth will be sealed in heaven,’ ” (Matthew 16:19). And I said, “It’s in this room that we use the power of the priesthood to seal people together including families.”

      And I said, “Now follow me into the room we consider to be the most beautiful, and I guess in a way the most sacred room in the temple. And it’s the Celestial Room.” And I said, “It’s in that room that we try to symbolize Jesus Christ and His life, and once we get in the room,” I said to them, “I’m not going to say anything to you. I just want you to sit and contemplate your feelings of Jesus Christ.”

      Brothers and sisters, I was amazed over the time we gave these wonderful interviews. Some people would walk into the room, immediately kneel—not kneel but put their head down and begin to pray. Some would start to cry. One little girl said to her grandma, “Grandma, you see the angels in this room?” It was so quiet, beautiful, she thought angels were there. And after just a few moments, we’d say, “Now follow us back to the stake center.” And we had people who didn’t want to go. They just wanted to stay. “Now, remember, 10 minutes.” No idea. And yet, there was hardly anyone leave that beautiful temple that didn’t have a different feeling about life and the Lord. And then when we took them back to the stake center where we asked them to write their feelings on cards. Here are some of the comments that were made:

      One said, “The temple is the most beautiful building in all of Perth, and a wonderful contribution to western Australia.” That was a Church of England member.

      Another one said, “I’ve been twice and the peace I’ve felt in the temple the first time, I feel again. The beauty is overwhelming.” Church of England.

      “The temple was absolutely magnificent. We were impressed with the level of commitment of your faith that put our Catholicism to shame.”

      “A wonderful talk, many thanks.” Roman Catholic, practicing.

      Another said, “I am a Roman Catholic, but I’ve never experienced the feeling that came over me on entering this beautiful church. Next time I come back to earth I will change.” [Laughter] He said, “I’m now 92 years old, and a bit too late to change. Good luck,” he said.

      Another said, “Visiting the temple felt like coming home. A feeling of peace and well-being in the Celestial Room. Thank you all for sharing this beautiful place.”

      Another said, “Thank you for opening my heart to Jesus Christ.”

      One said, “Beautiful, friendly, want to be a part of it. Please come to teach me more.”

      And another, “It is beautiful, it was beautiful. I didn’t have feelings one way or another about coming. But once I was here, I was in awe.”

      Another said, “My spirit was so overjoyed and I felt so close to my Heavenly Father. I felt like I had gone home.” Wow.

      Another said, “I received the pamphlet in the mail from the Church. I read through it with my family, and we felt strongly that we should attend the open house. We, as we went through the tour, we were really impressed with the fact that families can be sealed forever. I want to know how to become a member of your church.” Some missionary was happy for that referral.

      Another said, “Very humbling, peaceful, and I learned so much to dispel the ideas I’ve been told about your church.” I thought that was a particularly good comment.

      The little children even wrote down their ideas. One said, “I love the Angel Moroni, and where the buffalos carried the little tub. [Laughter] And I loved it when you see the mirrors and it never ends.”

      Another said, “I loved the Celestial Room so much I didn’t want to leave.”

      Another said, “I thought the temple was the best place I’ve been in my whole life.”

      Another, “I like the tempull, it is so butuful,” T-E-M-P-U-L-L. He needs to come to the LDS Business College. [Laughter]. He spelled beautiful B-U-T-U-F-U-L.

      Another said, “My friend and I were in the sealing room. We looked through the mirrors and we saw that we were together forever.” Wow, kindred spirits.

      “I thought I knew a lot about Jesus and how beautiful a temple is. I felt happy in my Father’s house. I felt like I was in heaven.” Wow, imagine. Ten minutes. No idea. That’s why I encourage you to go to the open house, and be a part of the dedication if it’s possible.

      Nevertheless, there is such a powerful influence that happens when you attend a temple, even the open house. One of the ladies that came through the open house in Perth came out and said, “I understand you’re going to dedicate this temple next Sunday.” And we said yes. And she said, “Well, I want to come.”

      And we said, “Well, you have to be a Mormon.”

      She said, “Okay, how do you get to be a Mormon?” And we said, “Well, there’s some lessons to…”

      She said, “Okay, start.”

      The mission president shifted gears in a hurry and allowed the missionaries to teach her within a week. And she came to the open house. When President Hinckley heard about it, he said, “Well, if she comes, let me meet her.” Wow. So, we arranged for that little moment to take place, and I can still remember her taking hold of his hands, and all she could say was, “Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.” And she started crying. A week before she didn’t know a prophet was on the earth. But she felt his spirit, and he gave her a verbal blessing. He promised her she’d always be happy if she stayed close to the Lord.

      I went back to Perth a month later, fearful that she’d already left the Church. No, she was in her ward, they’d called her to be a ward missionary, and she was stirring up the place. It was wonderful to watch her love and enthusiasm that came back mainly because she was touched by the Spirit in that wonderful open house.

      One minister followed us out of the temple after he’d finished the tour, out in Redmonds, and said, “You know, I like you Mormons. I live by you, I work with you, and in fact, I like a lot of your doctrine. It’s a lot like our church.” And he says, “But I sure hope you’re wrong.” [Laughter] He said, “If you’re not, I’m in big trouble.” So anyway…

      We had a man in Rexburg who was talked into bringing loads of youth to the temple from his ward. He was totally inactive and less active in the Church, had been for years. He was really reluctant to do such a thing. But he came and he went through the open house. He was so touched; he went back to the bishop and said, “Let me take another load.” And he came at least four or five times to the temple with loads of youth and other people, and was touched by it. A year later we were pleased to welcome him and his wife back into the temple to be sealed forever. It doesn’t take very much; you don’t have to preach. The Spirit does it for you when you’re in that kind of circumstance.

      One person said, “I was, I’ve been struggling for a long time,” she said. “As each of my brothers and sisters have been allowed, or endowed and gone through the temple before me, I’ve despaired of not finding or having a husband. Tonight in the Celestial Room I got the sweetest feeling of peace and confirmation that I already belong to someone—the greatest of all beings, a loving Heavenly Father, who will never give up on me, or cease to be there for me, as long as I seek Him out.” That was a beautiful comment, I thought.

      Another sister wrote us a letter. She said, “I had a wonderful experience yesterday as I spent a few hours at the temple on my knees. I had the opportunity to help clean the house of the Lord. I got to move furniture, vacuum edges, and clean floor moldings. That’s where the kneeling came in. I was a bit surprised but very pleased to learn that I can feel the Spirit in the temple, even when I’m wearing tennis shoes and in my cleaning clothes. The whole experience was a testimony to me that the building truly has been dedicated as a holy place. I just wanted to let you know that a person can meditate and reflect on spiritual and eternal things, even with a dust rag in her hand.” It’s true. It has indeed; it is such an easy place to find the Lord.

      A few weeks ago in the Deseret News, there was a story about the Oakland Temple dedication, and we’d been there a number of times. In fact, it’s I guess maybe, premier, my favorite place to go. You feel the Spirit as soon as you walk on the grounds, for some reason; it’s just an incredible place. But at any rate, it was in 1924 that Elder George Albert Smith stood on the balcony of the Fremont Hotel, at his side was a Brother McDonald, and he said, “Brother McDonald, I can almost see in vision a white temple of the Lord high upon those hills, an ensign to all the world travelers as they sail through the Golden Gate into this wonderful harbor.” Then he studied the vista for a few minutes, and said, “A great white temple of the Lord will grace those hills, a glorious ensign to the nations, to welcome our Father’s children as they visit this great city,” (“Visible as a Beacon: Oakland Temple Celebrates 50th Year of Service,” Deseret News, published May 1, 2014).

      Time went on, and it wasn’t until 1942, some years later, that we were offered a chance to buy some property in that location. It was during the Second World War; the owner of the property needed to sell it. He couldn’t build on it because he had no materials. And so Elder McKay went out to Oakland and stood on the balcony of the Fremont Motel with Brother McDonald again, and said, “Now, where was he pointing, when he made that prophecy?” So they went over and bought 14½ acres for $18,000. Not bad, huh? Good…and, but they had to go back a little while later and buy 2 more acres for access for $21,000. But time went on with nothing happening until President McKay became a very influential prophet. And he undertook the effort to raise the money and prepare for the dedication. And everything went forward, until just prior to the dedication, he had a stroke. And you’re all way too young to remember, but we remember in general conference having his son get up and give his talks in conference, because he couldn’t speak any longer, could hardly move. But the day of the dedication came, it was scheduled for November 17, 18 and 19 in 1964. And, his doctor told him, “President McKay, don’t plan to go. You’re much too weak.”

      And he said, “I am going to the dedication.” He loved that place. And so they put him on the plane and took him out and put him in a hotel.

      The morning of the dedication someone put his head into the room and said, “Is President McKay coming?”

      And a voice came out and said, “He’ll be there.”

      Once they got to the temple and the dedication started, President McKay asked Brother O. Leslie Stone, who at the time was a stake president, to conduct the meeting. After the singing by the choir and the invocation, O. Leslie Stone startled the Brethren and family members present by announcing, “We shall all now have the privilege of hearing from President McKay.” Remember, now, he hadn’t spoken much for months. He couldn’t walk really, either. The prophet was wheeled to the pulpit, and amazingly, stood, both hands grasping the side of the pulpit. He then began to speak. His enunciation became as clear as it had been years before. Every vestige of the stroke was gone.

      President McKay’s son recorded, “My wife, with tears running down her cheeks, whispered, ‘Lawrence, we’re witnessing a miracle.’ I nodded in agreement.” Members of the Council of the Twelve were crying. At the end of the first session, President McKay’s son sought out the doctor, and said, “Can Dad keep this up?”

      And the doctor said, “Lawrence, this is out of my hands. If I hadn’t have been here to see it, I wouldn’t have believed it.” The Oakland Temple had its day of Pentecost in a loving and compassionate Father had given to one of His faithful sons the fulfillment of his heart in fully participating in the dedication of the temple.

      It is interesting that in the next five sessions, as he called on the apostles to speak, among others, he called on every prophet since his administration, with the exception of Ezra Taft Benson. Those who spoke in the next five sessions were Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley.

      Now, some of you will have the blessing one day of going to California, great place, and to the Oakland Temple. And please, find time to go inside and then go up to the Celestial Room. I don’t think they’ve changed it. It still looks the same to me as maybe when it was dedicated. And just sit and contemplate one of the great miracles of the church. Brothers and sisters, the temple is a beautiful place. It has in it the Spirit of the Lord. And great blessings come to us because of it.

      I read to you just a quote from President Packer, in which he says, “The temple must ever be a place of peace, a refuge from the turmoil of the world,” this is President Hinckley actually, (Johannesburg Temple Dedicated, Ensign, November 1985). All of us live in something of a jungle, if I may use that expression. We long for peace and quiet. We hunger for an opportunity to meditate and reflect on things spiritual and eternal in their nature. There must be no atmosphere of frenzy or hurry in the house of the Lord. It is to be a house of order. There must be an atmosphere that constantly proclaims the holiness to the Lord.

      Now, remember. He’s told us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “I am in your midst, and you [see me not]” (D&C 38:8). You can feel His presence; you don’t see Him. But you walk into the temple and you know it’s going to be a beautiful place of quietude and peace. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s kind, everyone’s dressed appropriately. The music is perfect, there are scriptures everywhere. Oh, just a nice place to go. And so if there’s ever a chance that you would like a little more inspiration, just find time for the temple. And maybe you haven’t found time for it. Maybe there’s some reason why you’ve hesitated to get ready for it. I would not make a judgment about that. That’s for you to work out with the Lord and your priesthood leaders. But nevertheless, I would try very hard to be worthy of the Lord’s house, and to be worthy of His presence. I witness that He is in the house; His spirit is there, to influence all of us who go. I testify that it is God’s house, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 


Cornerstones of a Successful Career

10 Jun. 2014

Transcript

Cornerstones of a Successful Career 

There’s just such a wonderful feeling here this morning. In fact, I would have been happy to just sit there and allow the Spirit to work on us for a while. But it’s a real treat for Cathy and for me to have the chance to be here with you. As I look out and see you, it causes me to think about the time in our lives when we were at about your same age. We were down at BYU, and I got married about 18 months after I got home from my mission. And Cathy and I were—as most people at BYU were—absolutely dirt-poor and poverty-stricken. So I worked full time in a clothing store in the University Mall to kind of help pay our way through school and try to save some money for graduate school. And the combination of working full time plus going to school full time created the kind of busy schedule that I’m sure each one of you have that are here today. And it says a lot about you that, in the demands that you have on your time overall, that you can carve out a little bit of time to hopefully reflect on the things that are happening in your life, where you are headed and how Heavenly Father can assist you in the process of achieving the goals that you have.

I’m just delighted to be here. This is the first time that I have been actually at the school, and I’ve now found out that some of my former friends and colleagues are here and associated with the school. I’ve known President Richards for a while, who is a wonderful, delightful man. He and I have met each other in Church circles here in Salt Lake City, but this is the first time I have been at the school.

So I thought today I might talk to you—given what the environment is here and what we are talking about—that I might spend some time talking about four important cornerstones of building a successful career. And I hope that this will be something that will be helpful to you as you kind of think this through in your own lives. So these are going to sound pretty straightforward, and they are, because there’s not a lot of mystery to doing this right. But I hope to elaborate on them in a way that is helpful for you.

So the first one, not surprisingly for where you are, is to get the right education—get the best education that you possibly can. When I was at BYU, I was coming up on finishing my undergraduate, and we were graduating in December of 1976. And I had a terrific professor for a class that was called business policy. And the purpose of this class was, in theory, to be kind of a culmination of everything you learned in the business department at BYU, and you were then supposed to be able to distill that down and talk about doing business strategy for big companies.

I don’t know if you do this now here, but at the time they did a lot of tests that were called “blue-book tests.” Do you do blue-book tests anymore? It’s probably all done online and all that kind of stuff.  But these were blue-book tests, and blue-book tests were—they gave you this empty book, and they gave you a question, and you just wrote until you ran out of time in answer to that question. And then you handed it in. And I think the time periods for the final exams were about an hour and a half, and the faculty member would sit in on the house while the class members were kind of filling out whatever they thought the right answers were in their blue book. So anyway, I finished a few minutes early, before the time for the final was over, and my professor was sitting in the front of the room, and he was just having us drop our blue books into a box up there. And after I dropped my blue book in, he said, “Well, what are you thinking about doing after you get out of school?”

And I said, “Well, I’m going to work for a little while in my dad’s paint store, and then I’d really like to go to graduate school somewhere.”

And he said—now you have to remember that I’d had him in school for the last semester, and this was a pretty small class so he knew me pretty well—he said, “Well, where are you thinking about going?”

And I said, “Well, you know, my wife and I haven’t really decided, but we’ve been thinking about maybe applying to Harvard Business School and to Stanford graduate school.”

And he looked at me for a second, and he said, “You know, you might want to widen the number of places you apply.”

Now fortunately it worked out a little differently. It worked out fine for us, and we were able to eventually go to school in the East, because we had a fair amount of experience at living in the West. But we found that in the course of time I was at BYU, and then when I was at Harvard Business School, that there were two important things about getting a good education at a great institution like this. One is that you actually learn things. I mean you really—it turns out that when you go and do a job and you show up on the first day of work, there’s going to be an expectation that you know how to do something, and do something useful that kind of adds to, either the hospital that you work at or in the business you work in or wherever your particular vocation happens to take you. There’s going to be an expectation that you have learned something great that you can actually use and apply.

But more importantly are the wonderful people that you meet while you are there. Now here’s the interesting insight. When I was at BYU, and then when I was at Harvard Business School, I would look around the classroom—and this also applied a little bit to right after I had my first job—I would look around the classroom and I would see people sitting there that I knew, and I would think, “He’s a pretty normal guy, just like me, pretty similar kind of background and pretty normal person. And you know, she’s a very nice person, but she’s pretty normal, and she’s done good things in her life but kind of a normal thing.” And then miraculously, over the course of the last, now, 35 years since I graduated from Harvard Business School, one after another of those people who look just like the people who are sitting next to you on the bench, have ended up in very important roles and responsibilities, in government, in business, in the Church, in the sciences, in arts—in lots of different ways. And I never would have thought, at the time when I was sitting next to them in class, that they would have actually ended up in that job. I thought, “You mean them? How could that possibly be?”

Now you may know everybody that’s sitting next to you in this little congregation here today, but I suspect that you will have that exact same experience. I made a little list last night that I ran by Kathy this morning, and here’s the list of people that I sat with in classrooms somewhere: The CEO of Intuit, the CEO of eBay, the CEO of Dell, the CEO of HP, the CEO of Vail Resorts, the CEO of Gibson Guitar—would that be a cool job, or what? The CEO of Madison Square Garden, the CEO of American Express, who at one point actually ended up offering me a job responsibility, a congressman, general authorities of the Church. I used to ride to school each morning—or ride to work each morning, and to school—with the fellow who eventually became the dean of the Harvard Business School, and we used to sit in the back of the bus on our way down to Harvard Square and tell jokes to each other. And someone who was in my study group at Harvard Business School ended up being a professor at Harvard.

So you just don’t know how the world is going to evolve. It turns out that all of us who . . . are sort of on the other side of our careers . . . actually end up retiring and going on to do other things—going on missions for the Church and doing other responsibilities like that. And you all end up in those very important roles. And so while you are here getting a terrific education, it’s really important to be a good colleague, to be a good person. Because you just never know when that person next to you is going to be in a position somewhere where they say, “You know, I knew Sally when I was at LDS Business College. And I can tell you that Sally had great integrity. She was a wonderful person. She worked really hard. She was fun to be with.” And that will make the difference in the career opportunities that you have as you go down the road.

So first cornerstone—get the right education, because of the skills you will get, and more importantly, the wonderful relationships you’ll have the opportunity to build.

The second one is—and I wish you could get away from this—but it turns out that the second cornerstone of having a successful career is you have to work really hard. Now, that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you. It is only hard because it turns out, it is hard. There’s a lot of work involved in doing it.

When I first joined Bain and Company, it was my first job coming out of graduate school. I had grown up in Ogden and, as I mentioned just a minute ago, I had spent my teenage years working in my dad’s paint store. And kind of the sum total of my professional experience was selling paint, putting it in the truck, and then driving it to someone’s house and dropping it off at their place. And so suddenly I’m now in a professional consulting firm with all these guys who grew up on the East Coast, and they went to all these private boarding schools and had all the right pedigrees and all this kind of thing. I was totally and completely different from them and felt very intimidated by them. But I didn’t want to let on that that was the case.

So in the very first business trip that I ever took, where somebody was actually paying me to go do something, we were flying down to go visit a client of ours down in North Carolina. We flew down to the Research Triangle airport there in North Carolina. And I had flown down late in the evening, and my boss, my manager, had flown down a little earlier and was there before me. And he and I had arranged about 7:30 in the morning that we were going to meet in the lobby of the hotel, and we were going to go over and meet this client for the first time. He knew them, but it would have been the first opportunity for me to go there.

So I come down at 20 after seven, all dressed up ready to go, looking like many of you do today, sharp and ready to have my very first business interaction and be very professional about it. And he’s not there. So five minutes go by. It’s now 7:30. Fifteen minutes go by; it’s now 7:45. I start to get a little bit worried, so I go up to the desk at the hotel and I say, “Do you happen to know so-and-so’s room number? I need to call him and see where he is.”

And she said, “Oh, well, he checked out about 6:30 this morning.”

I thought, “Oh, wow.”

She said, “He was going to breakfast with so-and-so”—naming the client that was there in town—and it dawned on me that I was so important to this trip that he had totally forgotten that I had flown down the night before to be part of this client experience.

So I called him and he said, “Oh, that’s right. You are here, aren’t you?” He said, “Well, why don’t you see if you can get a cab and come on out to the plant.” You know, just come out and join the meeting as soon as you get there.

So we’re in North Carolina; it’s not exactly like there are 15 cabs waiting outside the hotel. So I pick up the telephone and called the local cab company. This was back before cell phones. I called the local cab company and 20 minutes passes by, and lo and behold, a cab shows up. And just as I’m walking out the door, a friend of mine—I mean, how unfortunate is this?—a friend of mine happens to walk in the door. So I stopped to talk to him for 30 seconds, and someone else gets in the cab and drives away.

So I go back to the pay phone, I call the cab company again and order a second cab. I wait 20 minutes, a cab shows up, picks me up, and he says, “Now, where are you going?”

And I said, “I need to go to Reedsville, North Carolina, to this plant.”

He says, “I know right where it is.”

So we get in, we’re driving down the road, and I’m watching the meter in the cab tick up—23 dollars, 24 dollars, 25 dollars—and I realize I only have 26 dollars in my pocket. And so we pull up and it is $25.40. I said to the guy, “How about I give you $25.00?”

He said, “Great.” So I paid him the $25.00, I kept the dollar in my pocket.

I walked into the plant and I said to the receptionist there, “Now, I’m here for the important Bain meeting that they’re having.”

And she said, “You know, I’m not sure that meeting is happening here at the Reedsville plant. I think it’s actually at the Madison plant in Madison, North Carolina.”

I said, “Well, how far away is that?”

She said, “Oh, not far at all. You can get there in 45 minutes.”

And then I realize I have one dollar in my pocket and the cab just disappeared into the distance.

So being resourceful, I walked across the street to a car dealership. I went inside and I said, “Now, do you rent cars?”

The guy said, “No. We’re a car dealership. We sell cars.” I explained my plight and he said, “Okay, we’ll rent you a car, but if you do that, we’re going to keep your credit card.” I had an American Express Card for travel, and he said, “We’re going to keep your American Express Card on file.”

So I gave him my American Express Card, I hopped in the car; I had directions on how to get to the plant. I’m driving through the back countryside, I looked down, and he hadn’t put any gas in the car. So—and recall, I have one dollar in my pocket. One dollar used to buy a lot more gas than it does today. So I pulled up to a little country store; they had a gas tank, and here’s the unfortunate thing. It was the year that unleaded gas had just been introduced, and this is a brand new car, and it had an unleaded gas tube on it. I pulled up at a country store that only sold leaded gas. I thought to myself, “How much damage can one dollar of leaded gas do?” So I pulled the hose out and I kind of nursed it into the edge of the tank and I pulled the trigger, and lo and behold the gas backed up out of the tank and poured all over my suit—my brand new suit that I had worn for the day.

But I nursed a little bit in, I went inside and paid the dollar for my gas, and I made my way over to the plant and joined the meeting. Now it was like 11:00 in the morning, and the meeting was supposed to start at 8:30 or something. And as I walked in the door I noticed that everyone turned around and went (sniff, sniff) smelling the gas that was on my suit.

So as you might imagine, I thought my career was ended. I’d had this life of shipping paint cans around the paint store and thought I was due to go back to that exact same job, that I had failed at the experience that I had had. But in spite of that inauspicious beginning, I had 12 wonderful years at Bain and Company, a time that I shared in part with John Bennion—12 wonderful years at Bain and Company, where I learned a lot and felt like I had an opportunity to progress. But a lot of that involved a lot of hard work.

And one of that—the most difficult things that we all face because we are committed to family, we’re committed to the responsibilities that we have in the Church but we also want to do a terrific job in our business responsibilities—is to figure out how you kind of separate the time and commitment you have. I’ve never had anyone say to me in a business context, “Do you know what? You don’t need to work that much. You’re really working way too hard. Why don’t you just slow down and take some time off? We’re just going to give you the afternoon.” I’ve never had anyone come up and say that to me. And so as you think about your work, it turns out that the only person who will end up setting limits on the way you spend your time and the amount of time you spend is yourself. You’re the one that will actually put those barriers around you.

When I first joined Bain, one of the LDS people that worked there before me called me right after I’d gotten my job offer. And he said, “It is very important that you don’t work on Sunday.”

I said, “Well, I don’t work on Sunday. I’ve made a commitment that I don’t do that.”

And he said, “No, no. Here’s what I mean. If you are working in the office and it is midnight on Saturday night, you need to walk out of the office. And you can come back at 12:01 on Monday, but I’ve got them all convinced that Mormons don’t work on Sunday at all, and I need to make sure that you keep that same feeling with the things that you do.”

So a Saturday evening came around, and Cathy will remember this, and it got to be 12:01 a.m., I would fold up my book and walk out of the [office] and make my way out to our home in Belmont. Because you have to think yourself about how you set parameters and balance around the things that you do. And you’ll find over the course of your career that you’ll set those boundaries in different places. There will be times like now, for instance, when you’re a little bit younger, maybe you don’t have children yet, where you can kind of push the boundaries and work a lot of very hard hours. And there will be other times where you might have to care for children or care for aged parents, or your family situation is such where you move those boundaries the other direction.

But the important thing is that you’re in charge of how hard you work. And I would hope that, as a result of your decisions around that, that you end up getting what you intend. That you end up getting what you intend. In other words, if you make a decision to trade off work for family, the blessing you will have in your life will be a blessing you will get in your family. I think one of the saddest experiences is if we let the outside world dictate how we spend our time and our efforts, we end up getting what the outside world would have us receive, as opposed to the thing that we might want most in our own lives and in our own hearts. But you’ll know where those boundaries are.

The third cornerstone of building a great career—and this might be a little different than you might think—is to improve an asset. Improve an asset. Now this may not have exactly dawned on you yet, but when I was working away at a clothing store in the University Mall, making a commission on every suit that I sold, it slowly began to dawn on me that if I was ever going to create any real wealth—that is, the kind of wealth that could bless the lives of my family and others and the Church—that I probably would not be able to work enough hours to create that amount of wealth. Most people sort of “top out” at about 2,040 hours a year. Maybe they can get up to 2,200 hours, maybe a little bit less. And I don’t know how much you will make an hour; most of you will probably do well. But even if you multiply all of that out, and assuming you do pretty well, there’s a limit if you are getting paid by the hour for what you do. It puts a limit on what you’re able to actually do in terms of the creation of wealth.

So let me tell you a little story about my son that probably tells this story better than I could. And these numbers are not going to be exact. They’re approximately right. I didn’t call him and check all these numbers with him, but these are approximately correct from what I remember. He graduated from BYU in construction management, which is a tough major. You have to swing a hammer, you have to actually have some kind of very specific experience as many of you are getting here, in order to eventually become a general contractor. And he went through that experience at BYU, so it took him seven years to graduate because of all the time he had to work while he was in school.

But eventually, he and a good buddy of his decided that they were going to move to Phoenix, Arizona, and they were going to build homes. And they made that decision, brilliantly, in 2007. Now any of you who are from the Phoenix area know that, although real estate was depressed in much of the country, real estate in Phoenix was really depressed in 2008, 2009, and 2010. But in spite of that, I am very proud of him and his partner, that they survived during that entire time period. They worked hard, they built town homes, they built custom homes, they built dental offices—they did a lot of work and put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into building their business. And during that time period there were probably some years where he made a little and some years where he lost a little, but on average he came out okay, providing for his family.

Now here’s the interesting part of this story: Because real estate prices had dropped so dramatically, he and his wife decided they would buy a home while they were there. They had a small, smallish home—it was about a 2,000-square-foot home. And I think when they bought it they paid about $75.00 a square foot for the home, so that would be $150,000 for the home. And I don’t know what he put down, but let’s just assume for discussion purposes that he put down 20 percent, so he put down $30,000 as a down payment. He lived in that house, then, during almost all of the time that they were there. And then recently, I persuaded him to come and join me in a business venture here in Salt Lake. That was in part because he’s a great guy, but in large measure because he has five of my 11 grandkids. So they joined us here in Sandy, and we’ve had a wonderful time over the course of the last year working together.

But while he owned that home, wonder of wonders, real estate prices in Phoenix turned around, because you had all these outside investors who were making—you know, trying to buy this inexpensive real estate in Phoenix. So by the time he sold his home—and again, I don’t know if these numbers are exactly correct—I think he sold it for about $125.00 a square foot. So he made about $50.00 a square foot times 2,000 square feet on that little home, relative to what he had originally paid for it when he bought it.

So he was working every day, eight, 10, 12 hours a day, building his construction business, but he was living in an asset that he cleaned up and fixed and painted and made a little bit better, and while he was doing that the value of that asset increased far more than the value of the time that he put against that.

And in there is a very important lesson as you think about your careers. Whether the asset that you own is a piece of real estate or a business that you start or a service that you provide to somebody else, if you can find a way to buy and own something, whatever that might be, and work on it and make it better and fix it up—it could be a company in which you get stock, it could be a business that you buy—that has the possibility of appreciating far faster than anything you might be able to do just by investing your time. It’s a miraculous principle, and it’s the wonderful principle of capitalism that when you take the ingenuity of people and you match that


Shield of David’ Offers Guidelines for Disciples

18 Jun. 2014

Transcript

Shield of David’ Offers Guidelines for Disciples

Dear Fellow Disciples,

I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to be with you; just to be in your presence, in this historic location, is inspiring.

This building, the second to be constructed on Temple Square, after the Tabernacle, was completed in 1879.  It is something of a Gothic cathedral, laid out in cruciform style, using stones from the same quarry as those for the adjacent temple.  Prophets and apostles have spoken from this pulpit, and above each entrance we find a Star of David motif.

The Star of David, long established as the symbol of Judaism, the Children of Israel, and thus the State of Israel, is also known as “The Shield of David,” a term used to denote the God of Israel.

Today, I will use the concept of “The Shield of David” and its six points as the reference of my remarks.

The first point, and by far the most significant, is my witness that there is a God in Heaven.  He is our Eternal Father, and we are his spirit offspring.  Before our birth into mortality, we lived in his presence and enjoyed daily communion with Him.  We desired to become like Him, and that is also His desire for us.  That is our divine destiny, and is why we came to earth.  It is the very purpose, the “measure,” of our creation.

We came to gain a physical body, as He has.  We came to develop the power of faith, through which the powers of Heaven operate.  We came to demonstrate our loyalty and obedience to Him, even when out of His presence.  He is the epitome of disciplined behavior, and we must have developed the same self-discipline if we are to become like Him.

We came to gain experience, good and ill, that would shape our character, develop emotional, mental and spiritual maturity and sound judgment, and show that we can act, not just be acted upon, for these are all part of God’s character, in his DNA as it were.

We came to establish our own eternal family, as He has done.  This means marriage between a man and a woman, the bringing forth of children, who are also His, as we are.  These spirit children for whom we provide physical bodies, are entitled to birth to a father and mother, and to a family which epitomizes love, goodness, respect, and righteous living.  This is part of becoming like God, our Father.  We are, in effect replicating who He is and what He has.

Committing ourselves to such a family relationship, and giving it eternal efficacy, requires the making and keeping of supernal covenants, which is what we do in a holy temple and why we are so focused on constructing more temples around the world to be readily accessible to more of Father’s children.  In the final analysis, that is the mission and purpose of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We are intent, using the pattern established by God and His Only Begotten Son in the Flesh, to teach, guide, support, and provide, through Jesus Christ, the means of leading Father’s children back to Him.  This is His plan, and there is no other way back than through His plan.  It is the plan that provides the framework for all of our teachings, practices, our doctrine.  It is the reason why we take the positions we do, and do what we do, however unpopular they may be, or out of fashion they may become.  Frankly, we can do no less.

Wonderfully, Father’s plan does not only hold out the promise of eternal glory, as we become as he is; it also brings the highest degree of happiness and joy we can possibly experience while on earth.  This is why the plan is often referred to as the Plan of Happiness.  The simple truth is that we can only be truly, all-consumingly, happy in this life, if we follow Father’s plan for the happiness of His children.  Of course, it is not easy to do, goodness knows, but it is doable.

As we, step by step, overcome the world, we access the divine source of happiness and goodness.  We drink from the fountain of living water, even the supreme love, the all- embracing strength and support of Jesus Christ, who saves us on earth and in heaven.  This is why we are Christian—true blue, through and through.

Knowing the plan, and following it, provides for us and our nations the greatest pathway to freedom and peace, and strength.  It is, indeed, a fundamental part of the Shield of David, reflecting the reality of the God of Israel, of our God.  Our loyalty and devotion runs first to Him, as was so magnificently patterned by Jesus Christ.

The second part of defense in our “Shield of David,” is to stay true to what we know to be true, come what may.  One great lesson from the account of the children of Israel escaping Egyptian captivity is that it is not enough to leave Egypt, we must also travel to the Promised Land.  Such travel is not easy.  It requires faith, courage, and perseverance.

It took the children of Israel 40 years to journey to the Promised Land.  Now, I have been there; it would not take 40 years, even were you to hop on one leg all the way.  Their problem was that they had a tendency to lose heart, stop, set up camp, and settle.

They moaned and complained at every juncture.  Despite all the miracles they had seen, as soon as anything went wrong, whenever they felt uncomfortable or under attack, they berated poor Moses, “Why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness. . .wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place?  (Number 19:4,5); causing Moses, at one point, to refer to them as rebels (Numbers 19:10).

We would each do well to ask ourselves how we are faring on our journey.  Have we truly left Egypt behind, or are we still caught up in the captivity of the world?  Are we held captive by our own indecision, or are we liberated by righteous determination?  Looking down, or looking up?  Do we still have one foot in the world, and the other tentatively on the gospel path?  Sitting on the fence is always uncomfortable, and often downright painful.  Or, are both feet firmly set on the way of discipleship, the road of righteous living, pressing forward with faith and hope?

Are we weakened by fear and doubt, or growing stronger in the faith, through relentless resolve, fortified faith, constant courage, decided determination, and solid steadfastness, whatever our circumstances may be; whatever obstacle we face.

Are we faint hearted, and lily-livered, or grounded and settled, constant and immovable, not easily “moved away from the hope of the gospel, which he have heard” (Col 1:23)?

Discipleship is not a summer camp, it is a lifelong hike through thick and thin, joys and pains, successes and disappointments, gladness and grief, understanding and uncertainty, determination and doubt, sometimes friendless, sometimes alone.

Along the way, it is easy to become distracted, derailed even, by the “voices off.”  Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life, recorded in the Book of Mormon, spoke of those who lost their way because of the ridicule and derision of those identified as being in an “attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” toward those who were partaking of the fruit, those who were following the path of the gospel, the fruit, the love of God.

Such derision, echoing from the pride of the world, from those whose hearts are not pure, has always been the case.  Alma records that members of the Church in his day were afflicted “with all manner of words,” he called it persecution, from those who were not members of the Church but who resented the humility and progress of those who were (Alma 1:19-21).

So it is today.  We are not only surrounded by the pollutions of the world, we also have detractors, who waste their lives lambasting us with “all manner of words.”  They are the purveyors of hate, deriding our beliefs, our leaders, our history, seeking to lead the humble followers of Christ astray.  They make much noise but achieve so little.  Scripture refers to them as “the servants of sin.”  It is not new, of course.  It is what happened in the pre-mortal realm, and from the very dawn of time.  As history unfolds, none of them will be remembered.  Eternal glory is a high price to pay for their 15 minutes of fame.

There will come a time when they will have to face the tragic truth:  that all along they have been rushing down a dead-end street, on the wrong team, batting for the other side.  Meanwhile, as they do their worst, we, the humble followers of Christ, will continue to do our best, and our Church carries on with its mission.  Brigham Young said, “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs, you never kick it downstairs” (DBY, 351).  Despite it all, please stay true to the faith; don’t let go.

Perhaps the most poignant verses in all of scripture are those found at the close of the sixth chapter of John.  Thousands of followers had just been miraculously fed, and Jesus then described himself as “the Bread of Life,” teaching that true disciples would never again experience spiritual hunger.  Some found it to be a hard doctrine, perhaps feeling they could not live up to the expectation of discipleship, perhaps some felt it was blasphemy.

Whatever the cause, we read that, “from that time, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”  Then, and here is the poignancy, said Jesus to the Twelve, “Will ye also go away?” In other words, are you going to desert me too?  Simon Peter magnificently replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”(John 6:66-69).

Peter is often remembered for his denial of Jesus, on the darkest of nights, but I prefer to remember him for this statement of loving loyalty.

President Gordon B. Hinckley related the story of a conversation with a new convert, a handsome, accomplished young man, who tearfully described how he had lost everything when he joined the Church: position, status, employment, family and friends.  Elder Hinckley, as he then was, asked why he remained in the Church if he had lost so much.  The young man said, “Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”  Elder Hinckley responded, “Yes, it’s true,” to which the young man replied, “Then, what else matters?”

As the children of Israel arrived in the land chosen for them, Joshua who had replaced Moses as the Lord’s prophet said, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14,15).

“And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods. . .The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey”  (Joshua 24:15,24)

It was the same sentiment to be echoed centuries later by Peter, “to whom shall we go,” and by the young man to Elder Hinckley, “It’s true, isn’t it: then what else matters?”  For each of you, this is the penetrating time of decision.  If not this, what; if not here, where; if not this church, what church; if not Jesus, who; if not this path, which path; if not Father’s Plan, whose plan?

Third in the “Star of David,” the “Shield of David” is obedience to the laws, doctrine, and commandments of the Lord.  The Primary children’s song, “Keep the Commandments” provides this insightful assurance, “In this there is safety, in this there is peace.”

Obedience is one of the laws of Heaven, alongside the virtue of faith.  Echoing from eternity are the commands:  Believe, and, “Obey.”

Speaking of obedience, President James E. Faust, a former member of the First Presidency taught, “In today’s society, the difference between right and wrong is being obscured by loud seductive voices calling for no restraints in human conduct.  They advocate absolute freedom without regard to consequences. . .such behavior is the high road to personal destruction. . . Obedience leads to true freedom.  The more we obey revealed truth, the more we become liberated.”  (General Conference, April 1999)

Further, President Faust stated, “We hear many persuasive voices demanding freedom from restrictions, particularly from moral restraints.  However, we learn from the history of the earth that any successful society has had boundaries. . . Obedience helps us develop the full potential our Heavenly Father desires for us in becoming celestial beings worthy someday to live in his presence.”  (Ibid)

President Thomas S. Monson, in last year’s April General Conference, taught, “There is no need for us, in this enlightened age when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth.  A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide—even obedience.  A knowledge of the truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God” (General Conference, April 2013).

Some say it is sufficient to simply believe in the Lord, that works are corrupt and not required.  They advocate the faith part of the heavenly equation; Believe, while ignoring the second part, which is the first law of Heaven:  Obey.

It is hard to understand how such a conclusion can be drawn from the very teachings that fell from the lips of the Savior himself.  It was He who said, “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).  He also taught, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).  In brilliant clarity, and in words that should remove all doubt, in his magnificent Sermon on the Mount, he taught “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”  (Matt 7:21).

As we prove to be obedient, we are entitled to all of the blessings of Heaven.  There is no substitute for straightforward, non-compromising obedience to God’s law.  In this there truly is safety and peace.

The fourth point of our star, our “Shield of David” is, I would suggest, living good and productive lives.  The world should be a better place because you are in it.  Our hope is that academic excellence—“the glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36)—matched with discipleship, doing good and being good will become the golden threads that will be woven through the tapestry of your lives.  Gospel-centered education makes all the difference in the world.

We are each blessed with talents, capacities, abilities, and power.  The success of our individual lives depends on how we use them, not for the benefit of ourselves alone but for the blessing of all mankind.

Fifth:  Welcome Adversity

A favored hymn asks, “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?  Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed” (Hymns, 223).  These are good questions to ask of ourselves.

We would do well to not let the vicissitudes of life overwhelm us.  Not everything we want will happen; we will have failures.  Our reactions to life’s events not only demonstrate our character, they also determine our future, they shape our lives.

Some years ago I had the privilege of working with Benjamin Zander on leadership development.  He is the founder and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and teaches young musicians.  At the beginning of each year, he tells his students that they already have an A, and what happens after that is up to them; they should each consider themselves to be A students.  He also encourages them to embrace what he calls, “the art of possibilities,” using adversity and mistakes to develop our capacity.  For example, he teaches young musicians to react to an error by saying “wonderful” – “fantastic” and then use it to sharpen their performance.  He speaks of one young cellist who came to him in tears, distraught at having been deserted by her boyfriend, the “man of her dreams.”  His reaction was to throw up his hands and say, “Wonderful, now you will be able to play [a certain piece of music] with the needed empathy and feeling.”

Being successful and productive in life is not dependent on what we do when all is going brilliantly well but what we do when challenges come our way.  Life is full of disappointments, but that does not mean you have to be one of them. American author, Zig Ziglar wrote, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

My wife and I grew up in the same small poor little branch of the Church in England.  When she was 16 she looked around at the available boys, and felt that the probability was that she would not be married, or have children; she somehow missed me.  Then, a fundamental, life-changing decision, in her own words, she determined, “If it is my blessing to remain single, rather than my blessing to be married, I will be the happiest, most positive, single woman in the Church; if it is my blessing to remain childless, rather than my blessing to bear children, I will be the best mother I can be to other people’s children.”  She later made the astute observation that, “If you are miserable outside of marriage, you will be miserable in marriage.”

This is the kind of attitude that determines altitude. 

In a commendable book of the same name, authors Paul Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer set out the principles of what they call, “The Adversity Advantage.”* They write of how some levels of high attainment are only obtained by the overcoming of some great adversity.

They share the inspiring accounts of those beset by adversity that would cause most men to shrink, who nevertheless went on to do incredible things:  Terry Fox, whose right leg was amputated due to bone cancer when he was 18, yet ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research.  There is Erik Weihenmayer, one of the authors, who despite being blind, became an accomplished mountain climber, including ascending 20,000 feet to reach the peak of Mount McKinley in Alaska.  He said,

“To be blunt, adversity is utterly heartless.  It is completely indifferent to our success or failure.  It does not care about our human definition of fairness or justice, and it would just as soon crush us as propel us through its gauntlet. Or, if harnessed, it can take you farther than you could otherwise go.  The exciting news is that no matter how mundane or irritating your hassles may be, they can be used for dramatic gains.”  (pxxx)

These words from George Bernard Shaw are quoted, “This is the true joy in life. . .being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. . .being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap. . .being a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Vince Lombardi said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear, is the moment he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle victorious.”

Stephen Covey’s foreword includes the statement, “Setbacks are inevitable, but misery is a choice.”  Covey also quotes this statement from Dr. Viktor Frankl:  “Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space lies our freedom to choose our response.  In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”(ix,xii)

Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, said, “Success is never final.  Failure is never fatal.  It is courage that counts,” and, “Never, never, never give up.”

