I’m honored to be invited to participate at this special time, to view this great and vast audience, and to feel the impact that is possible in the world because of your lives. Your life is sacredly yours. It has never been lived before and no one else can ever live it. Only you can set the bounds. You have the capacity to determine exactly what you are to become.
What Life Is All About
Many of us focus our existence on earning—on acquiring, spending, and consuming. We use up our time getting things and then maintaining them, finding a place to store them, fixing them up when they break, guarding them against theft, and then upgrading them when a newer model comes out. When I think of accumulating things and the difference it makes, I think of the experience I had in Bacolod, on the Negros Island in the Philippines.
We were being driven to stake conference by President Ruiz. He had borrowed a car so we would have transportation. When we drove up to the little chapel there in Bacolod, there was no one around. I said, “President, maybe the conference is at another time.” He replied, “No, they’re all inside.” We drove into the parking lot—ours was the only car there. We got out of the car and walked into the chapel. It was packed to capacity and people were standing on the sides. The meeting commenced and the great stake president, President Villerette, stood. He looked at his people and tears began to stream down his face. He said, “I’m hungry. My wife and my children are hungry. All we have to eat is a little bowl of rice each day.” Then he said, “But you, my brothers and sisters, are hungry, too. And I promise you that if you will live and keep the commandments of the Lord that this will pass, and one day again we will have our stomachs full and be able to enjoy the blessings of our country.”
Our success at business, sports, friendship, love, and life—nearly every enterprise we attempt—is largely determined by our own self-image. People who have confidence in their personal worth seem to be magnets for success and happiness. When I think of happiness, I think of an experience we had in Tarawa. We were traveling to Tarawa, and as the plane landed and pulled up to the very humble terminal, the door opened, and a man jumped in, saying, “Elder Sonntag, please come quickly.” We did not know what the urgency was, but we came quickly out of the airplane, walked right through Immigration (they knew we weren’t going anywhere else), and then walked over to two vans. There was a tarp spread between the two vans, and sitting on the tarp were nineteen young men and women. We were informed that they were missionaries—young people from the islands that dot the sea, islands that really have not even been given names. They were young people who had come to Tarawa to try and get an education, to learn how to read and write. While they were there they felt the spirit of the gospel and joined the Church. Now they wanted to go on missions. But as they sat there under that equatorial sun, huddled close together looking at that airplane that they never dreamed they’d have the experience of getting on, they were frightened. They asked for a special blessing. And we had the privilege of giving them that blessing—the Lord was good to us that day. We gave them that blessing, and then they arose and climbed the steps to the airplane.
Their feet had never had a pair of shoes on them. They had only one white shirt each and the clothes on their backs with just a little sack of personal belongings as they entered that airplane. They had never eaten with a fork or a spoon or a knife. They’d only eaten with their fingers. They didn’t know what a cup was. They had drunk from a half shell of a coconut all their lives. And yet here they were going to be the very first missionaries in the history of the Church to leave the island of Tarawa and go to New Zealand to the Missionary Training Center. They were the first of their young people to ever have the privilege of going to the temple to receive their endowments.
We could hardly wait until we got home so we could call President Palmer at the New Zealand MTC and find out how our Tarawan missionaries were—they were just like little scared mice.
When we talked with President Palmer on the phone, he said, “Oh, President, what a great experience it was. When they came in they saw their first neon sign. They saw their first big bus. They saw their first high rise. They looked at the boats in the harbor at Auckland and were just amazed at the types of ships they saw. Everything they did was a new experience. We hardly had enough water supply because every time we went by a tap they’d turn it on to see running water. They would flush every toilet they went by. They couldn’t believe what was taking place.”
“But,” he continued, “when they came into the classes they again huddled into the corners.”
And then he said, “On the fourth day we took them to the temple. They walked in petrified and unknowing. We had prepared them as best we could. But, President, when they left the temple of the Lord they came out as giants of the Lord. And you cannot believe the difference that took place. And I want you to know that we have nineteen young people who are now worthy to represent the Savior.”
Maybe we ought to take a look at what life is all about. Perhaps we should be like the man who said he had more than Carnegie or Rockefeller. “How is that?” asked a friend. “Because I have all that I need, and they always kept wanting more.”
Let us learn to simplify our wants and then our lives, throwing open the windows of our souls and letting a clean, sweet breeze flow through. Let us learn to evaluate what we think we need under stricter guidelines. You might ask the questions: Will this really enhance my life? Is it worth the financial tension it will cause? Can I do without it? None of us really wants to spend our hours primarily on things that will yellow with age and break down or end up in the city dump. We pass this way only once, and there are many finer things to do.
You can follow the crowd and be one of the crowd and follow the mainstream of life—or you can be somebody. You may criticize the past and the present, and you may wonder why things are as they are. Or you may marvel at what has been accomplished in medicine, electronics, industry, farming, and education. As you evaluate your thoughts, make sure that in this life you will contribute to the world as much as those of the past have done.
Be Ready and Be Yourself
Our responsibility is to take the talents we have and parlay them into the highest possible achievement. Opportunities abound on every side for those who are willing to put forth the effort. Each opportunity presents a challenge. Nothing is accomplished without dedication and preparation and the will to win.
I remember the story of a young man who went out for quarterback on a football team. He was the third-string quarterback. He was at every practice. He suited up for every game. But at the games it seemed the coach forgot who he was—he didn’t get to play at all during the season. He was on a good team, though, and they were playing for the championship. He said to himself, “Well, this is great. I’ve got the best seat in the house.” And so he went out and put on his uniform, did the exercises, and felt very comfortable. When it came game time he found his place on the bench. He got a nice warm blanket, wrapped himself in it, and even called the hot dog-boy over and had a hot dog. He took his shoes off. It would be lots more comfortable watching the ball game without his cleats on. And so he sat there in that condition. The first-string quarterback didn’t move the team very well. The coach brought out the second-string quarterback, but he was having a worse time. Then, out of the sounds of the stadium, there came this young man’s name. He jumped off the bench and ran onto the field in his white socks. The whole stadium had their eyes glued on those white socks and wondered what the coach was doing. Of course, the play was a disaster. Time-out was called, and this young man ran off the field to put on his shoes. But the call didn’t come again. He had had his chance. Life does not give too many chances. You really have to be ready when your time comes. Don’t be caught with your shoes off when your chance comes.
You make a wonderful you. Don’t try to be somebody else. Learn the power of proper decisions and do what you know is right. Have the ability to say no when things are not as they should be. Remember, what you do really counts.
One day I had the privilege of playing golf with President N. Eldon Tanner and his brother-in-law and nephew. We were standing on the first tee at Bonneville Golf Course. Young Wayne Moore, the nephew, didn’t hesitate to ask President Tanner any questions. You know, sometimes it seems difficult to approach a General Authority and ask him a question. But it’s so easy. Wayne said, “Uncle Eldon, when President Joseph Fielding Smith called you to be his counselor, did he give you any instructions?” President Tanner took a couple of practice swings with his club and then said, “No, Wayne, I don’t think he gave me any instructions. His only lesson was this: If it’s wrong, don’t do it.” There is a whole sermon preached in that little word do. It’s a great guide in the process of our lives.
No habit chips away at our self-confidence quite so effectively as that of comparing ourselves with the people around us. When we find somebody who is indeed smarter, better looking, or funnier, it diminishes our sense of self-worth. A rabbi was asked on his deathbed what he thought the kingdom of God would be like. “I don’t know,” he replied. “But one thing I do know. When I get there I’m not going to be asked, ‘Why weren’t you like Moses? Why weren’t you like David?’ I’m only going to be asked one question: ‘Why weren’t you you?’”
There is nothing so common as unsucessful people with talent. Usually the problem lies not in discovering your natural aptitude but in devleoping it. Sometimes in the process of our lives we think the little decisions we make are not important. But what you do at any time in your life is important.
