Being Prepared for All Things
Thank you for that beautiful musical number. I love music and that’s a wonderful, wonderful message for all of us. As I was listening to that, I thought of another song that has a great message of why we fill the well within, and that is—it’s not exactly Tabernacle Choir music, it’s a Kingston Trio song. I realize that most of you don’t even recognize the singing group called The Kingston Trio from the 1960’s, although I see some down here with gray hair who may be old enough to remember. The song goes:
“You’ve got to prime the pump, you must have faith and believe,
You’ve got to give of yourself, until you’re worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold, wash your face, cool your feet,
But leave the bottle full for others. --Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.” [“Desert Pete”; Billy Edd Wheeler, 1963]
As we fill the well within, as this beautiful song we just hear said, it’s not just for ourselves but for others who rely on us. And you will find, over your lives, there are many who rely on you for the great work that you can do, and there may be those that you don’t even know who are relying on you. In my patriarchal blessing, it says, “Look to the light which is above, and those who go with you will know that you seek for something higher.” I will just tell you that there are those who seek as well, and those who watch you when you may not even be aware. So thank you for that wonderful music.
I’m grateful also for your singing of that great opening hymn – which in German is known as “Sehet, Ihr Völker.” President Woodhouse and I sang that song, the first verse at least, in German, and it’s a great German hymn. President Monson was in Italy and heard the hymn and he just loved it. He went up to Germany and said, “I just heard the most wonderful hymn and I’m going to make sure it’s in the new hymn book.” And he whistled a little bit of it. President Monson will not sing a hymn like that, but he whistles it. And the Germans went ballistic. They said, “That’s our hymn.” And so it’s in the new hymn book as “Hark, All Ye Nations!” (Hymns, number 264) and it is a great, great hymn.
We are a worldwide church. I learned that when I was in Fiji just a week or so ago. I just returned Saturday morning. And I was in a meeting in Suva, Fiji on Sunday morning, and we were singing a hymn in priesthood meeting and next door I heard the Young Women singing, “Hark, All Ye Nations,” and I thought, “That is now the song that is heard ‘round the world.” Thank you for that.
I’m grateful to be with you here. You bring a lot of wonderful memories to me. President Woodhouse has shared with you our wonderful seven and a half years as a Young Single Adult Branch president, and we loved it so much that every time President Woodhouse or President Egan or President Ensign of the stake presidency asked us how long we’d been there, we’d always say, “Oh, just a little over a year,” because we wanted to be there as long as we could. And it ended up being seven and a half wonderful, wonderful years. We love the young single adults in this great kingdom. You have great potential and you have great serving power. You touch more lives than you can ever imagine. So thank you for who you are and for how you make us feel when we are in your presence.
I am also grateful for the memories I have of President Woodhouse. I wasn’t just his trainer. We all learned together, actually. We were a brand new stake presidency and we had only been in the stake for a little while, and we decided that we all needed to be trained in Scouting. So we had a stake Scouting Basic Training course, and the stake presidency was all there and all of the ward leaders were there. There happened to be one patrol that was not from the stake, and it was directed by this great big, handsome, tall man with wavy hair and a smile that just knocks your socks off. And I’ll never forget President Woodhouse being in that training, and we all learned together and it was a wonderful time.
I also think of the great time I had last time I was here as President Hinckley dedicated this lovely facility. And that was a wonderful, blessed day for all of us.
And when I think of President Hinckley, I can’t not remember my call. You know, while all calls to serve are different, there are some that are short and sweet and others that are longer and include more training. Mine was quick, powerful and life-changing. We were in Germany on a business trip and we had just finished most of the business. I talked with President Hinckley on the telephone for a few minutes, and his comment was like this, after we had spoken for a few minutes. He said, “Brother Dahlquist, in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, the three members of the Seventy that are the Young Men’s general presidency will be released -- and you will be sustained as the Young Men general president.” That was it. How do you respond? I said, “Oh.”
Not knowing what else to say, I asked him about counselors, and he said, “The president chooses his counselors.” So that was a life-changing experience for all of us. We were instructed that, as President Woodhouse said, we keep our jobs, we serve just like all of you do in the kingdom, and like Area Seventies do, and I have a thriving law practice. But I am grateful to serve the Young Men of the kingdom.
