This has been amazing. I trod a path this week that I have anticipated yet dreaded my whole life. More on that later. One thing I have learned through the process—the importance of good examples.
We all have them. Stalwart, brave, and courageous men who provide hope, offer encouragement, and give us notable illustrations of faith. Unfortunately, these persons are not representative of many of the boys, fathers, and sons we frequently see on television or glamorized in the cinematic arts. Frequently, the men broadcast to the world today are not models of good behavior. And why is that?
Fathers are frequently considered bumbling fools in much of our society today. Some are portrayed as weak followers, non-contributors, and wishy-washy. Others are outright mean, evil, and self-absorbed. You don’t have to look very far to see what I mean. Cartoon depictions, actors, and a few glamorized sports heroes easily fall into this category. But the representation I believe is misguided and in error.
Some may justify this portrayal by saying it is all in good fun and humor. I think it is much more serious than that. People are challenged in many areas of life, and mistaken perceptions of both men and women are prolific, but in recent years it seems the implication is that fathers are incapable of guiding a family, inept providing for their loved ones, and do not want or cannot stay morally clean and upright.
But that is an inaccurate depiction of the men in my life.
I enjoy the prolific examples of courageous men from the Book of Mormon and other holy writ. We have noteworthy illustrations in nearly every chapter. Nephi, Moroni, Mormon, Teancum, Helaman, Lehi, Paul, Peter, Moses and many, many more. Everyone I have ever met who knows the story of the 2000 Stripling Warriors admires them for their courage, fortitude, and faith. Young men in the Church have always looked up to them and perhaps patterned their lives after their example—these young sons weren’t bumbling fools.
We have men of a sound mind and doctrine in our midst today, as well. I hope you are fortunate to have a father and grandfathers of this caliber. I hope you admire your sons and their friends and compliment them for the fine men they are becoming.
It is my prayer that your sons-in-law will become part of this incredible force for good, who cherish your daughters and treat all women with respect, strengthening your entire family. That is my hope, but I realize that everyone doesn’t have that kind of resource, yet. Whether you do or you don’t, you can be a pioneer in this area by serving and helping those around you and let others glean hope and courage from your example. We all have been blessed with advocates.
I have a number of incredible examples in my life. I imagine you do as well in yours. President Gordon B Hinckley took the Church into international prominence in many ways by his efforts to extend temple building worldwide and speak openly in high visibility programs.
These included 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace and the Larry King Live show. These hard-hitting news anchors reported admiration and respect for President Hinckley even in the relatively short time they had together. Young and old admire President Hinckley for his example, honesty, and courage. And he is not alone.
When asked to comment about the refined, aged men that lead the Church today, President Hinckley said “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head, a man of judgment, who isn’t blown about by every wind of doctrine?”
To watch the full interview, click here.
As I was preparing this article, I stumbled across a Youtube link of 200 Popular Videos of Gordon B Hinckley. Some I have seen, many I have not. But as I contemplate the vast treasure of good, uplifting, inspirational messages from him and dozens of other prophets, leaders, teachers, and role models, I believe these resources have been made available as a benefit to us in these tumultuous days. As men of the priesthood, we have an essential role to play in society, at home, and in the Church.
Gratefully, we have all had good examples of this kind of men be it a teacher, a mentor, a friend, home teacher, or a young mens president. We have faithful leaders at every level of this church who we can look to for strength, a good example, and in times of need seek help or encouragement. There are fine men at work, school, in government, serving our nation and communities, in our homes, and other places, who are loved and admired throughout the world… and many, many more I haven’t room to mention.
These men are a blessing to our families and both willing and able to be worthy role models. Though they do not seek out this position of admiration, they earn it. Elder D Todd Christofferson remarked that these men teach social and other skills and help us become better and happier people. He listed just a few of the ways and lessons men of maturity teach our youth:
- How to participate in a conversation
- Interacting with others
- How to relate to women and girls
- Service to others
- Being active and enjoying recreation
- How to pursue hobbies without becoming addicted
- How to correct mistakes and make better choices
Missionary work and priesthood service can be daunting and at times overwhelming, but the Lord sees fit to place responsibilities on our young men to shape and build them into leaders and role models for their peers and his Church. Life is full of challenges. The young and old can benefit from the steady hand of a seasoned leader.
I know that I have many times leaned on the shoulder of great men of influence, decency, and courage. When I consider that perhaps the most important and certainly most frequent ordinance in the church is administered weekly by the young men of the Aaronic priesthood, I recognize that these young men are preparing to offer a lifetime of service to their fellowmen and to God.
