“Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part”

In 1898 David O. McKay (1873–1970), who later became the ninth President of the Church, was a homesick missionary in Scotland. He had been in the city of Stirling only a few weeks and was discouraged. He and his companion spent one morning walking around Stirling Castle. On the way back into town they noticed an unfinished building. “Over the front door,” President McKay later explained, “was a stone arch, something unusual in a residence, and what was still more unusual, I could see from the sidewalk that there was an inscription chiseled in that arch.

“I said to my companion: ‘That’s unusual! I am going to see what the inscription is.’ When I approached near enough, this message came to me, not only in stone, but as if it came from One in whose service we were engaged:

“‘Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part’” (in Conference Report, October 1956, 91).

The message the young elder received that morning was to act his part well as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was also a message President McKay lived and taught throughout a lifetime of service.

It Happened in September

Following are a few significant events that happened in Church history during the month of September.

21–22 September 1823: The angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, teaching him of the existence of an ancient record from which Joseph would later translate the Book of Mormon.

22 September 1827: Joseph Smith received the gold plates from the angel Moroni at the Hill Cumorah near Joseph’s home in Palmyra, New York.

9 September 1850: The United States Congress created the Territory of Utah. On 20 September Brigham Young was appointed governor of the territory.

2 September 1898: President Wilford Woodruff died at age 91 in San Francisco, California, and on 13 September of the same year Lorenzo Snow became the fifth President of the Church.

Leadership Tip

Sometimes people called to leadership positions are unsure of their own abilities. They may compare themselves to others—even to those they have been called to serve—and find themselves wanting.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that we don’t have to compare ourselves with anyone else. The Lord asks us simply to do what we can do. “The only thing you need to worry about,” Elder Wirthlin says, “is striving to be the best you can be. And how do you do that? You keep your eye on the goals that matter most in life, and you move towards them step by step” (“One Step after Another,” Liahona, January 2002, 29).

Portrait of David O. McKay by Alvin Gittins

Moroni Visits Joseph Smith in His Bedroom, by Dale Kilbourn; Joseph Smith Receiving the Gold Plates, by Robert T. Barrett

Photograph of Brigham Young; photograph of Wilford Woodruff

Photo illustration by Matthew Reier