Sunday, August 5, 2018

Elder L. Tom Perry on keeping promises to the Lord

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"My business career was as a retail executive. As such, I was required to attend trade association meetings, business clubs, chamber of commerce meetings, etc. They always started with a cocktail hour. I was always uncomfortable in the setting. Nearly everyone would be holding an alcoholic beverage in their hands as they mingled together. I asked myself, 'What could I hold in my hand to represent my standards and the standards of the Church?' I realized that if I didn’t hold a glass in my hand someone would always be wanting to buy me a drink.
"At first I tried holding 7-Up, but it looked the same as other bubbly, alcoholic drinks. Finally, I decided to walk over to the bartender and request a glass of milk. I thought he might be hard of hearing because he made me repeat my order three times.  The final time was loud enough that everyone in the room could hear.
"After fumbling around for a few minutes the bartender finally handed me a glass of milk. You can imagine the ribbing I received as I mingled the rest of that evening, but I knew my standards, and I was undeterred. The next month, at the same meeting, I ordered my milk. From then on, the bartender always had a glass of milk for me.
"Then a funny thing started to happen. At future meetings more people started ordering milk and drinking it with me. They confided in me that their wives did not like them drinking because it might impair them as they drove home. Instead of feeling awkward during cocktail hour, I soon became the center of conversation. It helped me meet more people and fulfill the purposes for which I attended those gatherings.
"I learned an important lesson from this experience. If I kept my promises to the Lord, He would always keep His promises to me. He would always fulfill his end of the bargain—and much, much more—if I fulfilled mine."
- L. Tom Perry, "The Church: Scaffolding for Our Lives," BYU-Idaho devotional, January 24, 2012
Click here to read the full talk

Personal anecdotes are often so instructive, as in this case from Elder Perry. It's interesting to think what each of us may have done in the situation he describes. The choice he made not only followed his standards and covenants, but was perhaps the most obvious in proclaiming them to other people. No one could mistake the fact that he was drinking a glass of milk among the rest of the alcoholic drinkers! And it's interesting to note that over time, others joined in his example.

When we make covenants with God, He promises to bless us. Elder Perry witnessed the blessings that come from covenant-keeping. It would be well for each of us to consider areas in which we might be more diligent, as well as opportunities to proclaim our standards boldly to those around us.

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

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