Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley
President of the church
The church is enjoying a better reputation than ever before - mostly because of opinions people have formed from personal experiences with church members. "It is your friendliness, your concern for others, and the good examples of your lives that result in the opinions held by others concerning the Latter-day Saints."
Pioneer celebrations during the year have attracted extensive press coverage, most of it favorable but including a few misunderstandings. "None of you need worry because you read something that was incompletely reported. You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that this reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the church.
"Notwithstanding these occasional blips we have been treated very well and we are grateful to the writers and the editors who have dealt with us honestly and generously."
President Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor, First Presidency
The precious days of infancy bond mother and father to a son or daughter. But there are those who would unwisely defer their parental responsibilities until a child "grows up."
"Not so, the evidence reveals. Prime time for teaching is fleeting. Opportunities are perishable."
"Children learn through gentle direction and persuasive teaching. They search for models to imitate, knowledge to acquire, things to do and teachers to please."
Four suggestions for those who teach children:
Teach prayer. "Nothing penetrates the human heart as does a personal, fervent prayer and its heaven-sent response."
Inspire faith, as did the early church pioneers, "who did so much for the good of all."
Live truth. The most effective lessons are, at times, found close to home.
Honor God. "No one can surpass the Lord Jesus Christ in setting an example of living this goal."
Pres. Boyd K. Packer
Quorum of the Twelve
Willingness to serve in the church arises from an individual witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and contained in the Book of Mormon, is true.
Baptism is a call to lifelong service to Christ, which is rendered by service in the church and through service to those around us. The spirit of service is essential to happiness and should be rendered without command.
No other service transcends that given in the home. Church leaders should be very sure that a call to serve in the church will not weaken the family. Church members should serve where called, no matter what the call is. "It is not in proper spirit for us to decide where we will serve or where we will not."
Similarly, "While we do not ask to be released from a calling, if our circumstances change, it is quite in order to counsel with those who issued our call and then let the decision rest with them. Nor should we feel rejected when we are released."
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Quorum of the Twelve
An infant grows to maturity in a matter of years, but the development of the spirit may never reach its capacity, because there is no end to its progression. President Gordon B. Hinckley demonstrates how spiritual capacity can be developed. "We can draw upon his example in order to improve our own spiritual attributes."
"On his mission, he developed good habits of study, work, communication, budgeting, time management and more. . . . Long ago, President Hinckley harnessed the power of prayer."
His love of learning is catalyzed by curiosity. "He grasps every opportunity to learn from others."
"His remarkable ability as a writer has been gained by his living close to the Spirit," and he has a remarkable sense of humor.
As the Lord's chosen prophet, President Hinckley is compassionate and sympathetic to people, sets an unprecedented pace and is aware of the opportunities and risks facing the faithful in their service.
Elder Richard B. Wirthlin
Quorums of the Seventy
The gospel brings peace of mind, self-worth and joy - feelings not always easy to achieve in today's world. Despite abundant knowledge, there is no parallel increase in true wisdom. Though most Americans believe in God, individual morals suffer.
"We cannot cope with the confusions and the challenges of this world" without "a clear and consistent moral compass" built around four absolute truths.
First, "that there is a loving Father in Heaven and his son, Jesus Christ, is our personal Savior, a more certain truth than any worldly fact."
Second, "There is an adversary, Satan, the tempter, who would lead us away from God and his infinite peace."
Third, "All of us choose our own course, endowed by agency. . . . We are therefore individually responsible for our ideas, acts, habits, character and yes, even our destiny."
Fourth, "The temptations of the devil can always be overcome by renewed faith in God and by repentance."
Elder Carl B. Pratt
Quorums of the Seventy
Being a church attorney in Latin America for 22 years has provided a "front-row seat to watch the explosive unfolding of the Lord's work" there.
But his family's travels have also provided the opportunity to notice a difference in the spirit of various wards: A hearty welcome was sometimes absent. "We then began to observe that in some wards we visited . . . if we had been investigators or new members, we would not have felt very welcome."
"These experiences helped us become aware of the discomfort that newcomers might occasionally feel in coming to our chapels and made us conscious of the need we all have to improve our fellowshiping skills.
"We have the richest blessings that God can give to his children. We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the most open, friendly, happy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, loving people in the whole world."
"This has to spring from the heart of every true disciple of Christ."
President Mary Ellen Smoot
Pioneers of the past and present have shown the kind of "better" things that should be sought for. "Our responsibility is to see that the gospel flame continues to burn brightly. Our charge is to find the lost sheep and help them feel our Savior's love."
Strengthening personal spiritual footings creates greater capacity to build the kingdom, which brings greater joy. "As you write your family histories, as you tend to lost sheep, as you nurture the seedlings of faith in others, you will find yourself saying `Is it already the end of the day?' rather than `Will this day ever end?' Pioneer women did not have time to wallow in discouragement. They were too busy working their way toward Zion."
"Do our precious converts, our reactivated and longtime members have the same sense of belonging and being needed? If not, we must nurture their tender souls."
Emulating the simple faith and virtues of pioneers, past and present, will bring peace.