Seventy Shares Three Principles for Strong Foundations
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Apply three principles to build and maintain a strong foundation: vision, commitment, self-discipline
“Whatever your circumstance, having a firm foundation will lessen your load.” —Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy
In the shadow of the newly renovated Ogden Utah Temple, young adults of the Church gathered in the Ogden Tabernacle to hear the words of Church leaders during a Church Educational System broadcast on November 2. The devotional was translated into many languages and broadcast throughout the world.
During the devotional Elder Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of education for the Church and a member of the Seventy, made two announcements about changes effective in 2015.
[See related story.]
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke of the important pursuit of building a firm spiritual foundation.
Using the building of temples as an example, Elder Hallstrom said, “With the design and function of every temple, significant work is expended on what cannot easily be seen when the product is finished—the foundation.”
Using an artist’s rendering of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple currently under construction, Elder Hallstrom described the process engineers went through to make the temple’s foundation stable amid destructive winds and invasive groundwater—harsh conditions that could damage or even destroy the noble edifice.
“Unlike building a structure, which by any definition is temporary, in building our everlasting and hopefully eternal lives, we sometimes pay woefully little attention to the engineering and construction of our foundations,” he said. “Consequently, we are left highly exposed and are easily buffeted by dangerous forces.”
In a world that is often confusing, it is easy for individuals to forget who they really are, the General Authority taught. That is why a firm foundation is crucial to staying strong.
“Jesus Christ is the rock upon which we must build our foundation,” he said. “The Lord referred to Himself as the ‘stone of Israel’ and emphatically stated, ‘He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall’ (D&C 50:44). …
“This is not new doctrine. In one form or another, all of us understand it,” Elder Hallstrom said.
“We have been taught it by parents, in Primary, in our Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood classes and quorums, in seminary, in institute, by full-time missionaries, by friends, by local Church leaders, by the scriptures, and by living prophets and apostles.
“Then why is it so difficult for many of us to live it?” Elder Hallstrom asked.
That concept needs to go from individuals’ minds to their hearts and to their souls, he taught. “It needs to be more than what we sometimes think or even what we sometimes feel—it must become who we are. Our connection with God, our Father, and His eternal plan and with Jesus Christ, His Son and our Rock, needs to be so firmly established that it truly becomes the cornerstone of our foundation. Our identity then becomes first that of an eternal being—a son or daughter of God—and of a grateful receiver of the blessings of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.”
Other righteous identities can then be securely built upon that foundation because individuals will know which are eternal and which are temporary and how to prioritize them.
Drawing from the hymn “How Firm a Foundation,” Elder Hallstrom spoke of the effort it takes to build and maintain a spiritual foundation.
“The construction process is a significant undertaking, and maintenance is a lifetime effort,” he said. “For you who are really trying, we sincerely commend you and want to know what you are doing.”
Elder Hallstrom then asked all listeners to “please use social media to share what you are doing” by using the search term #cesdevo when completing the statement “I am building my spiritual foundation by …”
“The responses will vary as much as individual circumstances do, and that is just fine. … We will be grateful to hear from you and to be taught by you about what is happening in your lives,” he said.
For those who have never had a firm foundation, or have—through neglect—let their foundation crack or crumble, it is not too late to put on a hard hat and go to work, Elder Hallstrom said.
“All the tools you need are available to you,” he said. “These are the same tools used to maintain an established foundation. You know what they are. They include consistent, quality prayer; daily gospel study through the scriptures; actively participating in the meetings of the Church, especially by partaking of the sacrament with real intent; continual selfless service; and diligent covenant keeping.”
Another essential tool is the counsel of living prophets, he taught. “There are 15 men on earth who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. They hold the keys of the priesthood of God. We are taught by them often. We raise our hands to sustain them several times a year. We pray for them every day. However, the extraordinary blessing of accessibility to their message can lead to a lack of appreciation for its importance.”
Elder Hallstrom taught that in order for individuals to build and maintain a foundation they need to remember three principles—vision, commitment, and self-discipline.
1. Vision is the ability to see the eternal perspective, and as Jacob described, it is seeing “things as they really are, and of things as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13).
2. Commitment is the willingness to make promises—covenants with God—through priesthood ordinances. “In addition to God, we should be willing to make commitments to ourselves, to spouses (or to become a spouse), to friends, and to those with whom we serve.”
3. Self-discipline means individuals are able to live consistently with the vision and commitments an individual has made.
“Developing self-discipline is essential to progress because it seamlessly connects learning and doing,” he said. “Ultimately, the strength of our spiritual foundation is shown by how we live our lives, especially in terms of disappointment and challenge.”
Sharing the examples of Caroline Hemenway and Mary Ann Pratt, both pioneer women who suffered trial and heartache, Elder Hallstrom spoke of the need of a strong spiritual foundation, especially in times of disappointment and challenge.
Speaking to the audience, Elder Hallstrom said, “Even as magnificent as you are, within a congregation of this size, there is much joy and much pain. Individually, you may deeply feel the weight of life’s heavy burdens. Perhaps matters in your family are not as you would wish. Maybe you are struggling with your faith. Possibly you are dealing with something in your past—either something you have done or something that has unfairly been done to you. Some of you have physical or mental or emotional challenges that seem too much to endure.
“Whatever your circumstance, having a firm foundation will lessen your load. With the message of the oft-sung hymn ‘I Am a Child of God’ in your heart and soul and not simply on your lips, and with a continual reliance on the Atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ, there can be peace and comfort even in the most difficult of times.”
The day one decides to take the disciplined efforts to build or reinforce their foundation will be a pivotal, even historic, day in an individual’s life.
“For some of us, it may be by giving up some addictive habit or repugnant practice that is offending God. For others, it may be by reprioritizing our life and making our love for God supreme. It is worth any price. Indeed, it is the essence of our life’s work.”