I address my remarks, my brothers and sisters, to the youth of the Church. It has been my privilege over the past number of years to travel throughout the Church and become closely acquainted with the young people, particularly those of high school and college age.
I suppose if I have any distinction as one of the General Authorities, it would be my closeness to the youth of the Church in two respects: first, the recency of my call from among them, and next, my nearness to them by virtue of my age, or perhaps I should say, lack of it. I earned that distinction last October the first, when it was grudgingly yielded to me by President Marion D. Hanks of the First Council of the Seventy.
My young friends, members of the Church, I do not profess to understand you fully. I think it is true, however, that perhaps you do not understand yourselves fully. But, I will confess to a great love for you and a great faith in you and an intense yearning desire to be helpful to you. I would hope that you could profit by my experience and know that soon, prematurely perhaps, certainly without warning, the responsibilities of leadership will come to you and in recognition of that, I would like to counsel you just a little.
My young friends, I am not frightened of you, not frightened for you, and I am not reticent to speak rather pointedly to you. As I have learned to love you, to become acquainted with you, as I have traveled throughout the Church, my conviction has grown that not only will you accept pointed, specific counsel and help, but that you are hungry for it and that you desire it.
I speak with a sense of urgency.
Friday, Brother Romney quoted from the eighty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, and I should like to quote a verse that precedes those read by Brother Romney -- the eighty-eighth section, verse seventy-three, the Lord speaking:
"Behold, I will hasten my work in its time." I repeat, "Behold, I will hasten my work in its time."
And my young friends in the Church, I bear witness that this is the day of hastening, and as I speak to you about opportunity and obligation, I stress the word "obligation."
Many years ago, my parents lived in a very modest home in the northern end of the state of Utah. One morning, my mother answered a knock at the door and was confronted there by a large frightening-looking man, who asked her for money. She said, "We have no money." There were in that home innumerable children, but very little money. He pressed his demands, insisting that she give him some money, finally saying "I am hungry; I would like to get something to eat."
"Well," she said, "if that is the case then I can help you." So she hurried to the kitchen and fixed him a lunch. And I am sure it was the most modest of provisions. She could tell as she gave him the lunch at the door that he was not pleased, but with little resistance he took the lunch and left. She watched him as he went down the lane through the gate and started up the road. He looked back, but he did not see her standing inside the door, and as he passed the property line, he took the lunch and threw it over the fence into the brush.
Now, my mother is a little Danish woman, and she was angered; she was angered at the ingratitude. In that house there was nothing to waste, and she was angered that he was so ungrateful.
The incident was forgotten until a week or two later; she answered another knock at the door. There stood a tall raw-boned teenage boy, who asked about the same question in essentially the same words, "We need help; we are hungry. Could you give us some money; could you give us some food?" But somehow the image of the first man appeared in her mind and she said "No," excusing herself, "I am sorry. I am busy; I cannot help you today. I just cannot help you." What she meant was, "I won't. I won't. I won't be taken in again." Well, the young man turned without protest and walked out the gate, and she stood looking after him. It wasn't until he passed through the gate that she noticed the wagon, the father and mother and the other youngsters, and as the boy swung his long legs into the wagon, he looked back rather poignantly; the father shook the reins and the wagon went on down the road. She hesitated just long enough so that she could not call them back.
From that experience she drew a moral by which she has lived and which she has imparted to her children, and though that was I suppose, nearly fifty years ago, there has always been just a tiny hint of pain as she recalled the incident with this moral: "Never fail to give that which you have to someone who is in need." I repeat, "Never fail to give that which you have to someone who is in need."
I stress to you young brothers and sisters in the Church your obligation to give that which you possess to any who may be in need. I recognize that admittedly your material substance is meager compared to the needs of the world, but your spiritual powers are equal to the needs of the world. I urge you to resolve with me that never so long as we live would anyone be hungry, spiritually or physically, that we could aid and assist.
Now, with reference to obligation one day two of our boys were having a little difference of opinion. That happens in the best of homes, I am told. There was just a little fussing about, and I stepped in as referee, and as I separated them, they were somewhat resistant. Just then the younger brother appeared on the scene and, in what I since learned to appreciate as magnificent English, said to his brothers "Don't you know you're s'posed to mind the one what borned ya?"
Now, I think that speaks more eloquently than I can to my teenage friends. "Don't you know you are supposed to mind the one that borned you, spiritually speaking?" Your responsibility for giving lies just ahead. You have a twofold opportunity. First just ahead of you in the mission field is the opportunity to give the gift that has come to you as only youth can give it. And then, subsequent to that, with your life's partner, you will give to those little boys and girls who will populate your kingdom here upon the earth.
Do you remember Clark, the boy from the other ward who was called on a mission to Mexico? I saw him in Mexico City just a few weeks ago. It was inspiring to be around him. He was giving; giving the gift that had come to him, in the way, I repeat, that only youth can give it. You recall, also, that his mother said after he had been in the mission field a week or two, "I think they are working him just a little too hard." "I think," she said, "that he is being pressed to extend his ability just a little bit beyond his capacity."
Now, that may be so, but my young brothers and sisters, we do not fear that challenge, do we? Cannot I represent you to the brethren here as being willing to face any extent of pressure and work in the building up of the kingdom?
Your welfare is not neglected, and I recognize in what I saw in Clark, the most profound representation of the great principles of the welfare program that I have ever witnessed, for in his life, work has been enthroned as a ruling principle. It was in 1936 at this pulpit that President Heber J. Grant said, "Work is to be re-enthroned as a ruling principle in the lives of our Church membership."
Where else, my young friends, are you pressed to that point? Where is work enthroned in your lives unless it is in the mission field? Now we know that there were those who stumbled between Winter Quarters and Salt Lake Valley, and we know that there were those who limped painfully every step of the great trek of the Mormon Battalion but the contest was not called off, and the campaign was not canceled. I suppose that in this day, in this work that there will be some casualty, and I expect there may be some mortality. But, the fight with sin is real, it will be long, but it must go on, and I urge you young friends in the Church to enlist yourselves and to put your shoulder to the wheel.
This boy Clark, it is magnificent to see what has happened to him. It did not come to him easily. There was sweat on his brow, and there were tears on his pillow before he had achieved the knowledge of how to work strenuously, earnestly, but you know I would not like to have him come home and open a service station across the street from one that I was trying to operate. He knows how to do things. He knows how to do them with energy, with enthusiasm, with capacity, with humility, with deep human concern. He knows how to respect his fellow men. He has not failed. He has lived to the admonition "never fail to give that which you have to someone who is in need."
Obedient to that admonition, my young friends, I would like to share with you, that which has come to me by way of testimony and conviction. Would you understand and not misunderstand if I should say that which I have earned by way of conviction, for you must earn it to receive it: First, having so recently been called to represent you the young people among these brethren, I tell you earnestly that I sustain the General Authorities of the Church. I have worked with them at close view for these number of months. I have seen humanity, and I have seen dedication. I have seen work, and I have seen work and I have seen work. I have seen humility, and I have seen righteousness. I sustain the General Authorities of the Church.
Then my young friends, when I was just a little younger than I am now, I thought that there ought to come to one who is called to be a General Authority of the Church some special conviction, some special inner strength to build him up, to strengthen him, and I testify to you, my young friends, that there is. I say to you that I know that the gospel is true, and then I say that I used to know the gospel was true also, but now I know.
I bear witness to you that Jesus is the Christ, that he lives, that he is a reality. I testify that our Father lives and loves us and as young people will sustain and support us, as we rally and as we are willing to give that gift which has come to us and to those who are in need, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.