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Peggy S. Worthen|Jan. 10, 2017 When we moved to Provo thirty years ago, I was in my twenties. Our oldest son was two, and our youngest son was just a few weeks old. I had been a member of the Church for less than ten years. Shortly after arriving in Provo, I met Bertha. Bertha was in her sixties. I knew a little bit about Bertha. I knew she lived in our stake. I knew she was respected by those who knew her. I also knew that she was a leader and a woman of service. People sought her advice. I remember attending a stake Relief Society function at which Bertha was one of the women on a panel that was answering questions and giving advice to those in attendance on a variety of topics. I noticed that Bertha was being asked for a lot of advice about raising children. I soon discovered why. She was the mother of thirteen children. I appreciated her responses to the questions. She seemed to have all the wisdom and experience that I lacked. Another thing I knew about Bertha was that she seemed to like walking. Sometimes I would see her walking in the neighborhood. One morning while I was walking with my friend, she asked me if it would be okay if Bertha joined us occasionally on our walks. I told her that was fine. But privately, the thought of walking with Bertha intimidated me somewhat, mainly because I held her in such high esteem. A few days later my friend invited Bertha to walk with us. Before Bertha met us for our walk that morning, my friend told me a couple of things about Bertha that she thought would be helpful to me. She told me that Bertha sometimes had a little difficulty hearing and that her shins sometimes bothered her—especially when walking uphill. I thought these things were good to know. Our walking route that day began in the Tree Streets south of the Provo Temple. We headed toward the temple, which is a steady uphill walk. I don’t remember much of our conversation that day. I remember only the question I asked Bertha once we reached the top of the road by the temple and began our steady descent toward home. Remembering that Bertha’s shins sometimes bothered her, I asked, “Bertha, how are your shins?” There was a bit of an awkward pause, and then, with much earnestness, Bertha replied, “I’m working on them, and hopefully they are improving every day.” I responded, “Oh, that’s good. Thankfully it’s all downhill from here.” I was feeling pretty magnanimous about my expressed concern for Bertha. For a couple of minutes we walked along in a somewhat awkward silence. Then my friend suddenly got a relieved look on her face and, turning to me, exclaimed, “You said shins, didn’t you?” My first thought was, “Yes, of course I said shins.” Then it occurred to me that they had both thought I had asked Bertha how her sins were doing! I was mortified! There I was, this inexperienced young mother, asking Bertha, this accomplished and
Scott Swofford|Nov. 11, 2014 My father was a builder of big buildings, some well known. So when I returned from my two-year mission to Japan and wanted summer work, I ended up forty feet down at the bottom of an air conditioning shaft, stripping forms from freshly poured concrete. My captive coworker, Chuck, made the mistake of asking why I would “waste two valuable years like that.” I am sure he had no idea what he was in for, and I unleashed my abundance of missionary zeal. At some point in our discussion I heard a noise overhead and saw the familiar silhouette of my father leaning over the shaft. What he said was a surprise: “Chuck, I don’t know what he’s saying down there, but I believe it is true. Now get back to work.” This is for me the most treasured testimony my father bore, but I hope we can surpass that level of communication today. I don’t want you to go back to class thinking, “I don’t know what he was saying down there, but I believe it is true.” Instead I want to persuade you to rethink the way you communicate to others your feelings about your connections to heaven and the amazing blessings of what you know and what you feel. Why persuade? Because “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood”—and I hold no position that grants me that kind of dominion over you anyway—“only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41). I want to persuade you to consider another perspective that will help you follow the counsel of an apostle. Elder David A. Bednar stood here in August and asked us “to sweep the earth as with a flood of truth and righteousness” in our online efforts (“To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood,” BYU Education Week devotional address, 19 August 2014, lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood). His devotional was historic in many ways. I was so delighted. Elder Bednar’s first qualification for this effort was simple: We are disciples, and our messages should be authentic. A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake, and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest, and accurate. We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not. [“To Sweep the Earth”] Following his counsel to be authentic will be more difficult for us, as central-culture Mormons, because for decades we have desired to honor the Lord by always putting our best foot forward. Look down at your feet, if you will. The problem is that nearly every mortal has two feet, and most require both of those feet to stand properly. Over the past ten years I have regularly had the punishment and privilege of watching through a one-way mirror as focus groups discuss Mormons. The people in these groups were not just any people; they were selected for these sessions because their beliefs and actions demo
