Saturday, January 2, 2016

L. Tom Perry on the difference between doing and being

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"I remember many years ago, when we lived in New York, coming back to Utah on vacation and stopping to visit a ninety-one-year-old aunt of my wife's. She lived alone in a small but comfortable home. At her age, she was completely self-reliant. Her home was clean and orderly; her house was filled with beautiful plants, so well cared for. Around one chair we found the well-used scriptures and other church publications. In our conversations with her we were amazed at her knowledge of current events. At the end of our visit she taught us a great lesson. She said, as we prepared to leave, 'You know, I have found in life that it is not enough just to do. You also have to be.' I encourage you tonight to be. Be physically strong, living the Lord's code of health, making even more dramatic the difference between the children of the Lord and the children of the world. Be socially and emotionally acceptable to those you are privileged to associate with, and be comfortable in their presence. Show some life, some spirit, and some enthusiasm as you go about your activities each day.
"Grow mentally each day. Prepare yourself for the eternities to come. Be close to the Lord. Understand the potential within you as one of his spirit children. I encourage you to start this new year with a plan, with new goals, with new objectives, to lift yourself physically, socially-emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to newer heights on your eternal course toward eternal life.
"Again we would encourage you to recognize: 'I Need Thee Every Hour,' in every aspect of a life based on his plan, his law, and his way."
- L. Tom Perry, "I Need Thee Every Hour," BYU Fireside, January 2, 1977
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Perry's description of an aged relative living a simple, but happy, life brought back memories of my own two grandmothers, each of whom lived similarly in their later years. They each might have given the same advice about truly being strong, committed, active, and obedient, and not just doing the things superficially that might hint at those traits.

Elder Perry himself was well-known for perhaps having followed the advice to "show some life, some spirit, and some enthusiasm" in daily activities.

I especially appreciate the injunction to "grow mentally each day" as we prepare for the future.

His remarks were given at the start of a new year, and he encouraged his listeners to take advantage of that time to recommit with specific goals of growth and progress.  Good advice.  And in particular, the reminder that each of us should never forget: "I Need Thee Every Hour."

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