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Extending the Blessings of the Gospel Through Christ-Like Service

Gregory Fox
November 28, 2023 11:15 AM

"I am grateful for the manner in which the Savior served. His service was perfect and was done with purpose and genuine love. In the Councils of Heaven, before we came to earth, we were present with the Savior. He knew us and observed us and knew of our potential to achieve exaltation and eternal life. He knew that each of us would be strengthened as we served one another."
Brother and sisters, good morning. It is great to be with you on this beautiful fall semester. I’m grateful for President Kusch’s opening remarks. I’m grateful to him and sister Kusch for their amazing service. I appreciate with prayer offered by Leylan. She is one of my students. She is amazing. I appreciate Claudia’s testimony today. I am particularly grateful for the choir number that was sung. You know my son attended LDS Business College. He received his associate degree and received his certificate in social media marketing. One of the highlights of his experience here was singing in the choir with Brother Decker. It was a remarkable experience for him. He also played the organ at the Assembly Hall. It was a life changing decision for my son. I’m grateful that he had the opportunity to grateful. 

Good morning my dear brothers and sisters. What a pleasure it is to be with you today. I am grateful that my Debbie, my wife, could be here at my side. We are ushering in the final weeks of the Fall Semester. This is week 11. We are starting week 12. It has been a wonderful semester. One of the greatest blessings of my employment at Ensign College is my association with amazing students and employees and faculty. You come from the far corners of the earth and bring with you wonderful gifts, cultures, experiences and most importantly, strong testimonies of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and a degree of righteousness that is tangible and reflected in your countenances. 

As Christmas approaches, I hope each of you have a very Merry Christmas and that you cherish this amazing time and Season, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

How grateful I am for His life, His birth, His teachings, His example, His Gospel, and of His atoning sacrifice, and subsequent death and triumphant resurrection.
I am grateful for the manner in which the Savior served. His service was perfect and was done with purpose and genuine love. In the Councils of Heaven, before we came to earth, we were present with the Savior. He knew us and observed us and knew of our potential to achieve exaltation and eternal life. He knew that each of us would be strengthened as we served one another.

One of our favorite vacation destinations are the beautiful islands of Hawaii. During one particular Sunday visit, we were privileged to attend one of the Kona Hawaii Wards. Kona Hawaii, if you have not been there, is truly heaven on earth and represents the true spirit of Aloha. I recall how one older brother of the Ward, spoke of his dedication in fulfilling his calling to be a temple worker. At the time he was called to serve as a temple worker, the Kona Hawaii temple had not yet been constructed and not even announced. His service required him to fly from Kona to Honolulu, and then take a bus ride to the north shore of Oahu to Laie. Following his service for a few days, he would return back to his home in Kona, via a commercial airline flight.

 This particular brother was not wealthy, and he and his family set aside all of their savings and extra funds for him to be able to serve in this manner. He served in this assignment for several years. As this brother shared his experience of serving in the temple and bore testimony, he wept with gratitude and humility for the opportunity to be able to serve the Lord. He spoke of the amazing blessings and the tender mercies from the Lord that he and his family received due to his service.

We turn to the Savior as a model of selfless service. As the Son of God during His time on Earth, He graciously served those in His midst. Descending from heaven, His mission was to establish the Kingdom of God. The radiant impact of His gospel transformed worldly perspectives. He healed the sick, made the lame to walk, granted sight to the blind, and restored hearing to the deaf. Remarkably, He even brought the dead back to life.

In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, the Savior tells us this concerning the faithful who will be on His right hand at His triumphal return:

“Then shall the King say unto them …, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [i]

Even on the eve of His crucifixion, knowing that there were but brief moments left to teach His apostles, the Savior shared the following with them:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. …

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [ii]

The love the Savior described is manifested not through heroic deeds but rather through simple acts of kindness and service. There are myriad ways and circumstances in which we can serve and love one another. May I suggest four ways in which we might do this, and which have been a strong foundation for me in terms of how I approach my own service. To begin with, charity starts within the confines of our homes. Through our actions and example, let us instill in our family members the value of showing love and kindness to one another.

From an early age, my father and mother taught me the value of hard work. My parents were deeply in love. This love lasted an earthly lifetime of nearly 60 years. It continues into the eternities as both have passed on.

My mother loved roses and so my father didn’t just plant a few bushes to enjoy, but two full rows along each of our neighbor’s front yard fence lines, to the north and to the south. Part of the duties that my brother and I had were to weed and tend to the roses each spring. It was a weekly process, but the results were marvelous. The rose bushes and the hundreds of beautiful blooms were the envy of the neighborhood.