I think of Judge Ginsburg, who had the opportunity of being appointed to one of the highest offices in the country—one that would bring fame and fortune, dignity and prestige to him and his family. He would be recorded in the history books of the world. And yet in college he made some bad decisions. He decided he would go along with the crowd. And so, as the river drifted and he tried and experienced and experimented with things forbidden by God and man, he changed his course in history.
Some people are as reliable as the sunrise. You can see it in their smile and feel it in their handshake. You can tell their life is fulfilling and their work is rewarding. Happiness is something they have created for themselves with a vision of what is possible and the ability to do what is achievable. They have attained real self-worth.
When we decide to give of ourselves, then life is filled with joy. The feeling of service becomes paramount in our lives. Don’t complicate things. Simplify things and show forth love. So often we are like the man with his feet in the ice bucket and his head in the oven who says, “On the average I’m doing okay.” Don’t influence a life unless it’s for good. Be excited about life. Remember, it doesn’t take a muscle spasm to show a little enthusiasm.
Learn to Give
There is a challenge in decision making. I’d like to tell you a story about what happened when I was a young man in a priesthood class. There were twelve of us in this class. And we were a real challenge to a teacher—as a matter of fact, to many teachers. We had a different one about every three weeks. In the process of this the bishop said, “C. N., here’s your challenge.” C. N. Christensen, a wise old man, walked into this class of twelve boys who were filled with energy, loved to play ball, and liked to do all of the things that made life exciting and fun. He sat down that first priesthood class and tried to teach us how to wiggle our ears. That was about the best priesthood lesson I’d had for a long time. The next week he taught us how to make faces by throwing the sides of our mouth down and up. We didn’t realize what he was doing, but we were very much impressed.
One Sunday, he said to us, “I’d like to show you a trick.”
We said, “Okay.”
He said, “I want you to hold out your left hand. Now, take your right hand and put your little finger by it over like that and then hook your next finger. Then bring your middle finger and put it on your thumb. Move your fingers back and forth and hit the palm of your hand with the finger of your right hand.”
We said, “Well, that’s great.”
Now he had accomplished two things. He not only kept our hands busy, but our minds’ attention was on them.
Then he said, “Now what have you got?”
We said, “Two little boys chopping wood and one picking it up.”
“Well,” he said, “whenever I ask you to chop wood I want your full attention.”
So we mastered putting our hands together. I can do it so fast now. If I asked President Holland to do that it would take him about an hour. Nevertheless, we mastered that. And then he said, “I want your attention when I say let’s chop wood.” And so this great leader said, “Let’s chop wood.” Then he would say, “God lives! Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the World! Joseph Smith was a prophet of God!” Our attention span was about that long. About four times every priesthood class he would bear that testimony to us.
And then one day he said, “I’d like to issue you a challenge. There are twelve boys sitting in this class. If all twelve of you reach the age of nineteen and are worthy to go on a mission, I’ll give each one of you a thousand dollars.” We thought this was the best deal we’d ever heard of. Back then you could buy a new Ford convertible for $999. So we said, “You’re on.”
All through the twelve-, thirteen-, and fourteen-year-old age group when someone wasn’t in church, two of us were dispatched to bring him physically back. Fourteen, fifteen, and then sixteen years old, and all twelve boys were active. At seventeen, all boys were active. I’ll never forget standing out in front of the old First Ward—twelve boys around the now weathered, snow-on-top-of-his-head C. N. Christensen. He was looking at these boys, and we all kept saying, “Are you saving your dough? You know we’re gonna take it!”
All of a sudden tears started to roll down his cheeks; we figured we’d pushed him a little too far. We had a little more sense by then. But he said, “Oh, these are tears of joy. The happiest day of my life will be if all twelve of you boys are worthy to go on missions when you’re nineteen.”
