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President J. Lawrence Richards

Fifteen Ideas for Summer

“I invite you to think about what you might want to accomplish this summer. What you want your outcomes to be. I invite you to make a list of what you want to do before the summer is over. If you can’t think of things you want to include on your list, here are 15 ideas you might consider. Consider it sort of a potential “bucket list” for the next 12 weeks. Most importantly, these ideas can trigger your own personally tailored list of outcomes.”
Fifteen Ideas for Summer:
  1. Go to the Temple more often.
    It is a refuge from the summer storms. If you can’t go in, go touch it, sit by it, stare at it…feel the spirit of it. Do what you have to do to qualify for admittance.
  2. Take time to be still. Unplug. Take those ear buds out; turn the volume down in your life. Learn to listen to the voice within you and the song of your own soul. There is good doctrine in the hymn “How Great Thou Art” – when the lyrics state, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee. How great thou art, how great thou art.” When was the last time you listened to the song of your own soul?
  3. Make a new friend. You have been put into a human orbit to touch people only you can touch and lift.
  4. Do something for someone when it is not convenient for you to do it – it will bring you joy; you will be on the Lord’s errand and therefore entitled to His help.
  5. Forget a grudge, bury the hatchet, mend a broken relationship. Life is too short to be angry at anyone. Most of the time the only person it hurts is you. It cankers your soul.
  6. Take a long and slow walk. Ponder the majesty of creation and your position in it. Be grateful – truly grateful for life no matter what the current challenges may be.
  7. Sing a hymn like you mean it. A song of the righteous is a prayer unto God. It can change your attitude and perspective. That is why we sing in church before we pray. When was the last time you took time to really read the lyrics?
  8. Take a gospel topic and study it. I mean really study it. Study it in such a way that you discover new principles and how they apply to your life. Write down what you learn. It demonstrates to the Lord that you can be trusted with personal revelation.
  9. Start writing in your journal again. It has been too long since you were caught up. The act of pondering and writing can bring personal insight and sometimes revelation.
  10. Start the Book of Mormon again. Don’t skip the Isaiah Chapters. The Lord quoted Isaiah more than any other prophet. There must be something to it.
  11. Give up one of your favorite sins. Get a priesthood blessing to help if you need it. There is nothing heavier than the weight of sin. To waste is a sin – all sin is a waste. Don’t waste any more time with the consequence of a former mistake when the Savior’s Atonement is waiting to be applied. Drop your pride, see your bishop.
  12. Don’t yield to a small, seemingly insignificant temptation – You never know who is watching and what the unintended consequence might be.
  13. Just for the summer, because making a longer commitment might be too scary, live after the “manner of happiness.” Read 2 Nephi 5: 6-10 to find the five ways for yourself. It will be more meaningful to work and dig them out for yourself. That way you will treasure them.
  14. Follow an impression and keep your heart open.
  15. Take time to know the dealings of God in your life
We focus a lot at the College on outcomes. Course outcomes in your syllabi. Program outcomes. Like Jacob in the Book of Mormon we have great faith in you and anxious regard and concern regarding what should happen in your lives while you are here at the College. That is an outcome. We feel like Mormon when he wrote: “I do not know all things but the Lord knoweth all things, which are to come, wherefore, he worketh in [us] to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 7).

The Economy of Heaven, or Celestial Economics

By President J. Lawrence Richards
Prior to coming to the college almost 10 years ago, I had a career in banking. So when joining the faculty, I was assigned to teach a number of courses including micro and macro economics. Those subjects may sound boring to some, but to me they are important blocks in the foundation of any successful society. In addition, they are a way of understanding the secular world we live in and of forecasting the impact of legislative policy in a free market. It was a way of viewing and constructing a very complex world.
Concepts and principles such as supply and demand, the elasticity of demand, barriers to market entry, and the ultimate reality of all issues of consumption—the ever-worthy law of diminishing marginal utility, would get me excited about getting students excited. My goal was to help my students see things they had not seen before, understand the consequences of decisions they had not considered, and value things they thought did not matter.
I knew I had achieved my goal when a student wrote me a note in frustration and said, “You have ruined by ability to read just the sports page of the paper. I not only read the national news but the business section as well. And I understand it. You have ruined my naiveté…thanks a lot!”
Now, 10 years later I have come to appreciate another view of economics. Another way of constructing my understanding of more a more important concepts—the workings of heaven.
