People should keep an eternal perspective as they plan their lives and give service to others, an LDS Church leader told listeners on Wednesday.
Elder J. Thomas Fyans, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Utah Central area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at an Interfaith Devotional in Steinway Hall in downtown Salt Lake City.The third in a series of four non-denominational services open to members of all religious faiths, the gathering was conducted by Rabbi Frederick L. Wenger of the Congregation Kol Ami.
Elder Fyans, who also is managing director of the church's Family History Department, prefaced his talk by praising the accomplishments, dedication and influence of Rabbi Wenger; the Rev. Thomas Meersman, director of special affairs, Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City; and Dr. Harry P. Sweitzer, pastor emeritus, First Presbyterian Church.
Repeatedly referring to the clergymen as his companions and expressing appreciation for the comraderie they enjoy, Elder Fyans said he has come to "admire and revere them for their intense application of effort. I . . . marvel at their influence."
He said, "As I think of these three men I recognize them for what they are and the compassion they have, the service they render and the very way they have utilized their efforts to raise themselves to higher levels."
Elder Fyans said Rabbi Wenger left his home and friends in the East to come to the Salt Lake area. He said the rabbi has been a "real influence within the Jewish community, and he reaches out and we feel of his desire to lift all . . . ."
He said the Rev. Meersman's responsibilities also include being a chaplain at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. He paid tribute to the work of the priest for his consolation to military personnel in the far reaches of the world and for being available with an "outstretched hand to lift" others to higher levels.
He portrayed Dr. Sweitzer as a "motivator, an intense man, an articulate conveyor of moving thoughts and expressions that challenge us and inspire us."
In his introductions, Rabbi Wenger characterized Elder Fyans as a "warm, large-hearted individual, one totally dedicated to God, country, church and family."
Elder Fyans said he and the other religious leaders have found great understanding and mutual appreciation for the varying circumstances of each other's lives. He said there is neither time nor inclination among the four to show disrespect or criticize each other's calling.
"As we think in terms of our circumstances in life and the circumstances of others' lives, I guess we should ask ourselves, are we turned in or turned out," he said.
Elder Fyans illustrated the point by holding up a spoon, which if viewed from the inside gives only a limited and upside-down view. But looking at the reverse side of the spoon gives a much broadened and right-side-up view, he said.
He gave other examples of how people's faith and courage can shine through adversity and concluded with a story of how an aspiring young lawyer was taught values from an eternal perspective by William E. Gladstone, former British prime minister.
The young man said he wanted to prepare himself for giving superior service and attracting a large clientele. The youth said he then planned to repay his debt to society by becoming a member of parliament before retiring and then just "loafing until I die."
Elder Fyans said, "It was then that William E. Gladstone gave his first counsel: `Young man, go back over your whole life's plan and plan every day on the basis that life is eternal.' "