We do not generally welcome adversity, but we can determine what to do when it comes.  Four years ago, I was diagnosed with two sizable brain tumors, one the size of a tennis ball, which had to be surgically removed, followed by radiation and later chemotherapy.  It was sudden, unexpected, and life-changing.  I was frustratingly out of commission for the best part of a year.  There was melancholy and dismay, even despair at times.  Some cognitive capacity was lost, including the hundreds of scriptures and thoughts I had memorized over the years.  I had to rememorize, retrain and reprogram my brain, which is still a work in progress. 

I would not have chosen any of this, but it has also been a rich learning experience.

I have come to develop greater understanding of the Savior’s Atonement, recognize miracles, attach greater value to relationships, embrace a new sense of ministry, of being a shepherd more than an administrator, and much, much more.  Along the way, I was inspired to write two books, on hope, and on peace, both lent a greater degree of authenticity because of my own experiences.

A favored quotation comes from Michelangelo.  When asked how he had managed to produce a magnificent statue of an angel out of marble, he said, “I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set him free.”

If we allow him to do so, the Lord will use our life challenges to shape our character, to carve until our divine potential is set free.

So, determine to be productive in life; resolve to use your education and spiritual experience to make the world a better place; work, work, work:  be a giver, not a taker; welcome and learn from every adversity.  Be strong; it is a very sure defense.

The sixth, and final, point of our “Star of David,” the “Shield of David,” I would suggest is the absolute necessity of following Jesus Christ in every aspect of life.  He is our pattern; he showed the way.  His invitation to the first disciples, later apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John, was “come, follow me!”  This was not a vague invitation to fall in behind and walk in his general direction.

It was a divine call to be as he is; to think as he thinks; to act as he acts; to speak as he speaks; to strengthen and bless others and establish the Church, as he has done; to put God first in everything, as he has always done; to work, serve and function not for our own status, position, and glory but to accomplish the Father’s purpose in bringing about the salvation of all mankind, with all glory going to him.  That is what Jesus has devoted all, his entire life, his entire interest to accomplish.

We are under obligation to do the same.

Dear young people, fellow members of Father’s family, your lives will be greatly enhanced, you will find hope, peace, and safety as you remember who you are, who and what you represent, and act accordingly.

Be loyal to the God who gave us life, and fulfill his plan; fill the measure of your creation; be constant and true, come what may; obey the commands and demands of the gospel; lead productive lives, strengthened by adversity; and follow Jesus Christ in all things.  Then, you will be blessed by the Shield of David, the Star of David, even the God of Israel.

 

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*The Adversity Advantage,  Simon and Schuster, New York, 2010.


Remarkable Life Illustrates the Power of Hope

18 Jun. 2014

Transcript

Remarkable Life Illustrates the Power of Hope 

What beautiful music. I think it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m still pretty nervous. Since the Cosmo thing came up, I’m glad to have a little rebuttal. Remember when I was doing that I was down at Arizona State in Phoenix. They were still in the same conference as BYU. I was out there doing my thing before the game started, and there was some guy sitting under the basket, and he motioned for me to come over. And so, “Oh, okay. Go fraternize with the enemy.” Turned out, he said, “Hey, I went to BYU, and guess what? Five years ago, I was Cosmo the Cougar.”

      And I said, “Oh, that’s nice.” And I thought in my mind, I said, “Boy, I hope this guy gets a life.  You know, when I’m old I hope I’m talking about something other than Cosmo.” And, here we are, over 40 years later, and we’re still talking about Cosmo, and it was one of the great, fun things that I did.

      So we got this mission call, and we’ll talk a little bit about that, but one of the first things I noticed was the initials of our mission. Georgia Atlanta North Mission. GANM. Oh, I’m going on a mission “Gangnam style.”  So, I’ve given a couple of talks since the call, and you’re the first group that I’ve dared say that to, because I knew that you would get it. The others, not so much.

      But today I’d like to talk about the subject of hope, and the power of hope. And it’s my prayer that the Spirit will be with us as we talk about this and think about it, and ponder how it applies in our lives. I think of hope as sort of a forgotten virtue, or the stepchild, or the middle child—there it is stuck in there between faith and virtue, and faith, hope and charity. Well, you know, how did hope get in such a lofty group? Faith is the first principle of the gospel, right? And charity is better than all of them, and it’s the most important—it never faileth, it’s part of the Relief Society motto, and it’s the greatest of all—charity. What’s hope? It’s not defined in the scriptures. Is it the same thing as faith? Well if it’s the same, then why did it get mentioned? If it’s not the same, well, how’s it different, and what does it mean?

      So how do I get it, how can I have it? What can we do about this? Today I’d like to share with you some thoughts about hope. Particularly for some of you who might need a little extra dose of hope, feeling discouraged, or somehow things aren’t working out exactly the way you’d planned. So we’re going to talk about what hope is, why it matters, see that it’s a choice that we make, it can be learned, and it can be shared with others.

      How many of you, by the show of hands, are familiar with this thing called the Strengths Finder program, that we have here in the curriculum recently? Good, just about all of us, and pretty soon I’m sure it will be 100 percent. You’re probably aware that the Strengths Finder program was developed by the Gallup organization, one of the world’s leading polling companies. The Strengths Finder program, I understand, is based on about 10 million surveys and thousands of interviews. These same people have done work and interviews and research on the field of hope. And they’ve printed a book which was loaned to me, and it’s called, “Making Hope Happen.” It’s written by one of the senior scientists at Gallup. And it’s also based on millions of interviews, and millions of surveys and thousands of interviews. And so I’d like to share with you today some of the information that comes from it. We don’t have time to talk about it in depth, but I borrowed this from the Business College library, and it will be back there this afternoon, and you can check it out and read it, and it’s really fascinating.

      I’ll be using some of the terminology that the Gallup people use regarding hope and combining it with some of the things that we learn in the gospel through the scriptures and our modern prophets. And I pray that we’ll learn, that when we take our faith and hope and combine it with hard work, we’ll then develop the characteristics of charity, and we’ll become the kind of person the Lord wants us to become, full of Christ’s love for all people and with the willingness and capability of serving.

      So, really, what is hope? Well it turns out that word is used quite loosely with many definitions, varying levels of intensity. Some, you might hope for good weather. You might hope for your favorite team to win the World Cup. You might hope for a good raise. Some of these things we have some influence over; some things we don’t. We have some choices, and we can have some strategies for achieving these hopes, particularly good grades. There is not much we can do, except maybe Andre; he can help out Madagascar in the World Cup, but the rest of us aren’t going to make much difference there. But we can make a difference in our grades and in our lives.

      And today we’re going to discuss two definitions of hope—one from the Gallup research and the other from the gospel perspective. They’re quite related, with a few differences. Again, my hope is that we’ll benefit from pondering these together. So let’s start with the gospel context. This is from President Uchtdorf in the general conference shortly after he was called into the First Presidency. He said, “Hope is the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill his promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws, and the words of his prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future. It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance” (“The Infinite Power of Hope,” October 2008 general conference). The highlights there in that, in the now, and the patient perseverance, are mine, as I’d like to focus on those aspects of hope. The willingness to live in a certain way now in order to receive blessings in the future, and to persevere in those efforts with patience.

      Oops, patience with the technology. So, go back up one. [Referring to images on a screen that accompany his talk.]

      So in the Gallup context, they define hope as the combination of four fundamental beliefs:

1.      My future will be better than my past.

2.      I have the power to help make it so.

3.      There are many paths to that brighter future, but none of those paths is free of obstacles.

4.      Hope is more than optimism or wishful thinking, it is the power to act and to succeed and to overcome obstacles.

 

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      I’d like to share with you the story, the brief story of a man whose life exemplifies hope, both from a gospel perspective and also from the Gallup context. And I hope you’ll learn from his story that hope is a choice, that it can be learned, that it can be shared with others, and that it can lead to eternal life when partnered with faith and good works and charity.

      Alright, so this is a young boy, [on screen] and the one on the left, his name is Hyrum Smith Shumway. Now, he’s not related to Hyrum Smith, and he didn’t like the name Hyrum, so he went by Smith for his life, during his life, or he was called “Smitty” by his friends and in childhood. He was a pretty normal little boy, raised in the town of Lovell, Wyoming, which is just east of Yellowstone National Park. If you’ve been to, if you’ve ever set foot in Lovell, Wyoming, please raise your hand. Oh, we’ve got a few. I’m not one of them. But basically, it’s in the middle of nowhere, for those of you who haven’t been there. But Smith wanted to be a doctor, and so he went off to college at the University of Wyoming.

