Tuesday, May 1, 2018

President David O. McKay on the importance of work, individually and in the Church

President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1906.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith beginning in 1945, then then as the president of the Church from 1951 to his death in 1970 at age 96.
"I remember visiting, recently, the sugar factory, in Sugar City, Idaho. Brother Austin took me through it when every wheel was quiet; the engine was cold; the chimneys stood like specters; the wheels were dry and covered with dust; the sparrows were building their nests in wheels that a few months before hummed with industry. Men had to be hired to keep the dust off the machinery, to make repairs, to keep the factory from going into decay. I thought, that is always the result of inactivity. No sugar was manufactured in that inactivity. There were no laborers employed, except those hired to keep the factory from going into absolute decay. But when the power was turned on, then raw products were changed to useful articles, which are carried into the homes, throughout the world. Sometimes part of the machinery is shut up, closed down, and only one part—that of refining—used.
"I sometimes think that in our Church we are using just part of the machinery that God has placed in our hands. So many of these quorums are lying in inactivity; dust is accumulating. Shall we not work and get them into prominence, bring them into operation? As presidents of quorums, let us meet in council; let us think over what men in our quorums are neglecting their duty....
"My brethren and sisters, the quorums and organizations are means put into our hands whereby we may bring our children back to Christ. 'Suffer [them] to come.' God help us in guiding them, and may He keep us true; that we may increase our own testimonies in this work; that we may know of its eternal application to our needs; that we may know what happiness comes through living virtuous, pure lives. Let us take up our children and carry them with us, along this road of life. No other purpose of life is more worthy, more admirable. Let us teach them to work, and to realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success."
- David O. McKay, General Conference, October 5, 1909, 88–94
Click here to read the full talk

President McKay was the first prophet I personally remember; he passed away when I was almost 13 years old. I loved his voice, his manner, his tall erect appearance, and that beautiful white hair—he always looked so prophetic to me! It's hard to believe that his apostolic ministry began in 1906; these remarks came only a few years later.

But yet how timely they are! We have new challenges today that invite us to inactivity as we are tempted by activities that are not productive. Each of us, personally, would be blessed to carefully heed President McKay's warning and instruction:

When we understand the blessing that the chance to work provides, we will act differently.

The other important and timely aspect of President McKay's remarks is the need to get the priesthood quorums and Church organizations functioning more actively. He suggested that there was too much inactivity going on in this arena as well, and that chances were being missed to change lives. Our recent modifications to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and to activities of ministering are exactly the kinds of things that President McKay would have been pleased with.

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

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