My father’s affection for my mother didn’t stop at the front yard, but extended to the backyard, where he planted lilac trees that lined the neighbor’s yards, to the south and to the north. They needed constant trimming and loving care. The aromas in our neighborhood were amazing and wonderful.

In addition to caring for flowers, we also had a large garden, a large cherry tree and large yard that needed weekly mowing, trimming, and watering. Our yard was always immaculate. We did this without a sprinkler system, by the way which was amazing. It was a true expression of the love my father had for my mother and for us boys.

But it wasn’t the physical work that was most important, however. It was the spiritual and gospel-centered home that my parents created for our small family. It was filled with daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening, church attendance, church callings and home and visiting teaching duties. It was the regular, simple, essential activities that we participated in that built my testimony, strengthened my faith, and kept us holding firm to the Iron Rod.

My parents loved the Lord with all their strength, and in turn loved one another throughout their lives and loved their 2 boys. They created an environment that allowed and encouraged us not only to serve one another, but to serve those in our neighborhood and our extended family.

A second place where we have ample opportunity to serve is in the Church. Within our wards and branches, the desire to serve others should consistently shape our interactions and behaviors. By extending kindness, offering words of support and encouragement, and being attuned to each other's needs, we foster a sense of loving unity among ward members. Both adults and youth in the ward can come together through meaningful service, collectively working to bless the lives of others.

While serving in our bay area California Ward several years ago, during a particular Ward Council, our wonderful relief society presidency identified a sister that was in need of extensive loving service. This particular sister lived alone, was in her late 60s, and relied on her employment as her sole means of support. She had some challenging health issues that had led to her involvement in a car accident which resulted in her driver’s license being revoked. She also had very poor vision. She became very reliant on the service of others to help her, as she had little to no family support.

The full power of an effective service-ready Ward Council was activated to assist her. A loving relief society president created a sign-up sheet to invite sisters to take Ruth to and from work each day. The Primary president employed the primary children to create gratitude cards for Ruth that contained beautiful artwork and verses of love that uplifted and helped her to feel special. The Young Men president activated the young men to assist with yard work and raking of leaves, as Ruth was not able to afford a yard care service. The young women planned and held a dinner in which they recognized and spotlighted Ruth and other seniors to celebrate their amazing life experiences. And the Elders Quorum president ensured that ministering brothers visited Ruth often to share uplifting messages and give priesthood blessings.

 Although a bit less active previously, the service Ruth received in abundance, softened her heart. She began to attend church more regularly and as she partook of the Sacrament each week it provided her with the added strength she needed to make attending easier and long-lasting. As a result, she was motivated to pay tithing and she became eligible again to receive a current temple recommend. As these things occurred, the Lord’s blessings and tender mercies were poured out more abundantly than ever. She knew that she was not forgotten and that the Lord remembers and loves each of his children.

 Since the beginning, God has orchestrated His work and facilitated service through councils. In our efforts with Ruth, our Ward Council applied the pattern and the principles taught by President M. Russell Ballard. It is a divine pattern and includes:

· know your purpose

· seek the Lord’s will, not your own

· ensure that every voice is heard

· seek women’s perspectives

· listen to learn

· seek consensus through revelation, not compromise. [iii]

President Ballard said those who learn to counsel effectively in their stakes, wards, and families—following the divine pattern Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ showed us—will “always end up with a better result, always end up with a better answer, will always end up with a better spirit.” [iv]

A third area where we can serve is in our communities. In a genuine demonstration of our care and affection, we can extend a helping hand to those in need. Numerous avenues for service exist as expressions of our love and concern.

In my definition of community, it isn’t just the local community in which we live, but the global community of fellow Latter-day Saints. I recently have felt more of an urgent need to serve others and apply my knowledge and experience in strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship, to help others realize their dreams of launching their own business and become self-reliant, including their ability to serve their families, their communities, and fellow church members.

I recently joined a non-profit board that focuses on funding microbusinesses in Ghana for young entrepreneurs who have a great business idea, but lack the funds to be able to activate them and get them started. In a desire to be self-sufficient and provide for their families and serve in the Church, they prepare a business plan that outlines the opportunity, how the business will be profitable, and how the funds will be used to launch and grow the business. As part of our efforts, we line up sponsors who hear the business ideas pitched in a “shark tank” like manner, and award small financial grants to individuals, allowing them to launch their business.

You may be asking what types of businesses have been recipients of these small but very needed funds? Abigail boosted her Graphics business by using a grant for a Canon printer, attracting customers and doubling profits. Josephine, a seamstress, tripled dress production, increased revenue by $400/month, and raised profit margins from 9% to 67%, through a grant that helped purchase sewing machines and allowed her to expand her physical business and hire additional workers. Theophilus was able to begin managing a catfish farm and has achieved a remarkable 92% return on investment. Priscilla's business venture provides charcoal to 40 customers, where 8 out of 10 urban households rely on it. She has recently become a distributor to other small charcoal business suppliers and her business is booming.

Why are these stories so important, because they speak to the ability of using our education, talents and skills that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with, to directly bless the lives and offer service to others. As we serve one another and help each other, lives, families and communities are transformed, and the restored Gospel is extended to generations.

You know another remarkable fact – students at Ensign College, in our BUS 295 Business Strategy course, following the Savior’s example of service, assisted several of these entrepreneurs helping them to prepare their business idea proposals, providing them the best possible opportunity to qualify for the desperately needed funds. All four of the entrepreneurs are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serve in their respective wards where they bless the lives of one another.

A final way to serve Heavenly Father's children is by embracing missionary endeavors that go beyond traditional full-time missions, incorporating our roles as friends and neighbors. The sustained growth of the Church doesn't solely rely on door-to-door outreach; instead, it flourishes when both members and missionaries, motivated by the love of our Heavenly Father and the Savior, identify needs and respond with heartfelt acts of charitable service.

In every instance of our service, it is crucial to attune ourselves to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The gentle, quiet guidance will reveal to us those in need and illuminate the ways in which we can extend our assistance.

President Thomas S. Monson has counseled:

“The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.

“… Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.” [v]

In an effort to minimize costs, provide an environment with few distractions and ensure safer living conditions, the Sacramento California mission president in coordination with stake presidents and bishops, was inspired to invite families that met certain housing requirements, to consider housing a pair of missionaries. Debbie and I had never considered this service opportunity before. But as we prayed about it, we felt a strong impression that we should open our home to the missionaries.

During our 8 years while living in Tracy, California, for about 2 of those years, we had the privilege of having 2 full-time Elders live with us. Those years were truly a blessing, as we met and loved each and every full-time servant, which came from all four corners of the earth. Never did we think we would have one Elder Kisees join us from the small south pacific island of Kiribati – a place that President Nelson announced in 2020 would be blessed to have a House of the Lord. Elder Kisees is one of the happiest most content and dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ that we ever did meet. He grew up in a fishing village, catching skipjack Tuna – which was part of his daily diet with rice. For Christmas we gave him a rice cooker and his world completely changed. He had never before seen a rice cooker. He was amazed at how fast his rice could be prepared and ready for a meal, to accompany his tuna. One day he was there at the house and he had climbed a 30 foot light pole outside of our house. He was really fit and pretty strong.

 After Elder Kisees returned back to his Island, he became married and later welcomed a healthy son to their family. We have stayed in close contact with him, even though communications are challenging. A few years ago, we received devastating news that his wife was in the hospital with non-Covid related respiratory complications, and learned that she had passed away, and that Elder Kisees is now a single father to his 4-year-old son.

Our family wept for his great loss. But instead of condemning God or becoming bitter, the ever optimistic Elder Kisees has grown firmer in his testimony of the Savior and in his hope for a future reunion with his beloved wife. In his words to our family, he reflected how the savior had overcome many hardships, and that if the Savior was able to endure them and be faithful to the very end, so could he.

When we emulate the Savior's model of service, we become enveloped in His love and compassion. His light radiates upon us, and we, in turn, can share that brightness with others. How grateful we were for the opportunity serve the full-time missionaries in this matter and that we acted on the promptings we received. It truly blessed our family!

Over the course of my 3 years at Ensign College, students frequently ask about my career path and ask how have I been able to remain steadfast in the Gospel, and still be successful and thrive in the business world. I have found as I have put the Lord and His work ahead of everything else, that opportunities naturally open up, through the service and the promptings of others. I have relied constantly on major sources of light in my life. They have come in a variety of ways – and all come from the ultimate source of light – the Savior Jesus Christ.

 In April 2017 General Conference, Elder Ronald A. Rasband speaking on the topic of “Let the Holy Spirit Guide You” and receiving and acting on personal revelation, taught us a nice pattern of receiving and following promptings. “Each week as we partake of the holy sacrament, we make a covenant to “always remember him,” the Lord Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice. When we keep this sacred covenant, the promise is given that we “may always have his Spirit to be with [us].”

 Elder Rasband asks “How do we do that?” and then outlines 4 steps to do so.

First, we must strive to live worthy of the Spirit.

Second, we must be willing to receive the Spirit.

Third, we must recognize the Spirit when it comes.

Fourth, we must act on the first prompting.” [vi]

 He also says that “we must be confident in the first promptings.” [vii]

Elder Rasband continues.