      So, Smith Shumway went to the University of Wyoming, and he did what most college boys do. He picked a major, and he always wanted to be a doctor, so he picked pre-med. And he dated lots of pretty girls. He also started losing his hair a bit early, but in general life was good. Unfortunately as graduation approached, World War II broke out. So, like many of his peers, Smith volunteered for the military and became an officer. He became a second lieutenant in the Army. Back in those days, the Air Force was part of the Army, and the Army officials wanted him to be a pilot. But for some reason he didn’t want to be a pilot, he wanted to be in combat. So he signed up for the infantry. He was assigned to the First Infantry Division, which was also known as the Big Red One. This was the most prestigious division in the Army, which had fought in all the major campaigns of World War I, and would later play a prominent role in World War II, as we’ll see in a minute.

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      So he went home, said goodbye to his family. This photo is with his sister, Beth, and then he headed off to Fort Benning, Georgia, for infantry training.  One thing led to another, and on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, he, with about 160,000 of his closest friends, the young men of the Allied forces, landed on the five beaches across the 50-mile stretch of the coast of France on the English Channel. How many of you noticed, again by a show of hands, that last Friday was the anniversary of D-Day, the 70th anniversary? Good, you saw that on the TV. You know, this was covered by CNN and other news programs, and major heads of state were there from all the countries that participated in the war. And really, D-Day was one of the major turning points in the history of the modern world. And Lieutenant Shumway was on one of these barges.

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      The first infantry landed on Omaha Beach, which turned out to be the most difficult of the five landing beaches. Lieutenant Shumway was one of those. Omaha Beach quickly gained the name, or the nickname, the moniker of “Bloody Omaha.” On that day, about 2,000 American soldiers were killed. There were another 70,000 that were seriously wounded. And those who weren’t dead or wounded were basically shell-shocked, as the attack on Omaha Beach almost failed. But by the end of the day, the Americans succeeded in getting a tenuous foothold on the beach about one mile inland, not the five to 10 miles that were in the plan. They had much heavier casualties than were expected and also much heavier casualties than occurred on the other four beaches. Fortunately, the men of B Company of the 18th Regiment of the First Army did not suffer any fatalities, because they landed in the afternoon rather than the morning, when most of the casualties occurred.

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      Over the next two-and-a-half months, the allied armies made slow advances, pushing the Germans away from the coast, and then back towards Paris, and then ultimately to Germany. About midway in this first two months, which is called the Battle of Normandy, about six weeks after D-Day, Lieutenant Shumway was advancing with his men along a small road in northern France, accompanied by tanks, very much as shown in this photo. The soldier in the left foreground might be Lieutenant Shumway, because this photo was taken on the same day, in the same region, within a couple of kilometers of the incident which I’ll now explain.

      Lieutenant Shumway was walking beside a tank, and the tank was to his right. All of a sudden, the tank triggered an explosion of a mine, which blew up the tank, and hit Lieutenant Shumway as well. Here are some excerpts of what he recorded in his journal a few years later. He made the journal by dictating it into a tape recorder, which was later transcribed by his children.

      “When we passed this tank, a horrible explosion occurred. Many people say you don’t think when you get hit, but I can truly say I did. I thought, ‘Something has happened to me, and I don’t know what. But I’ll be okay in a second.’ There was a steady, strong current of air hitting my face, chest and legs, and I seemed to hang suspended somehow. There was a deafening sound, and it just kept ringing. And it seemed as if it would never stop.

      “It occurred to me that one of my legs might be blown off. So I bent over and used my left hand, which later proved to be the only part of my body that wasn’t hit, and felt my legs. My right thigh was bloody, my left knee was bloody, and my right hand was numb and all bloody. And whether it has some fingers missing or not, I neither knew nor cared right then. I started to get very weak all of a sudden. My chest was starting to hurt, and I felt it with my left hand, and knew that it was a bloody mess also. I couldn’t see, so naturally I felt my face. It was also bloody. I wondered if my lungs were punctured, as my chest was an aching mass of flesh.

      “Everything was black, and I was getting kind of scared. I’d been stunned at first, but now pain was engulfing me.  I remember thinking, ‘Golly, am I going to die? Do I want to live? If I can take a deep breath without something breaking, or blood filling my lungs, I’ll be okay.’ When I found that I could still breathe good” –that’s a quote, that’s not from your English teacher—“I knew I wanted to live. I was filled with hope that I wouldn’t die, because I could still breathe. I remember spitting quite a bit when my aid man came up. There seemed to be a fine gravel in my mouth. After a few seconds of thought, I figured out it was my teeth. Why I couldn’t have passed out sooner I don’t know, but anyway, I finally did.”

      Lieutenant Shumway was rushed to a field hospital, which must have looked like this. This is a photo again of the same region, same day, of the Level 1 field hospitals for the soldiers.

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      The entire right side of his body was filled with shrapnel from his head to his toe, shrapnel meaning small fragments of metal and dirt that varied in size from about a grain of sand up to about a quarter. Over the next couple of days Lieutenant Shumway was in and out of consciousness, and he was transported to successfully bigger and better-equipped field hospitals until he found himself in a real hospital in England.  His right eye was completely gone, but the doctors hoped to save the left eye. Before the surgeons started to operate on his left eye, Lieutenant Shumway asked them what they thought the odds of saving his eye were. The doctor thought for a few seconds, and then answered, “About one in 50,000.”

      Lieutenant Shumway then asked the medical staff if there were any Mormon elders around that could give him a blessing. The answer was no, so he asked if they had any olive oil. Again, the answer was no. So he asked if they had any oil of any kind. They said they had some mineral oil, so he asked for that. He asked them to pour some of the mineral oil onto the palm of his left hand, the one that still worked. He then put his left hand on his head, and gave himself a blessing. He said that it gave him the peace that he needed.

      The eye was not saved, and Lieutenant Shumway was permanently blind. He spent the next two-and-a-half years in various hospitals, undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. He tells the story of one of the nurses he was talking to, and he reached up and he felt his face. And he couldn’t see anything, but he could feel that he had a lot of stitches in. So he asked the nurse about how many stitches he had in his face. And she said, “Well, more than 100.” And then he felt the rest of his body, and he could tell that he had stitches everywhere, and major chunks of flesh had been ripped off the right side of his body, particularly his chest and his thigh. And he said, “Nurse, would you mind, you know, tell me, how bad is it?”

      And she said, “Well, I don’t personally think it’s that bad. But let’s put it this way; if it had happened to a woman, she’d be devastated.”

      So, this photo [on screen] was taken when Lieutenant Shumway first returned home to his parents and siblings in Wyoming. They wanted to take care of him for the rest of his life. But he still wanted to make something of himself. The only blind person that he knew, that he had ever seen, in his entire life, was a blind man who begged on the streets of Lovell, Wyoming. Smith knew that he did not want to spend his life like that. During his two-and-a-half years of rehabilitation, he learned that blind people can do quite a few things. Medical school was no longer an option, so he had to recalibrate his life’s ambitions. His big, main hope now was not to be a doctor. His main hope was he wanted to be able to support a family and get married. So he took a job in Baltimore, Maryland.

      His job was to go meet with factory owners, and sit down with them and discuss jobs in their factory that a blind person might be able to do. He then would go fill that job for one or two months and demonstrate that a blind person could handle it. And at the end of that time period, he would then take a different blind person and put that other person into that job. He did this for several years, and in the course of doing this, he learned after the fact that he was the number one highest producer in the nation of qualifying jobs for the blind people. He qualified more than 25 different jobs that blind people could do.

      Brother Shumway said that the hardest part of his job was convincing other blind people to even try. It was harder to convince the blind person that he could do it that it was to convince the factory owner that it could be done.

      So, one of the girls that Smith had dated before the war was a lovely LDS girl named Sarah Bagley from Star Valley, Wyoming. Have you been to Star Valley? Yeah, very nice. Not quite as “nowhere” as Lovell. But it’s still quite a ways from civilization. While Smith was working in Baltimore, Smith and Sarah started to corresponding, and the long-distance relationship started getting serious. Sarah didn’t like knowing that someone else, some stranger, would have to read her letters to Smith. And she also didn’t like the idea that when he was going to write her, that he would have to dictate them to someone else, who would write them. So she learned how to write in Braille, and Smith had learned how to do that in rehab. So that they were able to Braille back—this must be the precursor to texting, because they were communicating in a language that nobody else understood.

      So he proposed to her, and this is how he proposed: You know, I know to a lot of us this is like a big deal, how you propose, right, and the guys like to go really fancy. Well, this is what he said. He said to Sarah, “If you will read the mail, sort the socks, and drive the car, I can do the rest.” She accepted, but the parents were opposed. And so, there were some tender and tense conversations between Sarah and her parents, but at the end, they went ahead with the marriage and got married, and in the Salt Lake Temple in 1948. And one of the great ironies of this story is that the father of Sarah, who objected, later turned blind in his older age. And Smith became his counselor to help him adapt to blindness.

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      Okay, so they got married in the Salt Lake Temple, and that was great. And then, bang, within the first year, girl Number 1 arrived. And then a year later, they had two. And a year, well, a couple years later, they were up to five, but they were all girls. And they knew there was a boy, they knew they needed to have a boy, there was a boy in their family attendance. So he finally showed up as one of the twins, he was Number 7, and then the sister was a girl. So there were eight kids born, seven of them girls, and I saw this, and thought about this, and they had eight kids in the first 10 years of their marriage. And I said, if that’s not hastening the work, I don’t know what is. There’s all eight of them, and I married the one third from the left [photo on screen].

      So in the middle of his first 10 years of marriage Smith received a job offer to be the head of rehabilitation for all blind and deaf children in the state of Wyoming, which he accepted, and they moved to Cheyenne. This was the start of a 30-year career, for which he received numerous national honors for his successful service to the blind and deaf. And he credited his success to two key factors: Number 1 is that he inspired them through example. Many people classified as blind were actually partially sighted but not Smith. He had two glass eyeballs that he had to take out every night and soak them in a solution before he put them back in the next morning. As soon as these people, these blind people realized that, really he took away their excuses. And so he really inspired them to step up and to do the most that they could do.

      The second was that he did not accept any excuses. He’d listen carefully and patiently, and empathize with people’s problems, but he always worked with them until they found a solution to whatever it was that prevented them from having some level of success in their life. Brother Shumway also served as a bishop for seven years. To the best of our knowledge he was the first blind bishop in the church. Sister Shumway said that the young people liked Bishop Shumway because he didn’t judge them by their looks.

      All eight children got married in the temple. This picture [on screen] was taken just a few yards away over at the Salt Lake Temple. After his retirement, the Shumways volunteered for a senior mission in England where they had great success in reactivation. They actually served in the same area where he trained prior to his blindness. In the missionary service he was a living testimony of the power of faith in Jesus Christ, combined with hope of a brighter future, and his ability to make it so, which blossomed into charity, which is putting it into action by blessing the lives of others. Following their missionary service Smith was called to be the stake patriarch. In that capacity he served for many years. Smith and Sarah had their share of challenges in their life along the road. One of their daughters died of cancer in her mid-thirties, leaving four young children behind, and Sister Shumway died of cancer shortly after their mission, leaving Brother Shumway on his own for his last 20 years of his life.

      This is a photo [on screen] of Brother Shumway with his prettiest, and favorite, and most special daughter, walking along the hills overlooking Omaha Beach. We took him back to France several times, retracing his steps and documenting his remarkable life, and his role in one of the greatest events of modern history.

      Brother Shumway became somewhat of a celebrity in Normandy. Of all the war veterans who returned to France with their families afterwards, he was one of only a few who have noticeable war wounds, and the only blind war veteran that they had ever met. His cheerfulness astounded them. He remained cheerful and positive and hopeful and dedicated to serving others, within the limits of abilities but magnified by the Lord. He passed on to the other side three years ago. Before he died he expressed his gratitude for being blind, kind of the ultimate turnaround, because he felt like he’d learned things that he couldn’t learn without being blind, and he could help people and teach people that he would not have been able to reach otherwise, unless he’d been blind. So, as you know, the sum that I know, the day that he died was the first day that he’d seen any of his children and any of his grandchildren.

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67572455_130654659101.jpg      So, let’s try to tie Brother Shumway’s life back to hope. Let’s start with the Gallup definition of hope, and let’s recall Brother Shumway’s life. He wanted to be a doctor, and he set about to gain the necessary education, but he hit an obstacle—the explosion of a mine. He recalibrated his goal—his next goal was to live. Once he got that, he then wanted to retain his sight. Well, that didn’t happen. So he recalibrated again, he wanted to avoid begging and be able to support himself. When he did that, he raised his goals again. He wanted to marry and have a family. He did that, he recalibrated yet again. His faith and hope and hard work were turning into charity, the true love of Christ, and helping other people, as he dedicated his life to helping other people, like himself, find the hope that he had found.

      Hope is more than optimism or positive thinking. It’s the power to create, not just wish for a better future. He was a positive and optimistic thinker, but he consistently did the hard work necessary to create his future. And he was blessed and strengthened by the Savior and His Atonement.

      He found the sweet spot of hope, which is between wishful thinking and despair. He avoided both. He evaluated his circumstances, abilities, resources, realistic options, and went to work. He avoided feeling entitled, and he certainly wasn’t passive. He invested in the future, for himself and for his family. And we can do the same.

      So how can we build our hope? It’s really the same way that Brother Shumway did. It’s to envision a realistic, exciting future, identify the barriers, work your way around those barriers, multiple pathways, options, plan B, work hard, and make the revisions as needed. I was just going to tell you a little bit about, you know, some of the same things in my life. I always wanted to be, I knew I was going to be, a great basketball player. And things didn’t quite work out. And the coach at BYU didn’t like me. The fact that I wasn’t good enough didn’t matter. But, you know, blame the coach, right?  So I wanted to have plans. My plan B was to be Cosmo the Cougar. So I went and tried out for Cosmo. And, just because I didn’t make the basketball team, so I knew the coach and I weren’t best buddies. Weren’t “BFF.” So I went and I tried out, and I got cut, and of course it was unfair. Nobody’s ever been cut who thought it was fair. And so I did the Cosmo, but it was not my first choice, it was my second choice. But because of that Cosmo the Cougar I met my lovely bride, which I would not have met if I hadn’t done that. And that’s a different story for a different day.

      But, you know, identifying what you want, going for it, and then being able to adjust and not be discouraged, and not become bitter, and not have despair, and making the adjustments you need to do what you can do and not whine or complain about what you wished you’d been able to do. I just want to mention the great opportunity it’s been for me to serve here at the LDS Business College.

      This is another example. I wanted to go on a mission. My wife and I wanted to go serve a mission. We had one problem: our second oldest daughter is handicapped. She’s got cerebral palsy, a severe case. And she can’t—she functions at about the level of a six-month-old. And so, you can’t turn in mission papers if you have a dependent child at home. So I said “Okay, what’s plan B? I can’t do it, but I still want to serve.” So I start looking around, say, “What can I do, how can I help?” And so I assess my alternatives, my talents, my resources, and I’ve a pretty interesting business career, so maybe I can help out at business. And one of my resources was President Richards; he’d been a neighbor. I knew he was over here, so I went and knocked on his door and said, “You need any help?” And one thing led to another, and I wound up on the faculty.

      I think I’m the only faculty that’s never taught a class. Because I came in and I started working on special projects. But it’s, I lied, I taught substituting twice. But I didn’t teach a math class. I came over here thinking I was going to teach business, because that’s what I’ve been doing for 40 years. I didn’t teach a single business class, but I was able to take some of the skills and the background that I have to work with President Richards and the other members of the staff and faculty to help the school work on this coming transition. We want to take care of the future students as well as the current students. And how do you do that smoothly and transition the focus towards more jobs has really been an interesting challenge. I want you to know I’ve learned great things from working with great people here. They are diverse, but they’re dedicated. They all have different skills and backgrounds, but they work together to try to make this the place that the Lord would have it be. And you folks have such a great opportunity.

      I just think about what a great place this is. You know, a small student body, 2,000;  there’s no reason you can’t get to know all of them, from 60 different countries. This is huge. And I thought someday I might be called on to do a devotional, and I said, okay, while I stand up there, I’m going to tell them one piece of advice. And my advice, besides getting hope, is take advantage of the time you spend in that elevator. President Richards mentioned that doesn’t mean unscrewing the light bulbs. I think it’s just a great chance for you to meet people. If there’s someone in that elevator that you don’t know, introduce yourself, say “hi.” They feel just as awkward as you do.

      And if you see an old person, you say, “What’s an old guy like you doing here?” And just, you know, liven it up and make it fun. Just practice being outgoing, and basically make a commitment that you will never wear your earphones in the elevator. Okay, there you go. That’s my advice. Just talk to people and be friendly, and it’s such a small group, you could have an instant network worldwide for the rest of your life. You folks are great people, you’re going places. The Lord will bless you.  It’s my prayer that He will continue to bless you. I have a testimony of this gospel, of this school, and of the power of hope. I leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.