When we were eighteen years of age, two boys moved to Ogden. Can you imagine the talking-to they got when they had to move to Ogden? They said, “Don’t worry about us.” They came from homes where parents were not active. They went to Ogden, they went to church, and they were ignored. They went for a couple of months and they still didn’t have any attention. The kids wouldn’t even speak to them in school. They were from Salt Lake City, and Ogden people didn’t like Salt Lake City people. As a result, they found other friends, and those friends took them out of the Church.
One day the two boys that had moved were walking down a street in Salt Lake City, one with a cigarette in his hand. My buddy and I saw them. And we saw a pigeon fly up; it seemed to us he was carrying away a thousand dollar bill in his beak.
Look what was accomplished by this great man because he gave of himself. He changed the lives of ten wonderful boys who made great contributions to the Church—the Church legal counsel, stake presidents, Regional Representatives, and bishops. Ten married in the temple and served on missions. What a great tribute and blessing it was because one man learned to give.
We’re to live our lives line upon line, precept upon precept. We can’t be everything and do everything all at once. Know where it is that you want to go and then go forth with a vision of what you can become. There will be many mountains you’ll have to climb, young people. Life’s mountains are much easier to climb when you’ve got somebody to climb with you. But remember, each must climb his own mountain. It doesn’t matter what your grandfather or your father has accomplished. You still must do your own thing. Have confidence in yourself. Say to yourself, “I’m a winner.” I like men who build their world around confidence and integrity.
Build a world around you. Reach out and give of yourself. Reach out to lift others up. Your influence may be the difference that makes life worthwhile to someone. Keep yourself clean in mind and body and then your influence will be a strength to all you associate with. Most important, you’ll be in tune with the Spirit of the Lord.
We can’t be everything to everybody. But there’s something we can do and take with us, and it is more important than all the gold and property that we might amass in our lifetime. That something is character. Character is so important that it affects our entire future existence—in fact, it affects all eternity. Our character—that is what will be judged in the last day—will determine whether we will go to the celestial kingdom. To attain that highest degree, we must be Christlike. We must learn to know where we are going and how to get there. Then we must have the determination to put forth the effort whereby we can accomplish that which we desire.
Make a Commitment
I remember a story of what took place in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco at a professional football game between the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Cleveland Browns. On the field was the great all-American, all-pro Jimmy Brown. He was running back for the Cleveland Browns.
Outside the stadium was another person. He was only ten years old. In fact, he’d been raised in the ghettos of San Francisco and was so undernourished that he had developed rickets. His bone structure was so weak that he needed braces simply to hold him up. His legs were beginning to bow. He didn’t have the money to get into the football game, so he waited until after the third quarter, when the guards left the gates, and then walked into the stadium. He didn’t walk in to watch the football game. He walked into the player’s tunnel. The young man waited until the final guns sounded.
As Jimmy Brown came off the field, muddy, bloody, tired, sweaty, ready for the shower, the young boy stepped in front of him. He said, “Mr. Brown, can I have your autograph?”
Jimmy Brown, the great hero that he was, signed his name, just as he had done so many times before. He started to go. The boy grabbed hold of the jersey of number 32.
He said, “I’m not through with you yet.” When Jimmy Brown turned around, the boy brought himself to attention and said, “Mr. Brown, I want you to know that I watch you on television every chance that I get. I’ve got your poster in my room, and I know all the great records you hold. I think you’re the greatest player in professional football.”
The ten-year-old boy had been practicing that speech almost in his sleep. Jimmy Brown, caught up with his enthusiasm, looked him in the eye and said, “Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.” He turned again and headed for the shower.
But the boy grabbed his jersey again and said, “I’m not through with you yet.”
“Yes?” he said, “What is it now?”
The young man stretched himself as tall as he could. He looked up and said, “Mr. Brown, I want you to know one other thing. I’m going to break every record you hold.”
Jimmy Brown looked down at him and said, “What’s your name, young man?”
He said, “Simpson, sir. Orenthal J. Simpson. My friends call me O. J.”
Now most of you know that O.J. Simpson has taken all but three of Jimmy Brown’s rushing records while playing on two of the worst knees and two of the worst teams in professional football. He made that commitment—that dedication to excellence. Just think what you can do from your strong position with a sound body, with a real purpose and an effort, and with the direction of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You need to stay true and have a purpose in your life.
Lots of Love
In a stake conference in Palmerston North, New Zealand, a few months ago, I invited a reactivated member, a new convert, and a returned missionary to bear their testimonies. When we walked into the chapel there was a Maori sitting on the stand. I asked the stake president, “Who is that man on the stand?”
He said, “He’s the one that was recently activated.”
I said, “Wonderful.”
We proceeded. When this man stood before the people, he said,
You all know me. I’ve lived in Palmerston North all my life. You know I have not been active in the Church. I would like to tell how I became active.
One day I was sitting at home. The afternoon movie was on. It was one I wanted to see. I had a big bag of potato chips and a great big drink—I was perfectly content. All of a sudden, I heard the back door open. My daughter walked into the room. She put her arm around me and said, “Daddy, will you take me to the temple?”
I said, “No, I won’t take you to the temple.”
Now, when a Polynesian says that, you know he means it. She walked around for a while and then went to her bedroom. The time came for a commercial break. I heard some crying. I got out of my chair, walked into the bedroom, and saw a pillow that was wet. I looked at my little daughter and said, “Sweetheart, what is the matter?”
She said, “Daddy, I’ve been praying for the privilege of going to the temple for baptisms for the dead and the opportunity came. The bishop invited me to go, and I promised him I would. Then I told the Lord no matter what, I would go. I had to work late. The boss wouldn’t let me off and I missed the bus. I know the Lord’s going to be disappointed and I know the bishop’s going to be upset.”
I said, “All right, I’ll take you to the temple.” [The temple is four and a half hours from Palmerston North.]
I got in the car and was so mad that I had agreed to take her to the temple that I didn’t speak to her all the way there. I drove up in front of the beautiful New Zealand Temple. She opened the door. She leaned over and put her arms around me. She said, “I love you, Daddy. Thank you very much.” She kissed me on the cheek. She got out of the car and started to walk up the steps of the temple.
As I saw that young girl walk up the steps of the temple, my life started to change! By the time she had reached the doors of the temple I said to myself, “Is this the way it’s going to be in eternity? Am I going to be on the outside as I see my family receive the blessings the Lord has promised me and our people?”
I sat without moving in that car for two hours. I did a lot of thinking and a lot of repenting. Then all of a sudden I saw the doors of the temple open. That little girl—she was radiant! It seemed like she was just almost translucent! She bounced down the steps. She opened the door and said, “Oh, Daddy, it was wonderful! There was such a special spirit there. Thank you, thank you! I love you!”
She kissed me again on the cheek. We talked all the way home about the sacred and the important things.
This Maori man continued, “That’s why I’m here. That was six months ago. And now I want you to meet my family.”
He turned a little to the side and said, “Will you stand?”
Eight children stood. He looked at each one and said, “She’s been active five and a half months. And this one has been active five months. And this one four and a half months.”
Then he said, “And there’s my angel. The one that brought me back into the kingdom of my Father in Heaven.” And he continued down the row. Finally, the last one was a tall boy. He didn’t exactly look like a Latter-day Saint. He had long hair and he still had his hippie clothes on. But his dad said, “That’s my last one. He’s only been active two weeks. Give him a couple more and he’ll look like the rest of us.”
Eliminate your reluctance to reach out to one another. Build a network of supportive relationships. Utilize all the techniques that would bless and strengthen and build your life. Develop confidence. One of the surest ways to improve confidence is to make sure you have lots of love in your life. Go to whatever lengths are necessary to construct a network of sustaining and nurturing relationships. The real answer in accomplishing this is to deepen the friendships that you presently have. Utilize your family for strength and support. The ties that you make within your family are eternal ties. Learn to sacrifice for others. Be practical. Have fun. Enjoy one another. That is what life is all about. “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). When you’re really willing to give of yourself, then life takes on a special meaning. It’s not easy. Everything that you are going to accomplish in life that is worthwhile will have to be won by a struggle.