I have 597,082 young men. And as President Woodhouse asked me on a couple of occasions, “How do you manage those?” I’ll tell you how I do. Can you imagine what it would be to have President Woodhouse as a scoutmaster, or as a deacon’s quorum advisor, or as a bishop? Well, that’s how it happens -- because young men are not saved 597,082 at a time, or even 1,000 at a time. They are saved one boy at a time. So that’s how it happens. It happens through you. Many of you either have opportunities or have had opportunities to serve in a Young Men calling, or Young Women for you sisters—and you’re the one that touch the lives of today’s youth. I am grateful for that wonderful opportunity that we have to touch the lives of these great young people all over the world.
When our daughter Kim was sixteen, she was having a particularly difficult day. She got upset at us, said we were the worst parents in the world, went downstairs, slammed the door and turned the music up to 8,000 decibels. It just shook the house. After a few minutes, I went downstairs to tell her to turn it down. When I got near her door, I heard the words to the music: “You’re not alone.” And I thought, “You know, if there’s any message that ought to be blasted into the center of the heart of every single teenager all over the world, it is that message – ‘You’re not alone!’” And so I turned around and went back upstairs. She never knew I was there. But after a while, the music came down on its own, and she came upstairs and said, “I’m sorry,” and we said, “We’re sorry.” And the Spirit came back into our home.
That’s been a lot of years since then, but I’ve never forgotten that one message, and that is you’re not alone. And you are not alone. There are over 1,200,000 young people just like you all over the world, who are trying to do the very best they can day in and day out. They’re struggling with tough decisions just like you are. The decisions that you make in the next ten years could be life-changing decisions. They will be decisions that affect not only your life, but eternity and generations to come. And that’s why I’m grateful that you’re here at LDS Business College, where you’ll work to build not only your intellect and prepare for the mortal challenges of life, but where you strengthen each other spiritually.
So today, as I begin, could I just suggest a few things? And let me start by expressing an experience I had just a week ago yesterday. I was in Tahiti, in Papeete, and I was coming back from the island of Mururoa. I took a taxi from the harbor to the hotel, and as I went, I started talking to the cab driver. I told him that I was a member of the Mormon Church. You also need to know that in Tahiti one out of every sixteen people on that island are members of the Church. As we spoke, the taxi driver said to me, “Oh, I have a lot of members of my family that are members of the Mormon Church.” I said, “Well are you a member of the Mormon Church?” He said, “No.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Because I am already happy.” Then he continued, “I watched the members of my family, and they had difficulties and challenges in their life, and then they joined the Church, and they became—they had purpose and vision. They became happy.” He says, “I’m already happy. I don’t have any needs.” Then he said, “If I ever become unhappy or if something tragic happens in my life, maybe I will become a Mormon.”
And I thought, often we look at the Church as a fire extinguisher rather than fire insurance or fire prevention. And I thought about that. I thought about that an awfully lot. Do we wait until things are a challenge in our lives to become prepared?
President Woodhouse talked about my experience in Scouting, and one of the great messages of Scouting is “Be Prepared.” And that’s a great message for all of us, so I would like to suggest several things about being prepared that might be helpful to you.
When we were teenagers in the Boise 7th Ward, we memorized themes just like the youth do today. One year, it was from the 34th chapter of Alma, verse 32,
“For behold, [now] 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.”
This scripture speaks about preparing and performing our labors -- now. Therefore, NOW is always the best time for preparation for all of us. Because we’re preparing for what happens in the future. But it’s also a time to make wise decisions now and to perform the very, very best that we can. Someone once said, “Five minutes before the dance is no time to learn the cha-cha.”
