This semester I have had the opportunity to take a class called "Teachings of the Living Prophets." This class...is my dream class. I love listening to and reading the words of General Authorities, as of recently, like as of this year.
So in my class we've been learning about the lives of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and it has been SO interesting. These are men who are VERY educated...we're talking Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, GW University, et cetera. And they are all very accomplished in their individual fields. For example, Elder Dallin H. Oaks served as a Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and as a Law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court. Elder Russell M. Nelson was a very talented cardiovascular surgeon. Many of these men served in the military, including President Uchtdorf who was a jet fighter pilot in the German Air Force. I am amazed that these men would leave behind their occupations and awesome accomplishments to devote their lifetime to the service of the Lord.
As I've been reading the words of these men, and learning more about them, I have gained a deep love, appreciation, and respect for all of them. But my favorite is Elder David A. Bednar...if I'm allowed to pick a favorite. I don't really know how to explain why, I just love the way he speaks. He is not a very dynamic speaker like some of the other leaders (Elder Holland comes to mind.) But his words, sometimes very simple, are just as powerful.
So, here's a Mormon Messages video and some of my favorite quotes from Elder Bednar :)
"When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."
"A major reason the family is so important to the plan is really quite straightforward: it is the only place where we cannot hide from who we really are as we strive to become what we are destined to become. In essence, a family is the mirror through which we become aware of imperfections and flaws we may not be able or want to acknowledge. No one knows us better than the members of our family. Thus, the family is the ultimate laboratory in mortality for the improving and perfecting of God's children."
"A public statement of love when the private actions of love are absent at home is hypocrisy—and weakens the foundation of a great work. Publicly declaring testimony when faithfulness and obedience are missing within our own homes is hypocrisy—and undermines the foundation of a great work. The commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16) applies most pointedly to the hypocrite in each of us. We need to be and become more consistent. “But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). As we seek the Lord’s help and in His strength, we can gradually reduce the disparity between what we say and what we do, between expressing love and consistently showing it, and between bearing testimony and steadfastly living it. We can become more diligent and concerned at home as we are more faithful in learning, living, and loving the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."
*This entire talk, called More Diligent and Concerned at Home, is amazing. If you have time, read the whole thing!*
"Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts."
"The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing...Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us."
"The purpose of our mortal journey is not merely to see the sights on earth or to expend our allotment of time on self-centered pursuits; rather, we are to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), to become sanctified by yielding our hearts unto God (see Helaman 3:35), and to obtain “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)...The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better...All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us."
"Closely associated with becoming men and women of integrity and honesty is reaching a point where we are no longer driven or directed by rules; instead, we learn to govern ourselves by principle. To be sure, we keep the rules; but we also begin to ask ourselves, "What is the principle involved here?" Such a person becomes less dependent upon external scaffolding and structure and more dependent upon quiet and ongoing divine direction."
"I will go where the Lord and the leaders of His Church want me to go, I will do what they want me to do, I will teach what they want me to teach, and I will strive to become what I should and must become. In the strength of the Lord and through His grace, I know that you and I can be blessed to accomplish all things."
P.S. Elder Bednar was a quarterback in high school...I don't hold it against him!