Sunday, March 5, 2017

2017-03-05 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,
You have been given an amazing gift. This is the gift of AGENCY--the ability to choose, the ability to decide things for yourself...the ability to ACT.
"...[people are] free forever, knowing good from evil, to act for themselves and not to be acted upon...and they are free to choose liberty and eternal life...or to choose captivity and death."  (2 Nephi2:26-27)
What a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father! But this gift came at a huge cost. The cost is the Life and Atonement of the Son of God. He suffered so that we could truly have a choice. Without the Atonement, we would be eternally separated from our Father in Heaven after our first mistake. With the Atonement we are given the opportunity to BECOME. We can exercise faith, live our lives in obedience to God, repent, be forgiven, and obtain the strength to continue to endure to the end.
No one forces you to be happy or sad. No one forces you to be obedient or disobedient. No one forces you to work hard or be lazy. You choose.
You can choose your actions, but you cannot choose the consequences of your actions.
At the end of your mission you will have a final interview with the mission president. I always ask: "Are you happy with your mission?" and "Is Heavenly Father happy with your mission?" As I ask these questions, I look into the eyes of the missionary. Usually I see peace and joy in their eyes. Often there are tears because this blessed experience is coming to an end. Sometimes I see disappointment and regret that, even though the missionary worked hard, they know that they did not do what they could have done. When this happens, we talk about the Atonement and how they will live their life differently in the future.
After this life you will have another interview, a final final interview, with similar questions. The interview might be something like this: "You were given the precious gift of agency, the ability to act. Who have you become?" What will your answer be?
Young people think that the "final interview" of their life is a long time from now, with plenty of time to grow up. The honest truth is that life passes very quickly. The passage of time doesn't cause you to grow up, become strong, selfless and obedient. I know many immature, weak, selfish and disobedient older people. It is not the passage of time that matters. It is your decision and your actions that matter.
How do you become the strong, selfless, faithful person you want to be? It is by doing the small and simple things. "Out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (DC 64:33)
President David O. McKay often taught:
"We sow our thoughts and we reap our actions;
We sow our actions and we reap our habits;
We sow our habits and we reap our characters;
We sow our characters and we reap our destiny."  (C.A. Hall)
"You mold your and future by good thoughts and acts. Change comes by substituting good habits for less desirable ones." (Spencer W. Kimball)
"We are not born into this world with fixed habits. Neither do we inherit a noble character. Instead, as children of God, we are given the privilege and opportunity of choosing which way of life we will follow--which habits we will form. Confucius said that the nature of man is always the same. It is their habits that separate them. Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves (goals), though the thought must precede the action. Good habits are developed in the workshop of our daily lives. It is not in the great moments of test and trial character is built. That is only when it is displayed. The habits that direct our lives and form our character are fashioned in the often uneventful, commonplace routine of life. They are acquired by practice...When we have conquered our bad habits and replaced them with good ones, living as we should, obedient and faithful, then we are on our way to the presence of God...We need to ask ourselves, 'Are my usual thoughts and present actions worthy of eternal life? Am I setting my sights on eternal goals and working to obtain them?' Anything short of our best isn't good enough, especially in the service of the Lord." (Elder Delbert L. Stapley)
What HABITS are you developing in your life? What habits of thought? What habits of words? What habits of actions?
Remember that your habits will be a powerful source of spiritual strength in your life if you will use them. In fact, your eternal life will depend on the habits you develop.
In my life I have seen the great blessing that have come from daily habits of prayer, personal scripture study, family scripture study, kindness and service. These habits seem small and insignificant on any given day, but multiplied over years they have become powerful shapers of who I am and how the Lord can use me.
A wise person once said: "The seemingly insignificant things I do on a daily basis, compounded over time, are the difference between my success and failure."
May the Lord bless you to use His gift of agency to develop the habits of obedience, spirituality, kindness, selflessness, virtue, courage and love with which the Lord wants to bless you.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler