Questions and Answers
What a beautiful way to begin this meeting, with that wonderful testimony by Arzoo and this beautiful song, “Abide with Me.” Thank you, President Richards, for this opportunity to be here with you. Arzoo you and I have something in common. You said when you first received this request, your first inclination was to turn it down. Well, I can’t say that that was my first inclination, but I understand the feeling. The feeling of responsibility, the opportunity to stand before such a wonderful group of brothers and sisters—and I truly look at you as brothers and sisters. Thank you. Thank you for coming. Thank you for braving the snow.
You’ve left me with a little bit of a dilemma. President Richards asked you for questions; I didn’t expect 15 pages of questions—380 or so, to be approximate. That leaves me about 5 seconds a question, brothers and sisters.
The first question was, “Can we have the rest of the afternoon off to go skiing?” That was my question.
I have taken your questions seriously. I had actually prepared remarks that I would like to share with you; then I received your questions, and I honestly spent hours going through your questions, thinking about them, pondering over them, praying about them. And if it’s all right with you, I’m going to focus on your questions, not all 380, but what I have tried to do is to look for themes within the questions and take some of the sample questions and try to share with you my perspective on some of those issues. Is that all right with you? Is that okay?
What you think about, what you feel, is important to me, brothers and sisters. Maybe just a brief word of introduction. I first came to Utah—and you’ll understand my earlier comment—to ski. That’s how I joined the Church. I ended up in Provo. I attended BYU—I went to night classes there so I could ski during the day. It wasn’t a bad life. And then it got better because I was introduced to the missionaries—the stake missionaries at the time, which we don’t have anymore. And brothers and sisters, I gained a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my life has never been the same since that time. It has never been the same. And I’m sure that yours has not either.
It doesn’t mean that it’s always an easy path, an easy road to follow, does it? But I want to testify to you it is the only road, brothers and sisters, that will bring lasting peace and happiness.
Now, one of the first questions I’d like to talk to you about is, someone asked, “How do I reach my full potential?” What a great question. How do I reach my full potential? Well, let’s talk for just a minute.
What does that mean, to reach your full potential? What is your full potential? What aspect of life are you thinking of? For me, before I joined the Church, my full potential was simply to ski all over the world. That’s all that I wanted to do. And then I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I realized my potential was something a little bit different.
Now, I’m going to give you quite a number of scriptures, and I’ll ask you just to jot these down and study them and read about them a little bit later on. Matthew 5:48—many of you are familiar with that scripture, where we are commanded to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. So, is that a measure of our potential, to become perfect?
But then again in Doctrine and Covenants 50:40–42, Heavenly Father understands and the Lord teaches us, but we are little children. We cannot bear all things now, but we have to grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth.
So where do we fall, brothers and sisters, in that context? What does it mean to achieve one’s full potential? Well, for me, brothers and sisters, it’s pretty simple. The Savior taught in the New Testament that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God (see Matthew 18:3). And so for me, a measure of full potential—and I’m sure this is not the answer that you were looking for, but it is the answer that I have found has brought me the most peace and happiness in this life—is to strive to learn what it means to become humble, like a little child, to understand my place in this life, to recognize (as King Benjamin said) that I am even less than the dust of the earth, but that I have the potential to become like my Heavenly Father (see Mosiah 2:25). And that if I will achieve that humility, if I will let my heart be soft and open, then He will take me by the hand, and lead me back to Him (see D&C 112:10; “Be Thou Humble,” Hymns, no. 130). And that is my desire in this life, brothers and sisters. That is the desire that I have for my children and my grandchildren, for my wife and myself—to be worthy to have Heavenly Father’s spirit to be with me. Because I know that through Him, I can truly achieve my full potential.
Now of course, along that path, we have the opportunity to have careers and to work and to do all these other kinds of things. Does Heavenly Father care what career we pick? That’s an important question to consider. Maybe in some cases, He does. Maybe we’ll revisit that in just a minute.
A second category—many of you asked questions in the category of, “How do I balance such a crazy schedule that I have?” Here are a couple of questions: “I work 40–55 hours a week, attend school full time, and I have a wife that I’m completely devoted to. How do I live a consecrated life when I feel in my schedule there is no wiggle room?” And then a second question: “How can I, as a woman of the Church, not be discouraged in obtaining a higher education when the Church teaches us that we belong at home once children are in the picture?” “I want to further my education. I also have the dreams of becoming a mother. How can I, as a daughter of God, find a balance without giving up either dream? Can’t I do both?” And then of course we have the situation where there are so many single parents in the Church as well. How do they find that balance?
Well, there are a couple of scriptures in seeking that balance that I wanted to share with you, brothers and sisters, that have been meaningful to me. One is in section 10, verses 3 and 4 in the Doctrine and Covenants. As we strive for that balance, when it seems like I can’t squeeze anything else into a day, the Savior teaches us to not run faster than we have strength, to understand that we have a choice.
You know, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of students, not too dissimilar to this group. A young man came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t know how to do it all.”
I said, “Well, tell me more about your life.”
He said, “I’ve been married ten years, and I have eight children.”
Well, I wouldn’t know how to do it all either. But we do have choices, brothers and sisters, and that is so important. Sometimes we think that we don’t have a choice of how we spend our time. And the question becomes, how do I prioritize my time? How do I prioritize my time based on the things that are most important? This scripture teaches us that we’re not to run faster than we have strength. I want to testify to you that there have been times in my life where I have felt completely overwhelmed. And then it’s at those times I have to ask myself the question, “Where do I turn? Where do I turn when I don’t know what else to do?” And we have a choice about where we turn, and we’ll talk about those choices just a little bit later.
But think about 2 Nephi 2:16—that we are agents unto ourselves, and we get to make these choices. We get to make these decisions. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” To every thing there is a season. To this young woman who wants to do it all, is there anything wrong with not being able to do it all? I would say no. There is nothing wrong with that. The question becomes, what is the right season to do those things in?
Now, I happen to be married to a wonderful person who had also wrestled through that question—graduated in modern dance and had a desire to go on and pursue a dance career, but also at the same time wanted to be a wife and mother. Honey, maybe you could just take a minute and share your perspective on how you sorted this really important question out?
Sister Kacher:Well, I first have to take a minute and tell you how wonderful it is to sit here with you and look out into your faces. This is just a wonderful gathering! I feel like you are this wonderful family that—it just feels really good to be here. Thank you so much for letting us share this time with you.
So back to the question: I can only speak to my own experience, and the learning that I have come upon is that life is really long. It goes fast, but it’s actually long. And I’ve discovered that when it comes right down to it, there really is time to fit it all in.
I’ve been grateful that I have been able to stay home with our children, and at the same time, I was aching to be out in the dance world. I learned that if I could keep myself current—you know, as far as continuing to educate myself in my field as I was staying home with my children—that then the time came that my children were a little bit older, and then I was able to have the career that I had always literally dreamed of. And I’ve been grateful for that. I feel like Heavenly Father has really blessed me as I have tried to do what He would want me to do, that He has really blessed me with my dreams and desires of my goals and career.
Elder Kacher:One of the blessings that came to Sister Kacher is, as we moved to Midway in 2005 after our children were a little bit older, on the way out, BYU called her up and said, “One of our dance faculty is not able to return. Will you come and teach for us?” And I think that was just a direct answer to a person who tried to do things in the right priority. And she was truly blessed for that. It is not easy, brothers and sisters, finding that balance.
“How do I make important decisions?” That was another category. “I’m having a hard time figuring out what career to choose that will align with the will of the Father and with my natural strengths and abilities.” “If I have two good options, how should I know which one is the best?”
Brothers and sisters, these are four questions that I have found to be very helpful in the decision-making process. And I want to just let you know, based on my experience, when I would think through these things—for example, should I study this field? Should I take this job? Should I go in this direction?—that if you will put these things in their proper priority, their proper perspective, that Heavenly Father will guide you.
First, if I make this choice, will it strengthen or weaken my relationship with Heavenly Father?Nothing is more important, brothers and sisters, than to maintain that relationship.
Second, if I make this decision, will it strengthen or weaken my relationship with my family—either the family that I have now, or the family I hope to have in the future?Nothing is more important than our eternal relationships.
Third, will it strengthen or weaken my ability to serve in the kingdom of God?I want to serve, brothers and sisters, and I know you do as well.
And finally, will it help or hurt my ability to provide for my family?Notice I put that number four. Heavenly Father will bless us as we keep the commandments and we keep our priorities straight. We’ll have a sense of peace, and things will be okay.
