Friend to Friend: Sticking by My Principles


Sticking by My Principles

Elder J. Thomas Fyans

Each September a large international corporation, at its own expense, flew me and some other people to its headquarters in Chicago for a meeting that lasted several days. One year when I was there, a top executive of this corporation asked, “Thomas, would you like to go to dinner with me tonight? I’m inviting some others, and I’d love to have you join us.”

Liquor was available at the dinner, and a waiter asked for our drink order. I said, “I wouldn’t care for anything.”

My host, who was seated next to me, said, “Come on, Tom, have a drink. Relax.”

“No, I really wouldn’t care for anything.”

“Well, you have to have something.”

So I ordered ginger ale. It surprised me just a little that he would insist as he had, because he’d known me over the years, and whenever I went to his organization’s “social hours,” I was automatically given a glass of orange juice. But that night he really put the pressure on me. Then the waiter asked the others for their orders, and everyone ordered an alcoholic drink except the host—he ordered ginger ale!

A couple of weeks later, after I had returned to Salt Lake City, I received a long-distance telephone call from this man. He said, “I’d like to come out and visit with you. Will you be in town on such-and-such dates?”

I said that I would, and he came out with his wife and spent two or three days with us. At the end of their visit, he said, “Now I’m going to tell you why I’m really here. I’m here to ask you to be my assistant. I’d very much appreciate it if you would consider moving to Chicago. You could live in Evanston, Illinois; there are no alcoholic beverages served there, so you’d live in that kind of atmosphere. We want you to be part of our corporation. Take a week or ten days to think about it, then call me.”

“Something interests me,” I said. “When we were back in Chicago and you invited me to dinner that night, you really put the pressure on me to take a drink. Why?”

He smiled and said, “That’s right; I did. You see, we want to have men with very high ideals to head this corporation. We’d like to have men who think that the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night is to be home reading a family magazine and drinking ginger ale.”

It was a great honor to be offered such a key position in such a prestigious company, but after much deliberation, I called to tell him that I was going to stay with ZCMI. He said, “That’s fine. We still appreciate you, and if you ever change your mind, let me know.”

In the year following that September, life had been kind of hectic for me. I told my wife, Helen, who was going to the annual meeting with me, “Let’s take the train to Chicago so that we can relax and get away from the hustle and bustle.” But no sooner had we checked into our hotel room, than the telephone rang. When I answered it, the hotel operator said, “Mr. Fyans, you have been getting telephone calls from Salt Lake City. They’ve been trying to reach you for some time, and they asked if they could make an appointment to talk with you in two hours. It was just about noon when they last called, so at two o’clock can you be available?”

“Yes, I can be available. Who’s calling, operator?”

“A Mr. Moyle.”

I said, “Thank you very much” and hung up. Helen and I sat down and said, “Mr. Moyle? Why would any Mr. Moyle want to talk with us? We only know of one Mr. Moyle—Henry D. Moyle of the First Presidency—but he doesn’t know us, and he’d have no interest in us.”

So we sat there, and at two o’clock on the dot the telephone rang and the caller was President Moyle. He said, “I’m glad that I found you at last. We’d like you to go to Uruguay and preside over the mission there. Will you go?”

I said, “Why, certainly.”

He said, “I understand that your wife is with you. May I speak with her?” When she got on the phone, he said, “Is it all right if your husband goes to Uruguay on a mission?”

“If I go with him.”

He chuckled. “That’s exactly the situation. He’d be the mission president.” Talking to me again, he said, “We want you to move as fast as you can. In fact, why don’t you make some contacts there in Chicago about getting your passports started?”

“All right. Whatever you suggest.” I hung up the receiver and thought, Oh, boy, what’ll I tell the corporation? Not only have I come here at their expense, but I’m supposed to make a presentation at the meeting tomorrow! Well, I called them and said, “You know, I really have a serious problem. I’m sorry, but I’ll not be able to stay for the meeting. I have to return to Salt Lake City immediately. And you’ll have to relieve me from this responsibility, because I’ll not be in the country for several years.”

“Well, where are you going to be?”

“I’ve been asked to go to South America and represent the Church there.”

They asked, “How did you get that information?”

“I just received a telephone call.”

“We don’t understand you. We made a special trip out to Salt Lake City to visit you, spent several days with you there, then gave you ten days to think about whether you’d come to Chicago or not. After all that, you decided against coming here. But you just got a telephone call and decided that fast to go a third of the way around the world! We don’t understand you.” Then, “Yes, we do. And when you return, get in touch with us, if you will, please.”

In life we find challenges of various kinds. Some of them are obvious, and some of them are not quite so obvious. In this case the challenge was not quite so obvious. But because I had met the challenge and had not had an alcoholic drink that night at the restaurant, I was thrice-blessed for sticking by my principles. First, I was offered a key position in an international organization. Second, even after I had turned them down, they let me know that their doors would always be open to me. Third, I was called by the Lord to spend my life in the best possible way—working full-time for Him.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown