You all thought you were coming here to hear a devotional, well April Fools! No, I am just kidding. I am so grateful to be here today. A couple of additional things you should know about me. First, and least important, I love movies. I enjoy watching them, and I enjoy finding places in life where they can be applied and surprisingly there are many. Secondly, and more important, I have always had a desire to help others. I have wanted to make a difference all of my life and that is one of the reasons I chose the profession of human resources—I thought I would have the chance to help others. I have been right but just not always in the way I expected. Finally, and most important, I have a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and all that he has done for me and the example he has set for all of us. I just felt it was important that you know that.
As I thought about what I would like to talk about today the “power of one” kept coming to mind. I thought of Joseph Smith in the old video, when he was reading in the scriptures “One Lord, One faith, One baptism”. In Ephesians chapter 4: 4-6 it states, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
The last line really stood out to me “who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” “In you all,” God, is in us all. I currently teach the sunbeams in primary and every week we sing—okay we try to sing—I am a child of God. I have had the opportunity to sing that song for many years, but as I started working on this talk it was strongly reiterated to me that I truly am a son of God and God is in me and God is in you. We can be one with God.
3 Nephi 28:10:
And for this cause ye shall have fullness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fullness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;
This tells me that we can be even as Jesus is one with the Father. We have great potential but we so easily forget that and sell ourselves short of that privilege and potential.
In April 2011 President Uchtdorf, gave a talk titled “Your Potential, Your Privilege.” In this talk he spoke of a man that sold himself short. President Uchtdorf shared:
There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.
He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.
On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late, the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.
This man did not understand what he could do and by doing so sold himself short. We so often do that to ourselves as well. We underestimate what we can do to make a difference in the lives of others. We are afraid to let show who and what we are, or we forget that others around us are the same. We and they are children of God. We all have that potential, and we should not sell ourselves short.
I am reminded of one of my favorite movies. The movie is a story of a man that not only understood his place but understood the ability and potential of others. The movie is titled “Stand and Deliver.” This movie is the story of Jaime Escalante who quit his job as a computer programmer to teach math at an inner city high school in Los Angeles. All of the people around the students in his class, teachers, parents, other students, even the students themselves, had already concluded that Mr. Escalante’s students were going nowhere and did not have a chance in life—much less in school. Mr. Escalante did not buy into this belief and worked with all his strength to teach the students math up to and including Calculus. He helped them, worked with them during the summer, came in early, stayed late, and in the end prepared them for the advance placement test. Just before they were to take the test, one of the students asked him if he was worried that they would mess up on the test. Mr. Escalante, having a greater understanding of what his students could become, told the student that he was not worried about the test tomorrow. He was worried about their whole lives. Mr. Escalante understood the potential of those students even when they did not. He gave everything he had to work with them and help them achieve that potential.
The advantage we have here is we should understand our potential. We have help. The Lord has said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Or in other words, you have the potential to be with our Heavenly Father and to be like Him and He is working to help you. Look around you, every person you can see has the potential to be like God. We should not sell ourselves or others short.
We, and when I say we I mean me, have a tendency to quickly judge an individual by what they are doing, what they might look like, or where they are. But as our own Vice President Andersen has shared with me a number of times, we want to be judged by our intentions, but we are usually quick to judge others by their actions. If we take a step back and look at each situation from a broader perspective it would be easier to be less judgmental. I guess what I am asking of you is to look a little deeper. Have a little more of an eternal perspective when you go through your day. Remember that this is a time to be tested—a time for us all to grow and learn. And if we help one another we just might be able to overcome some of the difficulties that we are facing together. This is very easy to say and much more difficult to do.