Let me share with you a kind of personal experience when I got these things a little bit out of whack at one time in my life. I had worked for Honeywell for a number of years. I had the desire to start my own consulting business. Shortly after I started that business, a friend of mine, a member of the Church, came to me and asked if would I like to be part of this manufacturing company. Well, I thought I could do that part-time while I started my consulting practice. And then he came to me and said, “Would you like to invest in my company and be a part owner?”
And here’s where I got things twisted around a little bit, brothers and sisters. All of a sudden, I saw a great opportunity for me to become wealthy quickly, and so I wrote him a check from my life savings. Two weeks later, he came to me and said, “Sorry, I’m out of money. I’m filing for bankruptcy, and all of your money is gone.” Well, I learned an important lesson, brothers and sisters, about the importance of priorities and keeping things in the right perspective.
After that, I had another critical decision to make. You see, this man, this friend of mine, was a member of the Church—a less active member of the Church. And I had to choose, what would my feelings be towards him? I was grateful, brothers and sisters, that I took responsibility for my own mistake and that I didn’t take it out on him because a few months after that, I became his bishop. And how different it would have been had I harbored hard feelings towards him? And I wondered, even, if Heavenly Father had given me that experience in order to prepare.
Another category had to do with keeping the missionary spirit after a mission. Let’s just talk about this one for a moment. “During my mission, I learned to be an effective and powerful servant of God and others. I don’t feel that I measure up to who I once was. How can I measure up and still reach others in a meaningful way?”
What a key question, brothers and sisters. How do I keep that missionary spirit? Well, there’s a mindset that I’d like to dispel. Our mission doesn’t end; our mission is a preparation for the rest of our life. When you think of an effective missionary, what does a missionary do? Well, they look for ways to share the gospel. They fellowship friends and neighbors. They reach out to the less active. What does that sound like, brothers and sisters? That sounds to me like a good member of the Church. And so, too often, we think of our mission as ending when it’s just a training ground for the rest of our life.
The first thing I’d like to suggest is that you think about how you maintain that spirit—to change that mindset, to recognize that you have the power to change that mindset and to look for things that you did all through your mission and to continue to do those things.
A couple of examples: I was a home teacher to a part-member family back in Belgium. I thought, how can I bless this family’s life? I’d been a good home teacher, but the father wasn’t a member of the Church. And I had the impression that I should share with him the gospel. Well, that wasn’t my job. I was no longer a missionary. That was the missionaries’ job, wasn’t it, brothers and sisters? Well, I felt differently.
I went to him, and I said, “Ken, can I share with you the gospel?”
He looked at me and he said, “No, thank you.” Well, that felt familiar. Rejection.
Well, my obligation was over, wasn’t it, brothers and sisters? I had tried. I didn’t have to do anything more. But then I recognized, no, it wasn’t over. I had left out a key partner in the process. I followed an impression, but I tried to do it on my own. So I turned to God, and I asked Him to bless me that I might have that faith to call down the powers of heaven to bless the lives of the McCormick family.
I went there one more time, brothers and sisters. This time I followed the promptings of the Spirit, just like a missionary, as a home teacher or visiting teacher or anybody else. And his life was changed, and his heart was changed, and Ken was baptized a week later, after nineteen years of marriage.
And what was the difference? It was recognizing that I was still a missionary. But I wasn’t a missionary; I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I had that same authority and opportunity to call down the powers of God, and you do too, brothers and sisters. You have that same authority. You do, too. You have that capability. That is still inside of you, and it needs to be for the rest of your life.
Well, think about that, if you would please, brothers and sisters.
Many of you asked the question, “How do I help members of my family who are not active in the Church?” “How do I reach out to them without offending them?” “I’m away from my family. How can I still influence my younger siblings with the knowledge I received on my mission?” “How do you help a wayward family member without offending them?”
Well, it’s the same principle, brothers and sisters. It’s the same principle. There are no mysteries in this work. This is God’s work, and how do we see ourselves, brothers and sisters? How do we see ourselves? What do we do? Where is God’s power? Do I have access to that power to bless my family’s life?
Well, I am the only member of the Church in my family. Forty-plus years later I am still the only member. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to finally convince my mother to listen to the sister missionaries. She’s 91 years old. They went over there, and I called her afterwards and said, “What did you think?”
