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Tim Sloan

Tim Sloan
Timothy Q. Sloan
Tim Sloan joined Ensign College in January 2020. He comes with senior-level, P&L experience in industries of consumer-packaged goods, education and non-profit international development. Tim enjoys mentoring young adults in business endeavors and start-ups.

He received his B.A. degree in History/English at Brigham Young University.

Tim grew up in Alberta, Canada, and California. He and his wife, Cindy, reared their five children in California, Washington and Utah. They have lived in Latin America and have a love for people of all cultures. His interests include running, fishing, camping and reading.

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Look Unto Me in Every Thought

President Kusch, thank you for that generous and kind introduction. It’s an honor for my wife, Cindy, and me to be here. Even though I’ve only known President Kusch for a little over a year, I feel a close friendship with him. I can tell you that he’s unassuming, very patient, and kind and cares deeply for the success and welfare of all employees and students. Since coming to Ensign College earlier this year, I can also say that it’s been such a delight to work with the colleagues that I do. I’m grateful for their friendship and have appreciated learning much from them.

I want to share story that happened to me when I was 20-years-old, serving as a missionary in Bolivia years ago. On one occasion, my companion and I were sitting in a chapel attending sacrament meeting in a newly created ward that was part of the first stake formed in the country, just a few months before. Sitting next to us were Brother and Sister Cuzmar, a married couple in their mid-40s who were recently baptized. During the portion of the ward business, to my delight, the bishop asked the ward members to sustain and support Sister Cuzmar to serve as the ward primary president. My companion and I were thrilled and immediately congratulated her. She smiled and accepted our gesture, but then a few seconds later, she leaned over and whispered a question very calmly with no disturbance in her voice, “Elder Sloan, what is a primary president and what am I supposed to do?” I asked her, “You mean the bishop didn’t meet with you to extend the calling?” She said, “no.” I whispered to her, “He was wrong in not interviewing you first, to explain the calling.” By now the sacrament hymn had started, and through the rest of the meeting, I was harboring feelings of annoyance towards the bishop, attributing a few less-than-kind thoughts to him. By the time the meeting had ended, I had imagined up several different ways in which I could explain to the bishop just how inept, insensitive and careless he really was. Admittedly, my feelings felt justified because I thought I was being protective of a convert who was new to the Church. So I was feeling pretty good about myself—until, that is, Sister Cuzmar said something that completely deflated my self-righteous indignation. Paraphrasing her, she said, “Elder Sloan, you don’t need to be upset or say anything on my behalf. When Antonio, (her husband) and I agreed to be baptized, we promised to be willing to do whatever was asked of us. I don’t know the bishop very well, but I’m sure he’s an inspired man with good intentions, and I’m happy to serve in any way I can.”

Her words of meekness, with no guile completely left me speechless. Sister Cuzmar was right and I had been foolishly blinded by my pride. She taught me a great lesson that day, one that I have pondered upon many times over the years because I’ve observed similar situations played out several times in my life, especially in my international business experiences where misunderstandings can so easily happen.

I have asked myself, what happened to my faith in that moment? Did I just simply put on pause my covenant to follow the Savior who requires that I love my neighbor(1) so I could justify being upset? I have wondered, if we find ourselves in a trial and our faith slips away, then what fills the void in our hearts? If there’s no faith to keep us steadfast, what takes its place? How do we cope and endure through afflictions, regrets and heartaches when we abandon faith? Sadly, I have learned that when our hearts and minds are not continually cultivating a faith in Christ(2), then it’s easier to substitute our faith with what the scriptures call “imaginations.” When we live with a shallow trust in God’s timing and promises, our thoughts can easily fill our hearts with exaggerated imaginings across the spectrum of negative possibilities. And when this happens it’s easier to convince ourselves to frame events through the lens of hopelessness on the one hand and self-righteous justifications or all-or-nothing scenarios on the other. Without faith in Christ, there can be no hope(3) and our thoughts are left with limited or exaggerated perspectives. It’s no wonder that it’s hard to have hope when faith is absent because what’s left are feelings of discouragement and despair(4).

Now I know, in a personal way, that negative thoughts can be very, very difficult to ignore. They have the destructive power to convince us that we can never be forgiven or loved. And that simply isn’t true. Social scientists have a name for this and it’s called the “negativity effect.” Basically, it’s the “tendency for negative events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones.”(5) For example, if nine people say something nice about your clothes but the tenth person says your shoes look strange, which comment do you think you will remember and allow to bother you all day and into the evening? In the mission experience I related earlier, I ignored the good news of Sister Cuzmar’s calling as primary president, and instead focused my feelings on the bishop’s oversight. It was Sister Cuzmar who went forward in faith, feeling assured that all would turn out okay. In contrast, I didn’t have faith for those brief moments because I felt no peace, only feelings of contention, and I presumed to have a perfect assessment of the situation, but we know that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things.”(6) Negative, dark thoughts towards others come from the Adversary who tries to stir us “to anger against that which is good.”(7) And these feelings, at their core, are prideful and they don’t stop with how we judge others. President Ezra Taft Benson said,

“Pride is a very misunderstood sin…. Pride is essentially competitive in nature …. Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. ‘How everything affects me’ is the center of all that matters. Pride is ugly. It says, ‘If you succeed, I am a failure.’”(8)

Being easily offended comes from pride. That’s what happened to me.

I share a quote from a talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell who quoted Thomas B. Marsh, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the 1830s, who deeply regretted being offended and in letting his murmuring and feelings get the best of him:

“I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart…. I became jealous of the Prophet…and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for evil;…I thought I saw a beam in Brother Joseph’s eye, but it was nothing but a mote, and my own eye was filled with the beam;…I got mad and I wanted everybody else to be mad. I talked with Brother Brigham Young and Brother Heber C. Kimball, and I wanted them to be mad like myself; and I saw they were not mad, and I got madder still because they were not.”(9)

In the Book of Mormon, the words “imagining” and “imaginations” in reference to negative outcomes are found in a couple of places. Laman and Lemuel frequently imagined many falsehoods about their father Lehi and brother Nephi that were untrue. Ironically, they accused Nephi of being “led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart.” Instead of turning their questions to the Lord, they chose instead to murmur. On one occasion, Laman asserted that Nephi, was plotting with “cunning arts” so that “he may deceive” and “to make himself a king and a ruler” and in another moment of self-pity, with great exaggeration they blamed Nephi and their father for all that they had suffered, believing that “it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem” where the people were “righteous.”(10) Instead of exercising faith, they felt entitled to have understanding handed to them.(11)

Displacing faith with speculation and distorted thoughts was a reoccurring pattern with the Nephites who had earlier experienced manifestations confirming the Savior’s birth only to turn around a few years later to deny what had happened.(12) After seeing first-hand, the “signs and wonders” of Christ’s birth, the Nephites became “less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven” and they convinced themselves to “disbelieve all which they had [previously] heard and seen” for “imagining up some vain thing in their hearts.…” Satan was able to “get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and vain thing.”(13)

Imagining false scenarios is the opposite of faith and it’s altogether too common in our day. It replaces hope, peace and the contentment of gratitude with contention, envy and entitlement. The Lord knows that worries and concerns are very personal. He empathizes not only with our afflictions but also with our fears and disappointments.(14) And if we’re willing to hear Him, we will feel the Comforter bring peace and understanding to our hearts.(15) And even if we struggle with our weaknesses and our faith wavers, He is long suffering and always merciful. Sometimes with a blend of wonderment and empathy, though, we might hear Him ask, “How is it that ye have no faith?”(16) That question that he posed to his apostles has always resonated with me. In my mind, I hear other variations of the same question like, “Yes, Tim, I know you are facing a scary and frightful situation in your life right now. Or I know you feel offended, embarrassed and hurt, and I understand that it’s easy to imagine that worse-case possibilities will happen, but could you not at least try to exercise a little particle of faith, enough to pray and even fast, to let go of your pride and take baby steps to move forward with meekness and trust?”

Faith requires that we move forward with a “brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men,” (17) not with a dimness of paralyzing comparisons or a prideful expectation of being better at something than others.(18) In his book, Lost Connections, the British journalist Johann Hari researches the underlying reasons for the worries and stresses that are common of our day, consulting with psychologists and therapists all over the world. He relates what one psychologist, Tim Kasser, shared about consequences of pride associated with materialism,

“‘You’ve always got to be wondering about yourself—how are people judging you?’ It forces you to ‘focus on other people’s opinions of you, and their praise of you—and then you’re kind of locked into having to worry what other people think about you, and if other people are going to give you those rewards that you want. That’s a heavy load to bear.”(19)

Thankfully, Heavenly Father blesses us with the gift of agency and the gifts of the Spirit to help us carry our crosses and lighten our burdens(20), to keep us steadfast beyond our natural capabilities, to enable us to look beyond our negative circumstances and choose how we think about and respond to our trials. Victor E. Frankl related the following observation from his captivity during World War II:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”(21)

Moroni knew our day and that we would be prideful.(22) For this reason, I believe he wrote about hope, faith and charity with such a heightened sense of concern for our spiritual welfare. Charity, the pure of love Christ, embodies traits that are completely opposite to the pride of our day.(23) He knew that our society would clamor for a God that conforms to its limited perspectives and worldly moral standards.(24) Perhaps we might admit that as we struggle with a trial, we sometimes imagine a God that will conform to our concept of what is right. We imagine the miracle as we think it should be and when it doesn’t happen as we expect, we set ourselves up to be disappointed at best or blame God at worst. Sadly, when God doesn’t meet our expectations, we are all too quick to outsource our trust to something that is more immediate, that will validate our limited understanding. And when that happens, our belief that God “is mighty to save”(25) can become foolishness to us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said,

“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”(26)

