First Presidency Message

Commitment and Dedication


Commitment and Dedication

In considering the subject of commitment and dedication, I have thought of the many great characters in the Bible and Book of Mormon, the dedicated Saints in the early days of the Church, and also the founding fathers of our great country—all valiant and courageous people who were committed to lofty and noble causes. All of us should likewise be so committed that each of us in our individual capacities will measure up to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the hope that it will stimulate us to do so, I shall remind us of some things which evidence the character traits which we need to develop.

I know of no better course to follow than that pursued by the sons of Mosiah. I do not pretend to have done as well as they did, but I have had enough experience personally to know that their formula works for all those who will follow it.

They, said Mormon, “waxed strong in the knowledge of truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17:2–3.)

This is the great power which moves things in the church of God. Without it, all else fails.

The sons of Mosiah were committed to learning about the things of God. There are probably no people today who have made stronger commitments to learning than have the Latter-day Saints. Our commitments are sustained by the fact that the Lord has told us to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.” (D&C 90:15.) For, said he, “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6)—that is, in ignorance of the truth. “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,” added the Prophet Joseph Smith. (History of the Church, 4:588.)

The Lord also said that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36) and, said the Prophet Joseph, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. …

“If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C 130:18–19.)

And again, the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should … obtain knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion.” (D&C 93:53.)

Now just a few thoughts about the necessity to make a total commitment—to be fully dedicated.

“O ye that embark in the service of God,” said the Lord, “see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” (D&C 4:2.)

You are probably acquainted with the following illustration from the life of Nephi. When his father asked his older brothers to go up to Jerusalem to get the brass plates which contained their genealogy, they whined and whimpered. But Nephi said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way … that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne. 3:7.)

When they came to Jerusalem, the responsibility to get the records fell upon Laman. Reluctantly he went in and came back without them. They then “went down to the land of [their father’s] inheritance,” and obtained their “gold, and … silver, and … precious things” (1 Ne. 3:22), then tried to buy the plates, but Laban took the gold and silver and they had to run for their lives. When they got outside the walls, Laman and Lemuel beat Nephi with a rod. They were determined to go back to their father without the plates. Even after an angel appeared and corrected them, they still persisted (see 1 Ne. 3:28–31), but Nephi said:

“Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?” (1 Ne. 4:1.)

Nephi went in and came out with the plates. Later, when Nephi began to build a ship and sorrowed at his brothers’ opposition, they thought he was discouraged. But he responded with the great statement, “If [the Lord] had commanded me to do all things I could do them.” (1 Ne. 17:50.)

Nephi accomplished his mission because he was thoroughly dedicated and committed.

When Paul grasped the concept and meaning of God’s plan of salvation, when he realized that the name of Jesus was the only “name given under heaven … whereby man can be saved” (2 Ne. 25:20), all his former learning sank, by comparison, into insignificance. He was so converted that he then and there made a total commitment to carry the gospel message to his fellowmen.

The same was true with Alma. From the time he was converted, said he: “I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 36:24.)

His performance record evidences the truth of this statement. He actually resigned as chief judge, the executive head of the national government, “that he himself might go forth among [them] … to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.” (Alma 4:19.)

Now I am not suggesting that we all give up our daily pursuits and devote full time to the ministry. This we do only as we are called. What I am trying to say is that we should gain a knowledge of the plan of salvation and a realization that it is the only way to peace and happiness in this world and eternal life in the world to come. We should make a total commitment to, above everything else, convey by word and deed our knowledge and testimony to our fellowmen, that they may receive and rejoice in it.

Through studying the scriptures, we should know what the Lord has revealed through his prophets concerning the plan of salvation. From regular night and morning prayer and honest compliance with gospel teachings, we should enjoy the peace and spirit of the gospel. By earnestly and specifically seeking it, we should, by the power of the Holy Ghost, obtain and retain a testimony of its divine truth. We should be so converted and dedicated to it that our total lives are influenced thereby. The right and wrong of our decisions and actions should be consistently determined by its light. If they were, we would make no mistakes in our judgments and actions on the vexing questions and problems of our day.

For example, we would have the right perspective on business and recreation on the Sabbath day. There would be no need for a Sunday-closing law in a society converted to the plan of salvation. There would be no Sabbath-breaker to open a business. There would be no Sabbath-breakers to shop. There would be no liquor controversy. There would be no need for abortion laws. There would be no pornographic literature, no lewd movies or other types of degrading recreation. There would be no racial intolerance, no social problems.

My plea is for us to make our decisions and act upon them, and the myriad of others which confront us, in light of the plan of salvation. There is nothing under the heavens of so much importance to you or to me. It is necessary that we are committed to so living as to benefit from this great plan which was devised in the heavens from the beginning for the redemption of the human race and for their salvation and exaltation in the presence of God. Every one of us should make and live up to the required commitment. Regardless of the nature of our daily occupations, we must understand and keep the spirit of and comply with the plan of salvation. We can also affect for good those with whom we serve and otherwise come in contact, to help them find the truth.

I further believe that the most effective way to get on course and to stay on course is to do as Jesus did: make a total commitment to do the will of his Father. One thing he did was to thoroughly familiarize himself with what his Father had declared his will to be. And, most importantly, he communed with his Father through prayer. This he did, not only to learn the will of his Father, but also to obtain the strength to do his Father’s will. It would seem that during his earthly ministry, he never made a major decision or met a crisis without praying. From the record of his struggle in Gethsemane, we learn that although it was not always easy nor pleasant for him to do his Father’s will, he always did it.

In this last dispensation, the Lord has taught the importance of complete dedication (or commitment) to his service, and strict obedience to his commandments, as emphatically as he did during his earthly ministry.

It would be well for each of us to follow the pattern Jesus set by precept and example.

“Come, follow me,” the Savior said,
Then let us in his footsteps tread,
For thus alone can we be one
With God’s own loved, begotten Son.

(Hymns, no. 14.)

Ideas for Home Teachers

Some Points of Emphasis. You may wish to make these points in your home teaching discussion:

1. There are no people today who have made stronger commitments to learning than have the Latter-day Saints. Each of us should make that commitment for ourself.

2. We should make a total commitment to convey our knowledge and testimony to our fellowmen, that they may receive and rejoice in it.

3. The right and wrong of our decisions and actions should be consistently determined in light of the plan of salvation.

4. The most effective way to get on course and to stay on course is to do as Jesus did: make a total commitment to do the will of his Father.

Discussion Helps

1. Relate your personal feelings and experiences about commitment and dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask family members to share their feelings.

2. Are there scriptural verses or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?

3. Would this discussion be better after a pre-visit chat with the head of the house? Is there a message from the quorum leader or bishop to the household head concerning commitment and dedication?

[illustration] Nephi and Zoram Return with the Record, by C. C. A. Christensen

[illustration] Christ Calling Peter and Andrew, by James Taylor Harwood

[illustration] Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon, by Arnold Friberg