“Real joy is giving total commitment to the gospel,” says Elder James M. Paramore, and quotes one of his favorite scriptures: “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them. …” (D&C 58:27–28; italics added.)
“I’ve seen people turn around on the street to look after missionaries who had that kind of total commitment—they could feel it in them. President Kimball has accomplished the work of many lives because he’s totally committed.”
And he bears testimony from his own life to the joy of commitment. “I’ve been blessed to accept and understand that every calling requires a total commitment. I think it’s a gift of the Spirit, a gift that anyone can have who is willing to pay the price of preparation and love.” In the more than fifty callings he has had since his mission, he said, “I’ve had that feeling that each assignment was the right one and important, and that a total commitment to those assignments always brings peace, real joy, and personal and spiritual growth. Even though I graduated from college, the Church has been my education, and I’m most grateful—most grateful.”
He tells of being released as a bishop and called as a home teacher. One of the families had a nonmember father, and he remembers seeing that man baptized. “It was as great a joy as being a bishop—and that’s what the Lord would have us understand: it really is how you serve and not where.”
And he has served across a wide range of callings, always with the support of his family. Born 6 May 1928, he was called to a bishopric when his oldest child was about a year and a half old, so the children grew up with Church service and social activities as “a way of life.” He was counselor in two bishoprics, Provo Sunset Second and Orem Fourteenth Wards, then served from 1959–63 as bishop of Orem Fourteenth Ward, and subsequently as a high councilor in the Brigham Young University Third Stake. He was then called as a member of the general Church Missionary Committee and served there until he was called to preside over the Franco-Belgium Mission; His wife, Helen Heslington Paramore, gave birth to their sixth child, Paul, six weeks after arriving in the mission field. “She had six children to take care of,” he stressed, “but she attended conferences with me and the children—week after week, even when she couldn’t understand the language—supervised the auxiliaries, and learned sufficient French so that she could conduct the auxiliary meetings required. She was a real inspiration to the people.”
The children also participated, helping the missionaries with the printing, office work, and gardening. They used to sing as a family, and Elder Paramore’s duets with his three-year-old daughter, Lisa, were especially heartwarming for the members.
After they returned, he taught the deacons quorum in the Orem 29th Ward, and then presided over the Orem Utah Sharon West Stake until 1972, when he was called to serve as a Regional Representative of the Twelve. He was serving as a Regional Representative to the Roy Region in Utah at the time of his calling to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Professionally he worked in the engineering department at U.S. Steel for nearly eight years, as a seminary teacher, executive director of the Utah Committee on Children and Youth, and for the Church in various positions in the Missionary Department, Internal Communications Department, Office of the Council of Twelve, and the Church Leadership Training Executive Committee. “Each of these work and Church assignments has been a blessing and preparation in my life, and I’m grateful for all the fine people who have trained and helped me,” says Elder Paramore.
The calling was “overwhelming” to his family, he said, “because of its magnitude.” Sister Paramore had had a premonition of the calling several weeks earlier but had “driven it out of her mind.” Elder Paramore himself had had a similar experience earlier: two weeks before he was called as Executive Secretary to the Council of the Twelve, he had dreamed of sitting by President Kimball’s side—a dream so vivid that it woke him, though he dismissed it from his mind. It came again the same night, and he found it literally fulfilled when he accepted the calling. “I felt so inadequate—I didn’t have the technical skills necessary for it—that it was really a blessing that I had received that witness beforehand.” Those past seven years of weekly contact with the Brethren give added emphasis to his commitment to serve. And it’s a total commitment.