She said, “I did all the talking. I don’t want them to come back.”
Well, how do you think I felt, brothers and sisters?
I was on my way to a stake conference when the phone rang. It was my mother. And I thought, “Oh, I don’t want to listen to a negative story from her before I go into stake conference.” That just goes to show you how strong my faith is sometimes, brothers and sisters. But I listened to the message.
Here is the message: “Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on me.”
So, I have a question for you today, brothers and sisters. Does anyone here have someone in your family, immediate or extended family, who is less active or not a member? If you do, will you please stand up, just quickly? [Audience members stand up.]Well, look around, brothers and sisters. You see, we are all in this together. This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is—just as you and I are hoping that someone will touch the heart of one of our family members, someone is hoping that you or I will touch their family member. Thank you. Please sit down.
So, my testimony to you, as we go forth in faith: God knows all things. He knows all things, and He arranges people to meet certain people at different places. Natalie is a special friend of ours from Amman, Jordan, when we lived over there. I remember listening to Natalie’s uncle’s testimony. Natalie’s father is the branch president in Amman, Jordan. Her uncle was not a member of the Church until two people went over there. He still didn’t listen. And then they knelt down, and they had a prayer with Imad Aldier. By the end of their prayer, Imad was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he was baptized, and now serves faithfully in the Amman Jordan Branch.
What was the difference? There were family members praying for Imad. But it was not two family members who reached out to Imad, it was two other Church leaders. And so, as we wonder how we reach out to our family members, brothers and sisters, I testify to you that God will provide a way and will bless you for your faithful service.
Now, we only have 379 more questions to go. We’re going to have to do this ten questions a second for the rest of the time.
There are a couple of questions that I’d like to address with you. “I would like to know how I could be a constant companion of the Spirit. Basically, I want to know how I can exemplify the true love that Christ has shown to all of us. How can I find the difference between following what I want and following the Spirit?”
Well, brothers and sisters, this is a key question for each one of us. I’d like to share something with you. I’ve got another slide here in just a minute, but let me introduce it by simply saying we have a choice which way we will turn in good times and in times of adversity. It is our choice. The Lord blessed us with agency. It’s a wonderful gift. It differentiates us from the other third of the hosts of heaven, who wanted to take that agency away. And agency is so important, but along with that agency there is accountability. And we get to choose.
In good times or challenging times, do I—and this is a test for you, brothers and sisters—do I turn away from God and think He isn’t really there? Do I think God may be there, but I’m not worthy? Do I think I can do this on my own, that I don’t need God?
Or do I turn toward God and seek for His Spirit to guide me and to help me? Or do I place my life in His hands and seek to align my will with His?
Brothers and sisters, how we respond to these questions will determine our level of spirituality, because God is there. And I testify to you that He is there.
Do I become me-centered and focus inward and downward? Or do I become Christ-centered and turn outward and upward? The answer to that question, brothers and sisters, will determine your level of spirituality. The answer to that question enables us and allows us to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives—just as Alma the Younger taught his son about the personal conversion that he went through and all the pain he suffered because of the sins he had committed. And then he remembered the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He had done for us. And as Alma pondered and thought and prayed upon that principle, that thought, something wonderful happened. Light came into his heart, into his mind, and he was changed forever.
So it is with us, brothers and sisters. In this sometimes confusing world, it is not so confusing. We make it confusing. We listen to voices that don’t come from God, and we become confused by those voices. But if we will turn outward and upward, if we will place our lives, literally, in the arms of Christ and become Christ-centered in all that we do, if we seek to know and understand His will, Heavenly Father will bless us and we will feel His redeeming love, and we will feel that connection with the powers of heaven. And we won’t feel alone.
Now I’m running out of time, but there is one last question that I’d like to talk to you about. And it’s an important question. It’s relevant for each one of you in today’s times, and it has been relevant in every day, every era of the gospel on the earth. Here is the question: “Many of my once devoted, faithful friends have left the Church and are now actively involved in programs to bring the Church down. Where do you think they went wrong? Any suggestions on what I should be doing to avoid a similar downfall?”
