As a young boy I learned a lot from family relationships. My father’s family got together often, so I became well acquainted with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Through these gatherings, we developed a strong family unity.
My family lived on about half an acre in Murray, Utah. There was always a lot of work to do with chickens, pigs, and gardening, so we stayed busy and developed a strong work habit. My father was a pharmaceutical salesman, and we raised a pig on vitamins as an experiment. I had to keep records on this pig, and it really grew!
As long as I can remember, I held some kind of job. When I was in junior high school, we moved to Logan, Utah. I ran a popcorn stand. I hired young men to go out on the streets and sell popcorn.
We later moved to Boise, Idaho. One day two friends and I were walking down the street in Boise when a man came up to us and asked, “What church do you belong to?”
With gusto I replied, “We are Mormons.”
“Why are you Mormons?” he shot back.
All three of us looked at one another and didn’t quite know how to answer.
He said, “I’ll answer the question for you. The only reason you are Mormons is that your parents are Mormons.” Then he walked off.
We stood there afterward talking about it and wondering, “Is that the only reason we’re Mormons?” Then we got together with some friends and decided that we would visit other churches in Boise to learn about them. We went to their meetings, listened to the sermons, and sampled their youth programs. We met some wonderful people. But every time we went to another church, we missed the spirit that we felt in our own meetings. From that experience with other churches, we learned a lot about our own.
As a young man I read three books that also had quite an influence on my life. The first was one of Wilford Woodruff’s doctrinal works. I think that my testimony and my great love for the prophets started with reading that book. As I read, the Spirit bore witness to me of the truthfulness of the doctrine.
The second book was by William H. Danforth and was called I Dare You. It discussed these four phases of life: social, educational, spiritual, and intellectual. The third was How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. These books gave me a desire to read, and since then I have been an avid reader.
Most people’s lives are influenced by friends and associates whom they admire. For thirteen and a half years prior to my call as a General Authority, I served as the secretary to the Quorum of the Twelve. I’ve had some marvelous experiences through this association. I have listened to the Apostles in their meetings and tried to follow their examples and their teachings. My life has been molded as I have tried to follow them.
I have watched the Twelve in their associations one with another. They show great love for each other. They are always sensitive to the other person. They listen rather than interrupt. They try to learn from others as well as to teach them. They continually strive to develop sensitivity and empathy toward people and their problems. They also have good senses of humor and enjoy life.
The Apostles are Christ-centered in all that they do in bringing souls unto Christ, in building the Kingdom, in trying to bring about the mighty change in people’s minds and hearts. Those kinds of things I have tried to carry into my ministry as a member of the Seventy.
At a very young age I prayed that I might be worthy and qualified to serve in the Church. I had a desire to be part of building the kingdom. If young people can have the vision in their minds and hearts that they want to be part of the Lord’s work and commit themselves to that vision, it will help them over the problems and difficulties of life. None of us knows everything the Lord has in mind for us. I only hope that I will always be worthy to serve Him in whatever way He desires.
Our choices in life are not always easy ones. The Lord’s way is usually not the easiest way, but it is always the best. I’ve lived long enough to know that Heavenly Father keeps His promises. He is the best partner we can have in life. Sometimes His time-table for blessing us is different from ours, but if we make all of our decisions based on what the Savior would have us do, our Father in Heaven will keep His part of the bargain. Like the prophets of old, we must first show our faith and courage by doing His will. After that, the blessings will follow.