It has always been interesting to me that often it is easier to do the big things. When there is a large need or an emergency. Most of us are very willing to jump in and assist. It is the smaller day to day service opportunities that we must increase our ability to do. A good friend of mine was teaching a class to a group of my human resource peers and the topic was one that has been covered a number of times. One of the attendees raised his hand and said, “You are preaching to the choir.” The instructor looked directly at him and said “I understand, but the choir needs some practice.” Increasing our ability to view others through the lens of eternity is something that we need to practice. As I say that, I am reminded of my former coach who would always tell us that practice does not make perfect but practice makes permanent so it is perfect practice makes perfect permanent. We would start with the basics and practice those things until he was satisfied that we had mastered it. Then we would move to the next thing. This applies directly to us and our ability to serve others and become one with God. Alma 37:6, “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”
There are many stories that demonstrate the principle of “small and simple things,” but the one I would like to share comes from an experience that my son, who is currently serving a mission in Brazil, shared with us relating to “small and simple things.”
On Sunday there was a baptism for the other elders in our house. It was scheduled for after the great big stake conference. So after the meeting we all went to try and set stuff up for the baptism. The only problem was that there was no water in the font! The water wasn’t working! So we tried to find a place we could get water and there were some faucets and hose lines we were running into the font but it was so slow and we were running with buckets to anyplace on the church grounds where we could get water! The cool part was that just about the entire ward saw what we were doing and helped! There were little kids that would grab a tiny cup and run into the bathroom and fill it with water then run to the font and dump it in... we had older members grab big water bottles and fill it up at the drinking fountain and throw the water into the font! Cupful by cupful, step by step, the whole ward filled that font just enough to baptize someone they had never met... Man it was such a sweet experience seeing everyone doing everything they possibly could to help us fill the font! Each cupful doesn’t seem like it did anything but with everyone pitching in, the work will press forward! We don’t always need to do everything, have that huge gallon tank full of water! We need to do our part and help the church grow.....one cupful at a time.
You, brothers and sisters can be that one full cup for someone around you. One kind word, one kind action, one smile, one thoughtful email, one note of appreciation, those are the things that can be the “power of one”, for an individual.
King Benjamin lived it and shared it with us in Mosiah 2:16-17:
Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Now, I ask: why give service? Is service just for those being served? Elder Derek A. Cuthbert in the 1990 April conference shared in a talk titled “The Spirituality of Service,”
Over the years, many people, especially youth, have asked me, ‘Elder Cuthbert, how can I become more spiritual?’ My reply has always been the same: ‘You need to give more service.’
Service changes people. It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective, and brings out the best in each one of us. It gets us looking outward instead of inward. It prompts us to consider others’ needs ahead of our own. Righteous service is the expression of true charity… Service helps us establish true values and priorities by distinguishing between the worth of material things that pass. And those things of lasting, even eternal, value.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:27, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;”
One area I would like to quickly touch on is that of accepting service. We preach a culture of self-reliance and being able to take care of ourselves. We have grown resistant to accepting help. In fact if someone offers help or service we are often offended that they might think that we need some service. I will admit to being in this group until I had an experience that pushed me beyond what I could take care of myself.
Just after our youngest son was born, we were living in the Salt Lake area, we had gone over Thanksgiving weekend to attend a family reunion. We were just all gathering to sit down for lunch when I received a phone call from the first councilor in the bishopric. He told me that our home was on fire. He proceeded to say that the fire department was there working on the fire and no one was injured he also shared with me that they thought they had contained the fire to one or two rooms. So at this point I had pictured in my head that we would be able to stay in our home while we were repairing it. That thought could not have been further from the truth. Our home, while only two rooms were damaged by fire, was unlivable due to smoke damage, and I suddenly found myself, along with my wife and 4 young boys, homeless. Fortunately, for us we were away and did have a change of clothes and some toiletries and no one was injured. We also belonged to a ward that completely reached out to us to help and support us.
This was the crucial moment when you realize that you cannot do everything yourself and many people rallied around us. We had a family, with four children of their own, take us into their home for a couple of weeks until we could get other housing arranged. We had many people bring us clothing, food, and money. The first time an individual came up and handed me some money, I started to protest, and it was at this point I realized how ungrateful I was being. These people, my brothers and sisters from our ward, were attempting to provide to me and my family a service and I was protesting and complaining about it.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. We should not get to the point where we are expecting or feeling that we are entitled to others doing something for us, but we should be grateful for any and all service willingly given to us.
