2021 Devotionals
Vision and Balance

Vision and Balance

Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • May 2, 2021 • Pioneer Center

Elder Gary E. Stevenson: My dear young sisters and brothers, Lesa and I are so happy to welcome you to this worldwide devotional for young adults. As we begin, we bring you the sincere, warm greetings of President Russell M. Nelson and the First Presidency. They love you, and we love you, and together we honor and sustain them.

Sister Lesa Stevenson: Now, we join with you from a very unique and special place in our history as Latter-day Saints. And I do mean “place.”

Elder Stevenson: We’re here at the newly dedicated Pioneer Center next to the monument at This Is the Place Heritage Park in the foothills above Salt Lake City, Utah—the place that celebrates that far-reaching declaration by President Brigham Young, “This is the place,”1 following their arduous trek with the first pioneer party nearly 175 years ago.

Sister Stevenson: Worn and tattered, these early Latter-day Saints fled from fierce persecution to settle here in this wilderness valley. Imagine the image of the Salt Lake Valley that awaited them. The wide-open desert space with rolling sagebrush provided proof that settling here was not going to be easy.

Elder Stevenson: However, they were blessed with an incomprehensible heavenly vision, supported by the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah that the Lord would “lift up an ensign to the nations.”2 These faithful Saints would once again know peace and purpose, with an elevated gospel vision far higher than the mountaintops they climbed to reach the Salt Lake Valley.

Sister Stevenson: These pioneers and those that came afterward would make history carving out this place in the desert. God blessed them as the gathering of Israel had begun.

Elder Stevenson: Even today, that same pioneer spirit and vision can be found in Latter-day Saints everywhere in the world.

Just a few weeks ago, M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated this new Pioneer Center.

Here, people and families can come and absorb the monumental achievements of early Latter-day Saints in the face of rigid hardships. The odds were stacked against them. The pioneers called upon the Lord day and night as they forged ahead to grow food; steer water out of the mountain canyons; build homes and shelters, schools and meetinghouses, and even a temple.

Sister Stevenson: It’s almost too much to contemplate what they did. Divine vision—instilled by the Lord upon living prophets—blessing the lives of His elect children to bring about His purpose.

Elder Stevenson: As you can see, just a few feet from where I’m standing here at the Pioneer Center is the vaulted glass that overlooks the monument of This Is the Place. And below that, we have a sparkling glimpse of a city they started building so long ago. And beyond that, you have a wide view—a vision, if you will—that looks to the west and the horizon of the setting sun. This elevated view, coupled with our understanding of the past, expands and informs our perspective of the vision of the pioneers. It can also serve as a metaphor to help deepen our personal gospel vision and guide us as we face decisions and challenges in our lives. Within days of the prophet’s declaration, “This is the place,”3 the vision for a temple, Church headquarters, and a place to become an ensign to the nations began its initial steps becoming a reality.

So this evening we’ll use the past, the vision of our pioneer forebearers, to help us get a clarity of vision for our future. Winston Churchill’s inspiring words seem especially relevant for our conversation tonight: The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.4

Sister Stevenson: There’s no question we face uncertainty in the world. After nearly a year and a half of an unprecedented pandemic, what lies ahead? Each of us requires the same divine vision and heavenly guidance experienced by those early Saints as we look towards our future.

Elder Stevenson: You might feel unsure of which direction to go. You could be holding on tightly to dreams of serving a mission, of getting an education, of launching a career. Or you could be thinking about falling in love, getting married and having a family, and seeing the blessings of the temple come to you and your loved ones. Or perhaps you have started your eternal family and are now experiencing the challenges of raising young children.

Our ultimate goal is the same: to progress along the covenant path, faithfully preparing for exaltation. A gospel perspective provides vision for you and me to clearly see that path.

Sister Stevenson: When speaking about staying on the covenant path, President Russell M. Nelson has said: “The key is to make and keep sacred covenants. We choose to live and progress on the Lord’s covenant path and to stay on it. It is not a complicated way. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.”5

Elder Stevenson: And so our hope is to share with you a few of our own personal experiences that may offer guidance as you navigate all the demands in your life to assist you in going forward with vision and balance.

“Come, Come, Ye Saints”—performed by The Bonner Family:

Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;

But with joy wend your way.

Though hard to you this journey may appear,

Grace shall be as your day.

’Tis better far for us to strive

Our useless cares from us to drive;

Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—

All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?

’Tis not so; all is right.

Why should we think to earn a great reward

If we now shun the fight?

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.

Our God will never us forsake;

And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—

All is well! All is well!

We’ll find a place where God for us prepared,

Far away in the West,

Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;

There the Saints will be blessed.

We’ll make the air with music ring,

Shout praises to our God and King;

Above the rest these words we’ll tell—

All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey’s through,

Happy day! All is well!

Elder Stevenson: “Happy Day! All is well!”6 is, in reality, a remarkable vision statement from the early pioneers. Their vision that “all is well” in the midst of challenges and afflictions was possible because of their gospel perspective.

We could spend an hour speaking about vision, which some characterize as “the art of seeing things invisible to others.”7 This leads to a question that you will all ask yourselves at one time or another: “What do I currently see for myself in the years ahead? Where have I been? And where am I going?”

Sister Stevenson: Sometimes we just need to realize that with a gospel perspective and the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have a greater vision of what is possible. Such is the case as you have launched yourself into your current educational or professional endeavors, even though you are still likely feeling your way.

Elder Stevenson: I found myself in this place in my early professional career. I began my professional life with a childhood friend starting a business as university students, importing giftware from Asia. Over the next 30 years, our enterprise changed completely and grew significantly in scale. A question often asked of us was “When you started your business, was this in your vision?” Well, the short answer is “not completely.”

Vision needs to be adjusted regularly and routinely. Starting as a small importer of brass giftware and then growing to become a large provider of fitness products required a lot of luck and adjustment to our vision in between. Abandoning and creating a new plan, reinvention, and adjustment is really a strength, not a weakness.

Sister Stevenson: However, this is where we point out the significant advantage we share in finding our vision. Because you have a knowledge of the gospel, just like the pioneers, you are blessed with a gospel perspective. Your advantage is to see your mortal journey with a view that is literally heavenly.

Elder Stevenson: An eternal or gospel perspective provides helpful clarity that others do not enjoy—even in temporal matters of education and profession. We’d like to attempt to demonstrate this with images rather than words.

So we ask you to look at this picture. Now, what do you see? Do you know what this image portrays?

Now, does this new perspective help give you clarity? Is this all there is to see? What do you think? Let’s take a look at the sequence as it unfolds, so watch closely.

Elder Stevenson: Now, through this simple exercise, you can see—quite literally—beyond what is right in front of you at the moment. Your vision is enhanced the farther out you go.

A wise and familiar adage in Proverbs states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”8

This true principle was further described in our day by President M. Russell Ballard when he said, “Those who accomplish the most in this world are those with a vision for their lives.”9 How true that is!

Our spiritual vision, which comes from our gospel perspective, provides insight into all of life’s priorities. It allows us to align those priorities and to keep them properly balanced. This is why we see a very close connection between vision and balance.

I’d like to share with you the principle of balance by relating a personal experience I had.

A friend of mine, renowned in his profession, also happened to be a skilled and experienced helicopter pilot. On a warm fall day, he called and told us he was flying to Salt Lake City and asked my business partner and I if we’d like to be dropped off at a mountain property en route.

To get there by truck would take over two hours. By helicopter, it would only take us 15 minutes. So we decided to go.

It was a beautiful day to be flying. We could see the colors of the fall leaves as we began to land. We were less than a minute from touching down when the tail rotor of the helicopter malfunctioned. This sent the helicopter into an uncontrolled spin. These were dire circumstances.

Fortunately for us, the pilot’s training in emergency landing protocol was almost instinctive to him. He knew if we landed nose first or on the helicopter’s belly, we would not survive the landing.

In the midst of uncontrolled spinning, he skillfully turned the helicopter on its side, and we crashed to the ground.

Fuel was leaking and fire was coming from the engine. He was able to turn off the engine, and we exited the helicopter without explosion. Through the pilot’s actions and the hand of the Lord, we were blessed to survive the helicopter crash.

I’ve learned a lot about helicopters since that day. Our experience of the helicopter crash was the outcome of a tail rotor malfunction which created imbalance between the critical elements that keep a helicopter in the air. When balance is achieved among the speed of the main rotor, the tail rotor, and the angle, helicopter flight can be exhilarating. If not, it is terrifying! I can personally testify of that.

Let’s take a moment to break down these critical elements in greater detail.

The first is the main rotor. Revolutions and blade length create lift and torque. However, the torque created by the main rotor must somehow be offset, or the helicopter will spin out of control.

Sister Stevenson: That’s why a helicopter has a tail rotor. It creates opposition against the torque created by the overhead blades. The main rotor speed is controlled by the pilot through a hand control. The tail rotor speed is controlled by the pilot’s feet. Constant adjustments to the speed of these two rotors is absolutely necessary.

If not, once again, the outcome is not a good one.

Elder Stevenson: Next is the stick. The stick controls the angle of the helicopter, which in turn controls the helicopter’s direction, turning ability, and stability, working in concert with the main rotor and the tail rotor. The pilot operates the stick with his right hand.

Finally, the weight of the payload and angle of the helicopter determine speed and the power required for the main rotor and the tail rotor.

Sister Stevenson: When all of these elements are in sync, the balance is beautiful. Main rotor, tail rotor, stick, weight, and angle—it literally defies gravity.

How can you relate the beautiful yet complicated flight of a helicopter to having balance in our lives?

Elder Stevenson: Let me introduce some thoughts inspired by a message given by President Gordon B. Hinckley in a leadership conference I once attended many years ago. It will maybe create this connection for you.

He described that “each of us has a fourfold responsibility. First, we have a responsibility to our families. Second, we have a responsibility to our employers. Third, we have a responsibility to the Lord’s work. Fourth, we have a responsibility to ourselves.”10

Using the same analogy of balance through interdependence of critical elements of a helicopter, let’s look at these four responsibilities in the same way.

Sister Stevenson: We begin with home and family, critical elements in each of our lives. It is important that you not neglect the family you belong to. “Nothing you have is more precious. … It is [the] family relationship which [you] will take … into the life beyond.”11 Much has been done in recent years by Church leaders to emphasize the importance of home and families.

Recent guidance with respect to the new balance between gospel instruction in the home and church and the adjusted meeting schedule are a great indication that home and family should be considered the main rotor in our lives.

President Nelson challenged us to “diligently work to remodel [our] home[s] into a center of gospel learning.” As we do, he has promised that “over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.”12

Elder Stevenson: Next, let’s consider your work or professional life—your employment or, if you are a student, the education you are seeking, which will lead to your full-time profession or employment. Education, of course, enhances your employability. Work allows you to care for yourself, your family, and others. Employment leads to self-reliance, both temporal and spiritual. In your work environment you have an obligation to your employer to be honest and loyal, to provide the expected results for which you are compensated. You strive to be your very best in your job or profession.

For our illustration, consider employment as the tail rotor of the helicopter.

Sister Stevenson: In order to be the best for you and your family, it helps to be the best at your job. Both are linked together closely, and balance between the two is critical. More and more employers, sociologists, and business consultants are recognizing the benefits of work-life balance.

Elder Stevenson: The third critical life balance element is to the Lord and His work. This is one of the main purposes of why we each came to earth. We are here to love, honor, obey, and serve Him and our Heavenly Father’s children, our brothers and sisters throughout the world. The Lord needs our efforts and talents to build His kingdom.

“Budget your time to take care of your Church responsibilities.”13 I find the word budget to be rather instructive. It requires a conscious choice for us to both “make time” for service to the Lord and His Church and to regulate that time.

Sister Stevenson: Lay leadership and service are two of the distinguishing elements of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Each of you will be asked to contribute to the kingdom in various ways. The calls which come to you and others in your family may come at times which may not seem convenient. Nevertheless, “if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.”14

Additionally, our dear prophet, President Nelson, taught us that our world is ever changing, as is our service in the Lord’s Church. He encouraged us to embrace “a new normal.” He challenged us to “minister to others. Keep an eternal perspective. [And] magnify [our] callings.”15

Elder Stevenson: This encouragement gives each of us vision to do what we have been called to do but also advises us to keep an eternal perspective, or, in other words, to balance it with our other pressing responsibilities. I think of Church service as the stick of the helicopter, which both stabilizes and steers us.

Sister Stevenson: The final element to assure balance is an obligation to ourselves.

Life can be so busy. It’s important that we slow down at times to recharge and take a closer look at our own personal needs, like rest, exercise, recreation, and personal spiritual development. Church leaders have recently given valuable and practical suggestions to help us do this.

Elder Stevenson: Yes they have, Lesa. Recently President Ballard suggested how important it is to find quiet time. He said:

“While technology has often been a blessing in my life, it can also be a distraction that places a barrier between us and our ability to hear the Lord’s voice. I tell my grandchildren that they should set aside quiet time each day to think about their lives and ponder what the Lord wants them to do. …

“… I cannot connect with heaven in a mass of clutter. … When I am in [a quiet] mode and striving to be still, that’s when I get impressions.”16

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaks of determined prayer. He said this: “There is a great lesson in … urgent, determined prayer to fight through … the adversary’s opposition, the cares of the day, or the distractions of our mind.”17

Sister Stevenson: Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, described three elements to help ourselves that are each very valuable.

First, she invites the Spirit through the scriptures. She says: “One of the first things I do in the morning in order to have the Spirit is read the scriptures. It helps me have the right frame of mind so that I can receive revelation.”

Her second element is temple worship. “Another marvelous way to be able to hear the Savior’s voice more clearly is attending the temple. Sometimes when I am sitting in the temple, I will receive an answer to a prayer or something will come to mind while I am still enough to listen to the Spirit.”

Third, she says: “Music … helps me hear the voice of the Savior. I love hearing the hymns, even if I just hear instrumental music without the words. I know those words because I have sung them for so long, so they come to my mind.”18

Elder Stevenson: It seems that taking time for ourselves is often the most difficult, and yet it is very important. I have heard it described as pausing long enough in the busy work of sawing to sharpen the saw blade.

Sister Stevenson: Remembering we have responsibility to ourselves and integrating that step by step into our lives will be a blessing. I have found that as I develop myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, not only does it bring a great benefit to me personally, but it allows me to nourish my family and friends.

Look how smoothly these four facets of our lives run if executed with vision and balance! They go together so well, don’t they?

Elder Stevenson: They really do. Now, even as we speak of balance in these different aspects of our lives, we need to put this in the right perspective.

Elder David A. Bednar summarized this in a very pragmatic way in a recent social media post. He said: “Sometimes we reflect on all of our responsibilities at home, school, work, and church and wonder how we can achieve a balance among the many competing demands on our time. Instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to do everything at the same time, we should identify the few fundamental things that are our highest priorities. We then can strive to give each of them the attention they need—one at a time.”19

Lesa, this reminds me of a very memorable experience with my father. I was a young father, a newly called bishop with a demanding, growing business. One night I walked in late to a family birthday party. Our children and their cousins were all over the place. But I walked into the house disengaged and went and sat in the corner of the room, laboring over my worries of the business affairs of that day and what was happening in the ward.

My father came over to me and in an uncharacteristically stern voice said, “Gary, what are you doing?” When I told him of my worries with all my responsibilities at church and work, I was certain he would be very sympathetic. Well, he wasn’t. In fact, he sat down next to me and told me he was worried about me and that I needed to make some adjustments so I wasn’t so disengaged with my family when I was with them. Do you remember this, Lesa?

Sister Stevenson: I remember it very well.

Elder Stevenson: He said: “When you are at home, make home the priority, not church and work. When you are at work, choose to make work the priority, not home and church. When you are at church, choose to make that the priority, not work and home.”

Now, this counsel was challenging to integrate, and even now I am far from perfect, but it really helped me. It unburdened me, and it has paid great dividends in my life. So I would invite each of you to think about this and try to do it yourselves.

Interestingly, this is almost exactly what Elder Bednar counseled in the social media post that we referred to. He shared that “it may sound simplistic, but we should not get frustrated and waste effort and time trying to achieve a perfect equilibrium among all of the important things we need to do. As we pray sincerely for God’s help to identify what matters most, He will guide and assist us to focus our efforts day by day.”20

Sister Stevenson: Now I have a bit of bad news to share. If you follow this counsel and move forward with balance and vision, you will most likely still have a few failures. You are going to take a few scrapes and bruises.

There may be times when your vision seems obscured by a foggy path, or you may lose your balance. But here is the good news: You are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father.

The scriptures teach us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, … and of a sound mind.”21 And don’t forget this important counsel from the Lord Himself: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”22 And so, you have a constant, divine source of strength in our beloved Savior—even Jesus Christ.

Elder Stevenson: Now listen to inspired encouragement for each of you here today from President Nelson. He said: “God knew … the covenant path would not be easy to find or to stay on. So He sent His Only Begotten Son to atone for us and to show us the way. The godly power available to all who love and follow Jesus Christ is the power to heal us, strengthen us, cleanse us from sin, and magnify us to do things we could never do on our own.”23

Sister Stevenson: Let the knowledge of who you truly are and who is on your side help you live your life with clear vision and a steady balance. The Lord “will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you.”24

Elder Stevenson: Well, it’s been wonderful to be with you tonight. And we’d like to close now by expressing our gratitude and extending an invitation to each of you and offering our testimonies. I invite you to first consider how your gospel vision assures and confirms your identity as a daughter of God or a son of God.

Second, consider how you address your fourfold responsibility to home and family, to education and employment, to the Church, and to yourself.

Third, I invite you to find a quiet place and write down some impressions that you have felt during this devotional. Remember, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each of you is gifted with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Sister Stevenson: As you act on the invitations from Elder Stevenson, don’t forget about the pioneers that came before us—those who we spoke of who settled this valley as well as those in each of your respective families and home countries. Their pioneer spirit and example of doing hard things can give you confidence to do hard things as well.

Elder Stevenson: Like the early Latter-day Saints, we look out. We look up. And we look within for gospel vision and balance.

Sister Stevenson: I offer my testimony that you can obtain that “perfect brightness of hope.”25 That Heavenly Father knows each of you by name and that He loves you. I offer my witness of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of the living God, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Stevenson: Amen. Thank you, Lesa. I offer my testimony and witness as well to you, our young, beautiful brothers and sisters. I bear my testimony that we are children of loving heavenly parents, that Heavenly Father loves you, and the doctrine of the Father is that He desires all of His children to return to Him.

Now, this doctrine is enabled by His Son, our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through His Atonement that we are able to return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Father. I offer my witness of that to you. I offer my testimony of Jesus Christ and of His sacred role as our Savior and our Redeemer. And I do that in His name, Jesus Christ, amen.