Saturday, November 28, 2015

Heber J. Grant on being a faithful, unselfish servant

President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) was ordained an apostle in 1862, and served as president of the Church from 1918 until his death in 1945 at age 88.  He served as president for over 26 years; only Brigham Young had a longer term (over 29 years).
"I heard a story of a brother (I have forgotten his name now) who attended a meeting in the early days. President Brigham Young made an appeal for donations to send to the Missouri River to help the Saints gather to Zion. He wanted everybody who could afford it, to give an ox or a cow or any other donation. One good brother jumped up and said, 'I will give a cow.' Another brother got up and said, 'I will give a cow.' The first brother had two cows and a large family; the other brother had a half-dozen cows and a small family.
"And, so the spirit [of the devil] came over the first man, [saying,] 'Now, look here, you cannot get along with your large family; you cannot possibly get along with one cow. Now, that other man has got a small family and six cows; he could just as well give two or three and still get along all right.' As he started home, he walked four or five blocks, all the time getting weaker and weaker. Finally he thought, 'I guess I won't,' and then he realized the difference in the spirit that was tempting him and the one that had prompted his promise to the President of the Church that he would give a cow. Here was a spirit telling him to fail to fulfill his obligation, to fail to be honest, to fail to live up to his promise.
"He stopped short and turned around and said, 'Mr. Devil, shut up or just as sure as I live, I will walk up to Brother Brigham's office and give him the other cow.' He was not tempted any more.
"Now, every Latter-day Saint ought to be a lifter and not a leaner."
- Heber J. Grant, "Settlement," Improvement Era, Jan. 1941, 56; see Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, pp. 141-142

This is a wonderful little glimpse into Church history, and into the personality of President Grant. There have been times when members of the Church were asked to sacrifice for one another, to a degree we are not familiar with today. For someone to give up one of two cows for the good of the Church was a significant hardship. But that sacrifice was given, so many times.

President Grant also believed strongly in the conflict between faith and the Adversary. This story helps illustrate the battle between those opposing forces, and the role that agency plays in choosing the direction to follow.

I love the simple closing statement. We can either contribute our strength to the good of the kingdom, or be a drain on it!

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