Thursday, March 8, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on the power of being of good cheer

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"We should honor the Savior’s declaration to 'be of good cheer.' (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 16:33.) (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!) Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, 'Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow.'
"I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. (See 1 Nephi 3:28–31; 18:11–15.) Surely he must have said at least once, 'Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.' Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse....
"So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be 'perfect' men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Tongue of Angels," General Conference April 2007
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Holland seems to be a determined optimist. He echoes the invitation of the Savior as he encourages us all to "be of good cheer"—and to express that cheerfulness in our language and attitudes as well as actions.

Elder Holland is realistic in acknowledging that there are challenges in life; but he warns that we can make them worse through the way we respond to them:

I love that frankness. Our complaining and "whining" only make dealing with challenges more difficult; if we approach life with realism but also faith and hope, we'll do much better in confronting and overcoming obstacles. And one of the most important things to help us in that endeavor is to make sure our words are "filled with faith and hope and charity."

The profound and powerful impact of positive language means more than we might expect. When we can "speak with the tongue of angels" in speaking to others with hope and love, our ability to bless and support those around us is enhanced and magnified.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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