“Signposts for Your Future,” New Era, Jan. 2000, 35
It is sobering to share thoughts intended to guide your footsteps into the future. My aim is to remind you of where you have been, then provide you with four simple signposts by which you can chart your future course. These signposts are:
Leave a legacy
Although you have been going to school for a long time, much remains for you to learn. President Gordon B. Hinckley once observed, “None of us can assume that he has learned enough. As the door closes on one phase of life, it opens on another, where we must continue to pursue knowledge. Ours ought to be a ceaseless quest for the truth” (BYU—Hawaii Commencement Address, June 18, 1983). Make learning your lifelong pursuit.
The Lord is hastening His work and increasing the reservoir of knowledge required to do so. What is known today will be changed or added upon tomorrow. Do not fear wholesome change—embrace it! Stay ahead of the ever-moving bell curve. Hearken to the scriptural admonition: “Seek ye diligently … seek ye … words of wisdom; … seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Furthermore, be certain that your continuous learning is grounded in truth.
New ideas can be intoxicating and misleading. Wrote Nephi: “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves. … But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Ne. 9:28, 29). Therefore, be deliberate and judicious in your pursuit of truth.
Here are the distinguishing characteristics that will help you recognize truth.
Truth is centered in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (see D&C 84:45). Therefore, it is unsullied, consistent, and complete. It includes what is said, unsaid, and intended. And, as a postscript, Satan neither originates, communicates, nor propagates truth. He only misrepresents or lies about it.
Truth is always in complete harmony; it never contradicts itself (see D&C 88:40). Whether scientific or religious in character, it is never in conflict.
Truth comes by degrees and differs in importance (see 2 Ne. 28:30; D&C 84:45–46). Therefore, evaluate it carefully, making these familiar lines your motto: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, [I] seek after these things” (A of F 1:13).
As you grow up you can choose to have all kinds of new experiences. You can now save instead of spend, produce more than you consume, plan ahead rather than fall behind. But beware of deceptive contradictions such as charge cards that promise a carefree life, indulgences that portray a long and happy life, possessions that represent the ideal life, indebtedness that depicts a secure life.
The days ahead will test your wisdom and your discipline. Rash judgments, unbridled appetites, and reckless management of personal affairs can transform your otherwise bright future into a series of dismal defeats. When making decisions, take the long view. Ask yourself, “Will this road lead to peace of mind or trouble?”
In South America is a large city with many beautiful buildings. One large, multistory structure captured my attention. It stood tall against the skyline. But instead of draped windows, reflective glass, and metal trim, it was an empty, concrete shell. There were no gardens, only weeds. Decaying construction materials littered its courtyard. It stood as a monument to failure. Similar testimonials are all about us. The half-painted house, the partially built fence. Many lives are like unfinished buildings. Begun with vigor, they stand wasting away in the wake of poor decisions.
The Lord has taught, “Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28–30).
To manage wisely means to start small and build with time, to measure twice and cut once, to resist the impulse and allow things to simmer a while.
So much is said today of values. There are society’s values, company values, and family values. Correctly viewed, values can be of great worth. Unfortunately, in a world rife with the do-your-own-thing philosophy, what one holds as a value is often defined by what one wants.
Live right by embracing virtue. Virtues are more than values—much more. Virtues mean not only excellence, but moral excellence. Virtuous men and women not only do good; they are goodness.
Though wealth and title hold great appeal, and by them the world gauges success, they stand for little more than what they are. After all is said and done, they do not connote a life well lived. Decide now what you stand for. Be not afraid to say, “[I] believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men” (A of F 1:13). Those are the things by which you need to measure your success.
Society suffers from what some have called “dumbing down.” Good enough to get by is all too often the high-water mark of performance. Lowering standards so as to leave no one out harms everyone. It exploits the weak and demoralizes the strong. As a Church member, you are duty bound to make a difference in this world, to reach beyond the average, to elevate and edify those around you as well as the communities in which you reside. Where much is given, much is required (see D&C 82:3).
Said President David O. McKay, “I look upon all recipients of true education as individuals and groups radiating an influence that makes less dense and ineffective the darkness of ignorance, of suspicion, of hatred, of bigotry, avarice and greed that continue to envelop in darkness the lives of men” (Pathways to Happiness, 66).
Decide now that whatever your pursuit in life, you will do better than your best. Leaving a legacy is an outgrowth of attitude. It emerges as we rise above ourselves.
In 1922, a 17-year-old young lady enrolled at LDS Business College, then known as LDS High School. She was a farm girl from a small town in southwestern Utah, the eldest of seven children. Her mother suffered from ill health, and the family’s resources were meager. She boarded with her aunt that school year and successfully completed the 12th grade. Her classes included English, algebra, history, theology, physical training, and oral expression. Her grades were respectable. She was always quick to point out the campus of this institution and say, “That is where I went to school.”
The record shows she left LDS High School bound for the Dixie Normal School in St. George, Utah. Three years later she married and, in time, gave birth to and reared three children. She never became a school teacher, was never in the public eye, did not graduate from a great university. But her family adored her, and countless people acknowledge the profound influence for good she was in their lives. For Margaret Mary Savage, LDS High School became a launching pad for the betterment of others. My mother’s legacy became my blessing.
I commend you for the significant achievements of your life. Treasure always what you have received, and may the blessings of God and His beloved Son abide with and sustain you as you pursue truth, manage wisely, live right, and leave a legacy.