Seventy Shares Four Ways to Build Spiritual Stability

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 26 September 2014

Elder Dale G. Renlund speaks during a BYU campus devotional on September 16 in the Marriott Center about ways to build spiritual stability.  Photo by Riana Wright.

Article Highlights

  • 1. Observe God’s commandments.
  • 2. Heed counsel and become lifelong learners.
  • 3. Serve others.
  • 4. Make Jesus Christ our foundation.

“If we wish to avoid navigating through life in a long, skinny, top-heavy ship, we must make Christ our foundation and seek His counsel.” —Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Seventy


Spiritual stability is crucial to successfully navigating one’s earthly experience, said Elder Dale G. Renlund during the campus devotional at Brigham Young University on September 16.

“For us to successfully navigate our mortal sojourn, we also need sufficient lateral stability—that is spiritual stability—to confront crosswinds and crosscurrents, make the necessary turns, and return safely home to our heavenly home,” said Elder Renlund of the Seventy.

Sharing a story of the Vasa, a grandiose ship built by Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf in the early 17th century, Elder Renlund told how altering the ship’s dimensions during construction caused the Vasa to tip and eventually sink. The ship’s maiden voyage lasted only 4,200 feet before it started to go under the water.

“Despite Vasa’s magnificent appearance, the ship was not seaworthy,” he said. “The alterations in its construction resulted in it not having sufficient lateral stability to enable safe seafaring. Gustav Adolf’s desire for an extravagant status symbol ruined the design of what would have been a magnificent sailing vessel, the mightiest warship of its time.”

Just as the ship needed strong and proper construction to last at sea, so do individuals for their own lives. Elder Renlund share four ways to build spiritual stability.

1. Observe God’s commandments.

All are subject to spiritual laws, Elder Renlund taught. “No one is exempt,” he said. “We need to obey these spiritual laws that we refer to as God’s commandments.”

Just as a ship built long, skinny, and top-heavy, without regard to lateral stability, will not sail or accomplish what it was intended to do, so it is with individuals and their obedience to the commandments.

“Obedience to God’s laws preserves our freedom, flexibility, and ability to achieve our potential,” he said. “The commandments are not intended to restrict us. Rather, obedience leads to increased spiritual stability and long-term happiness. …

A choir performs during the BYU campus devotional on September 16. Photo by Riana Wright.

A choir performs during the BYU campus devotional on September 16. Photo by Riana Wright.

“It is that simple. Settle it. Decide now to be exactly obedient. As we do so, our spiritual stability will be greatly enhanced. We will avoid squandering God-given resources and making unproductive and destructive detours in our lives.”

Speaking of enticing things of the world, Elder Renlund warned of the detours that come as individuals fail to follow the commandments.

“We can look at each commandment separately, decide whether to obey or not, rationalize disobedience or not, or we can simply settle it in our hearts that we will do the things that the Lord teaches and commands,” he said. “Nothing will increase spiritual stability more. Nothing will give us greater freedom to accomplish our life’s mission. Faithfulness and obedience are not only the marks of true discipleship they are the requisites of true freedom.”

2. Heed counsel and become lifelong learners.

“We need to pay attention and give heed to counsel we receive from trusted sources and commit ourselves to becoming lifelong, determined learners,” he said. “Sometimes, we can become like Gustav Adolf, unwilling to listen to counsel from even trusted sources if that counsel does not conform to our biases and desires. … When we fail to invite and heed counsel from trusted sources, we decrease our spiritual stability and fall into the trap of building a tall, skinny, top-heavy spiritual ship—a boat that won’t float.”

As individuals choose to listen to those around them—welcoming the input—they are able to learn and improve.

“It is really our choice,” he said. “We can listen to and heed counsel given to us by Church leaders, especially those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, by parents, and by trusted friends, or not.”

3. Serve others.

Caring about and serving others increases spiritual stability, he said. Likening service to constructing an outrigger for a canoe, Elder Renlund spoke of how such an outrigger dramatically increases a canoe’s lateral stability.

“I have found it is always easier to receive inspiration when I am praying to find out how I can help another than when I am simply praying for myself,” he said. “We may believe that at some future point we will be in a better situation to help our fellowman. In reality, now is the time. Having this ‘fiber’ of service become part of who we are is not situational.

“We are sorely mistaken if we think that at some future point it will be more convenient, when we have more time, more money, or more anything to serve others better. Now is the time to begin. Our spiritual stability will instantly improve.”

4. Make Jesus Christ our foundation.

Spiritual stability is increased in proportion to the degree to which individuals establish Jesus Christ as their foundation.

“Without Christ, we are driven like a vessel tossed about upon the waves,” he said. “We have no power because we have no sail. We have no stability, especially in times of storm, because we have no anchor. We have no direction or purpose because we don’t have anything with which to steer.

“If we wish to avoid navigating through life in a long, skinny, top-heavy ship, we must make Christ our foundation and seek His counsel. The ultimate in educational hubris is to believe ourselves so wise that we do not need to seek direction from the Holy Ghost. Remember, to be learned is good if we hearken to the counsels of God.”

In order to face, overcome, and be prepared for the crosswinds and crosscurrents of life, individuals must obey God’s commandments; become humble, willing, and determined lifelong learners; serve others; and establish Jesus Christ as the foundation of their lives, he taught. “As we do so, we dramatically increase our spiritual stability. Unlike the Vasa, we will be able to return to safe harbor, having fulfilled our destiny.”