I learned the importance of proper preparation when I was in Washington, D.C. in May of 2006. I was there for a National Scouting Meeting, and President Monson and I were to attend a meeting of Latter-day Saints—about 200 of them. Because of President Monson’s schedule that day, we were a little late to the meeting. As we entered the front of the room, all rose in respect to President Monson. A sister had been playing the prelude, and we came in right behind the piano. And as we passed behind the piano, I headed to the stand and President Monson stopped behind the pianist. She looked up at him like this and says, “President, I’ll be able to do this a lot better if you’ll go sit where you’re supposed to.” As I heard this, I thought, “Boy, she’s got more courage than I do.” President Monson just smiled at her and said, “Oh, no, I’ll stand here and wait until you’re finished.” I thought, “This is going to be good!” So she hurried up and finished the prelude and vacated the piano bench. President Monson then sat down at the piano and play a small piano solo – the first he learned as a child. And then he turned to me, and, playing a small child’s duet, he looked at me and he said, “Charlie, do you know that?” And my whole life passed in front of me! I remembered the times as a teenager when I wanted to be out playing baseball, but my mother insisted that I practice the piano. And because she did and because I did, I was able to say, “Yes, President -- Top hand or bottom hand?” He said, “I’ll play the bottom hand.” So as I stood there, the two of us at the piano, I thought how would I have ever known when I was a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old boy, not liking to practice the piano—that one day because I did, it would allow me to play a piano duet with a member of the First Presidency who would later become the prophet. How grateful I am that when given the “invitation” from my mother to prepare, I did!
Now I would just tell you that that’s a small thing. Eternity doesn’t hang on the balance of whether Charles Dahlquist could play the piano like that. But we are all preparing for those things which will come – which will have eternal consequence! So may I suggest just five things that might help in your preparation. The reason I say five things is because I only have five fingers on this hand, and also because that’s about as much as we can all remember.
The first thing is, remember that you are a child of God. There is wisdom in the little Primary song we all learned.
“I am a child of God,
And He has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.” Hymn No. 301.
And in the fourth verse of that song, which only appears in the Children’s Songbook, there’s a wonderful promise to all of us:
“I am a child of God,
His promises are sure.
Celestial glory shall be mine,
If I can but endure.”
That’s a great promise from a kind Heavenly Father, and it’s scriptural. We have come here “a little lower than the angels.” We are gods and goddesses in embryo. We have been sent here by a kind Heavenly Father to gain a body, to be proved and tested. And it will all depend upon our preparations and upon the decisions that we make one day at a time. Life was not made to be easy; it was made to be a test. And I honor you for the great tests that you are making, sometimes in the face of great adversity.
I sat on the little island of Kiribati just a week or so ago, and talked with some students who had come through great adversity just to be there at Moroni High School. And I will just tell you that not only has our Heavenly Father sent us here, but He has not sent us here alone. He has given us a number of things that help us and guide us and direct us – and continually remind us who we are and the great work we have to perform. First and foremost, we have a prophet. Think what a great blessing it is; think of all the millions of people who have lived on the earth when there were not prophets and apostles. I hope that each one of you, just like I, kneel down every night and give thanks for the opportunity to live in a time when we have living prophets and apostles who can guide us and direct us and inspire us.
In this calling the Young Men General Presidency, we have the opportunity to meet with the First Presidency every six months. Recently, at the conclusion of our presentation, I said, “President Hinckley, what do you have to teach us?” He was very short of words that day, and he thought for a minute and he said, “Just say your prayers and do your work.” That was a message, not only to the Young Men general presidency but to our board and to all Young Men leaders all over the world, and to every one with whom I come in contact. That is a message that is important for all of us: Say your prayers and do your work.
Also the First Presidency has given us the For the Strength of Youth brochure. That’s not just for young people 12 to 18; it’s for you and it’s for me—all of us, because there are not two standards. That is why I carry it with me all over the world, and why I encourage youth and young single adults and adults alike to carry For the Strength of Youth. And not just to carry it, but to open it up and read it and re-read it, and recommit to what is there. You know General Conference is less than two weeks away, and it is a wonderful time of refreshing. But we must be open and we must be prepared. And so IL ask, “What are we doing to prepare ourselves? Have we read at least some of the conference talks to think about what happened last April and what is happening here and now? May we prepare to listen – and to be taught.
The second help in our quest to be prepared is the Holy Scriptures. In the Gospel of John it says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye [find] eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The time of education is not a time, as you well know, to put gospel learning on the shelf. As I went through law school, there were a number of my classmates who did just that – and never returned to activity in the Church. There is a warning to those, particularly in our day, who treat the scriptures with disinterest or contempt: “Wo be unto him that saith: We have received [the word of God], and we need no more” (2 Nephi 28:27). I would just suggest to you that not one of us has enough of the word of God, and it’s a wonderful thing for us to be able to search the scriptures daily.
When President Packer came into our stake a number of years ago, I was a brand new stake president. After we had done a little business early on one Sunday morning, a very, very cold day, we sat in my car. And before he got out, I said, “President, if you were a young stake president, what would you focus on?” And I thought he was going to laugh, but he didn’t. He took out his hand—again and, pointing first to him thumb and then to each of his fingers, said, “I would focus on (1) doctrine and (2) covenants and (3) revelation and (4) priesthood and (5) scriptures.” Then he said, “One of our greatest fears is that many of our leaders may only have gospel understanding a quarter of an inch deep.” And that is the same for all of us. Sometimes we may do “touch and go’s” just like pilots who are trying to learn how to land an aircraft. They land over and over again, but it’s just a touch and go and sometimes that’s what we do in the scriptures. And yet we have been taught to FEAST on the words of Christ. 2 Nephi 31:20; 32:3 And that means a significant thing to me.
My third suggestion is to stand in holy places. That means being where you ought to be, and those of you who are here today are where you ought to be. I congratulate you on that. There are all types of experiences like that, being in the right place when we are invited to come to meetings or family home evening or in our classes. Wherever it is, be in the right place. And you will know what they are. You will know by the promptings of the Spirit. It also means not being where we should not be. Avoid those places, and the Spirit will tell you where you should not go. If you are someplace and all of a sudden you have a feeling that you should not be here—the spirit changes, and that happens—then take a great lesson from Joseph of Egypt, and flee.
Many of us have been in wonderful, holy places. Think of the places, the sacred places where you have been. I have been in the Sacred Grove. I felt a wonderful feeling there. I’ve been on the banks of the Susquehanna River, where John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver and restored the Aaronic Priesthood. I have been in a number of similar places where the Spirit has been very strong. For example, I have walked battlefields of Manassas, Virginia where the first Battle of Bull Run was held in 1861—the first battle of the Civil War. You have been in places like that, places that exude a feeling of reverence, of being holy – places we will never forget.
But I have also been in places that are normal places that have become holy, and I have found that we can control them. That same room where President Woodhouse and I sang Scout songs and did Scout cheers and did Scout training became a sacred place on one evening when we had a Little Philmont training. Our stake Young Men presidency put together a nice dinner with our wives that evening and asked Elder Maxwell to come. At the end of that evening, he did something that, up to that point I had never experienced before -- he gave an apostolic blessing. That evening that hall became a sacred place for us. One couple left to go home to their children. As they reported to me later that evening, they went out, got in the car, started the engine, sat there, looked at each other, didn’t say a thing, turned the keys off and came back in. That hall had, by virtue of what occurred that evening, because a sacred place that none of us present that evening will ever forget. It’s the same way with those places where we spend significant time -- whether it’s your home with your family or your apartment, or wherever it is. You can make it a holy place, by what is on the wall, by what is done there, by the music that you play. All of those things help us to be in sacred places.
There is a great scripture in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where it says to seek the Lord while he is near. There’s a great message there. And the message is this: Most of us, when we are away from the promptings of the Spirit, do not have an Alma the Younger experience. Most of us are like a young man in my stake. Feeling that I needed to spend some time with him, I took him to play golf one day. As we played, I said, “Jim (that wasn’t his name), the way that you’re going is leading down a devious path. You won’t be able to serve a mission if you continue in this direction.” He said, “Oh, no. I want to serve a mission. I will be just fine.” I said, “You know, one day, if you continue down this path, you will get to the point where the Spirit will leave you and you will either do something that will cause you to not be qualified to serve a mission, or you will not have a desire to serve.” “Oh no,” he said, “I want to serve.” In spite of all that we were doing, including his parents and his bishop, he continued down that path, and as it turned out, he was not able to serve a mission. That doesn’t surprise you, does it? And it didn’t me – though it saddened me. How important it is to seek the Lord while he is near. We need to walk and stand in holy places and be not moved.
Now, my third suggestion is learn to control your thoughts. King Benjamin gives us a wonderful scripture in the fourth chapter of Mosiah. It’s right at the end of his great last lecture, where he says,
“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).
We can control our thoughts, but only if we are prepared, if we fill our minds with that which is good and true and right; and if we memorize poetry and scriptures and all of those things that we can call upon in times of need. You already know by now that all of us have challenges with our thoughts, whether it’s a thought that is unclean, something that emanates from something we see on the internet or hear in a song, or whether it’s just discouragement or depression. Challenges with thoughts come to all of us, and some way we must figure out what works for us to be able to lift our thoughts. I have found that two things help me: one is music, and the other is poetry—actually, one more, and that is getting involved in the service of others.
