“The One Business of Life,” Ensign, Jan. 1981, 51
If there is one thing of which I am completely certain in my own mind, it is that the one business of life is to succeed. I am absolutely certain that God did not create this beautiful earth for our benefit with all of its laws, resources, and opportunities, without having something very important in mind for those who would live upon it. It would be completely unreasonable for God to create us in his own image, give us his own personal form, endow us with these potentially magnificent minds, these miraculous personalities, and these fantastic physical powers, and then expect us to waste our lives in failure. And yet I am sure of this, that the greatest waste in the world is that you and I live so far below the level of our possibilities.
Some time ago I heard a genealogical worker say that all the genealogical work of the Church is done by two percent of the members. Below that group there is another eight percent who say their prayers about genealogy and bear their testimonies about genealogy, but they don’t do any of the actual work involved. Then below that group there is a group that don’t even say their prayers or bear their testimonies about it.
The presidents of the Church have indicated that everybody in the Church ought to be a missionary. But to this date a large part of the adult men of the Church are themselves only prospective elders. Some of those who go on missions increase their religious activity for two years and then come back and revert to their former weaknesses.
The Lord has said that he wanted his message carried to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and yet some of us who are appointed to that calling haven’t yet gotten the message over the fence or down to the end of the block on which we live. Home teachers are sent out to teach the gospel to members, yet we frequently limit our talk with them to the weather or politics so that their lives remain in obscurity and darkness. It is impossible to give a spiritual message without having a spiritual messenger. The message has little force if the life of the messenger is filled with sloth, immorality, weakness, sin, and failure. We should insist on success in all of the departments of our lives.
Success is not just the most important thing in marriage, it is everything in marriage. It is not just the most important thing in Church work, it is everything in Church work. And before we get the obscurity and darkness out of our marriage, our leadership, and our Church work, we must get it out of ourselves.
There is no obscurity and darkness in the celestial kingdom That is where God is. That is where the other spiritually successful people will be.
Jesus was kind to the repentant adulteress. He had a sympathetic interest with the thief on the cross who wanted to do better. But to the one who hid his talents in the ground, he said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant” (Matt. 25:26). And to the disobedient ones who will be found on his left hand when he comes in his glory, he will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matt. 25:41).
The Lord has given us the greatest success formula that has ever been given in the world when he said, “There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20). The Lord wants each one of us to be a success. All we need to do is to find out the law governing that success and then go forward from there. And I would like to point out a great truth: that the most exciting experience is to have a high rating in that important enterprise in which God himself spends his entire time, the salvation of mankind.