Knowing that I might be invited to speak today, my daughter left me a kind note this morning, and at the end she added, “P.S. Don’t trip.” So far so good.
Not long after I was ordained a deacon, my bishop, Leon Walker, asked me into his office to give me an assignment. He handed me a bright key, the key to the chapel, and charged me with responsibility to help look after the building. I considered myself one of the most fortunate boys in the world to have an assignment from my priesthood president. I thought this would not be a difficult task. My home was just a one-minute bicycle ride away from the building. But I soon learned what I suppose all bishops know, and that is, that everybody in the ward seems to have a key to the building. As soon as I had the building locked up on an evening, someone came along behind me and opened a door. As soon as I had opened a Primary classroom, some diligent soul was there behind me to lock it up again. I could hardly stay on top of that job.
But I began to learn then, as I have come to understand since, that any call, any service, in our Lord’s cause sanctifies us. Whether it is performed in the glare of the public eye or in a quiet corner known only to God is of no consequence. What matters is that we do serve, for by serving we keep our covenants with Deity, and in those covenants is the promise of salvation.
Today I honor and express my love to those who taught me the covenants and in so many other ways blessed my life: a noble father, a blessed mother, grandparents, great-grandparents, and extended family, mentors and friends both in and out of the Church. My children cannot as yet fully understand how deeply they bless my life by their loyalty to the Savior and his gospel. I honor them for that. Those who know my Kathy have observed that I married much above myself, a conclusion I heartily agree with. Our marriage is a gratifying thing, and I have not adequate words to express my love.
As I have agonized in recent hours over the acceptability and adequacy of my offering upon the altar of him who gave his all, it has come to me that I must focus outwardly, that as I seek the interest of his flock and lose myself in their service, his grace shall be sufficient for me. I so commit myself unreservedly.
I readily attest to the reality and greatness of our God, to his goodness and grace, to his justice and mercy, to the truth of his gospel and the power of his priesthood and the authenticity of the calling of his latter-day seers. At the outset of this ministry, I acknowledge that anything I may achieve will be by virtue of the power and the grace and the gift of God. I am not, in Isaiah’s words, the axe that shall “boast itself against him that heweth therewith”; I am not the saw that shall “magnify itself against him that shaketh it.” (Isa. 10:15.) With Nephi, I know in whom I have trusted. (See 2 Ne. 4:19.)
I am particularly gratified, and it is of great significance to me, that I may at any moment and in any circumstance approach through prayer the throne of grace, that my Heavenly Father will hear my petition, that my Advocate, him who did no sin, whose blood was shed, will plead my cause. (See D&C 45:3–5.) I rely heavily on that access to God, which he gives to all his children, for he is indeed no respecter of persons, and he that asks shall receive. I so witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.