Decide to Decide
April 2002

“Decide to Decide,” New Era, Apr. 2002, 26

Decide to Decide

Adapted from a young single adult fireside given in the Washington-Baltimore Area on March 16, 2001.

Decide now how you will handle temptation, and when you are faced with the real thing, you’ll know what to do.

Just before He began His formal ministry, the Savior had a dramatic experience with Satan. Luke records that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There He was, “forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

“And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:2–3).

And in other ways Satan used all of his formidable powers to tempt and undermine the physically weakened Christ. Then, in a final attempt to subvert the mission of the Lamb of God, Satan, having taken “him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

“And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

“If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:5–8).

Jesus had made His decision. The Lord could easily have had the stone made into bread. The mortal Messiah, had drawn a figurative line—a line which He would not cross under any circumstances.

The Master had already “decided to decide.”* He had decided to place Himself beyond temptation and far away from the outer boundaries of risk. With simple, direct authority Jesus rebuked this real adversary: “Get thee behind me, Satan”! He never veered from the sure course of His ministry, not even as He hung in agony from the cross when, at that last awful moment, the Eternal Father withdrew His presence and the great sacrifice was made alone.

Christ’s life is the pattern for our lives when, in a world awash with evil, we are faced with temptation and the immense powers of darkness: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

You are faced with the unrelenting temptations of the world today. You must also, as did the Lord Jesus Christ, decide early.

Elder Hinckley’s day of decision

In the early days of his mission in Great Britain, a young Elder Gordon B. Hinckley felt considerable discouragement. President Hinckley’s biographer, Sheri Dew, has written:

“After he had taken as much as he felt he could, Elder Hinckley wrote his father that he wasn’t getting anywhere with missionary work, and that he couldn’t see the point in wasting his time and his father’s money. Responding as both father and stake president, Bryant Hinckley sent a reply that was brief and to the point: ‘Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.’

“Earlier that day [Elder Hinckley] and his companion had studied the promise recorded in the Gospels: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it’ (Mark 8:35).

“That scripture, combined with his father’s counsel, seared his soul. With the letter in hand, he went into his upstairs bedroom at 15 Wadham Road and got on his knees. As he poured out his heart to the Lord, he promised that he would try to forget himself and lose himself in the Lord’s service. Many years later [President Hinckley] indicated the significance of that series of events: ‘That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to the decision I made that day in Preston’” (Go Forward with Faith, 64).

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, had “decided to decide.”

My choices

When I was 16, my seemingly healthy, vigorous 41-year-old father dropped dead while water skiing. As you can imagine, this was a shocking event in my life and caused me much anguish. Why did this happen? This event was cause for considerable reflection and much prayer as I struggled to set my own course. A few months later, standing on the newly grown grass over his grave at the Ogden, Utah, cemetery, I decided several important matters:

One, that I would always keep the Word of Wisdom.

Two, that I would serve a mission.

Three, that I would always make him proud that I was his son.

Four, that I would strive to be successful as he was.

Five, that I would always be active in the Church.

Six, that I would marry someone in the temple as fine as my mother.

These were simple yet life-defining decisions. They were as indelible as the words carved on my father’s headstone, for my resolve was, in effect, carved in stone—unalterable and resolute. I had “decided to decide.”

As I concluded my mission in Scotland in 1963, I completed in my black leather journal a list of other decisions resulting from the experience of the past 24 months. Some were decisions of the world. However, the most important decisions were spiritual and of eternal consequence: my allegiance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my love of the living apostles and prophets, my resolve to always follow the Lord’s prophet, my commitment to a program of gospel scholarship, and my resolve to keep the commandments.

Since February 1963, I have made few other decisions of such course-setting magnitude and long-term consequence. Once they were prayerfully made, these decisions never had to be made again.

Decide now

If you have not already done so, you should decide what you will and will not do. In other words, decide upon your personal standard of conduct and behavior. What road you will take, what enticements of the world you will forever shield your eyes, ears, mind, and body from, including pornography in all its forms, questionable movies, television, music, personal attire, and any other conduct not becoming a member of this great Church.

Decide that, in action as well as in thought, you will be sexually pure, avoiding adultery, fornication, or anything like unto them. Decide that you will keep the Lord’s commandments: honesty, tithing faithfulness, the Word of Wisdom, and temple worthiness.

And, particularly with respect to the young men, that you will serve a mission.

Decide whom you will marry in the temple, and what steps you will take to attain that most important goal.

Decide that you will follow the direction of the Lord’s living apostles and prophets.

Your early, resolute decisions will form a pattern that will shape not only your eternal lives, but also those of living and unborn loved ones who draw, or will draw, support from you.

Be spiritually alert

Why must we decide to decide? We know that indecision and procrastination are prime weapons of the adversary.

We make many decisions each day; however, like the pre-programmed defaults on your computer software programs, there are some decisions which should have been made long ago, so they are no longer subject to debate, compromise, or waffling.

As the Lord’s servant, I promise you that our Heavenly Father, in answer to prayer, will help you make these early, crucial decisions. As confirmed members of the only true and living Church, if you live worthily, it is your right, privilege, and inheritance to receive the revelation and companionship of the Holy Ghost. I testify that this personal revelation will come to you, because it has come to me. And you can develop the sure habit of acting on this stream of personal, decision-making revelation.

I pray that you will “decide to decide.”


“Each of us has a choice between right and wrong. But with that choice there inevitably will follow consequences. Those who choose to violate the commandments of God put themselves at great spiritual and physical jeopardy. … Each of us, with discipline and effort, has the capacity to control our thoughts and our actions. This is part of the process of developing spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity” (Ensign, May 1987, 47).
–President Gordon B. Hinckley

  • In 1997, Elder J. Willard Marriott, Jr., an Area Authority Seventy, used the term “Decide to Decide” as a chapter heading in his book The Spirit to Serve. He attributed this to one of his favorite teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball.

Painting The Three Temptations by Gary Smith

Discouraged with the lack of progress on his mission, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (far right) received counsel from his father and from the scriptures that turned him around.