Well, brothers and sisters, the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 1:22 says that in the last days, even the very elect will be deceived (see JST, Matthew 1:22). Let me tell you briefly the story of a man in the Middle East. I won’t tell you his name or his country because the outcome is not a happy one. This man they called “the Joseph Smith of his country.” He sought for the truth, and he found the truth based on a vision that he had. He had a dream, and in his dream he saw a chapel.
He traveled to London one day. He had the opportunity to go to the visitors’ center, and in the back of the visitors’ center was the chapel, and it was the same chapel in his dream. Based on that, brothers and sisters, he knew he had found the truth.
He went to the Church, he was taught by the missionaries. He was baptized, and he went back to his country, and he helped re-establish the Church in his country. He was an instrument in the hands of the Lord to help his family join the Church and others to join the Church. He was a light in a very dark place. And then something happened. He became confused. He forgot where his source of strength had come from. He forgot all the blessings that he had received. And he began to receive, as he lost the Spirit, other impressions and visions.
And this is an important lesson for us, brothers and sisters. Even the very elect can be deceived, and he was, I am convinced, of the elect. Well, he began to receive revelations that he no longer needed to keep the commandments of God, to live the law of chastity or follow the Word of Wisdom. The adversary imitated the impressions that he had received from God previously, and because the Spirit was no longer with him, he found himself outside the Church, still proclaiming the Church was true but that he was above the law.
Nobody is above the law, brothers and sisters. Nobody is. And so just a warning to us all, that in this day and age we will hear people say, “Well, that’s not true. What about this contradiction, and what about this, and what about that?” Step back, brothers and sisters. Don’t listen to false voices. Think about what has brought you the most happiness and the most peace. It’s not those voices. And they don’t come from God. And it doesn’t change the truth.
My wife and I had the opportunity to swim in the Indian Ocean one time. We got caught in a little riptide, got pulled out to sea, and thought we were going to die. But God blessed us and saved us, and we made our way back. And on the way back, as I walked back to shore, I had the impression that my example was important because my wife had followed my example. And because of that, she had almost lost her life. And I realized that the decisions I make in this life, I don’t make just for myself, but I make for many people around me.
Brothers and sisters, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is a war on the earth between good and evil. It is true. And you are soldiers in that war. You are children of God. You are powerful individuals, and Heavenly Father loves you so much. Jesus Christ has died that you might live again with Him. I pray, brothers and sisters, that we won’t forget these wonderful blessings that we’ve received, that we’ll put into proper perspective the challenges that we have in this life. Remember Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried to the Lord and asked, why are all these things happening? And the Savior said, “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8).
He will be there, brothers and sisters. I pray that we will turn outward and upward, that we’ll place our lives in the arms of Him who died for us and will carry us back to our Heavenly Father. You are wonderful. You are great, great individuals, and the world has great need of you wherever you live, here or there or wherever it is. I challenge you and invite you to be instruments in the hands of God, to bring the light that’s inside of you to all those around you. You will be that mighty instrument in the hands of God to bless so many lives. Don’t let little things get you down, brothers and sisters. Don’t let the complexity of life confuse you. Turn to God. If you make good choices and good decisions based on the priorities that are most important, you will bless many lives and you and your posterity will be led back to our Heavenly Father. And I leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards
Let me introduce to you Elder Larry S. Kacher. Elder Kacher was sustained a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church on April 5, 2014. At the time of his call to be a General Authority, he had been serving as an Area Seventy and as a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy in the Middle East /North Africa Area.
Elder Kacher received his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University in 1976, and two years later he received a master’s degree in organizational behavior, also from Brigham Young University. In 1978, he began his career with Honeywell Corporation, and later became their European director of human resources and development, based in Brussels, Belgium. During the majority of his career, Elder Kacher consulted with large international companies in the areas of strategy, organizational design, and leadership development.
Prior to his call to the Seventy, he was working for and consulting to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, based in the United Arab Emirates. Elder Kacher has had numerous Church callings, including as a full-time missionary to French Polynesia, elders quorum president, branch president in Belgium, a high councilor, bishop, president of the Geneva Switzerland Mission, and Area Seventy.
Elder Kacher was born in Minnesota, and he married Pauline Miller in 1976. They are the parents of six children. They reside in Midway, Utah. We are grateful that Elder Kacher is here today. He asks for a unique request from us. He asks to have questions posed to him by students to help him understand you better. That should give you an insight to his interest and his love for you as students.