Do Good; Do More Than Just Ponder on It
D&C 6:13: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
Let me repeat, “If thou wilt do good.”
When I was working as a stake clerk about a month ago I heard a little girl angrily tell her Dad in the chairs outside my office, “I’m never going to be good again.” I wanted to tell her how important being good was. It reminded me of an experience I had when I worked in a restaurant as a waiter in my sophomore year in high school. The working environment was not always the best. However, there were a lot of good people that worked there. One of the waitresses was getting married in the Washington D.C. temple. On her last night while we were cleaning up she told me that we would probably never see each other again. The last thing she said to me was “Bob, be good.” That small statement has stayed with me and often I have used it on my own kids and told them to be good.
To be good you must do good.
D&C 6:34: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.” I can testify that in this life earth and hell will come against you, and the Lord will protect you if you are serving him and doing what is right. I have seen Him protect me and my family. Do good to your family, friends, and co-workers and the Lord will support you.
Most of you have very busy schedules; you’re going to class, you’re studying, you’re working, you’re attending your Church meetings, socializing, raising a family, and on and on. This may shock some of you but most of you will find that life gets busier rather than slower after college. But remember this; there is always time to do good. There is always time to say good things.
I would like to emphasis 7 important ways that we can do more than just ponder on doing good.
Love God and testify of Him in word and deed
A couple of weeks ago I was in Kissimmee First Ward's fast and testimony meeting. A girl around five or six years old walked up to the pulpit twice, panicked and ran away. The third time she approached the pulpit her mom was with her. Her mom told her what to say, which was, “I’d like to bear my testimony.” The girl couldn’t say that. She froze. Finally she said, “I love Jesus," and she went to sit down. No one in that meeting would ever deny that she loved Jesus. Her testimony added to ours. No matter who you are or how old you are, there is power in testimony. If you have pondered on your testimony and not borne it lately, do something about it.
Some of you may remember my son David Wiser who attended LDS Business College last year. He left on his mission to the El Salvador Brazil Mission in April. He wrote to us about how difficult learning the Portuguese language was for him. He was having a hard time in the Brazil MTC. Bev and I wrote him and told him that the Lord had called him to that mission. We told him that he wouldn’t be graded in the mission field, like he was graded in college and at school.
We also told him that as long as he kept the commandments and worked his hardest, the Lord would bless him there. He was still nervous about his language, even after our letter. We told him he couldn’t fail. In his letters he continued to mention his continuing struggles with the language.
His first week out of the mission home down there, he was in the field with a senior companion. They had just talked about baptism to one of their investigators. This investigator was a young man; he didn’t want to give up his friends, he didn’t want to give up his lifestyle. That’s why he said he didn’t want to be baptized. And then David's senior companion turned to David and said to David, “Would you bear your testimony?” So in Portuguese, David bore his testimony and the Spirit was there, and the investigator felt the Spirit. He said, “I want to be baptized.”
This was David's first baptism and he no longer worries much about the language. In D&C 84:88, “For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” The Lord helps us when we do his work.
In your home, at Church and at college, life is better when (4 Nephi 1:15) “And it came to pass that there were no contentions in the land because of the love of god which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”
Ponder on it, then ask for the Lord’s help
Even prayer requires action on our part. We must study on the issue before praying.
D&C 9:7-8: “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
Read and ponder the words of God, then act.
One of the best examples of this is in Joseph Smith—History 1:13-15, and I will pull out some extracts.
“I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God.”
Joseph not only pondered on this scripture, he decided to put into action God's words. In verses 13 and 14, “I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’… so, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt.”
When Joseph found himself alone in the woods, he kneeled down and offered up the desires of his heart. It is interesting that at the time Joseph went beyond pondering about good and put into action his plan, the adversary attacked him. Then later the Lord came to his rescue.
In verses 16 and 17, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,”—I think of this in Spanish as I read it and so it makes it kind of difficult—“which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Heavenly Father called Joseph by name and he knows each one of you by name. He cares about each one of us. He will change us and mold us as we put into practice the words of God.
I know of an individual that felt he had lost his testimony. He was in high school. At a certain point he decided to try to gain a testimony. He started to read his scriptures on his own. He read about hope in Christ, and this hope in Christ really affected his heart. He decided he didn’t know or have the testimony of Christ, but there was a hope in Christ. He started building back his testimony, continuing to read the scriptures. It took time but he received a larger testimony than he had before. Eventually he went on to serve a mission.
True disciples of Christ do more than ponder; they act on the word of God.
Accept callings from the Lord, and then follow the Spirit.
When I was in the Bishopric of the University 42nd Ward there was a student from back East. She heard about LDS Business College and felt the impression that she should come to school here. She accepted the Lord’s prompting to come here. Her boyfriend came with her. As she faithfully attended Church and worked on becoming a better person, the Lord gave her more and more responsibilities, more and more callings, and she did all of these with a great spirit.
