“Sharing Life Histories,” Ensign, July 1998, 13
Each member of our high priests group has a remarkably different history. Raised on an island off the coast of North Carolina, one brother often fished the Atlantic Ocean with his family. Another member grew up in a coal-mining town and worked underground to help support his family. Another brother in our group was a Hollywood glamour photographer.
How do I know all this? Some of these details may have emerged in conversations with individual brethren, but I wouldn’t be likely to learn the backgrounds of everyone in the quorum simply through social interaction. The reason I know so much about the lives and experiences of my fellow high priests is that on the first Sunday of each month, a member of our quorum gives a brief presentation about himself. Lynn Hickcox, our high priests group leader, originated this idea to boost morale in the quorum and to ensure that everyone in the quorum had some type of personal history written.
To encourage members to participate, quorum leaders meet with them individually to invite them to continue or begin writing their personal histories and to set dates for their presentations. Often leaders are able to coordinate taping or typing assistance or provide copies of how-to articles about writing life histories (for some article ideas, check under “Personal Histories” or “Family History” in the annual Ensign index in each December issue). In addition, leaders inquire about each member’s progress in researching his ancestors and submitting their names for temple work—and then give any needed assistance.
After each member has told the quorum about himself, on a subsequent month he may be invited to present recollections or sketches of his parents, grandparents, or other ancestors. The cycle continues as new members join the quorum. This interchange is valuable not only because we learn about each other’s backgrounds and become better acquainted but also because we are motivated to think about and prepare our own life histories and those of our family members.
Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy explained the importance of writing life histories: “By writing personal and family histories, we are helped immeasurably in gaining a true, eternal perspective of life. Writing our histories with the proper blend of fact and feeling (and so often, feelings in spiritual things are the real facts) gives us a deep spiritual insight into the meaning and purpose of our lives” (“Writing Your Personal and Family History,” Ensign, May 1980, 48).
Such blessings of appreciation and understanding of the purpose and spiritual dimension of life are well worth the sacrifice required to prepare a life history. How rewarding it is to know that some of the insights we gain through that activity can be shared with others for the edification of all.