At the April 1996 general conference, Elder F. Burton Howard said that as he travels throughout the Church, he often asks stake presidents what their concerns are and what they perceive to be their greatest need.
A member of the Seventy, Elder Howard said that frequently stake presidents reply: "We have wonderful people. Some of them just need to be more committed and more dedicated. They need to be more anxiously engaged in the work."Elder Howard said: "The Church does have many needs, and one of them is for more people who will just do what they have agreed to do, people who will show up for work and stay all day, who will quietly, patiently, and consistently do what they have agreed to do - for as long as it takes, and who will not stop until they have finished."
He illustrated such commitment by relating the story of the servant that Abraham sent to find a wife for Isaac. "We do not know his
the servant'sT name," Elder Howard said. "We do not know much about his life, but we know a great deal about his character. It was he who governed everything that Abraham had. He was trustworthy and he was trusted. The day came when Abraham put into the care of this servant the most important matter of all - the exaltation of his son.
"He wanted Isaac to be an heir of the covenant which he had made with the Lord. He knew that the blessings of that covenant could not be realized if Isaac didn't marry a good and worthy woman who believed in God. No woman in the land of Canaan was capable of being the mother of Israel. So Abraham asked his servant to promise that he would not permit his son to marry a Canaanite. Instead Abraham sent him to the land of his fathers to find a wife for Isaac.
"The servant accepted the commitment and set out on his journey. He traveled many days. He must have encountered trials and hardships. When he finally arrived at his destination, he found many young women there. He devised a test to see which of them was foreordained to be Isaac's wife. By exercising his faith, he met Rebekah and arrived at the home of her family and was befriended by them. They invited him to dinner. After days in the desert, and despite his hunger and thirst, this faithful servant said, `I will not eat, until I have told mine errand.' (Gen. 24:33.)
"So it was. He explained the purpose of his journey and his oath to Abraham. One simple statement conveyed his faithfulness and humility. `I am Abraham's servant,' he said. (Gen. 24:34.) The kinsfolk wanted a 10-day celebration. The servant replied, `Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.' (Gen. 24:56.)
"Many would have tarried. Others would have justified unwinding a little by saying that the journey had been long or that they were tired or hungry or thirsty. Some, not wanting to appear too zealous, would have stayed.
"A few, not understanding the significance of the errand, might have tried to talk Abraham out of the assignment, claiming that it was foolishness to travel so far in search of a wife. Some would not have had the faith necessary to discover which of all of the young women of the city was the chosen one. Yet this servant did. He knew how to magnify his calling and accomplish that which he had promised his master. He understood a very important truth. Promises are not just pretty words. Promises have eternal consequences."