Responding to the call of duty is always right

The call of duty came to the boy Nephi when he was instructed by the Lord, through his father Lehi, to return to Jerusalem with his brothers to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Nephi’s brothers murmured, saying it was a hard thing which had been asked of them. What was Nephi’s response? Said he, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

When that same call comes to you and to me, what will be our response? Will we murmur, as did Laman and Lemuel, and say, “This is a hard thing required of us”? Or will we, with Nephi, individually declare, “I will go. I will do”? Will we be willing to serve and to obey?

At times the wisdom of God appears as being foolish or just too difficult, but one of the greatest and most valuable lessons we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.

Thomas S. Monson, “Willing and Worthy to Serve,” General Conference, April 2012

Being worthy to hold the priesthood

President Thomas S. Monson mentions worthiness multiple times in his October 2011 Priesthood Conference talk:

What a wonderful gift we have been given—to hold the priesthood, which is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.” This precious gift, however, brings with it not only special blessings but also solemn responsibilities. We must conduct our lives so that we are ever worthy of the priesthood we bear. We live in a time when we are surrounded by much that is intended to entice us into paths which may lead to our destruction. To avoid such paths requires determination and courage.

Ours is the responsibility to be worthy of all the glorious blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us. Wherever we go, our priesthood goes with us. Are we standing in holy places? Please, before you put yourself and your priesthood in jeopardy by venturing into places or participating in activities which are not worthy of you or of that priesthood, pause to consider the consequences. Each of us has had conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood. In the process, each received the power which holds the keys to the ministering of angels. Said President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“You cannot afford to do anything that would place a curtain between you and the ministering of angels in your behalf.

“You cannot be immoral in any sense. You cannot be dishonest. You cannot cheat or lie. You cannot take the name of God in vain or use filthy language and still have the right to the ministering of angels.”

Many of you brethren have served as missionaries throughout the world. Many of you young men will yet serve. Prepare yourselves now for that opportunity. Make certain you are worthy to serve.

With all my heart and soul, I pray that every man who holds the priesthood will honor that priesthood and be true to the trust which was conveyed when it was conferred. May each of us who holds the priesthood of God know what he believes. May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.

As we contemplate the great gift we have been given—“the rights of the priesthood … inseparably connected with the powers of heaven”—may our determination ever be to guard and defend it and to be worthy of its great promises.

Thomas S. Monson, “Dare to Stand Alone,” October 2011.

Formula for Success

May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality and to that great reward of exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love.

Thomas S. Monson, “Formula for Success,” Ensign, March 1996

Your personal conscience always warns you as a friend

May I provide a simple formula by which you can measure the choices which confront you. It’s easy to remember: “You can’t be right by doing wrong; you can’t be wrong by doing right.” Your personal conscience always warns you as a friend before it punishes you as a judge.

Thomas S. Monson, “Pathways to Perfection,” April 2002 General Conference

The wondrous gift is given: Christmas, 1951

On a cold winter’s night in 1951 there was a knock at my door, and a German brother from Ogden, Utah, announced himself and said, “Are you Bishop Monson?” I answered in the affirmative. He began to weep and said, “My brother and his wife and family are coming here from Germany. They are going to live in your ward. Will you come with us to see the apartment we have rented for them?” On the way to the apartment, he told me he had not seen his brother for many years. Yet all through the holocaust of World War II, his brother had been faithful to the Church, serving as a branch president before the war took him to the Russian front.

I looked at the apartment. It was cold and dreary. The paint was peeling, the wallpaper soiled, the cupboards empty. A forty-watt bulb hanging from the living room ceiling revealed a linoleum floor covering with a large hole in the center. I was heartsick. I thought, “What a dismal welcome for a family which has endured so much.”

My thoughts were interrupted by the brother’s statement, “It isn’t much, but it’s better than they have in Germany.” With that, the key was left with me, along with the information that the family would arrive in Salt Lake City in three weeks—just two days before Christmas.

Sleep was slow in coming to me that night. The next morning was Sunday. In our ward welfare committee meeting, one of my counselors said, “Bishop, you look worried. Is something wrong?” I recounted to those present my experience of the night before, the details of the uninviting apartment. There were a few moments of silence. Then the group leader of the high priests said, “Bishop, did you say that apartment was inadequately lighted and that the kitchen appliances were in need of replacement?” I answered in the affirmative. He continued, “I am an electrical contractor. Would you permit the high priests of this ward to rewire that apartment? I would also like to invite my suppliers to contribute a new stove and a new refrigerator. Do I have your permission?” I answered with a glad “Certainly.”

Then the seventies president responded: “Bishop, as you know I’m in the carpet business. I would like to invite my suppliers to contribute some carpet, and the seventies can easily lay it and eliminate that worn linoleum.”

Then the president of the elders quorum spoke up. He was a painting contractor. He said, “I’ll furnish the paint. May the elders paint and wallpaper that apartment?”

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Resisting the impulse to categorize others

I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.

I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.

There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere….

Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.

“Charity Never Faileth,” Thomas S. Monson, General Relief Society Meeting, September, 2010

 

No place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair

“Knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair. . . .

“I promise you in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always protect and care for his people. We will have our difficulties the way every generation and people have had difficulties. But with the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have every hope and promise and reassurance. The Lord has power over his Saints and will always prepare places of peace, defense, and safety for his people. When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world—for us personally, and for all mankind.”
President Howard W. Hunter, “An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 70.

“From the holy scriptures we read, “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, … they shall inherit the kingdom of God, … and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18.)

“I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.”

“My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

“I declare that God lives and that He hears and answers our prayers. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and our Redeemer. Heaven’s blessings await us.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” May 2009 Ensign

“…any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what lies ahead for him or her, however difficult the present may be.”
President Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Nov. 2009 Ensign

“Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].” (John 14:18, 23.)”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were With Him,” May 2009 Ensign

“I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May 2010

Helping those who cry out to us

Often we live side by side but do not communicate heart to heart. There are those within the sphere of our own influence who, with outstretched hands, cry out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”

I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need.”

We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes.

Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 84–87

Faith in the future

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives….

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is Paul’s too-seldom-read letter to the Philippians. After reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, his education, his standing in the Jewish community—Paul says that all of that was nothing (“dung” he calls it) compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase: “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.’” Then comes this verse:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13–14]

…Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us where we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU Devotional, 13 January 2009

It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future—or even fearful of what might come—if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives. Today, however, I’d like us to turn our thoughts and our attitudes away from the troubles around us and to focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church. The Apostle Paul declared, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges—and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? Again from the scriptures: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”….

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” April 2009 General Conference, (italics added)