Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on the essential preparation for success in life

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (b. August 5, 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"In the same way that certain steps are essential in the very brief performance of an Olympic athlete—jumps or maneuvers for ice skaters and snowboarders, negotiating the turns of a bobsled run, or carving through the gates of a downhill slalom course—so it is in our lives, where certain things are absolutely essential—checkpoints which move us through our spiritual performance on earth. These spiritual markers are the essential God-given ordinances of the gospel: baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordinations, temple ordinances, and partaking of the sacrament each week.
"'In the[se] ordinances … , the power of godliness is manifest' (D&C 84:20).
"And in the same way that the discipline of training prepares an athlete to perform elements in his or her sport at the highest level, keeping the commandments will qualify you to receive these saving ordinances.
"Do you sense the urgency? ...
"Self-discipline is needed. Daily prayer, scripture study, and church attendance must be the foundation of your training. A consistent pattern of obeying the commandments, keeping the covenants you have made, and following the Lord’s standard found in For the Strength of Youth is required."
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Your Four Minutes," General Conference, April 2014
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Stevenson spoke to the youth of the Church in this conference address, using the example of athletes who had recently competed in the Winter Olympic. He spoke of the very short time their performance caught the eye of the world in the international competition, but of the countless hours of preparation that led up to that performance. Then he likened that brief performance to our mortal experience of earthly life.

It's good to consider the "spiritual markers" that ordinances provide, and make sure we are "on track" in our preparations. They help us to be prepared to the challenges and opportunities of our life.

But it's the discipline of obedience that is perhaps the key aspect of Elder Stevenson's analogy:

How critical those simple, daily, ongoing tasks continue to be, not just for the youth but for each of us! As we continue to focus on the basic elements of spiritual preparation, our performance of life will truly be blessed and strengthened.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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