“Remember the words of Nephi. “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless,” he said, “I went forth.”” [viii]

And likewise, we too must trust our initial promptings. It is common to engage in rationalization, questioning whether a spiritual impression truly guides us or if it's merely our own thoughts. Yet, when we succumb to second-guessing, even third-guessing our feelings—and we've all been there—we risk dismissing the Spirit and casting doubt on divine counsel.

Brother Truman G. Madsen taught, “The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you will listen to the first promptings, you will get it right nine times out of ten.” [ix]

Following and acting on promptings invites opportunities to serve more frequently and with a divine purpose. Thomas S. Monson, the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a dedicated advocate for selfless service to others. His approach to service was deeply rooted in compassion, empathy, and a genuine desire to alleviate the burdens of those around him. President Monson often emphasized the importance of reaching out to individuals in need, whether they were struggling with physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges. His life was a testament to the belief that true happiness and fulfillment come from serving and lifting others.

 One of President Monson's key teachings was the idea that "whenever we do for others what they cannot do for themselves, we are truly serving the Master." [x] This philosophy underscored his commitment to hands-on, practical acts of kindness. He inspired countless individuals to look beyond their own concerns and actively seek opportunities to make a positive impact in the lives of those less fortunate. President Monson's legacy is one of compassionate leadership, and his approach to service continues to inspire individuals worldwide to embrace a life dedicated to helping and serving others.

 My dear brother and sisters, during my few years at Ensign College, I observe kind acts of service rendered on a daily basis. There is a strong culture of Christ-like service that permeates the college across the entire campus. I see it in the classroom, the hallways, at devotionals, in meetings, during meal times, in the library, at the Outpost, the Carriage House, on the Front Runner, inside of the elevator, and in quiet 1 on 1 conversations that you have with each other, outside of public view. Your service is remarkable and the Savior smiles down upon our College. Continue to give Christ-like service and care for each other. The Spirit will lead you.

In conclusion, as we reflect on the principle of extending the blessings of the Gospel through Christ-like service, let us view it as a calling for a lifetime. May our hearts be stirred with the genuine love that Christ exemplified, prompting us to consciously and continually prioritize acts of kindness and compassion. In the tapestry of our lives, may the threads of service weave a pattern of love, unity, and discipleship.

As we leave today, may our commitment to emulate the Savior in our actions be unwavering, radiating the light of the Gospel to all. I testify that Jesus is the Christ and our Savior and Redeemer. I pray that we may more openly talk of Him and share His light with those around us. As we pray for this desire and act upon the promptings we receive, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we will more easily be guided to direct our attention to those who are truly in need of our service. Let us embark on this journey of service with faith, knowing that as we extend our hands to lift others, we are acting in the Savior’s way is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

[i] Matt. 25: 34-40.
[ii] John 13:34-35.
[iii] Inside Church Headquarters:  8 Principles to Help Stake, Ward and Family Councils Be More Effective, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 30 July 2021.
[iv] Elder M. Russell Ballard, A Look back on President Ballard’s teachings on effective councils, Church News, November 14, 2023.
[v] What Have I Done for Someone Today, Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2009, 1985.
[vi] Let The Holy Spirit Guide You, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, April 2017 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
[vii] Id.
[viii] Id. Quoting 1 Nephi 4:6.
[ix] See Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (1989), 103.
[x] The Way of the Master, President Thomas S. Monson, April 1996 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

About the Speaker

Gregory Fox

Greg Fox was born in Salt Lake City, but was raised in Provo, Utah. He attended Brigham Young University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and a minor in Political Science and Spanish. He later received a Masters of Business Administration in strategy and finance, from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. 

Brother Fox has completed executive education certificate programs at the Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, the Kellogg School of Management, Babson College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Brother Fox has taught at Ensign College for 3 years, and is currently the Business Department Chair and Program Chair for Supply Chain Management and Project Management. 

Prior to Ensign College, Brother Fox held senior alliance, channels, marketing, business development, and product management roles with major global brands including Cisco Systems, Citrix, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Huawei. 

Brother Fox has also held key management roles and advisory roles in various startups and non-profits and has lived in the Bay Area California, Houston Texas, Shenzhen China, Alexandria Virginia and Provo, Utah.

Brother Fox has enjoyed serving in a variety of church callings including as an Elders Quorum President, Temple worker, Sunday School President, Bishop, Stake Just Serve Coordinator, Executive Secretary, as a counselor in a District Presidency, and as a missionary in the Venezuela Caracas mission.

Brother Fox and his wife Debbie, have four children and 3 grandchildren.
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