Elder Bednar suggests that when we see what the world is doing or suggesting, look in the opposite direction, as it often gives a clue of what heaven wants done. This is a foundational principle in the economy of heaven. For example: A good portion of the world suggests that the accumulation of possessions, influence and power is the goal of education, work and relationships. Once accumulated, then we seek to do good in the world to give back a portion of what we have gained. The principles governing the economy of heaven suggest that we seek first the kingdom of God and then riches because we will use those riches to do good. [1] The economy of heaven suggests that we give of our accumulation even in our poverty. We call it tithing.
In the economy of heaven, success is not to have or hoard power, influence, or control but to lose yourself in the service of others, lifting and empowering them. [2]
Contrasted to the temporal economies, the economy of heaven has a very different approach to the concept of social welfare. Listen to the words of President Ezra Taft Benson: “The Lord works from the inside out,” he instructs. “The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” [3]
The world’s economy thrives on the accumulation of free capital that can be stored as wealth and used to buy goods and services, invest, and leverage. But the economy of heaven suggests that we store up our treasures in heaven where moth and rust doth not corrupt. [4]
One grounding principle of secular economics is scarcity. That is, we have limited resources of time, talent, and treasure with which to make decisions about life, what we will do. Therefore, there will always be those who seek the accumulation of time, talent, and treasure for their own purposes and comfort at the expense of others. Because of this principle, there is secular wisdom in the saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But to the rich man, the Savior invited him to sell all he had, take up the cross and follow him. [5] In contrast to the principle of scarcity, the economy of heaven is built upon the principle of abundance. For all who will may come unto Christ and be joint heirs in all the Father has. Listen to the words of the Savior: “Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.” [6] “But to as many as received me, gave I power to become my sons; and even so will I give unto as many as will receive me, power to become my sons.” [7] “And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” [8] And now the testimony of Paul to young Timothy: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [9]
The economy of the world works on the principle of spending to satisfy immediate wants and needs. If no one spends, the economy grinds to a halt. The economy of heaven is based upon the principle of deferral. That is, we do not spend that which is precious in the wrong season of our life to gratify our desires and temporal wants. “To everything there is a season and “a time to every purpose under heaven.” [10] Happy are we if we live and act consistent with the season we are in. We withhold and abstain now for the greater blessings and rewards promised by a loving father in heaven. Those blessings include peace, a quiet conscience and the assurance of the greatest possibilities of eternal life.
This applies to us in very practical ways:
Fulfilling Church Callings
Simply put, it is not in the economy of heaven for the Lord to send an angel when a priesthood holder or a relief society sister will do. It was President Monson who declared: “I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”
Here is a true story told by President Monson in the April 1993 General Conference. It is from the journal of Joseph Millett, an early member of the Church. It illustrates how heaven works and the blessings that come from fulfilling our callings, including just being there when the Lord needs us.
“One of my children came in, said that Brother Newton Hall’s folks were out of bread. Had none that day. I put … our flour in sack to send up to Brother Hall’s. Just then Brother Hall came in. Says I, ‘Brother Hall, how are you [fixed] for flour.’ ‘Brother Millett, we have none.’ ‘Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided [it] and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you were out.’ Brother Hall began to cry. Said he had tried others. Could not get any. Went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett. ‘Well, Brother Hall, you needn’t bring this back if the Lord sent you for it. You don’t owe me for it.’ You can’t tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.”
The Lord is as capable of planting a temple anywhere at any time as he is to have flour show up on the doorstep of Newton Hall’s home. It would be wonderfully efficient and tremendously practical. But he does not work that way. Why?
Effectiveness Before Efficiency
It is not in the economy of heaven to sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency. We see in the life of the Savior so many instances that he ministered to people one-by-one when it would have been far more efficient to have blessed others in another way. He touched the rocks presented by the brother of Jared “one by one.” [11] In 3 rd Nephi we read that the Savior took the children and blessed them “one by one.” [12] All came “one by one” to feel the prints of the nails in his hands. [13] On that same occasion he healed the sick one at a time. When you go to the temple to do proxy work, wouldn’t it be more efficient to take several names through at a time? Certainly, but that is not the economy of Heaven. The greatest work you will do for others in your life will be by the process of “one by one.”
Personal growth and godly refinement come from the struggle and the sacrifice. It is not very efficient, but it is very effective. Paul reminded the Hebrews that though Christ was the Son of God, “yet learned he obedience by the things he suffered.” [14]
For example, consider the life of John Rowe Moyle, who left his Utah County home every morning at 2:00 a.m. to walk 22 miles to Salt Lake to work on the temple. He had an accident that crushed his leg, and it was amputated. Sitting in bed he carved a wooden leg and built up his endurance until he could walk to Salt Lake and work on the temple. It was his hands that carved the words “Holiness to the Lord” that graces the east side of the temple. Could the Lord have prevented that accident to Brother Moyle? Certainly. Could He have saved the leg? No question. How effective might this experience have been in refining Brother Moyles’ character, faith, and spiritual endurance? Another example.
