“Life’s Lessons Learned”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Joseph P. Wirthlin All photographs Copyright 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Many of the most important and life-changing moments of my life occurred when I was a young man. The lessons I learned then formed my character and shaped my destiny…

I have known many great men and women. Although they have different backgrounds, talents, and perspectives, they all have this in common: they work diligently and persistently towards achieving their goals…

I urge you to examine your life. Determine where you are and what you need to do to be the kind of person you want to be. Create inspiring, noble, and righteous goals that fire your imagination and create excitement in your heart. And then keep your eye on them. Work consistently towards achieving them…

[A] lesson I learned on the football field was at the bottom of a pile of 10 other players. It was the Rocky Mountain Conference championship game and the play called for me to run the ball up the middle to score the go-ahead touchdown. I took the handoff and plunged into the line. I knew I was close to the goal line but I didn’t know how close. Although I was pinned at the bottom of the pile, I reached my fingers forward a couple of inches and I could feel it. The goal line was two inches away.

At that moment, I was tempted to push the ball forward. I could have done it. And when the refs finally pulled the players off the pile, I would have been a hero. No one would ever have known.

I had dreamed of this moment from the time I was a boy. And it was right there within my reach.

But then I remembered the words of my mother. “Joseph,” she had often said to me, “do what is right, no matter the consequence. Do what is right and things will turn out ok.”

I wanted so desperately to score that touchdown. But more than being a hero in the eyes of my friends, I wanted to be hero in the eyes of my mother.

And so I left the ball where it was. Two inches from the goal line.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a defining experience. Had I moved the ball, I could have been a champion for a moment, but the reward of temporary glory would have carried with it too steep and too lasting a price — and it would have engraved upon my conscience a scar that would have stayed with me the remainder of my life. I knew I must do what is right…

Perhaps one of the spiritual gifts for which I am most grateful is that I have been blessed with an obedient spirit. When I heard wise counsel from my parents of Church leaders, I listened and tried to make it part of my thoughts and actions.

Brethren of the priesthood, I urge you to cultivate the gift of an obedient spirit.

“The Aaronic Priesthood: Preparing for the Decade of Decision”
Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Robert D. Hales

Tonight I wish to speak to the youngest members of this royal army — the Aaronic Priesthood: deacons, teachers, and priests venturing forth upon the battlefield of life. Although you do not remember it, you enlisted in this cause with a single decision, made long ago in our pre-mortal existence. There in the Grand Council in Heaven, you decided to obey the will of your Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ…

The Aaronic priesthood is the preparatory priesthood given for this preparatory time in your life. How you bear that priesthood now will prepare you to make the most important decision in the future. These decisions include receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, going to the temple, serving a mission, getting an education, selecting an occupation, and choosing a companion and being sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. There is a time and season for all of our decisions. Make sure you make decisions in the proper time and season. All of these life-altering decisions will be made in a very busy, relatively short period during your twenties — during what I call the “Decade of Decision.”

…In the decade ahead your time for preparation will be limited. As Aaronic priesthood bearers, it is important that you prepare now. You must develop your own pre-conditioned responses for the important decisions you will be making in the next decade of you life. You must know what to do and when to do it when each decision presents itself. Remember that making no decision at all could be just as deadly as making the wrong decision…

Now is the time to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, which means accepting His invitation to “Come, follow me.”

…Now is the time to organize and prepare ourselves to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion…

Now is the time to decide who your friends are and to become worthy of a righteous eternal companion…

Now is the time to prepare for your mission…

Now is the time to prepare for training, education, and an occupation…

Now is the time to obey…

Brethren young and old, when we practice selective obedience, we change our position relative to the Lord — and usually by only one degree at a time. As the deceptive forces of the adversary work on us, we cannot detect them, and we experience spiritual vertigo. While it may seem like we are going in a safe direction, we are in fact headed for disaster…

Now is the time to use our time properly…

Now is the time to safeguard your birthright…

Young men, you are the vital strength of the Lord’s army, the stripling warriors of these latter days.

“Lay Up in Store”
Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

Bishop Keith B. McMullin

There is no need to be anxious about events leading up to the Second Coming. Let us instead be filled with gratitude for our understanding of what lies ahead. Let us appreciate that we are in charge of our own world, being the Lord’s agents over that which He has entrusted to us. The formula is simple: Be faithful. Unencumber your life. Lay up in store.

Be Faithful. As priesthood bearers, we cultivate a gentle touch and kindly word. We are men who pray, who keep the Sabbath Day holy, and who know the word of God. We tithe, fast, and give a generous fast offering. We keep our covenants and consecrate our lives to the building up of God’s kingdom.

And, brethren, we lay up in store!…

Unencumber Your Life. As men of God, we turn from excess to that which edifies, for “that which doth not edify is not of God.” If dealings or involvements or pursuits or schedules detract from putting God first, we pare back and unencumber our lives. If we have debts, we pay them and live debt free to the extent possible…

Lay Up In Store. Wives are instrumental in this work, but they need husbands who lead out in family preparedness.

