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Ask Dr. Elia: Words that changed my life

Although I have read countless books, articles and talks over the years, there's one document that has influenced my life above all the rest.

Here's the story behind it.

While in graduate school, a fellow student named Katie, who happened to be the Los Angeles Stake president's daughter, introduced me to the gospel. Shortly thereafter she also introduced me to her family, who took me in, fellowshipped and loved me — giving me a second home.

After a couple of years I made the decision to get baptized. As soon as I joined the church, I was also introduced by Katie to my future bride. Being introduced to the restored gospel and to my wife, Sona, have been the two greatest blessings in my life.

Katie's father, President Howard Anderson, was married to President David O. McKay's granddaughter, so obviously there was tremendous respect and fondness for him in their home. A few days before my wife and I got married in the Los Angeles Temple, we had our interview with our stake president.

Besides being our ecclesiastical leader, President Anderson was like a father to both of us. At one point during our visit, he asked if he could read something to us from the prophet. He read the following:

"Let my assure you, brethren, that some day you will have a personal priesthood interview with the Savior, himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which he will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.

"First, he will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?

"Second, he will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.

"Third, he will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.

"Fourth, he will want a summary of your activity in your church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and a mission president are probably equals, but he will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellow men in your church assignments.

"Fifth, he will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.

"Sixth, he will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country and the world."

— President David O. McKay

I was astonished by what he read to us and had an immediate and profound confirmation of its truthfulness.

President Anderson smiled and said, "Now Elia, I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that now you know what the Lord is going to ask you ... kind of like an open-book test. The bad news is that now you know what the Lord is going to ask you."

I would have no excuses if I didn't live my life accordingly.

That piece of advice has been the driving force in my life. I love how important family is in relation to everything else in our lives. We spend so much time working, but work comes after family, our gifts and talents, and our service to the church. And the only thing that matters is being honest in all of our dealings, not what position we attain or how much money we make.

Obviously this talk was given to the brethren, but I would be surprised if the sisters wouldn't have a similar interview.

This talk has put everything in my life into the right perspective. I hope one day to be able to answer all these questions and say that I did my very best!