When I think about all the people who strongly influenced my life, I think of Bertha Irvine, my great aunt. She served as secretary to five prophets of the Church. I remember sitting at her feet while she worked. She dedicated a great deal of time and energy to serving the Presidents of the Church as best she could, and she gave just as much of herself to her Church callings. In fact, she taught young people in Sunday School for more than thirty years. She showed me by her great example that we should serve and help one another with all our hearts.
My mission president also had a great influence on me. I was so enthusiastic about serving my mission that all I wanted to do was teach and baptize people. But he had the wisdom to take me on assignments where I would learn about Church procedures and administration. Later, when I was called to serve in leadership positions, such as a young bishop, I was truly grateful to him for giving me those experiences.
I am also grateful for the blessing of wonderful parents. Like my great aunt, they taught by example how I should live my life. My mother valiantly served on the General Board of the Young Women for thirty-four years, and my father worked hard to provide for us, always maintaining his integrity and sense of humor.
I believe that every member of the Church can be a missionary, including children. When our daughter was in Primary, I had just been called to serve as a mission president in Pennsylvania. One day she came to me and asked me how she could be a missionary too. I suggested that she put a copy of the Book of Mormon on her desk at school. The first day, the other young people made fun of her. But on the second day, a girl came to her and asked her to tell her about the Church. Three months later, this girl was baptized.
There are many opportunities all around us to be missionaries—we just need to recognize them. I was recently on an airplane flying home from England. I started talking to the man sitting next to me. We talked for a while about business and other things, but finally I said that I wanted to tell him about a very special book, the Book of Mormon. We spent the next four hours talking about it, and when we were through, he said, “This has truly changed my life.” All it took was the courage to open my mouth. The Lord will often tell us what to say.
The best way to overcome a difficulty is to never give up. When I was in Primary, I had a great challenge because I felt like nobody liked me. I became very lonely. Then my grandmother told me that the way to have friends is to be a good friend to others. I tried to be a good friend to those around me, even though I didn’t think that they would want to be friends with me. I soon learned that people will treat you like you treat them. Jesus taught this principle as the Golden Rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (3 Ne. 14:12). Sometimes we don’t understand how much Jesus loves us. But as much as He loves us, we need to love Him. We also need to love our brothers and sisters by being helpful and kind to them.
I started to pay my tithing when I was very young. Sometimes I earned only ten cents. But I always paid my tithing, and I know that I have always received blessings for it. Heavenly Father always provided me with what I needed, even when I was a little boy. If I needed money, a neighbor asked me to mow their lawn. Or someone bought radishes from me in the summertime. I learned at a very early age that tithing is a correct principle and that blessings come when we are obedient to that principle.
Remember that Heavenly Father answers our prayers in the way that is best for us. It may not be the answer that we want, but it is always the right answer. I remember my Primary graduation. Back then, we wore bandalos (felt bands worn around the neck and that emblems and awards were attached to), and my Primary teacher told me that I needed to wear mine. I couldn’t find it! My mother told me to pray about it, so I knelt and asked Heavenly Father for help. I soon received my answer. The Spirit told me to look underneath my dresser drawer. When I reached up under it, I found my bandalo caught on a sliver of wood. I never would have looked there if I hadn’t prayed for help. We need to always remember that if we ask, we shall receive (see Matt. 7:7–8). If we ask Heavenly Father for guidance, the Spirit will whisper to us what we should do.