My brethren, I pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is almost anticlimactic to speak after what we have heard. This has been a wonderful meeting, beginning with the opening music of the choir singing Parley P. Pratt’s great plea, “Come, Oh Thou King of Kings,” followed by the beautiful prayer of Elder Robert L. Simpson.
President Benson’s remarks touched each of us. I think we will all be prone to be a little more obedient as a result of what he said.
I am confident you boys were greatly interested in the remarks of Peter Vidmar. What a remarkable thing it is to be the very best in all the world in something. It is a tremendous achievement to have won two gold medals and one silver in the Olympics. Peter missed winning his third gold only by .025 of a point. That says that he is very good, and it also says that the margin between number one and number two can be ever so narrow, as he indicated.
Peter weighs only 130 pounds. He is twenty-three years of age. He started with gymnastics at the age of eleven. He set his eye on the Olympics and prepared for eleven years for that great international contest. He was born in the Church and married in the temple. He is a member of the UCLA ward of the Los Angeles California Stake. He served a stake mission. In his manner of living, in his speech, in his activity, he is an example to all young men. Thank you, Peter, for being with us this evening and for what you have said.
I wish we might have had more time to listen to Elder Ballard. He manages the Missionary Department of the Church. I hope he has stirred within every young man an increased desire to fill a mission. He is a tremendous example of a great and willing servant. When we asked him to go to Ethiopia to investigate the situation there firsthand, along with Brother Pace, he said promptly, “When do you want me to leave?” I said, “How about tomorrow?” He said, “I’ll go up today and get my yellow fever shots and be ready to go.” There were no questions asked; there was no delay. I shall make further reference tomorrow to what he said tonight concerning what he and Brother Pace found there.
We have been lifted by Elder Ashton’s wonderful tribute to President Kimball. I hope that all of us have stored in our memories that which he said and that each will take direction therefrom.
And now, what an inspiring and delightful experience to hear again as he spoke in the days of his great vitality, our beloved leader, President Kimball. His words have stirred within us anew a resolution to lengthen our stride and quicken our pace in the awesome responsibility to carry the gospel to the world while strengthening the membership wherever there may be weakness. It is easy to see why President Kimball is universally loved. He has been a leader rather than a commander, and I think there is a difference between the two. He himself has done that which he has asked others to do and has done it with greater devotion and energy.
I would like to use as a theme for a few minutes some of the words that all of you heard tonight from him. You will recall that in talking of his life as a boy he said that he made up his mind that he wanted to please his Heavenly Father. Now that’s a very simple statement. Anybody can make a statement like that, but what a tremendous effect that resolution had upon his life. And what a tremendous effect a similar resolution would have upon the lives of each of us—so to live as to please our Heavenly Father.
If this were the measure by which we gauged all of our activity, what a difference it would make. Think of what that would mean in your own life. Each time we planned a program, each time we became involved in an activity, each time we mapped a course in our lives, if we applied the gauge, “Will this please my Heavenly Father?” we would be spared so much of pain and regret and enjoy so much of success and achievement that it would be wonderful.
Think of what that resolution, made while a boy, did for Spencer Kimball. It made of him a man of integrity in the business life of his community. It made of him a young man of ambition in preparing himself for his future. It made of him a young man of virtue, a husband and father possessed of love and compassion, the servant in whom the Lord found no guile, a prophet to the people.
“I wanted to do those things which would please my Heavenly Father,” he said. There is nothing grand or heroic about that statement. It is simply an expression of attitudes: “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7.)
I wish I might have the capacity to burn into the consciousness of every man and boy within the sound of my voice those words of resolution made by President Kimball when he was a boy.
What would your Father in Heaven have you do that would please Him? First, you boys. He would have you live honestly. That means no cheating in your schoolwork. No boy anxious to please his Heavenly Father would fail to take advantage of educational opportunities. Through words of modern revelation the Lord has laid upon us responsibilities to seek learning “by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118.) The Lord expects each of us to live productive and useful lives. Youth is the season of preparation, and we will please him if we apply ourselves to train our minds and hands that we may make a more substantial contribution to the society of which we are a part.
No boy anxious to please his Heavenly Father could belittle or degrade a daughter of our Father in Heaven through immorality. He would realize that to degrade or dishonor a girl would be to insult her Father in Heaven who loves her and who expects great and good things of her.
Every young man seeking to please his Heavenly Father would be willing and anxious to give approximately a tithe of his life at the age of nineteen or twenty to go into the world to preach the gospel. He would save his money for this; he would plan his life’s program around it; he would keep himself physically, mentally, and morally alert, as well as spiritually strong, to be prepared for this great and sacred responsibility.
While in the mission field he would be “anxiously engaged” in the work of the Lord (see D&C 58:27), willing to give freely of his time, his talents, his strengths, and his substance to bless the lives of others. He would guard against wasting his time or diminishing his effectiveness through engaging in activities that might in any way be out of harmony with his great and sacred call.
Having served an honorable mission, he would return home, desiring to complete his education and looking forward to finding his companion to love and cherish for eternity. Trying to please his Heavenly Father, he would see that his courtship is kept unsullied. Again trying to please his Heavenly Father, he would be married worthily in the way which God has prepared for those who love him and those who desire his richest blessings—that is, in His holy house under the authority of His everlasting priesthood.
As a husband, he would live with respect for his wife, standing side by side with her, never belittling her nor demeaning her, but rather encouraging her in the continued development of her talents and in the church activities which are available to her. He would regard her as the greatest treasure of his life, one with whom he can share his concerns, his innermost thoughts, his ambitions and hopes. There would never be in that home any “unrighteous dominion” of husband over wife (see D&C 121:37, 39), no assertion of superiority, no assertion of authority, but rather an expression in living which says that these two are equally yoked.
No man can please his Heavenly Father who fails to respect the daughters of God. No man can please his Heavenly Father who fails to magnify his wife and companion, and nurture and build and strengthen and share with her.
It has been a wonderful thing to see Sister Kimball in her relationship to President Kimball. She is a woman of learning, a woman who reads much, a woman who is constantly refining her talents, a woman who loves the Lord and serves in His kingdom—a woman who supports and sustains, loves and encourages her husband and their children. And he, throughout his married life, has encouraged and sustained her, has relied upon her, has shared with her in times of sorrow and rejoicing, in seasons of stress and ease, in sickness and in health. They have worked together, they have prayed together, they have sorrowed together, they have stood side by side in a relationship that becomes an example to the entire Church. He has never lost sight of that boyhood resolution to do that which would please his Heavenly Father.
Wife abuse is totally inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Child abuse is an affront to our Father in Heaven. As President Harold B. Lee was wont to remind us, the greatest work that any of us will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. A father who wishes to please his Heavenly Father will govern his family in a spirit of example and love.
There appears to be a plague of child abuse spreading across the world. Perhaps it has always been with us but has not received the attention it presently receives. I am glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own. Fathers, you cannot abuse your little ones without offending God. Any man involved in an incestuous relationship is unworthy to hold the priesthood. He is unworthy to hold membership in the Church and should be dealt with accordingly. Any man who beats or in other ways abuses his children will be held accountable before the great judge of us all. If there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such practices, let them repent forthwith, make amends where possible, develop within themselves that discipline which can curb such evil practices, plead with the Lord for forgiveness, and resolve within their hearts henceforth to walk with clean hands.
How beautiful is that home where lives a man of godly manner, who loves those for whose nurture he is responsible, who stands before them as an example of integrity and goodness, who teaches industry and loyalty, not spoiling his children by indulging their every wish, but rather setting before them a pattern of work and service which will underpin their lives forever. How fortunate is the man whose wife radiates a spirit of love, of compassion, of order, of quiet beneficence, whose children show appreciation one for another, who honor and respect their parents, who counsel with them and take counsel from them. Such home life is within the reach of all who have cultivated in their hearts a resolution to do that which will please their Father in Heaven.
It is so even with community effort. Those who love Him will seek to do that which will encourage and uphold community standards which will create and maintain an environment of culture, of growth, and of peaceful relationships. Let us never forget that we are all sons and daughters of God and that if we are to please our Eternal Father, we must work to lift and strengthen his children and the communities in which we all live together.
One who seeks to please his Heavenly Father will serve the needs of our Father’s kingdom. This Church is a part of His divine plan. It is the kingdom of God in the earth. Its work is important. Its work is necessary to the accomplishment of the eternal purposes of our Father. If each of us is to please our Father in Heaven, we must be responsive to the needs of His kingdom. We must be willing to work wherever we are called to work and to develop our talents so that our work will be more effective in reaching out to those who are not members of the Church or those who are inactive in the Church. We must be diligent in carrying forward the great work of salvation for the dead and in every other way giving of our strength and talent and substance to move forward and strengthen the Church. This may involve some sacrifice, yes, but with every sacrifice comes a blessing.
Mine has been the privilege these past two or three months of interviewing and extending calls to fifty-eight men to serve as mission presidents. What a gratifying and inspiring experience this has been. Each of these men is one who is carrying substantial responsibility in business or professional service, who has many concerns and interests demanding attention. But without exception, in every case, the response has been, “If I can help the work of the Lord, that is what I want to do. If the Lord is extending a call, I am ready to leave.” Sometimes after such interviews, tears have welled in my eyes as I have reflected on the great faith of so many who, at the call of the Church, are willing to set aside every other interest out of a desire to please our Heavenly Father.
The remarkable and wonderful thing is that although they give up much to go, as everyone can testify when he returns home, they gain so very much that is unique and wonderful. They all come back saying there is no experience like it, and they would not trade it for any other on earth. It is so with any service we do as an expression of love for our Father in Heaven. I repeat, these are very simple words which we heard President Kimball express tonight. They were spoken by him when he was a boy. But what remarkable power there lies within them to stir us to greater, more Godlike endeavor.
I want to suggest them to every boy and man within the sound of my voice—“I will try to do that which will please my Heavenly Father.” I do not hesitate to promise that if we will do so our lives will be the richer, the more purposeful, the more satisfying. Our homes will be happier, and one day in the life to come we shall hear from Him whom we have served, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25:21.) For this I humbly pray in behalf of each of us, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.