“Speaking Today,” Liahona, Dec. 2006, N9–N11
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy taught Brigham Young University–Idaho students at a devotional held on May 16, 2006, of the importance of keeping past and future generations in perspective. “You have been who you are for a very, very long time. As we see through our generations both backward and forward, we see who we are, and we see more clearly what we must become.”
Elder Andersen said the idea of a “me world” inhibits understanding other generations. “In the world in which we live, there is a great focus on me, I, my world, my style, my satisfactions, and my things,” Elder Andersen said. He said the idea of “me” describes the direction of the generation to which the youth of the Church belong.
“If we could look back through the generations, we could see those who helped us to get where we are now.”
When students look at their own lives, they also must be prepared to look at the generations they will create, Elder Andersen said. “Our footprints will be seen in homes and on paths where we will never walk. As we are righteous, there is a power in the priesthood that passes through us into our posterity, shaping their eternity as it shapes ours.”
“Although people on earth may not understand why they live in this present day, it is not a coincidence,” Elder Andersen said. Each person’s life has been planned for a long time, and each has been chosen to be part of a holy family, he said. “When we see ourselves in this holy family, those who came before us and those who come after us become very important to us.”
Elder Andersen said an individual’s perspective must be shaped by something bigger than his or her own ideas. “Somehow I sense that my reality as an individual walking through earthly time could be very limited without some perspective greater than my own.”
Elder Andersen left the audience with the promise that as they learn to see through the generations by looking back and looking forward, they will see more clearly who they are and who they must become.
“You will better see that your place in this vast beautiful plan of happiness is no small place, and you will come to love the Savior and depend on Him as His great gift to us makes this all possible.”
At a keynote address given on August 1, 2006, at the 38th annual Brigham Young University Genealogy and Family History Conference, Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy urged family history enthusiasts to actively seek out opportunities to share what they’ve learned with others.
“I want you all to know how grateful we are for you and how critical your support and assistance will be to the success of the Church’s family history enterprise in coming years,” said Elder Jensen, who is also the Church Historian and Recorder and Executive Director of the Family and Church History Department.
He said the staff at the Family and Church History Department, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are hard at work developing an Internet-based system to better assist members with family history work. The new system, announced by President Hinckley in the October 2005 general conference, will minimize duplication of work and consolidate family history software products.
“Lest we forget why we are going to such great lengths, let me remind us all that … family history and the temple are inseparably connected by sacred doctrines having to do with the eternal nature of marriage and families,” Elder Jensen said. “Family history research should be the primary source of names for temple ordinances, and temple ordinances are the primary reason for family history research. Family history is more than just a hobby.”
He said those who are successful at family history work are examples, giving hope to those who “still stand on the outside of family history looking in.”
“As you assist with the recruitment and training efforts that are planned, your devotion to and love of the work will be contagious and critically important,” he said.
He said one way to promote greater interest in family history is for those already involved to share their feelings and talk about the spiritual blessings of the work.
He said he believes that engaging in family history work for the benefit of ancestors motivates people to get along better and create stronger relationships with living family members.
Elder Jensen said family history work by its nature is a constant reminder of the worth of a soul as each person, one by one, is identified by name and other verifying data. “Jesus, who did nothing but what He saw the Father do, ministered in this very personal way,” he explained.
Elder Jensen said another goal of family history work is to become better acquainted with ancestors, for example, by discovering intergenerational transfer of values and things held dear.
He concluded by saying that engaging in family history work requires strong faith in the reality of deceased ancestors, their need for saving ordinances, and the eventual reunion with them. He said the Holy Spirit plays a vital role, and those who perform family history work are entitled to help from the other side of the veil.
“The ultimate reward we receive in doing family history work is to be found in the relationship and feelings we develop for those for whom we stand as proxy … in the temple.”
At a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on June 13, 2006, Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy encouraged students to evaluate their current course in life and prepare temporally and spiritually for the future.
Quoting philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, he said, “Choose well; your choice is brief and yet endless.”
“It has been said that one of the greatest tragedies of our time is that so many people live so far below their potential,” Elder Staheli pointed out. “President Hinckley has counseled, ‘Do your best,’ and then he frequently adds, ‘but I want to emphasize that it be the very best. We are too prone to be satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much better’ (“Standing Strong and Immovable,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 21).”
Elder Staheli said a personal testimony that is nurtured daily will keep students close to the Spirit, which is essential to future success. “Just claiming to know the gospel is true is not enough,” he said. He explained that faith, consistent prayer, scripture study, and obedience strengthen a testimony.
“Understanding and responding to the principle of obedience has been of singular importance in preparing us for success and eternal happiness,” he said. “As the Lord promised Joshua, He will not fail you or forsake you as long as you’re striving daily to obey His commandments” (see Joshua 1:5–9).
Satan encourages a casual approach to commandment keeping, Elder Staheli said. He warned of harmful media, pornography, and other destructive tools of Satan.
“As you’re able to recognize and overcome any personal irritants you may have toward certain principles of obedience, you will feel God endowing you with the power and spirit to resist the inappropriate things of the world,” he said.
Elder Staheli explained that the Lord wants each person to find joy and success in his or her pursuits but warned the students not to let the ambition for success supercede the priority for living gospel principles.
“Think carefully, my brothers and sisters, about where you are,” he said.
Elder Staheli counseled students to remember the parable of the talents and that the Lord does not measure a person’s progress against that of others, but He blesses people as they magnify whatever talents they have.
“As you have the courage to be true to your beliefs, your exemplary conduct will not go unnoticed,” he said. “And while you will be tried and tested, your faithful adherence to the Lord’s standards will be seen as a beacon in the night to those around you.”