Elder Hallstrom Says Reverent Life Is Priceless
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
Reverence is more than just being quiet; it is the essence of one’s life, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy said during a campus devotional held in the Marriott Center at BYU on February 12.
“Upon hearing that word, many may quickly reflect that reverence is merely the act of keeping our children and ourselves quiet when we attend meetings of the Church,” Elder Hallstrom said. “I suggest that is not reverence—it is simply one of the ways we demonstrate our reverence. Reverence is to revere—to have a profound love and respect for Deity.”
Reverence is something that must be developed and is shown through living a life that is reflective of one’s love for God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, he said.
“Real reverence is simply not doing anything disrespectful, demeaning, or degrading to the Godhead,” he said. “It has to do with how we think, how we act, and how we speak. It relates to our integrity and the way we treat one another. The level at which we keep the covenants made in the holy ordinances is a powerful indication of our reverence.”
Elder Hallstrom shared ways individuals elevate their reverence in public, family, and personal worship.
“Public worship is a magnificent opportunity to develop reverence,” Elder Hallstrom said. He defined public worship as a place where people assemble as children of God, as brothers and sisters, and as a community of Saints.
“In each of these meetings, we pray, we teach, we testify, and we edify—all with the purpose of increasing our understanding of our Father in Heaven, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit,” he said. “We then have the responsibility to translate that ever-increasing knowledge into wisdom—to continually lessen the gap between what we know and how we live.”
Temple worship is a form of sacred, public worship because it directly involves ordinances and covenants that connect each person with Deity, he said. The most important of public worship meetings outside the temple is sacrament meeting, Elder Hallstrom said. Because this service centers on the living ordinance of the sacrament, it is crucial for individuals to be invested and fully participate.
“Are our minds and our hearts there, or are they somewhere else? Are our smartphones off, or do we text and tweet—or for us older people, email—during the ordinance or during any part of the service? When the speakers speak, especially if they are less-polished orators, do we arrogantly disconnect, thinking, ‘I’ve heard it all before’?”
Drawing from counsel given by the First Presidency in a letter dated February 27, 1999, Elder Hallstrom encouraged listeners to make family activities their “highest priority.”
“We live in a world of busyness,” he said. “Traveling throughout the Church, I sometimes privately inquire of local leaders—and these are good Latter-day Saints—are you holding family prayer and family home evening? Often, I receive an embarrassed look and the explanation, ‘We are so busy. Our children’s school and extracurricular activities, music and other lessons, social schedule, and Church functions keep them almost fully occupied. My spouse and I are tied up with work, Church, and other commitments. We are seldom together as a family.’ ”
He said that when people are too busy doing good things and do not have time for the essential things, they must find solutions.
“When children are raised with reverence—when they see parents whose lives are reverent—they are more likely to follow this divine pattern.”
“Ultimately, reverence is a personal matter,” he said. “Public worship leads us to family worship, which leads us to personal worship. This includes personal prayer, personal gospel study, and personal pondering of one’s relationship with Deity.”
Whether it be in public, family, or personal worship, or in the mundane affairs of life, it is imperative that individuals speak the names of Deity only with reverence, he said. As individuals rely on the atoning sacrifice of the Savior and remember that each is a child of God, they can find peace and comfort even in the most difficult times, he said. “Whatever your circumstance, living a reverent life will lessen your load. … A reverent life is worth any price,” he said. “Indeed, it is the essence of our life’s work.”