Gerald R. Williams|June 27, 2006 Some months ago, when I was invited to speak today, I asked what I should talk about. After a long pause the voice said, “Well, people usually talk about things they’re good at.” So my topic today is conflict. I used to think other people had conflicts but that I was immune. Then I came upon two incidents in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith that completely changed my understanding of conflicts and forced me to admit I probably have as many as anybody else. What is a conflict? For our purposes today, a conflict is any situation in which both sides feel the other is in the wrong. I’ll begin with seven propositions about conflicts. 1. It is strange, but unless we had a conflict in the last few hours, most of us don’t remember our conflicts. This may be good, because it saves us pain, but it creates a problem. If we don’t remember our conflicts, we can’t learn anything from them. 2. We probably experience conflicts differently—depending on our personalities, our prior experiences (such as the way conflicts were handled in the home where we grew up), and perhaps other factors such as gender and culture. 3. In Mormon culture most people are conflict avoiders. However, some of us are neutral about conflict, and some of us actually enjoy a good conflict. 4. If we are in relationships with others, there will be conflicts. They may be small or they may be large, but there will surely be conflicts. Can you think of any conflicts in your life right now? Perhaps a few hints will help. If you do think of a conflict or two, I hope you will jot them down. a. Conflicts with family, such as father, mother, siblings, spouse, children, or in-laws. b. Conflicts with people you see often who are not family: neighbors, landlords, merchants, even people at church. President Brigham Young summed it up in rhyme: To live with Saints in Heaven is bliss and glory To live with Saints on Earth is another story.1 5. It takes two sides to create a conflict. More important, there is almost always fault on both sides. As someone said, “It’s a mighty thin pancake that only has one side.” 6. During a conflict we are usually blind to our own fault and we blame the other side. 7. A final proposition introduces my theme. When we remember our conflicts and reflect on them, they are like mirrors that can teach us things about ourselves that are otherwise difficult to discover. If we permit them, our conflicts will show us where we are weak, defensive, prideful, or otherwise in need of repair. First Example I’ll illustrate the value of conflicts with three examples. Two are from the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. These both involve Oliver Cowdery, who, at the time, was Joseph’s most trusted associate. These conflicts occurred very close to each other in the summer of 1830, just after the Church w
Carri P. Jenkins|Nov. 8, 2005 Thank you, Dr. Broomhead and members of the University Chorale, for that wonderful rendition of “For All the Saints” (Hymns, 1985, no. 82). That song is to be sung majestically, which you certainly did. Your words set the tone for my address today. I would like to look at how we as Saints—“faithful, true, and bold”—might increase our efforts to profess our faith. On a rather cold, rainy day many years ago, I found myself in a meeting over a difficult issue. Waiting outside this meeting was what appeared to be an army of reporters. To say that I was a bit unnerved by their presence is an understatement. I was new to the office of University Communications, having spent 12 years with BYU Magazine, and was still trying to adjust to the media scrutiny that accompanies a breaking story. As the meeting concluded, someone asked the question “Who is going to talk to all of those reporters?” The person in charge responded, “Carri is.” And with that, everyone got up and left. Do you remember how Moses felt when the Lord asked him to represent the Israelites before Pharaoh? In my own small way, I think I caught a glimpse of it on that rainy day. I too wanted to cry out, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent . . . : but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). But, just as the Lord beckoned Moses to “therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth” (Exodus 4:12), I felt the Lord’s gentle push in response to my hasty prayer. And so I walked out that door confident in the message I needed to deliver, even if I was not confident as the messenger. I faced the reporters, and all went well until the final question, when they asked if they could interview BYU students about the Honor Code. I knew I could not say no, even though I really wanted to just handpick a few students who I knew would respond in a predictable and positive way. Instead I responded, “Absolutely. Talk to anyone you like.” That night as I waited for the 10 o’clock news to air, my heart was racing. I knew what I had said, but what I didn’t know was how the students had responded. I wondered if they would challenge and negate everything I had said. As I watched the various news reports and those random students—students just like you—talk about their feelings and belief in the Honor Code, my once-racing heart swelled with pride. I realized that while in this instance I had been asked to be the official spokesperson for BYU, the most important spokespeople were you, the students. It was your voices people would remember; it was your voices that turned a rather negative news story into a positive one. Today I would like to talk about what it means to be a spokesperson—at BYU and in the kingdom of God—a role that each one of us plays. The incident that I described above is not unique; in fact, it happens on an almost daily basis. Perhaps you saw this recent
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