Joseph Fielding Smith has said, "No man is independent. Put a man off by himself where he could communicate with none of his fellow beings or receive aid from them, and he would perish miserably" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 218.).
From my viewpoint the attitude of being grateful is the difference between being a self-reliant individual that can accept service and being a drain on society that feels entitled to service. My challenge to you is to practice accepting service with a grateful heart.
Brothers and Sisters we have a prophet today that has a life full of practicing serving others. The lesson of service came early to President Monson. As told by Elder Holland,
President Monson was a Twenty-three-year-old, relatively new bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in the Temple View Stake, and was uncharacteristically restless as the stake priesthood leadership meeting progressed. He had the distinct impression that he should leave the meeting immediately and drive to the Veterans’ Hospital high up on the Avenues of Salt Lake City. Before leaving home that night he had received a telephone call informing him that an older member of his ward was ill and had been admitted to the hospital for care. Could the bishop, the caller wondered, find a moment to go by the hospital sometime and give a blessing? The busy young leader explained that he was just on his way to a stake meeting but that he certainly would be pleased to go by the hospital as soon as the meeting was concluded.
Now the prompting was stronger than ever: “Leave the meeting and proceed to the hospital at once.” But the stake president himself was speaking at the pulpit! It would be most discourteous to stand in the middle of the presiding officer’s message, make one’s way over an entire row of brethren, and then exit the building altogether. Painfully he waited out the final moments of the stake president’s message, then bolted for the door even before the benediction had been pronounced.
Running the full length of the corridor on the fourth floor of the hospital, the young bishop saw a flurry of activity outside the designated room. A nurse stopped him and said, “Are you Bishop Monson?”
“Yes,” was the anxious reply.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “The patient was calling your name just before he passed away.”
Fighting back the tears, Thomas S. Monson turned and walked back into the night. He vowed then and there that he would never again fail to act upon a prompting for the Lord. He would acknowledge the impressions of the Spirit when they came, and he would follow wherever they led him, ever to be “on the Lord’s errand.
There are many stories that have been shared where President Monson has continued to hone his ability to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and be the “one” that has made a difference in individual’s lives.
Of course, the greatest example we have to follow is that of Jesus Christ. Jesus spent his entire life serving and helping others. Christ served both physically and spiritually, He began by teaching at the temple when he was but 12 years old and he continued to teach and help to develop those around him until he was crucified. He also taught us that it did not matter your background, or where you were from, all people have need of being served. He shared that that service could come to you from anyone as in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The Savior taught that you should love your neighbor as yourself, mourn with those who mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. He showed that ability to mourn with those that mourn when he came to the place where they had laid Lazarus.
In John chapter 11 beginning with verse 32:
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
The Savior was not mourning for Lazarus, He wept with those who were mourning to demonstrate his love for them. He had compassion for the needs of the living.
Again in 3 Nephi chapter 17 he demonstrated his compassion and service for the people. He was visiting the people of Nephi and had just explained that he was going to depart so picking up in verse 5:
And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
Brothers and sisters the example has been set. We are to look for opportunities to serve and then step up and serve.
In Matthew chapter 25 the Savior provided us the following:
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"
So we end where we began Ephesians 4:6, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. I know that I am a child of God and so are you.”
In an address from April 1999 given by President Gordon B. Hinckley titled “Thanks to the Lord for His Blessings”, he shared these words that I would like to leave with you today:
We can all be a little kinder, a little more generous, a little more thoughtful of one another…Let us not take one another for granted, but let us constantly work to nurture a spirit of love and respect for each other. We must guard against faultfinding, anger, and disrespect one for another… Let us be a people of honesty and integrity, doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances.
This is my prayer for us all, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.