Consider the task before the Brother of Jared in the construction of the barges. The Lord gave him the design and how to solve the air problem. The Brother of Jared was left with the problem of light. The Lord provided some practical guidance and then asked him “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” [15] Here we see an example of the grand principle of acting rather than being acted upon. If the Brother of Jared had answered “well give me light” he would have “ask[ed] amiss.” [16]
So he went to work. Imagine how he felt when the best he could do to solve the light problem was to present molten rock. [17] Listen to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s description of that moment and how it is captured in the Book of Ether, Chapter 3. “Things – the brother of Jared hardly knows what to call them. Rocks probably doesn’t sound any more inspiring . Here, standing next to the Lord’s magnificent handiwork … these impeccably designed, and marvelously unique seagoing barges, the brother of Jared offers for his contribution: rocks. As he eyes the sleek ships the Lord has provided, it is a moment of genuine humility.” [18] Wouldn’t it have been far more efficient for the Lord to have given him the answer to the light problem? What was it that Heaven wanted to refine in him? Efficient? No. Effective? Yes.
What was it in the struggle of obtaining the plates that refined Nephi and prepared him for the work the Lord had for him? What is it that you are to learn from the elongated tailored tutorials you may be in? Efficiency is not necessarily in the economy of Heaven. President Packer is fond of reminding us that “things that grow slowly live longer.” [19] So it is with you and your character. The trick is to learn what you need to learn from the experiences you are having. Are there times when efficiency and expediency are in the economy of heaven? Yes. There are times when a Liahona may appear outside our tent doors. [20]
Our Loss of Little Children
Joseph F. Smith, in the “economy of heaven, and in the wisdom of the Father, who doeth all things well, those who are cut down as little children are without any responsibility for their taking off, they, themselves, not having the intelligence and wisdom to take care of themselves and to understand the laws of life; and, in the wisdom and mercy and economy of God our Heavenly Father, all that could have been obtained and enjoyed by them if they had been permitted to live in the flesh will be provided for them hereafter. They will lose nothing by being taken away from us in this way. …” [21] In the economy of Heaven, there is charity, justice, and equity.
Our Need to Work Out Our Own Salvation
In the economy of heaven, we all must work out our own salvation. It cannot be hired out for someone else to do for us. From the parable of the 10 virgins, we learn there are no shortcuts, there are no free-riders. [22] Brigham Young, “[For a person to be] saved in the celestial kingdom of God without being prepared to dwell in a pure and holy place, it is all nonsense and ridiculous; and if there be any who think they can gain the presence of the Father and the Son by fighting for, instead of living, their religion, they will be mistaken, consequently the quicker we make up our minds to live our religion the better it will be for us ... The economy of heaven is to gather in all, and save everybody who can be saved.” [23]
Now here is a little sidelight on this issue of following the counsel of the brethren as we strive to “live after the manner of happiness.” [24] Elder Henry F. Acebedo shares an insight that helped him as a new convert to the Church. When he was in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college, his commanding officer told the trainees, “Obey first before you complain.” [25]This applies to the following the Honor Code including the dress and grooming standards. President Packer’s suggestion is wise counsel when applied to living the gospel and honoring the covenants you made regarding attending the College. He advised: “ ‘Don't knock it till you've tried it’ .... If you haven't tried it yet, you are as yet no witness on the matter.” [26] Exercise your faith and put the Lord’s promises to the test for yourself.
Our Need to Understand and Receive What Has Been Written
We live in a time when the windows of heaven have swung wide open. Perhaps there has never been a time when the volume of inspired instruction and counsel from living prophets, seers and revelators has been so available to the world. Never has there been a greater need for the ability to obtain personal revelation. But understand this about the economy of heaven. Elder L. Lionel Kendrick pointed out that: “In the economy of heaven the Lord never uses a floodlight when a flashlight is sufficient—and so it is in receiving personal revelation.” Brother David McConkie of the Sunday School Presidency stated, “It is contrary to the economy of heaven for the Lord to repeat to each of us individually what he has already revealed to us collectively.” [27] Ours is the duty to (1) know what God has spoken directly and what his word is through the counsel of the leaders of His church, (2) to understand its application to our lives, and (3) then use our agency to act in all diligence and not be acted upon.
