Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the blessing of a pioneer heritage

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018.
"As you might know, none of my ancestors made the trek across the plains to these valleys in the Mountain West.
"But then, even though my ancestors were not numbered among those who took part in that great enterprise, I claim the heritage of those noble pioneers as my own. Their example has influenced my life for good. I treasure the foundation they established for the restored gospel. I honor what they did, what they became, and what they gave to us as a result of their sacrifice....
"Whether we descended from the pioneers or not, it is wise to remember that the glory of their sacrifice belongs to them. We can’t place the trophies they earned for their faith and industry on our mantels. We can’t pin the medals they earned for their courage and bravery on our chests. 
"Our generation will need to stand on our own achievements, not on those of previous generations.
"In the life to come, I will be eager to meet with those legendary giants who gave so much to found these cities here in the valleys of the mountains. I think they will be pleased by our interest in them. I think they will be humbled by our admiration. But I also believe that they will be far more concerned not about what they did, but about what we did as a result of their sacrifice.
"I have a feeling they will be pleased far more by our performance than by applause, praise, or parades. They will want to know if we gained anything from the hard-won lessons they learned through tribulation and trial. They will want to know if their sacrifice and endurance made a difference to us and to our children."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "All Is Well," address given July 13, 2014, at the Pioneer Days Celebration in Ogden, Utah
Click here to read the full talk

While serving in the First Presidency, President Uchtdorf shared a "Pioneer Day" message to a gathering in Ogden. I loved his candid admission that he had no pioneer ancestors (as a relatively recent European convert). But yet, he pointed out how he too could claim the pioneer heritage as a member of the Church, as he learned from their example and benefited from what was built on the foundation they established.

We can honor and recognize the sacrifice and contribution of the pioneers, but we must make our own sacrifices and show our own commitment to the principles they were devoted to. President Uchtdorf suggested that our pioneer ancestors will care little for our praise and recognition, but will be more interested to know "if their sacrifice and endurance made a difference to us." What an interesting insight!

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

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