Not Taking Counsel From Our Fears

I have been intrigued by the idea that we should “not take counsel from our fears,” and have some sources for this quote, through I am sure I do not have them all.  The first is from President Thomas S. Monson, given at a 7 September 2003 CES Fireside:

There are all sorts of people who are willing to alibi or to make excuse for a failure. During World War II, a vital decision was made by one of the great leaders of the Allied military, Viscount Slim from Great Britain. He made this statement after a defeat occurred in a battle for Khartoum in 1940 against the Italians: “I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason—myself. When two courses of action were open to me I had not chosen, as a good commander should, the bolder. I had taken counsel of my fears” (William Slim, Unofficial History (1959), 148). My young brothers and sisters, don’t take counsel of your fears. Don’t say to yourselves, “I’m not wise enough, or I can’t apply myself sufficiently well to study this difficult subject or in this difficult field, so I shall choose the easier way.” I plead with you to tax your talent, and our Heavenly Father will make you equal to those decisions. In this life, where we have opportunities to strive and to achieve, I bear witness that on occasion we need to make a second effort—and a third effort, and a fourth effort, and as many degrees of effort as may be required to accomplish what we strive to achieve. There is much importance attached to our three questions: What will be my faith? Whom shall I marry? What will be my life’s work? I am so grateful that we need not make those decisions without eternal help. We can have the guidance and the direction of our Heavenly Father if we strive to receive it.                  

From President James E. Faust, spoken in a 7 May 2006 CES Fireside at the University of Utah: Continue reading

Remembering James E. Faust

President James E. FaustEarly yesterday morning President James E. Faust, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away.  I have greatly admired his General Conference addresses.  A refined and polished speaker, he was a bold minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as a masterful story teller.  Examples include his recent April 2007 talk on forgiveness, in which he described the compassion of an Amish community for the family of a man who killed several of their young women, or the story of Bobby Polacio, a 14-year-old young man who chose honesty above his strong personal desire to win in an athletic contest.  I remember several of the stories he told at First Presidency Christmas Devotionals, including the powerful story of a Japanese Christian man who lost his wife during the bombing of Nagasaki, but was not bitter against American military men, for whom he and his daughter performed music from Handel’s Messiah.  President Faust’s teachings about self mastery have always impressed me, in large part because they clearly came from a leader who possessed self mastery:    Continue reading