As I sat live tweeting the priesthood session of conference, I could hardly believe the things that I was hearing. Elder Ballard over the pulpit asked our entire generation (Single Adults in particular) to raise the bar of our lives. Specifically he asked us to prepare ourselves to “marry, serve, and lead in the days ahead.” Considering Elder Ballard to be inspired, I have been pondering on what I can do to apply this specific counsel in my life.
Let me express how wonderful it is to me that there was a talk directed to the single adults and youth of the church, especially during a conference that was themed marriage and family. Don’t worry, the theme continued, but I felt it was quite specific on the things that we could do to receive these blessings in our lives.
Watching the leaders of the Church this weekend, an impression came to me that many of these brethren have dedicated their entire lives to serving the Lord. Thomas S. Monson — our beloved prophet, for example, has been serving continually since the age of 36. Nearing the age of 90, he still has not dubbed himself a “retired Mormon.” He gives and serves even with a frail body and declining health. It struck me that sooner than I may like to believe, our leaders may be called home. One day we will need another set of Elder Holland’s podium punches, and Dieter airplane stories. These men didn’t become who they are now when they suddenly hit 50. It took a lifetime of correct choices and decisions to put them in a place that the Lord could work through them to help lead all of us.
While I would never ever aspire to lead, or recommend anyone else to do so either, I feel it is important for all of us to be prepared to serve in whatever capacity the Lord may need us. Specifically, I feel that Elder Ballard is asking us to be create families that are happy at home. Families that serve each other and the Lord. Families that lead out as defenders of God’s plan, and ultimately, families that prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ. So how do we raise the bar in our lives?
First we marry. We don’t just go find another single adult and sign a membership to a club. I believe in order to marry as Elder Ballard directs, we have to put forth a great deal of effort. We need be in places where we can find people who will share our standards, beliefs, and goals. We need to get to know people face to face and enjoy one-on-one conversations. We need to inquire well and ask the right types of questions. We need to develop faith in commitment and faith in other people. As Sister Linda K. Burton said in conference, we need to search for a help meet. She said, “our two hands are similar to each other, but not exactly the same. In fact, they are exact opposites, but they compliment each other and are suited to each other. Working together they are strong.” We need our right hand man (or woman) who help us be as strong as possible.
Second, we serve. Often we wait to serve until there is a big project, or what we consider to be a huge and desperate need. As I have contemplated what service has been the most meaningful in my life I have come to see that the smallest acts of kindness have made the biggest difference. It is the moments when I receive a call, a visit, or note from a friend. It is the smiles from strangers on days when work is not going so well. It is the times when people remember my name. It is when someone follows a small prompting, or lets me know they are praying in my behalf. Service that matters is rarely seen by anyone other than God. I believe as we learn to serve meaningfully and quietly we will be serving as the Savior. As The Living Christ reminds us, “He went about doing good”. We too can go about doing good in the world today.
Third, we lead. The greatest sources of leadership in my life have come through example. The most impactful leaders I have met don’t lead with their titles, but with their lives. My parents lead as I watch them kneel and pray in difficult times. My friends lead when they choose to point out the positive in other people or suggests things we could do to help someone having a bad day. My brothers lead by showing me how to treat their spouses and children. My sister leads in quiet decisions to always choose the right. My roommates lead by being loyal friends. Each of us has a chance to lead as we defend the home and the family. With unique talents and abilities we can each lead in at least one way.
It is exciting to envision the future of this world where all of us strive for the ideal and work to have families that work together in harmonious marriages, serve each other and those around them, and lead in our own specific ways. What stood out to you in conference? How will you apply it to your life?
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.