Satan is the great flatterer(27) and he will certainly endorse any belief that puts limitations on the Lord’s power of deliverance. Ironically, the very miracle we are seeking may not be what is best for us at all and we won’t recognize that unless we are submissive and look unto Christ for greater clarity and understanding.(28) We can easily be blinded with imaginings that obscure the miracles that may be already unfolding right in front of us. Miracles never produce faith.(29) Faith is developed through nourishment of the word, humbly listening to inspired messages(30) and being obedient to the Lord’s commandments with diligence and patience for the seed to take root and grow.(31) If we’re not willing to meekly submit to the Lord, we may imagine a God who does not love us because answers are not coming to us as we want. Speaking to us in our day, Moroni warned us about reshaping God to suit our needs:

“…if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.”(32)

And how does this process of displacing our faith and hope with unfounded imaginings begin? Moroni tells us that it begins with not understanding the scriptures, not praying to have the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost, not seeking gifts of the Spirit, and dismissing the words of prophets and apostles.(33) When we make little or no attempts to know God and to learn how He deals with His children we become vulnerable to spiritual frustration or worse, aloofness.(34) Moroni says,

“And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles?.... I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”(35)

Brothers and sisters, our Savior, Jesus Christ is a god of miracles. He is mighty to save. And because of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we can trust Him and feel that even our feeble efforts to be disciples are not vain. The words of a popular hymn say, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings….” (Hymn 241) We cannot have a perfect knowledge that things will turn out bad; therefore, because of faith we can hope for better things to come (36). And because of our gift of agency (37) and the Savior’s grace, (38) we have reason to rejoice that we can exercise a particle of faith, even a tiny seed of desire to believe, (39) that all is “not lost.” Yes, there is opposition to all things, (40) and “for now, we see through a glass, darkly,” (41) but we have the assurance that as we learn of Christ and strive to draw closer to Him in keeping our covenants, we can receive spiritual gifts that bring peace and deliverance from any negative and narrow perspective that press down upon us.(42) We have these comforting words that the Lord gives to His people through the Prophet Jeremiah at a time when Israel was taken captive in Babylon:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord; and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations.”(43)

As we strive to become capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ, let us hearken to President Russel M. Nelson and let God prevail in our thoughts and feelings.(44) May we answer the Lord’s invitation to look unto Him in every thought, to doubt not and fear not.45 And may we do the “spiritual work” that includes turning to the Lord with meekness and gratitude, allowing Him to influence our perspective, our behavior and our desires.(46) He is “the way, the truth and the life” and His peace will bless us to not be troubled or afraid.(47) In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

References

[1] Matthew 5:43-44, 46-48; John 15:12

[2] Alma 37: 36-37

[3] Moroni 7:42

[4] Moroni 10:21-23

[5] John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister, The Power of Bad (Penguin Press, 2019), 1-10

[6] Alma 32:21

[7] 2 Nephi 28:20

[8] Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride” General Conference, April 1989

[9] Neal A. Maxwell, “Murmur Not” General Conference, October 1989

[10] 1 Nephi 16:38; 17:20-22

[11] 1 Nephi 15:8-11

[12] 3 Nephi 1:22

[13] 3 Nephi 2:1-2

[14] Alma 7:15

[15] John 14:26

[16] Mark 4:38-40

[17] 2 Nephi 31:20

[18] Dr. Jeffry H. Larson, “What Do You Expect?: A Key to Personal Happiness,” BYU Devotional, July 14, 2009

[19]Johann Hari, Lost Connections – Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—And the Unexpected Solutions (Bloomsbury, 2018), 98

20] 2 Nephi 2:26-28; D&C 46:8-10; Matthew 11:28-30, 16:24-26; See also, Elder Ulisses Soares “Take Up Our Cross,” General Conference, October 2019

[21] Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, (Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1985), 86

[22] Mormon 8:35-36

[23] Moroni 7:45, 47

[24] 2 Chronicles 18:7; Mosiah 13:4

[25] Alma 7:14

[26] Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—Blessings—of Discipleship,” General Conference, April 2014

[27] 2 Nephi 28:21-22

[28] Mosiah 3:19

[29] Ether 12:6

[30] Romans 10:17

[31] Alma 32: 40-42

[32] Mormon 9:10

[33] Mormon 9:7-8

[34] 1 Nephi 2:12; Mosiah 10:14; Mormon 9:20; 1 Cor. 2:14; Proverbs 16:18, 18:12

[35] Mormon 9:18-19

[36] Ether 12:4

[37] 2 Nephi 2:26-28; Alma 42:27

[38] 2 Nephi 9:8, 10:23-24; Jacob 4:7; Ether 12:27; Acts 15:11; Romans 4:16

[39] Alma 32:27-28

[40] 2 Nephi 2:11

[41] 1 Corinthians 13:12

[42] Mosiah 24:12-17; Alma 58:10-12; D&C 46:9-10

[43] Jeremiah 29:11-14

[44] Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” General Conference, October 2020

[45] D&C 6:36; Isaiah 45:22

[46] Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives;” 3 Nephi 19:24

[47] John 14:6, 27

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