But we live in a temporal world with difficulty, pain, addictions, and hardship. Unemployment is just one example of circumstances that try a man’s integrity, stretch his heart strings, and often result in a difficult situation beyond his control. A Church welfare pamphlet describes the circumstance this way:
“A man out of work is of special moment to the Church because, deprived of his inheritance, he is on trial as Job was on trial—for his integrity. As days lengthen into weeks and months and even years of adversity, the hurt grows deeper. … The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul.”
To watch his full talk, click here.
President Gordon B. Hinckley once said:
“It will be a marvelous day, my brethren—it will be a day of fulfillment of the purposes of the Lord—when our priesthood quorums become an anchor of strength to every man belonging thereto, when each such man may appropriately be able to say, ‘I am a member of a priesthood quorum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I stand ready to assist my brethren in all of their needs, as I am confident they stand ready to assist me in mine. … Working together, we can stand, without embarrassment and without fear, against every wind of adversity that might blow, be it economic, social, or spiritual.’”
In light of the challenges before us despite our best efforts, things don’t always work out as we have planned. Sage men who have experience, strength, and wisdom can help us through the “wind of adversity” that is sure to come.
My father was that kind of man. In his journal, he recounts an experience with one such person that has stayed with him his whole life:
When I had my dog, I would ride my bike to the grocery store a few blocks from our house, and ask the butcher for a dog bone. He would give me one, and I would lay it across my handlebars as I pedaled my bike home. One day as I was riding home, a young man came along. He was one of the nicest looking men I had ever seen. He impressed me because he had a suit on, and because he smiled and stopped to talk to me.
I was surprised. No one paid much attention to me—I was just a dumb little kid. He asked my name, and I told him what I was doing. I told him about my dog and he was interested. He thought it was so neat that I would get bones for my dog. We had a nice conversation and then he went on his way. Later, I learned that he was the big brother of a friend of mine. He had just returned from a mission. That’s the way a lot of missionary’s are, out in the mission field, and hopefully when they get back home.
He really made that day for me because of the interest he showed. I had never had anyone do that before. I thought about that experience, and felt it would be great in life to try and give a lift when I could to people that are blue, feel unimportant, or are lonesome, the way he lifted me that day. I’ve tried to do that, ever since that experience.
We needn’t do something tremendous to have significant impact in people’s lives. We can simply follow the example of the Savior and do what he would do in that same circumstance. That is tremendous.
And as I close my thoughts, I want to echo the words of Elder D. Todd Christofferson, which he shared in a fairly recent conference. He addressed the men of the Church, young and old, who hold the priesthood of God:
Yes, brethren, we have work to do. Thank you for the sacrifices you make and the good you do. Keep going, and the Lord will help you. At times you may not know quite what to do or what to say—just move forward. Begin to act, and the Lord assures that “an effectual door shall be opened for [you].” Begin to speak, and He promises, “You shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.”
It is true that we are in many ways ordinary and imperfect, but we have a perfect Master who wrought a perfect Atonement, and we have call upon His grace and His priesthood. As we repent and purge our souls, we are promised that we will be taught and endowed with power from on high.
The Church and the world and women are crying for men who are developing their capacity and talents, who are willing to work and make sacrifices, who will help others achieve happiness and salvation. They are crying, “Rise up, O men of God!” God help us to do it.
We have access to literally hundreds of talks and sermons given by these fine men. We can research them by time frame, individual speaker, or topic. They are available on nearly any device at any moment, anytime, and almost anywhere.
Our dear prophet today President Thomas S Monson shared his encouragement and strength with LDS women everywhere when he gave the following advice:
“My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.
“As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you. I know this to be true in the passing of my eternal companion—Frances Beverly Johnson Monson.
“I leave with you my blessing. I leave with you my gratitude for all the good you do and for the lives you lead. That you may be blessed with every good gift is my prayer in the name of our Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ the Lord, amen.”
The Master Jesus Christ has set the pattern in all things. He has called all men to follow his pattern with this decree and answered his own question:
“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”
Jesus Christ is our Master, our Advocate, our Friend. He is the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, Counsellor, Wonderful. We are blessed today with literally hundreds of testimonies of him. Through his prophet and chosen leaders, the scriptures, and our ability to follow him and further his work and mission, we can learn of and follow him every day.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.