Moment: Three Tried and True Principles from the Late Elder Perry

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 24 June 2015

At a March 17, 1987, devotional at BYU, the late Elder L. Tom Perry offered three guiding principles that can be utilized by anyone who desires a life defined by purpose and direction.

Article Highlights

  • Do your best with the talents God has given you.
  • Subscribe to basic, tried-and-true principles.
  • Develop character.

“Man [or woman] becomes ultimately what he [or she] thinks and does. Habits become the vehicle molding his [or her] character. What kind of character and destiny are you after?” —Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve

Church members worldwide are mourning the May 30 passing of Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Over a span of four decades, he delivered countless talks and sermons that were characteristically enriched with compassion and common sense.

At a March 17, 1987, devotional at BYU, he offered three guiding principles that can be utilized by anyone who desires a life defined by purpose and direction.

First, do your best with the talents God has given you.

“We have been given an abundance of talent, beauty, and ability,” he said. “Lack of progress can never be blamed on the lack of raw material.”

It is essential, he added, for all “to make this mortal experience one that is rewarding and fulfilling by developing a consistency in doing our best with whatever talents the Lord has blessed us with.”

Second, subscribe to basic, tried-and-true principles.

“One of these principles is integrity. Integrity is tantamount to good character. It is the one trait that reaches all facets of our life and touches each aspect of our personality.”

Elder Perry said he had discovered that dishonesty is like a disease. “In my earlier business experience, every time I exercised compassion in giving a person a second chance after catching them in a dishonest act, I caught them later in a repeat performance. It almost seemed as if they had to hit the bottom and suffer severe punishment before there was any hope of administering a cure.”

Third, develop character.

“Man becomes ultimately what he thinks and does,” taught Elder Perry. “Habits become the vehicle molding his [or her] character. What kind of character and destiny are you after? Our acts are the outgrowth of our beliefs and our thoughts. Good habits are not acquired by just resolve, but are developed in the workshop of our daily lives. They are fashioned in often uneventful, commonplace routines of life and acquired by practice.”

Those three principles, he assured, will not depreciate with time. They will endure through time and all eternity.

“It is as certain as life that real joy comes from partaking of the fruit that will never perish. Real tragedy comes from following a path that only leads to heartache and misery. God has revealed His will to mankind. He has charted a course that will lead us back to the joy of His eternal presence.”