It’s Up to You
I recently read the story of Sugar Ray Leonard—one of the great boxing athletes of our time. He tells how when he was a little boy he would have to walk fifteen miles on Saturday morning to go to the Smithsonian Institution. He stood in front of the museum and watched the tourists. As the tourists came to the entrance—there being no food allowed inside—they would take a last bite out of their hamburger and then deposit it in the garbage.
“We would get those hamburgers and we would finish ’em off,” Sugar Ray said. “It’s embarrassing now. But it filled my stomach then, and that was more important than anything else.”
He first became an athlete involved in fencing. He was in a championship match to win the gold medal, but the referee was not giving him the points he was making. Finally, he turned to the referee and said, “If you’re not going to call my points, I’m not going to continue.” The referee ordered him to continue. He created such a fuss that 500 people gathered around them.
“I needed all the witness I could get that knew I was winning the points.” He was down, according to the referee at that point, seven to two. He won his match nine to seven. He had put forth the effort. He had to make a decision, and he made it well. After he had finished with fencing, his manager asked him what he was going to do with his life. He said, “I don’t know.”
What a difficult position it was to be of a minority race and have to struggle to get to the top. Sugar Ray Leonard decided to become a boxer. His story is well known. He became a world champion. His statement, after all the struggles and the things that he went through, was simply this: “If it’s going to get done, it’s up to you.”
Open your mind! Learn how to be successful in what you do! Remember Vince Lombardi’s famous statement: “Success is winning—fairly, squarely, by the rules, but winning.” Success is a worthy pursuit of a worthy ideal. If you want to, you can accomplish anything in life. You are a child of God. A very part of deity dwells in you. You respect that deity! You render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. You need to keep yourself clean! Clean in mind, in body, and in person! So often lives are destroyed because you bow to someone else’s standards. Your body and your mind are sacred. The way you treat them and cultivate them will determine the type of person you really are.
Remember that no man can serve two masters. Chart your course on correct principles. Keep the things of most value. One is your personal relationship with your Heavenly Father. In your mad struggle to get success and happiness in your life, to accomplish all the dreams that you dream, remember where it is that you really want to go.
Proving Your Worth Now
Not long ago a prominent attorney was called to take an important position in the Church. He hesitated because he knew it would take a lot of time, and he asked if he could think about it overnight. He came back the next morning to his priesthood leader with a broad grin on his face and said, “You know, when I get on the other side, I really don’t think the Lord is going to ask me how many cases I’ve tried. I need to prove my worth now.”
In all your efforts to succeed, remember the scripture that reads, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32).
Oh, how I would pray that you would respect yourself enough to be a self you respect! This means having a deep sense of responsibility for your thoughts and actions. It means keeping your word and being faithful to your family. It means believing in what you do and working hard. It means setting your internal standards and not comparing yourself to others. It is not a question of being better than somebody else. It is a question of being a worthy you. Respect and integrity demand that you be better than you thought you could be. Be loyal to yourself.
Many experiences in life fortify and strengthen the family relationship. So often in our lives we take for granted the special blessings and opportunities we enjoy. When they are taken from us, our hearts are filled with sorrow and regret. I think of the many blessings given under the inspiration of the Lord and the promises made if we but keep the commandments of God. How quickly these blessings affect our lives—the blessing of children, administering to the sick, the special blessings of priesthood that are given on occasion, and the prayers said by those who are faithful. The influence of the Spirit and our response to it make for an enriched and a happy life.
Be ye clean who bear the vessels of the Lord! You need to be proud of yourself, proud of who you are, proud of the heritage you have. You are the only you that has ever been created. You are the only you that will ever live. You are the only you that you can be proud of. One of my favorite poems goes like this:
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what “the man” has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy.
But the “man in the glass” says you’re only a bum
And you can’t look him straight in the eye.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your only reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated “the man in the glass.”
[“The Man in the Glass”]
We must come to understand that there are basic truths and principles, basic conformities necessary to achieve happiness. There are some things that are false, some things that are wrong. For instance, we cannot be simultaneously happy and wicked. Never! Regardless of how generally accepted that course may be, wickedness never was happiness—never indeed can it be, nor will it ever be! We must understand that life is governed by laws, and when we receive any blessing or reward it is because of obedience to those laws.
Take with you your faith, your patriotism, your virtue, your integrity! If you’ve made mistakes in life, repent. You will come to know in the years ahead that life has precious little to offer without those attributes. Listen to the proper voices. Listen to the prophet of God. What good does it do to have a prophet if we do not listen? Respond to his teachings. Be faithful in all things. Commit yourself to others. Believe in others. Take time to nurture their dreams. Turn disappointments into strengths. Learn that you can strengthen and build the lives of people as you become involved with them. Lift them. Give them support and strength when their time of need comes. The pages of history are filled with heroic stories of men and women who have overcome difficulties and adversities. Lift up people! You may make another Abraham Lincoln or another Helen Keller because you have extended a feeling of love toward them.
Enjoy life’s process, not only life’s rewards. Just know that you can accomplish anything in this life, but know, too, that you need to enjoy life as you go. We become so involved in life that we want a three-minute oatmeal, a one-hour dry cleaning, and instant hamburgers and success. We must live one day at a time, enjoying and rejoicing in the little victories and realizing that life is an endless journey of self-discovery and personal fulfillment. It means taking time to be kind to your friends, to your wife, to your children, and then to other people.
Become involved in something bigger than yourself! I do not believe you will live happily if you set out to live life for yourself alone. Choose a cause bigger than you are, and work at it in the spirit of excellence. It will become part of you. Don’t try to measure success by what you have done. Measure success by what you can do. Take time for what is important. We live in a busy world. There are so many things to do, so many responsibilities vying for our attention. But we need to take time for what is important.
Learn, in the process of your life, that your families are priceless. Just remember that each one of us has a sacred responsibility to take time for that which is important. One of the greatest blessings of life will be to have the approval of your conscience when you are alone with your thoughts. Those thoughts, then, are like being in the company of true and loving friends. Merit your own self-respect! Be someone. Be a self that you can respect. Get your life in order, and then you can truly be an asset to the Lord. Learn the beauty of being square with your Heavenly Father. When the Lord finds out that you are using all that he has given you, he will give you much more.
Oh, my young people, will you please try to develop a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father? It makes the process of life so much easier. As you feel of his spirit, as you listen to the right voices, you know you’re on safe ground. Now the purpose and blessing of the Church is to bring the peace of the Savior into your lives and let you taste of the sweetness of the gospel by living its commandments.
We love you. We sustain you. We are honored to live in the time when you live, for you are the noble sons and daughters of God. And we are grateful that as the Church grows and develops, it will be placed in your sacred hands. We rejoice with you in our knowledge and understanding of the purposes of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We leave our witness and blessing with you. And I’d like to leave with you my choicest blessing, and that is my knowledge and testimony of the gospel. For with every power God has given me to know and to feel and understand, I know God lives! I know God lives! I know God lives! I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the World, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace! His is the only name under heaven whereby men can get back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. I know that God the Father and his Son appeared unto the Prophet Joseph Smith, that he saw what he said he saw, and he heard what he said he heard! And because of that vision of the Father and the Son, the kingdom of God has been established upon the face of the earth. And this is that kingdom—the only kingdom under heaven whereby we can get back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. I know that we have a living prophet standing at the head of this great church. I bear my witness to you and express my love for him. I know the Book of Mormon is a second witness to all the world that Jesus Christ is who we claim him to be.
So I express my great love to you. I rejoice in the opportunity of bearing witness and testimony to you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Philip T. Sonntag was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 6 March 1988.
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