Friday, January 13, 2017

Elder Richard G. Scott on the power of making decisions and commitments

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"My parents gave me a beautiful watch for high school graduation. I looked at it frequently because of the love it communicated. Each night I carefully cleaned and wound it. As years passed, I often neglected to wind the watch. Consequently, it stopped being useful, often when I most needed it.
"Today I use an automatic watch. It is consistent and always gives me the correct time. It is totally dependable. I never need to worry whether I can count on it or not.
"I realize that as with watches, there are differences in youth. Some need to be wound up, while others are automatic because of important decisions already made.
"I commend you who are automatic, who have committed to be true to the Lord and to live by faith when you cannot see the end from the beginning. When faced with choices, you select the path consistent with the teachings of the Savior. I know you are sometimes criticized by those who call you fanatical, who cannot understand why you don't do what the crowd does. Hold fast to your principles.
"You cannot today remotely imagine what that decision to be unwaveringly obedient to the Lord will allow you to accomplish in life. Your quiet, uncompromising determination to live a righteous life will couple you to inspiration and power beyond your capacity now to understand."
- Richard G. Scott, "Making the Right Decisions," Ensign, May 1991, pp. 34-35
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Scott shares an analogy about an old-fashioned watch that requires regular winding and maintenance, and a newer "automatic watch" (presumably battery-powered) that was "totally dependable" even when he neglected it.

In his comparison, some people require regular "winding up" in order to live by their principles and make good choices. They need to be reminded or coached in important times. But he praises those who have become "automatic" in the sense that they have made deep commitments "to be true to the Lord and to live by faith" even in times of challenge and uncertainty.

The key is to always strive to "select the path consistent with the teachings of the Savior." That requires familiarity with that path; when the difficult choices or challenges arise, the "automatic" person can quickly recognize the underlying principles at play and apply Gospel teachings to make proper choices.

I remember President Spencer W. Kimball talking about this principle. For example:
"We hope we can help our young men and young women to realize, even sooner than they do now, that they need to make certain decisions only once. I have mentioned at this pulpit before some determinations made early in my life, which decisions were such a help to me because I did not have to remake those decisions perpetually. We can push some things away from us once and have done with them! We can make a single decision about certain things that we will incorporate in our lives and then make them ours—without having to brood and redecide a hundred times what it is we will do and what we will not do."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Boys Need Heroes Close By," General Conference, April 1976

The commitments we make early in the process of life will bless us immeasurably. The commitments we make at any point in the process will bless every step that follows.

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