Focus on the Temple
Elder Quentin L. Cook
When my wife and I were starting out as a newly married couple in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s, the LDS population was relatively small. In addition, that area had become a magnet for drug usage and all manner of promiscuous and sinful conduct. A concerned stake president back then asked the leadership of the Church if leaders should encourage Church members to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Elder Harold B. Lee, then a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was assigned to address the issue. He met with a group of priesthood leaders and told them that the Lord had not inspired the construction of a temple in our area only to have the members leave. His counsel was:
1. To create Zion in our hearts and homes.
2. To be a light to those among whom we live.
3. To focus on the ordinances and principles taught in the temple.
If you will follow President Lee’s counsel, you can successfully be in the world but not of the world. However, we must each determine whether we will face the world or focus on the temple.
Putting the Savior First
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Many of us became members of the Church without opposition, perhaps as children. The challenge we may confront is remaining loyal to the Savior and His Church in the face of parents, in-laws, brothers or sisters, or even our children whose conduct, beliefs, or choices make it impossible to support both Him and them. It is not a question of love. We can and must love one another as Jesus loves us.
[But] in reality, the best way to help those we love—the best way to love them—is to continue to put the Savior first. If we cast ourselves adrift from the Lord out of sympathy for loved ones who are suffering or distressed, then we lose the means by which we might have helped them. If, however, we remain firmly rooted in faith in Christ, we are in a position both to receive and to offer divine help. If (or I should say when) the moment comes that a beloved family member wants desperately to turn to the only true and lasting source of help, he or she will know whom to trust as a guide and a companion. In the meantime, with the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide, we can perform a steady ministry to lessen the pain of poor choices and bind up the wounds insofar as we are permitted. Otherwise, we serve neither those we love nor ourselves.
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Faith is the muscle of spiritual knowledge and power. Faith is a spiritual gift of God, but it is developed and magnified as we eagerly pursue our journey of embracing and following the Savior. I remember once long ago, before I was serving as a General Authority, having a man approach me whom I had known for some time in business. We talked about a challenge he was facing in his life, and I gave him some of my thoughts.
He then said to me, “Neil, you have something I don’t have. You have faith in God.”
The way he said it to me, I sensed he felt that having faith was not something chosen or determined by me or by him but that somewhere in the lottery of life my gene pool had brought a quality of believing and trusting in God that his gene pool had not. This, my brothers and sisters, is not a correct notion of faith in God or faith in Christ.
Our Heavenly Father desires that faith will grow within the hearts of all His sons and daughters. As one repents, opens her heart, or seeks to strengthen his faith, the Lord is magnanimous and generous in return. Never forget that the seed must be nourished. We need to help those we love to understand that faith is not stagnant.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
After a year or so of knowing the Huntsmans, I was surprised one day when Jon invited me into his business office. I was a beginning senior at the university and just one year away from that longsought- after degree in business. In that meeting Jon invited me to join his company in marketing and sales. I was overwhelmingly honored, and I felt that the deep and sincere prayer Sister Rasband and I had of finding meaningful employment was being answered.
I told Jon that I would be thrilled to join his company in the spring after graduation. I explained to him my quest for a college degree and how important it was to my family and me. Jon, in his very kind yet pointed way, explained that he needed me now. The next week he would be in Troy, Ohio, at one of his packaging plants to negotiate with a major customer. He told me if I wanted the job, I needed to be there to become their account manager. That was it—next week in Troy, Ohio, or no job offer at all!
That evening [my wife and I] prayed earnestly and sought the counsel of close loved ones and friends. The most important advice to me was from my sweet wife, Melanie: “Isn’t this what people go to college for, to find an opportunity like this one?” The Spirit confirmed our decision, and I took the job in Ohio.
That week I walked off the campus of the University of Utah, just two semesters short of receiving my degree. Eleven years later, I was humbled when Jon Huntsman appointed me as the president of his global corporation with thousands of employees and billions in revenues. This should suggest that there is a masterpiece within each one of us, and when spiritually nurtured, carefully mentored, and loyally engaged in building up our families and the Lord’s kingdom, all things are possible.
Thinking of Others First
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Think more about the welfare of others than you think about yourself. Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “On the parable of the Good Samaritan: I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” (Strength to Love ). Dr. King understood that service and selflessness could eradicate fear.
My wife demonstrated her understanding of this principle when she instituted what we called “Lesa’s cookie therapy” while we were serving as mission presidents in Nagoya, Japan. Occasionally, we would have a missionary come to us who was struggling, often with doubt or fear, and ready to call it quits. Lesa would gather a few supplies, hand them to the missionary, and say, “Here’s what I want you to do. Take these ingredients and make chocolate chip cookies every morning. Package them and deliver them to someone who needs them.” This act of thinking about someone else rather than oneself often cured the missionary of his or her fears. The same is true for you. The warm, golden glow that accompanies service and selflessness has the power to melt away doubts and fears.
The Pure Love of Christ
Elder Dale G. Renlund
The pure love of Christ, or charity, is selfless and self-sacrificing; it emanates from a pure heart and a good conscience. Charity is more than an act or action. Charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind that accompanies one’s actions. It is to be an integral part of one’s nature. In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity casts out all fears and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven.
Conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is the key to developing charity. Development of charity then leads to the development of other Christlike attributes.
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed that the way to increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is to improve our Sabbath day observance at home and at church. Improved Sabbath day observance is vital to increasing our own conversion.
I promise you that as you make the Sabbath day a priority in your own life, your ability to feel charity, this pure love of Christ, will increase. As you take time each week to prepare conscientiously for and worthily partake of the sacrament, you will see and feel the fruits of charity developing in yourself, in your very character, in your very being.
If you want to be happy in school, or on a mission, or in a marriage—work at it. Learn to work. Serve diligently. Don’t be idle and mischievous. A homespun definition of Christlike character might be the integrity to do the right thing at the right time in the right way.
Illustrations by Jon Krause
For more inspired words from the Brethren, read We’re with You: Counsel and Encouragement from Your Brethren, available at Deseret Book.