But if we will fill our minds especially with hymns and poetry and scriptures—wonderful things will happen and we will be able to control our thoughts. If I could just give you one last thought, and that is, you’re in a media world. And the media is a wonderful tool that we use. You use it in your classes. We will not be able to survive without being able to use computers, because they are part of us. We have cell phones. We have all of these things. I have a PDA in my briefcase that I use all over the world. That’s just part of us. But we can become addicted to that which is also good, and that which is good is also bad.
Elder Bednar has taught us, if you take what the world is doing with something and flip it 180 degrees, then you can see what we should be doing in the kingdom. I encourage you to use the technology that you have to build strength and testimony, and to help you to become a better son or daughter of God and avoid those things that can become addicting. And it’s not just pornography. I’m also talking about just too much time on video games. In Korea they have a problem with college students there. It’s a new addiction that has to do with spending all of your time on video games. We waste this time that our Heavenly Father has given us, and we must do better. Remember, there are some things that we do to fit in. Remember, as Latter-day Saints, we were never meant to “fit in,” but to stand out and to stand up for what is right. If you have a problem with pornography or even with what may be addiction to video games, I encourage you to go see your bishop today. I don’t care if he has meetings all night tonight. Call him and get in to see him immediately.
My fourth suggestion is to do things that are hard to do. This is a time of growth for you – a time to establish, if you haven’t before, a pattern of learning and growing that will stick with you throughout your life! Don’t just scoot by. Rise up. I’m working on the Duty to God program, just like all of the young men around the world. The Duty of God program suggests that you read the Book of Mormon as a priest. Well, my goal was to read the Book of Mormon again in German. In the Duty to God program, there is a goal to give a talk, four to five minutes, two of them a year. I do that about the first week in January. My talk [goal] was to prepare and give a talk at LDS Business College – and not have students leave during the talk -- in groups. Thank you very much. I hope President Woodhouse will sign this after our meeting. I have my Duty to God manual right here.
In the Duty to God program, the priests are also required to run six miles in sixty minutes—not a big deal for you track guys. But my goal was in July 2009, to participate in the Spudman Marathon, a triathlon – a mile swim, a 26 mile bike ride and a 40 km run. And I’m training for it. I’m really excited for it, because I want to do hard things! I don’t want to just do the things that are easy.
Now finally, my fifth suggestion is that you serve. Joshua, in his great comments at the beginning of our meeting today, and he’s a great student body president, talked about service. I have learned that service is not a project; it’s a way of life. I watched this past Sunday, as I sat near the back of the chapel in my own sacrament meeting, as young Ben Ensign -- eight years old -- was coming in from using the restroom during sacrament meeting. As he walked up, a child had dropped her toy. Others had passed it, but he stopped, picked up the toy, and gave it to the child and the child’s mother. I grabbed him after, and I said, “I watched what you did. You will be a great missionary.”
Now I don’t know if any of us are busier than President and Sister Woodhouse, but I have watched them as they have served in other areas outside of their responsibility here at LDs Business College. For example, during the busy Christmas holidays, he and I have rung the Salvation Army Bell together on Main Street. I hope at Christmastime, when you see us out ringing the Salvation Army Bell that you dig deep into your pockets. We just love to give. But the reason we give is because we have been given so much, and also because you and I are the hands of the Master.
There is a great poem that goes:
‘Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
“Who’ll start the bidding?” he said,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
A dollar, a dollar, and who’ll make it two?
Two dollars and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
And going and gone, but no.
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
And wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer
In a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand, a thousand, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
And going and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
The touch of the Master’s hand.
And many a man with life out of tune
And battered and scarred by sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game, and he travels on.
He’s going once, he’s going twice,
He’s going and almost gone.
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Can’t quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
You and I are the ones that are the Master’s hands, because most of the miracles, unlike that which happened with Paul and unlike that which happened with Alma the Younger, generally—happens through others, through you and through me.
God bless you and God bless me that we might all be prepared, that we might rise up and be Latter-day Saints, that we might strengthen this great world, that we might strengthen ourselves that we might be prepared. I testify to you that God lives. This is His work. He knows you by name, He hears your prayers and He will answer them -- in His own time – often in unexpected moments as we are about His business. That I know, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.