Children need parents who instill in them this righteous tradition. They will then do likewise with their children, and their stores will not fail.

A cardinal principle of the gospel is to prepare for the day of scarcity. Work, industry, frugality are part of the royal order of life. This is a temporal world, and faithful men are “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

…We call upon priesthood bearers to store sufficient so that you and yours can weather the vicissitudes of life. Please see to it that those entrusted to your watch care receive these pamphlets entitled All is Safely Gathered In. Exhort them to prepare now for rainy days ahead.

“Message to My Grandsons”
President James E. Faust
Of the First Presidency

President James E. Faust

To hold the priesthood is a signal honor; yet any worthy man or boy over the age of twelve in the Church may receive it … It is an authority beyond all human power to create…

You young men are no doubt looking forward to receiving the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood. Of this higher priesthood the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Its institution was prior to the foundation of this earth, or the morning stars sang together, or the sons of God shouted for joy, and is the highest and holiest Priesthood, and is after the order of the Son of God.”

…I hope each one of you becomes a man of God. You will become a man of God through righteous works…

The increased permissiveness of our society will require us to hold very tightly to the iron rod of righteousness in order to receive the blessings and protection of the Lord. There is a great danger in trifling with Satan’s temptations. We will need to guard against all forms of evil all of the days of our lives…

Marriage and fatherhood can bring eternal happiness and joy. As President Joseph F. Smith said, it is family life “on which the government of the Church is based and perpetuated.”

…I have learned that for those of us who hold the priesthood the best formula for success is “seek ye first the kingdom of god, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Success will not come immediately because it requires preparation and hard work. There really are no shortcuts to success.

“The Priesthood — A Sacred Gift”
President Thomas S. Monson
Of the First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson

When we look at the world as a whole, with a population of over six-and-one-half billion people, we realize that we comprise a very small, select group. We who hold the priesthood are, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood.”

…My brethren, the priesthood is a gift which brings with it not only special blessings but also solemn responsibilities. It is our responsibility to conduct our lives so that we are every worthy of the priesthood we bear…

Wherever we go, our priesthood goes with us. Are we standing in “holy places”? … If, every time we started a little detour away from the straight and narrow, we would remember, “I am carrying my priesthood here. Should I? It would not take us long to work back into the straight and narrow.”

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “There is no limit to the power of the priesthood which you hold. The limit comes in you if you do not live in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord and you limit yourselves in the power you exert.”

My brethren of the priesthood — from the youngest to he oldest — are you living your life in accordance with that which the Lord requires? Are you worthy to bear the priesthood of God?

…My brethren, let us ever remember that the priesthood of God which we bear is a sacred gift which brings to us and to those we serve the blessings of heaven. May we, in whatever place we may be, honor and protect that priesthood. May we ever be on the Lord’s errand, that we might ever be entitled to the Lord’s help.

There is a war being waged for men’s souls — yours and mind. It continues without abatement. Like a clarion call comes the word of the Lord to you, to me, and to priesthood holders everywhere: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley

As all of you know, I was ordained and set apart as President of the Church 12 years ago, specifically on March 12, 1995. Elder Ballard has pulled together some figures concerning those 12 years. I quote from his statement:

  • 387,750 missionaries have entered the mission field, which represents almost 40% of the missionaries who have ever served in this dispensation — that is 40% in the 12 most recent years of the 177 years since the Church was organized.
  • 3,400,000 converts have been baptized, which is the equivalent of over one-fourth of the total current membership of the Church.
  • The total number of missions in the Church has increased from 303 to 344, with three more to be added soon.
  • Retention as measured by sacrament meeting attendance, Priesthood ordinations, and tithing faithfulness has increased significantly.

Now, while all of this has been tremendously significant, I am convinced that with a little more dedication this wonderful recent past can be but a prologue to a greater future…This prophetic dream holds something for every man and boy assembled in this vast congregation tonight.

…In modern revelation the Lord has said: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 133:5)

In a world that wallows in filth, be clean — in language, in thought, in body, in dress.

To each of you I say, be clean in your language. There is so much of filthy, sleazy talk these days. Failure to express yourself in language that is clean marks you as one whose vocabulary is extremely limited…

Be clean in thought. Said the Lord, “Let all things be done in cleanliness before me” (D&C 42:41).

A filthy mind expresses itself in filthy and profane language. A clean mind expresses itself in language that is positive and uplifting and in deeds that bring happiness to the heart.

Be clean in body and dress and manner…

Be clean and neat and orderly. Sloppy dress leads to sloppy manners…

And so, my dear brethren, I might go on. I might discuss with you what is happening on the Internet and with the use of the computer that leads to degrading thoughts and actions. Suffice it to say it is totally unbecoming you as one who holds the priesthood of God. You are His chosen servant; you have been ordained to something holy and wonderful. You cannot live in the world and partake of the ways of the world. You must be above all of that.