She also continued to work and go to school during all of this. Her boyfriend only seemed to be in Church because of her. It became apparent over time that her testimony was growing while her boyfriend’s was not. He hardly attended Church and his career appeared to be going nowhere. Finally, she broke up with him. She ended up marrying an active member of the Church with a strong testimony who knew where he was going. She followed the spirit on little things—the first impression, the prompting to come to LDS Business College, that eventually lead to her finding the right person to marry.
In the October 2008 general conference, President [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf counseled us that, “Every priesthood holder stands at a unique place and has an important task that only he can perform…..
You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way” (“ Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign, November 2008, p. 53).
Love your family and demonstrate that love.
When my eldest daughter was around five years old I was in an elder’s quorum meeting, and we were reading a scripture in D&C 68: 25: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, …, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
I thought, “That is only three years away.” I brought the issue up with my wife, Bev. We wondered if we were doing enough. We were always trying to have scripture study, but with a young family it was very difficult. We felt our responsibilities as parents and loved our children. How could my wife and I make sure we taught our children everything we should? We knew the Book of Mormon contained all the doctrines to obtain salvation, so we decided to make daily scripture study from the Book of Mormon a priority. Even while we were building our home when our children were small, I still remember reading our scriptures by flashlight with our children nestled in their blankets. Some our best family times together were when we were reading the scriptures.
It is by the Word of God that you can influence family the most as described in Alma 31:5: “The preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just; yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them.”
Keeping the family close to the gospel helps the family receive the blessings of the Lord for generations to come. My mother and father were good and loving parents—they are good and loving parents. My wife was endowed with a loving spirit and insightfulness. As a team we tried to create a loving environment at home. A couple of years after my daughter moved away she came and talked to me, and she told me that she didn’t realize how unloving and unforgiving the real world was, because our home had been a celestial haven from the world. She now works on creating a loving environment for her children.
When my wife and I were away from home on a recent trip we called my daughter. After talking to her for a while, Clarissa, my two-year-old granddaughter asked to talk to us. She told me several times, “I love you, Grandpa.” That made our trip better than before. I care far more about my children and grandchildren than my self, my career or my hobbies.
Be kind to one another. Remember your family and friends’ birthdays. Pray for each other. Help family members succeed. Provide good memories. Do things together. The best way to end each day is by telling family members that you love them. My wife did a great job of this. It was hard for me at first, but she has a way of loving people, and she told our children enough that she loved us that it’s become a habit. Even now that our kids are married, they’ll still, when they leave, say “I love you.” That’s important.
One of the greatest challenges in this life is determining what is really important. In obituaries and funerals that I have read and attended, where you work is briefly mentioned. Families tend to describe characteristics of their loved ones and the times they had together. They remember acts of service and acts of love.
Your careers are important, but don’t let them get in the way of having a close and loving family. I was told a story about this accounting partner of a large firm who spent endless hours working his way up the organization. He had not spent the time with his family. He finally obtained money and position and now planned to make it up with his kids. He was just starting to spend time with his teenagers when a tragic hunting accident took his life. Don’t wait to build family relations.
Even though cultures vary throughout the world, there is one thing that we have in common. We love our families and we love to talk about our families. If you are away from your family here at the school, attend your family home evening groups and support each other. Be like family to other students within your student wards. Make a difference now and always.
Think about others and do something for them.
My wife and I were talking about how, no matter how much you believe in the gospel, you can not make someone else believe it. They have to gain their own testimony. You can't make them read the scriptures; you can’t make them go to church. But you can love them and you can encourage them. We should help others feel a part of what is going on. This life passes by fast and we never know when God will call us home. Make time for others.
Often members of the Church do not ask for help when they should. I have an example where I did the same thing. Some years ago I was laying sod in my back yard. I had not asked for help and my sons were not around. My wife and one daughter were helping me. The sod was shipped from Idaho and it would die soon. Because our house is on the side of a hill, hauling sod was strenuous. As the day went on I realized that I wasn’t as young as I used to be. We didn’t have much left in us. We were kind of leaning on the ground, holding some pieces of sod, not doing much. I was even wondering if I might have a heart attack. Out of nowhere the neighbor’s 16-year-old daughter came over, looked at us and said, “You should not be trying to do all of this by yourselves.” And she started to help us. She didn’t ask if we wanted help; she just started to help. Soon her dad and some others showed up. This was a service we will not forget. The interesting thing is when my wife mentioned the experience to this girl, who now is a young adult, she only vaguely remembers it. The little things we do for others may mean a lot more to them than to us.
