We are presented with many opportunities to let our light shine as a "standard for the nations."
This speech was given on November 15, 2011
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"I can remember only one occasion in all the opportunities I’ve had to speak in which they actually raised the podium before I spoke. I’m reminded of the first talk I ever gave as a member of a stake presidency eleven and a half years ago. I stood up to the podium and then asked the other counselor and the president to stand next to me. They were both over six feet tall, and I’m not quite six feet tall—I’m five foot something. The whole congregation burst out laughing, which is the reaction I expected, because then I quoted one of my favorite scriptures: “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things” (1 Nephi 16:29). That’s actually an underlying theme for my remarks, because I speak today of the unique opportunities that come with living at this time in this dispensation. When I walk the sidewalks of this campus I am often impressed with the innate goodness that radiates from you. There is divine purpose in people of your caliber being on the earth during times like these.
I begin by bearing my testimony that the man who stood at this pulpit two weeks ago, even President Thomas S. Monson, is God’s prophet for this time. My hope is to expound upon his words by following the dictates of that same Spirit that directed him.
When I joined the Church at the end of my junior year in high school, I set three goals for myself:
1. Marry the woman of my dreams in the holy temple and create an eternal family.
2. Go to BYU to become a teacher.
3. Serve a full-time mission.
Here’s how I have fared so far.
Over thirty-five years ago I asked a wonderful woman to take a chance on me. I had to ask her twice, and fortunately she said yes the second time. Kim is accompanying me today, along with some of our children, their spouses, and some of our grandchildren.
I have been privileged to obtain not one but two degrees at this institution and to spend thirty-two years of my professional life dedicated to the education of children. Part of those thirty-two years have been spent here—an opportunity that I could scarcely have imagined at the time I set my original goals. I love this institution.
Concerning my third goal, two years after joining the Church I was called to serve a mission in Australia—the context for which I will use to set the stage for the remainder of my remarks.
President Thomas S. Monson said recently:
I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. [“As We Meet Together Again,”Ensign, November 2010, 5–6]
This doctrine has been taught since at least 1974. President Spencer W. Kimball said:
The question is frequently asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer has been given by the Lord. It is “Yes.” Every young man should fill a mission. . . .
. . . Every man should also pay his tithing. Every man should observe the Sabbath. Every man should attend his meetings. Every man should marry in the temple. [“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, October 1974, 8]
I remember hearing those words for the first time as a freshman here at BYU. I had been told previously that not every young man was allowed to serve a mission, even if he wanted to, so when I heard President Kimball’s prophetic words, I felt assured that I would be able to accomplish my goal. Yes, I get to serve a mission!
I have often pondered that period of my life in the context of the larger picture provided by the history of this dispensation. When the early members of the Church faced extreme difficulties traversing this continent, they were responding to the counsel of a living prophet. Although they recognized the reasons why they were doing so, I doubt very many of them thought about the legacy they were leaving behind for future generations as they pulled a handcart over a troublesome rock, faced early winters, or coaxed tired oxen to continue forward. I also doubt that they could have predicted that they would be known and honored by future generations of this dispensation in the manner we remember and honor them now..."