Friday, January 26, 2018

President Gordon B. Hinckley on the critical small choices in life

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"In various times, the Lord has chosen boys and trained them for the accomplishment of his marvelous purposes—such boys as Samuel, David, Joseph who was sold into Egypt, Nephi, Mormon, and Joseph Smith.
"I believe that God has likewise chosen each of you for something of consequence in his grand design, perhaps not in the category of those I have named. But he loves you and he has a work for each of you to do.
"How great, then, is your responsibility so to live that the Spirit of the Lord may dwell in you and that the Holy Ghost may speak through you.
"I would that I had the capacity, the gift of the Spirit, to speak with such power that your hearts would burn with a resolution so to live as to grow in favor with both God and man.
"The wonderful thing is that this is not beyond your capacity. The course of our lives is not determined by great, awesome decisions. Our direction is set by the little day-to-day choices which chart the track on which we run."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Watch the Switches in Your Life," General Conference October 1972
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In this memorable talk, President Hinckley addressed young men in a Priesthood session; but the counsel certainly applies to all, young and old, male and female: God "loves you and he has a work for each of you to do."

President Hinckley shared a story from his own work experience in a railroad office. A baggage car on a cross-country train ended up in New Orleans, while the passenger cars were in New Jersey. President Hinckley identified the problem: "a thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three inches" separating the baggage car from the trail it was supposed to accompany and sending it on the wrong track. President Hinckley likened that situation to the little bad decisions we sometimes make in life that can have a much more dramatic and lasting impact than we expect.

The key is to be guided by the Holy Ghost in our decisions, and to always be worthy to have its influence and presence with us.

In this talk, President Hinckley also gave a series of admonitions that would be adapted and expanded in one of his later talks. He encouraged his listeners to:

  • Be smart
  • Be clean
  • Be obedient
  • Be prayerful

President Hinckley concluded with this counsel:
"And so, watch the switches in your life, the small but important day-to-day decisions. Be smart, my dear young friends. Be clean. Be obedient. Be prayerful. To do so will require a measure of discipline, the exercise of which will bring strength and capacity for great and demanding tasks that lie ahead of you in building the kingdom of God and in filling places of useful service in the work of the world."

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

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