We had a service committee in the University 42nd ward. There was a student who was always at all the service projects and eventually the Lord called her to be over the service committee. She loved service and her countenance showed it. When she took over the position, more people seemed to want to join the service committee than ever before, and it was just amazing the difference she made. Each of us can make a difference like that.
Brooklyn, of the LDS Business College class of 2003 wrote, “The classes at the College are small and intimate, something that was so beneficial for me. I felt like my professors were investing themselves in my success—they had the time and were willing to sit down with me and mentor me. I felt like I was cared about and that I was being cheered on.” She wanted to give back a little and ran for vice president of finance on the student council. In that position she helped create a campaign called, “Learn to Live, Start to Give.” She said, “I became impassioned! I wanted to help provide others with scholarships so they would have the same opportunities…at the College. I wanted the students to learn to give with an open heart.” I witnessed her outstanding service. Each one of you can achieve things you never dreamed of, with the Lord’s help.
Today is Veterans’ Day. It is dedicated to those who have served our country. We have at least one student in Afghanistan that I know about. When he finishes his tour in Afghanistan he plans to return to school here. I would like to thank him, my dad, and our nation’s veterans for fighting for our freedom.
I would like to relate the importance of small acts of service by using the following scripture in Alma 37:6-7: “But behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” We can make a bigger impact on someone’s life through small acts of kindness than we will ever know.
Consider through the holiday helping someone in need. Listen to someone that needs to talk to you. Thank others. Help someone with their studies. Find out if your friends have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Often we think of all of the good things we want to do, but we do not leave time to do these things. If we schedule time to do good things, the Lord will prompt us on what we can do. There is always time to serve the Lord your God.
Plan your career and life, and then move boldly.
Do more than ponder on what you will do in your career and life; move boldly. As you think about what you want to do for your career and community, prepare yourself. Each of you must boldly pick your career and work at it as hard as you can. Even if you change your career, you should do your best. I was going to be an engineer, and when I was going to Utah State I was two years through the worst classes of engineering and then I took a business course. I loved the business course, so I changed my degree. I have never regretted my decision. So we need to be ready for change, even if we have plans.
One day a new student custodian—this was in the other building—showed up in my office to empty my garbage. He said boldly and friendly “Hi,” and appeared to be enjoying working and what he was doing. I saw him often over the next month. When a student accounting clerk position opened up, he applied. Many others had noticed his attitude, and he got the job. He went from there and continued to move up in the organization because of his service attitude and how hard he worked. In fact, he even took accounting courses to get better. During that time he stayed active in the gospel, obtained his bachelor’s degree, and married. Often while moving up, he did make mistakes. It was how he handled them that made a difference. We all make mistakes. We must learn from the experiences and move on.
Administration, faculty and staff at the College often must move boldly after studying out an issue. In some cases we may find we must make slight or major adjustments in direction to follow the will of our Lord. As we were planning the move to the new campus, BYU Salt Lake Center personnel asked us if they could share our bookstore. The sharing of the bookstore would give them more space for other academic needs. We had to assess whether the existing space that was already planned just solely for our College could provide for both. This new plan would also save the Church money. After planning and coordinating, we came to an agreement and a design that satisfied the needs of both campuses. We plan as well as we can and then let Heaven take care of the rest.
On October 15, 2008 while receiving a Presidential Citation at LDS Business College, President Henry B. Eyring told us to “move boldly, but expect correction” from God. His counsel applies to every one of us that are either attending or working at the College. Let me just repeat that: “Move boldly, but expect correction” of God.
Lehi’s family moved boldly when they left their homes, possessions, and riches in Jerusalem. His family moved boldly when they moved into tents in the wilderness, which was mostly desert. They moved boldly when they went back to obtain the brass plates. Before leaving to obtain the brass plates, Nephi said to his father, “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” (1 Nephi 3:7). They boldly crossed the desert. They found the land of Bountiful, then they boldly built ships. They boldly crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The Lord asked them to do these things, but it still took boldness to do the Lord’s will. The Lord blessed them and often corrected them. How many of us are ready to make such bold moves and sacrifices when asked by the Lord?
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.” Let’s move boldly and expect correction. I testify that correction helps us improve.
In D&C 6:33: “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.”
In conclusion, let me read that first scripture, D&C 6:13: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” Plan to do good, and then follow the promptings of the Spirit. Let’s ponder the good things we should do and then let’s do them. Our testimonies will grow as we do good things.
I testify that the Lord will support us as we do his will. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He supports us in what we do. I also testify that He will mold us into something we never dreamed of, something better than we could have ever been, if we’ll just do good and follow the commandments. I also testify that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet of God who directs this Church, that Joseph Smith restored the true church here on the face of the earth, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and will help us become better people. I know this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.