The following is a portion of Bill’s remarks at the Tooele Stake Conference Priesthood Session. April 2012
Richard P. Lindsey has passed away but he was once a member of the quorum of the Seventy told the following story:
“I wanted our sons to have the blessing of being shepherds to farm animals. Our older sons were each provided with a ewe to teach them the responsibility of caring for these sheep.
Our six year old son, called me excitedly at my office one cold March morning on the phone and said, “Daddy, guess what? Esther has just had two baby lambs. Please come home and help me take care of them.” I instructed Gordon to watch the lambs carefully and make sure they received the mother’s milk and they would be fine. I was interrupted by a second phone call later in the morning with the same little voice on the other end saying, “Daddy, these lambs aren’t doing very well. They haven’t been able to get milk from the mother, and they are very cold. Please come home.”
Being very busy, I responded, “Gordon, the lambs will be all right. You just watch them, and when Daddy comes home we will make sure they get mother’s milk and everything will be fine.”
Again, later in the afternoon I received a third, more urgent call. Now the voice on the other end was pleading. “Daddy, you’ve got to come home now. Those lambs are lying down, and one of them looks very cold.”
Despite work pressures, I now felt some real concern and tried to reassure my son by saying, “Gordon, bring the lambs into the house. Rub them with a gunnysack to make them warm. When Daddy comes home in a little while, we will milk the mother, feed the lambs, and they will be fine.”
Two hours later I drove into the driveway of our home and was met by a boy with tear-stained eyes, carrying a dead lamb in his arms. His grief was overwhelming. Now I tried to make amends by quickly milking the mother sheep and trying to force the milk from a bottle down the throat of the now weak, surviving lamb.
At this point, Gordon walked out of the room and came back with a hopeful look in his eyes. He said, “Daddy, I’ve prayed that we will be able to save this lamb, and I feel it will be all right.”
The sad note to this story…is that within a few minutes the second lamb was dead. Then with a look that I will remember forever, this little six-year-old boy who had lost both of his lambs looked up into his father’s face and with tears running down his cheeks said, “Daddy, if you had come home when I first called you, we could have saved them both.”
The trust that our friends and family will place in us all of our lives is sacred. When we endeavor to serve as the Savior serves, our influence will be so powerful that we will be able to change the course of people’s lives.
Some men believe that the personal choices they make with their time and money will not affect those around them. They see themselves exempt from the rules they expect their wives and children to maintain, never believing that they are hurting anyone else with their weaknesses. But the responsibility they have to lead their families in righteousness is very personal, just as it was for this man who learned the hard way that his son was looking to him for guidance and example.
It is personal because only as an individual, can you develop a firm faith in God and a passion for personal prayer. Only as an individual can you keep the commandments. Only as an individual can you repent. Only as an individual can you qualify for the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.
Throughout your life you will have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Many of these are temporary and you may feel relieved when you are finally released from them. However, keeping the Boy Scout motto in mind of “Be Prepared” will help us be ready whenever the Lord needs us.
When asked if it was difficult to make a transition from his former assignment to that of being called as an apostle, President David Bednar said, “There was no formal orientation, just an expectation to act, to participate and to render judgment as if I had always been there….” This could not have happened had he lived in any way contrary to the righteous way that he needed to be living every single day.
Although our church assignments will continually change, you will never be released from responsibilities related to your personal and family development.
Remembering who you are will help you to live worthily so that you can exercise the priesthood in righteousness. Power comes from exercising that authority in righteousness.
As a young officer in the Canadian army, President Hugh B. Brown was permitted to go to an officer’s club for entertainment. He soon realized it was not the kind of entertainment that a righteous priesthood holder would wish to engage in. As he walked around somewhat lonely, he noticed that sitting away on the side, not enjoying this entertainment either, was a young British officer. President Brown walked around to where this young British officer was sitting and he said, ”You don’t seem to be enjoying this kind of a party.”
The young man stood up, and said, “No, sir. I can’t engage in this kind of activity because I am a member of the royal household of England. I can’t stoop to do this kind of thing.”
As the young British officer walked away, Brother Brown said, “Neither can I because I am a member of the royal household of God.”
Why WERE you so blessed to live in this day and age to be trusted with the power of the Priesthood? Out of the billions and billions of humans that have come and gone over the last 50,000 years, and the tens of thousands of organized religions, why were you chosen?
In Abraham 3: 22 it says: “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good…”
And so, we see that in the pre-mortal life, certain people were foreordained, or chosen, to be born into the house of Israel and receive special blessings and responsibilities. The fulfillment of these blessings depends on their willingness to follow Jesus Christ.
President Monson was once speaking to the youth. He reminded them of something that we should all keep in mind when it comes to the fact that we are living at a special time in the world’s history. This is what he said:
“You, the youth of the church today, were generals in the war in heaven. Someday, when you are back in the Spirit World you will be enthralled by other souls who will be from so many other interesting periods of time and who lived during the time of many great prophets.
You may ask one person, ‘When did you live?’ And you will hear something like… ‘I was with Moses when he parted the Red Sea’ or ‘I fought with Captain Moroni.’
As you stand there amazed at the people that you are with, someone will ask you which prophet’s time you lived during. And when you tell them that you lived during the time of President Benson, President Hunter and President Hinckley, a hush will fall over the corridors of heaven and all in attendance will bow in your presence.
You were held 6000 years because you were the most talented, most obedient, most courageous, and the most righteous.
Are you still?”
It is no mistake that you are here during this closing chapter of the earth’s history. We are the keepers of the Lord’s precious flock and we must be there with the lambs when we are needed. We must teach with love, principles of faith, and goodness and be righteous examples. The world is desperate for decisive moral leadership.
I leave my witness that this is God’s work. It is the most important work in which we can be engaged. That we will be instruments in His hands in saving the precious lambs for which He gave His life, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ.