Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016-5-29 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you so much for your faith, obedience and hard work. This weekend many people were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost because of your great efforts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that every effort you make is valuable. Every testimony, every lesson, every example of righteous living that you give makes a difference. Thank you.

During a training meeting last year with Elder Neil Anderson, he shared something that he was taught by Elder Packer during his time as a new apostle. Elder Packer said: "As a general authority you need to be right...but you also need to be kind."

One of the most important characteristics of a true disciple of Christ is Kindness. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught: "Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes. Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes." (General Conference, April 2005)

Elders and Sisters, examine your interactions with others. Is the tone of your voice soft or hard? Are your words blunt and harsh or are they soft and encouraging?

Do you excuse yourself by saying: "In my province or country or family, that is just how we are." Or, "I am just telling the truth." Or, "I like it when people are strict with me so that is how I will treat others."

I invite you to change. I invite you to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. He shared the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. The traveler showed kindness and love to a stranger, someone who was an enemy of his people, someone who may have made a foolish decision to travel in a dangerous area. Instead of criticizing him, the Samaritan helped him. As you read the New Testament and the Book of Mormon describing the life of Christ, you see many, many instances of Jesus' kindness to children, sick people, crippled people, sinners and others. Even while he was in great agony, in the very act of being crucified on the cross, he said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Elder Wirthlin taught further: "One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, "How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?" If you re criticizing others, you are weakening the Church. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God. As Heavenly Father is kind, we also should be kind to others.

"But," you ask, "what if people are rude?"

Love them.

"If they are obnoxious?"

Love them.

"But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?"

Love them.


The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.

Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, "And some have compassion, making a difference." (Jude 1:22) (General Conference, April 2005)

Remember the Primary song, "Kindness Begins With Me."

I want to be kind to everyone,

For this is right, you see.

So I say to myself, "Remember this:

Kindness begins with me."

Here is an example from the life of Joseph Smith, written by a child who was there:

"My older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph's brick store. It has been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got our feet in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, child-like, we began to cry, for we thought we should have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing."

More from Elder Wirthlin:

"The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words--these things are noticed by your children and by others. They see and learn both the kind and the unkind things we say or do. Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home.

The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. the Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.

Each of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another. Never look down on those who are less perfect than you."

The most golden investigator of my mission in Vienna, Austria was prepared to join the Church because of the kindness of two missionaries. Hannelore was visiting her brother one evening and two elders knocked on the door. Her brother had met them on the street and had given them his address. When her brother answered the door he was very rude to them and mocked them. Instead of reacting with anger or rudeness they were kind and courteous and left as soon as they could. After they left her brother laughed and thought that he had done a good thing. Hannelore could never forget the kindness of those missionaries. After many months she contacted the mission office and asked to meet with the missionaries. Her baptism was a direct result of two Christlike missionaries who never knew the blessings they brought to Hannelore.
Elders and Sisters, do not wait for others to be kind to you before you are kind to them. Do not let the actions of others control your actions. You have been given the great gift of agency--the gift to act and not to be acted upon. Choose to be kind. Choose to be understanding. Choose to follow the Savior.

Small acts of kindness have eternal consequences, whether it is with those you teach, in your companionship or with other missionaries.

With love and confidence in you,

President Creg Ostler