True to His Word


Sheldon F. Child
Adapted from an address given at April 1997 general conference.
The blacksmith had made the repair. But I had no money to pay him. That’s when I learned about my father’s “credit.”

I was raised on a small farm in northern Utah. My parents were good, hardworking, industrious people. In order to make ends meet, my father took outside employment. Each morning before he left for work, he would make a list of chores he wanted me to accomplish before he came home that evening.

On one occasion one of the items on the list was to take a small broken part from our hay rake to the blacksmith shop to have it repaired. I was uncomfortable about going. My father hadn’t left any money, and I wondered what I should do.

When all my other chores were finished, I knew I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I can still remember walking the mile or so to the blacksmith shop. I even remember how uncomfortable I was as I watched him weld the part. As he finished, I nervously told him that I had no money, but that my father would pay him later.

He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Son, don’t worry. Your father’s word is as good as his bond.” I remember running all the way home, relieved that the part had been repaired and grateful that my father was known as a man whose word was as good as his bond.

As a boy I didn’t fully understand what that meant, but I knew it was good. It was years later that I recognized that a person whose word is as good as his bond is a person of honesty and integrity, a person to be trusted. In today’s world, there are some who think nothing of breaking their word, their promises, their covenants with man and with God.

Not old-fashioned

Honesty and integrity are not old-fashioned principles. They are just as viable in today’s world. We have been taught in the Church that:

When we say we will do something, we do it.

When we make a commitment, we honor it.

When we are given a calling, we fulfill it.

When we borrow something, we return it.

When we have a financial obligation, we pay it.

When we enter into an agreement, we keep it.

President N. Eldon Tanner related the following experience: “A young man came to me and said, ‘I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears, and I can’t make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?’

“I looked at him and said, ‘Keep your agreement.’

“‘Even if it costs me my home?’

“I said, ‘I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word, meet his obligations, keep his pledges or his covenants, and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants and his pledges’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 99).

The only policy

We are all familiar with the statement “Honesty is the best policy.” For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honesty is the only policy. We must be honest with our fellowmen. We must be honest with our God. We are honest with God when we honor the covenants we make with Him.

We are a covenant-making people. We make covenants at the waters of baptism. We renew those covenants each week as we worthily partake of the sacrament. We take upon ourselves the name of Christ; we promise to always remember Him and to keep His commandments. And in return He promises us that His Spirit will always be with us. We make covenants as we enter into the temple, and in return we receive the promised blessings of eternal life—if we keep those sacred covenants.

If we honor the commitments and covenants that we make with God and with our fellowmen, then it can be said of each of us, “Our word is as good as our bond.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Keith Larson