Elder Cook Charges Young Adults to Build the Kingdom

  By Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events

  • 4 March 2012

In his CES devotional address, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles based his remarks on the popular quotation, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.”

Article Highlights

  • In a Church Educational System devotional on March 4, 2012, Elder Cook counseled young adults to act in accordance with their beliefs by doing things that will build character and help draw them nearer to Christ.
  • He also outlined some goals members should focus on, including living righteously, building a family, serving faithfully, and preparing to meet God.
  • Elder Cook told the young adults of the Church they need to continue the tradition of protecting righteousness and religious freedoms.

“I believe you have the background and the foundation to be the best generation ever, particularly in advancing our Father in Heaven’s plan.” —Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

While serving his mission to Scotland in the late 1890s, then Elder David O. McKay (who served as Church President between 1951 and 1970) and his companion passed a building where the stone above the door was inscribed with a quotation usually attributed to Shakespeare: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.”

Recalling this experience while giving a talk in 1957, President McKay said he thought to himself, “You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than that, you are here as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. … Then I thought [about] what we had done that afternoon. We had been sightseeing, we had gained historical instruction and information, it is true, and I was thrilled with it. … However, that was not missionary work. … I accepted the message given to me on that stone, and from that moment we tried to do our part as missionaries in Scotland” (“Lesson 29: David O. McKay—Worldwide Ambassador of God,” The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, [1996]).

From the pulpit of the BYU–Idaho Conference Center on Sunday, March 4, 2012, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled young adults throughout the world to “act well [their] part” by avoiding wearing a “mask,” acting in accordance with their true identities, setting appropriate goals, and building their countries and communities.

“Some commentators are skeptical about what your generation will accomplish,” Elder Cook said. “I believe you have the background and the foundation to be the best generation ever, particularly in advancing our Father in Heaven’s plan.”

Acting in Our Character

Elder Cook predicted that there will be great pressure for Church members to act like or become people they really aren’t or don’t want to be.

He warned against participating in activities anonymously or in a way that hides one’s true identity—wearing a “mask.” He specifically mentioned “writing hateful, vitriolic, bigoted communications anonymously online.”

“What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct, which is so destructive of civil discourse,” Elder Cook said.

“We learn in the Book of Mormon that Lucifer ‘stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness,’” Elder Cook said, quoting Second Nephi 9:9. “If you ever find yourself wanting to [put on a mask of anonymity], please know it is a serious sign of danger and one of the adversary’s tools to get you to do something you should not do.”

The way we dress can also act as a mask, Elder Cook said. “Our manner of dress and adornment can be an indication of rebellion or lack of adherence to moral standards, and negatively impact the moral standards of others,” he said.

Living Our Beliefs

We can act in accordance with our true beliefs by spending our time on those things that will build and develop character and help us become more Christlike, Elder Cook said.

“I hope none of you see life as primarily fun and games, but rather as a time to prepare to meet God,” he said.

He related an experience of fellow Apostle Elder L. Tom Perry, who, along with other occupation troops, spent his time rebuilding Christian churches following the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, after World War II. The day of their departure came, and other marines were teasing them about wasting their time working instead of playing, when more than 200 Japanese Christians arrived, singing and offering gifts and thanks to those who had helped rebuild their chapels.

“Think of the significance of some soldiers spending their time restoring Christian churches compared to other soldiers involved in frivolous, foolish, or evil activities,” Elder Cook said. “Please ponder and be proactive in choosing how you use your time.”

He emphasized, “I am not talking about wearing your religion on your sleeve or being superficially faithful. That can be embarrassing to you and the Church. I am talking about you becoming what you ought to be.”

He reminded those who may have acted outside the bounds of Church standards that as they work with their bishop, the Atonement will provide a way to repent and heal.

Regarding pornography, Internet addiction, and other forms of immorality, Elder Cook said, “As you move toward marriage, you must not wear any masks that hide inappropriate conduct that will be detrimental to you or your marriage.”

Setting Appropriate Goals

“Too often our goals are based on what the world values,” Elder Cook said. “The essential elements are really quite simple for members who have received the saving ordinances. Be righteous. Build a family. Find an appropriate way to provide. Serve as called. Prepare to meet God.”

He recalled the Savior’s teaching that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Elder Cook then counseled those listening to consider the example of President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who decided while serving in World War II that he wanted to be a teacher, emphasizing the teachings of the Savior.

“He made up his mind that he would live a righteous life,” said Elder Cook. “It came to him in a rather profound way that he would have to find a righteous wife and that together they would raise a large family. This young soldier recognized that his career choice would provide modest compensation, and his sweet companion would need to share the same priorities and be willing to live without some material things.

“For those of you who have become acquainted with Sister Donna Packer, she was and is, for President Packer, the perfect companion. There was never enough excess money, but they did not feel deprived in any way. They raised 10 children, and sacrifice was required. They now have 60 grandchildren and 79 great-grandchildren.

Elder Cook continued, “I can remember the tender feelings I had when I learned that he was embarrassed as a General Authority to go with one of the senior Brethren to a meeting of Church leaders because he did not have an adequate white shirt to wear.”

Building the Kingdom

Elder Cook told the young adults of the Church they need to continue the tradition of protecting righteousness and religious freedoms.

Although the Church is politically neutral, Elder Cook echoed the Church’s encouragement to members to engage in supporting the candidates and parties of their choice based on principles that will protect good government.

He also encouraged members to join with other good people of all faiths to defend religious freedoms.

Elder Cook ended by expressing the confidence Church leaders have in the young people of the Church.

“The leadership of the Church honestly believes that you can build the kingdom like no previous generation,” he said. “We know that the success of your generation is essential to the continued establishment of the Church and the growth of the kingdom.”

The one-hour devotional will be rebroadcast to many areas of the world on Sunday, March 11, 2012.

Audio and video of the devotional will be archived at cesdevotionals.lds.org in dozens of languages within three weeks of the broadcast.