Remember that in the economy of heaven, we do not get answers to all our questions. The development of our agency to act and see the consequences of our actions is more important than to get all the answers when we think we need them. We develop confidence as we learn to move in positive directions and receive a confirming witness that our actions are pleasing to and consistent with the mind and will of the Lord.
Our Need to Build Our Capacity
In the economy of Heaven the more we try to do our best to do the work God has called us to do and to live more righteously that we might be a better tool in the hands of God to bless others, the more we have the capacity to do so.
You are needed as laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. Do not discount your capacity to serve and to contribute. In the economy of heaven, experience is not necessarily a requirement for making a contribution. Elder Russell Taylor of the Seventy stated, “Remember that it was through the instrumentality of a young boy in his 15th year that the gospel light was given back to the world. Age confers no inherent advantages in the kingdom; only righteousness does. You, in your youth, have the selfsame blessings therefrom. There is much you can do to build the kingdom … Only Satan would have you underestimate your worth.” [28]
Brother John C. Taggart, former Area Seventy: ““A man should [not] run faster than he has strength.” We are all bound to honor our covenants, but all are not asked to carry the same load. The parable of the talents and the story of the widow’s mite teach that we will not be judged by our output. Our charge is to magnify what we are given by the Lord, however large or small it may be. We each possess different gifts, abilities, and capacities. That we are to use them in the service of others is King Benjamin’s main message, and it is a persistent theme throughout the scriptures. There is nothing, however, in the revelations to suggest that modest results from heartfelt effort are less valued in the economy of heaven than greater or more impressive results. We are to thrust in our sickle with our might, thereby bringing salvation to our souls.” [29] And what does it mean to magnify what we have been given? To simply use those things to strengthen our faith and resolve, and to build up the Kingdom. Elder Ballard provided this summary that has application to building our own capacities, “Brothers and sisters, be wise with your families. Be wise in fulfilling your Church callings. Be wise with your time. Be wise in balancing all of your responsibilities. O be wise, my beloved brothers and sisters. What can I say more?” [30]
Our Need to Labor
There is something noble and character-shaping in the doing the work of the world and the Church. In the world, the longer and harder we work, the more we are expected to be paid, especially if we are paid by the hour. But as our responsibilities grow in the church, the more time we will spend serving, helping, and lifting others. There is no monetary pay for the extra hours and the harder work. Even the welfare program of the Church requires work. Work is character-building, there is something ennobling about earning our way to self-reliance “by the sweat of [our] brow.” [31]
When we understand the economy of heaven and how it often works in contrast to the economy of man, we are better able to fulfill our mission in life and understand the purposes of our experiences. This semester, may we learn what we must know, that we might do what needs to be done, that we might continue our journey to become what we have already promised we would become.

[1] Jacob 2:17-19
[2] See Mosiah 18:8-9; D&C 43:16
[3] Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, July 1989, p.4
[4] Matthew 6:19
[5] Mark 10:17-24
[6] 3 Nephi 9:14
[7] D&C 39:4
[8] D&C 84:38
[9] 2 Timothy 4:8
[10] Ecclesiastes 3:1
[11] Ether 3:6
[12] 3 Nephi 17:21
[13] 3 Nephi 11:15
[14] Hebrews 5:8
[15] Ether 2:23
[16] James 4:3; 2 Nephi 4:35
[17] Ether 3:3
[18] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Rending the Veil of Unbelief,” in The Voice of My Servants: Apostolic Messages on Teaching, Learning, and Scripture, ed. Scott C. Esplin and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2010).
[19] “Some Things Every Missionary Should Know,” Seminar for New Mission Presidents—2002 (26 June), 6
[20] 1 Nephi 16:10
[21] Chapter 15: The Salvation of Little Children, “ Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (1998)
[22] Matthew 25:1-9
[23] Chapter 40: Salvation through Christ, “ Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997)
[24] 2 Nephi 5:27
[25] Henry F. Acebedo, “Parables of Jesus: The Laborers.” Retrieved May 18, 2011 from
[26] Elder Boyd K. Packer, The other side of the ship. Conference Report, October 1969, afternoon meeting 36 .
[27] “Gospel Learning and Teaching,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2010, 13
[28] Russell C. Taylor, “Where Would I Be?” New Era Oct. 1988
[29] John C. Taggart, All Things in Wisdom and Order (2010). Retrieved May 18, 2011, from
[30] M. Russell Ballard, “O Be Wise,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2006, 20
[31] Moses 5:1


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