Thursday, August 21, 2014
Thomas S. Monson General Conference Highlights: October 1981 - October 1984
OCTOBER 1981 - "He Is Risen"
Two years ago, in beautiful Heber Valley just east of Salt Lake City, a loving mother and devoted father returned to that personal haven called home to discover that their three eldest sons lay dead. The night was bitter cold, and the fierce wind swept the falling snow, which covered the chimney, releasing deadly carbon monoxide fumes throughout the house.
The joint funeral service for the Keller boys was one of the most touching experiences of my life. The residents of the community had placed aside their daily tasks, children were excused from school, and all thronged to the chapel to express their deep feelings of condolence. So long as time and memory endure, I shall remember the scene of three shiny caskets, followed by grief-stricken parents and grandparents making their way to the front of the building.
The first speaker was the wrestling coach of the local high school. He paid tribute to Louis, the oldest boy. With an emotion-filled voice, and choking back the tears, he told how Louis was not necessarily the most gifted wrestler on the team, but added, “No one tried harder. What he lacked in athletic skill he made up with a determined heart.”
Then a youth leader spoke of Travis. He told how Travis had excelled in Scouting, in Aaronic Priesthood work, and was such a sterling example to his friends.
Finally, a distinguished appearing and obviously competent elementary school teacher told of Jason, the youngest of the three. She described him as quiet, even shy. Then, without embarrassment, she told how Jason had, in the scrawled penmanship of a boy, sent to her the sweetest and most welcome letter she had ever received. Its message was brief—just three words: “I love you.” She could barely complete her talk, so deep-felt were her emotions.
Through the tears and the sorrow of that special day, I observed eternal lessons that had been taught by those boys whose lives were honored and whose mortal missions concluded.
A coach expressed the determination to look beyond athletic prowess and into the heart of each boy. A youth leader made a solemn vow that every boy and girl would have the benefit which the program of the Church provided. An elementary school teacher looked at the small children, classmates of Jason. She said nothing, but her eyes revealed the determination of her soul. The message was unmistakably clear: “I will love each child. Each boy, each girl will be guided in the search for truth, in the development of talent, and be introduced to the wonderful world of service.”
And the audience, including Elders Marvin J. Ashton and Thomas S. Monson, will never again be the same. All will strive toward that perfection spoken of by the Master. Our inspiration? The lives of the boys who now rest from care and sorrow, and the fortitude of parents who trust in the Lord with all their hearts, who lean not to their own understanding, and who in all their ways acknowledge Him, knowing that He will direct their paths. (See Prov. 3:5–6.)
APRIL 1982 - "Sailing Safely the Seas of Life"
Our Father provided the sun, the moon, the stars—heavenly galaxies to guide mariners who sail the lanes of the sea. To all who walk the pathways of life, He cautions: Beware the detours, the pitfalls, the traps. Cunningly positioned are those clever pied pipers of sin beckoning here or there. Do not be deceived. Pause to pray. Listen to that still, small voice (see D&C 85:6) which speaks to the depths of our souls the Master’s gentle invitation: “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). We turn from destruction, from death. We find happiness and life everlasting.
Yet, there are those who do not hear, who will not obey, who listen to the beat of a different drummer. Most prominent among their number was that son of Adam born of Eve, even Cain—a well-known name among men. Powerful in potential, but weak of will, Cain permitted greed, envy, disobedience, and even murder to jam that personal rudder which would have guided him to safety and exaltation. The downward gaze replaced the upward look; Cain fell. (See Moses 5:16–41.)
OCTOBER 1982 - "Run, Boy, Run!"
Every boy blessed by Scouting learns in his youth far more than that envisioned by Sir Tom of Warwick. He adopts the motto “Be Prepared.” He subscribes to the code “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Scouting provides proficiency badges to encourage skills and personal endeavor. Scouting teaches boys how to live, not merely how to make a living. How pleased I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1913 became the first partner to sponsor Scouting in the United States.
I love the inspired words of President Spencer W. Kimball when he spoke to Church members everywhere: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the continued support of Scouting and will seek to provide leadership which will help boys keep close to their families and close to the Church as they develop the qualities of citizenship and character and fitness which Scouting represents. We’ve remained strong and firm in our support of this great movement for boys and of the Oath and the Law which are at its center.” (In Conference Report, April 1977, pp. 50–51.)
What is the Scout Oath of which President Kimball spoke?
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” (Boy Scout Handbook, North Brunswick, New Jersey: Boy Scouts of America, 1972, p. 34.)
APRIL 1983 - "Anonymous"
Recently, I approached the reception desk of a large hospital to learn the room number of a patient I had come to visit. This hospital, like almost every other in the land, was undergoing a massive expansion. Behind the desk where the receptionist sat was a magnificent plaque which bore an inscription of thanks to donors who had made possible the expansion. The name of each donor who had contributed $100,000 appeared in a flowing script, etched on an individual brass placard suspended from the main plaque by a glittering chain.
The names of the benefactors were well known. Captains of commerce, giants of industry, professors of learning—all were there. I felt gratitude for their charitable benevolence. Then my eyes rested on a brass placard which was different—it contained no name. One word, and one word only, was inscribed: “Anonymous.” I smiled and wondered who the unnamed contributor could have been. Surely he or she experienced a quiet joy unknown to any other.
My thoughts turned backward in time—back to the Holy Land; back to Him whom we especially remember this Easter Sunday; back to Him who redeemed from the grave all mankind; back to Him who on that special mountain taught His disciples the true spirit of giving when He counseled, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them. …
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” (Matt. 6:1, 3.)
OCTOBER 1983 - "Labels"
Like the labels on paintings are the outward appearances of some men—often misleading. The Master declared to one group: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. …
“Ye … outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matt. 23:27–28.)
Then there are those who may outwardly appear impoverished, without talent, and doomed to mediocrity. A classic label appeared beneath a picture of the boy Abraham Lincoln as he stood in front of his humble birthplace—a simple log cabin. The words read: “Ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed.” Unanticipated, unspoken, and unprinted was the real label of the boy: “Destined for immortal glory.”...
The word of the Lord to the prophet Samuel at the time David was designated to be a future king of Israel provided a fitting label for the occasion. It certainly was the thought of each faithful member: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7.)
Like a golden thread woven through the tapestry of life is the message on the label of a humble heart. It was true of the boy Samuel; it was the experience of Jesus.
APRIL 1984 - "Building Your Eternal Home"
Our house is to be a house of faith. James recorded: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5–6.)
A practical application of such abiding faith is found in the spirit of Nephi and his stirring declaration: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” (1 Ne. 3:7.) He did not waver; he believed.
OCTOBER 1984 - "The Aaronic Priesthood Pathway" (from Priesthood Session)
Some time ago, as the General Authorities met together on an upper floor of the temple, President Kimball stood and instructed us, saying: “Brethren, of late I have been concerned and troubled by the fact that we do not have sufficient missionaries proclaiming the message of the Restoration. I hear some parents say, ‘We’re letting our son make up his own mind regarding a mission,’ or ‘We hope our son fills a mission because it would be such a growing experience for him.’” He continued: “I have heard some young men say, ‘I think I might serve a mission if I really want to go.’” President Kimball raised his voice, stood on tiptoe—as he is prone to do when anxious to communicate with power a special thought—and said: “It doesn’t really matter whether Mother or Father thinks it might be nice for a son to serve a mission. It doesn’t really matter whether or not John, Bill, and Bob want to go—they must go!” President Kimball then proceeded to point out the missionary obligation each of us has, to repay the sacrifice and service of those missionaries who left home and family and brought the gospel to our parents or grandparents in lands near and far...
It is essential, even critical, that we study the Aaronic Priesthood pathway, since far too many boys falter, stumble, then fall without crossing the finish line into the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood. In fact, today, for the first time in the history of the Church, the prospective elders outnumber the holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, thereby eroding the active priesthood base of the Church and curtailing the activity of loving wives and precious children.
What can we as leaders do to reverse this trend? How can we assure that every boy becomes a finisher? The place to begin is at the headwaters of the Aaronic Priesthood stream.