Friday, January 25, 2019

President Spencer W. Kimball on personal efforts to overcome plateaus in progress

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Now, my brothers and sisters, it seems clear to me, indeed, this impression weighs upon me—that the Church is at a point in its growth and maturity when we are at last ready to move forward in a major way. Some decisions have been made and others pending, which will clear the way, organizationally. But the basic decisions needed for us to move forward, as a people, must be made by the individual members of the Church. The major strides which must be made by the Church will follow upon the major strides to be made by us as individuals.
"We have paused on some plateaus long enough. Let us resume our journey forward and upward. Let us quietly put an end to our reluctance to reach out to others—whether in our own families, wards, or neighborhoods. We have been diverted, at times, from fundamentals on which we must now focus in order to move forward as a person or as a people.
"Seemingly small efforts in the life of each member could do so much to move the Church forward as never before."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Let Us Move Forward and Upward," General Conference April 1979
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a remarkable time in the history of the Church. President Kimball had been given the leadership of the Church as a somewhat ailing, frail-seeming man who had endured many health challenges and spoke with a soft, raspy, cancer-ravaged voice. But his leadership was so very dynamic and remarkable! I remember this talk, shared when I was a college student, and the vivid imagery of being challenged to move forward from the plateau we had paused on for too long:

President Kimball went on in his talk to suggest some of the ways individual members might increase efforts in the coming year that would help the Church to move forward in significant ways, such as:

  • If each active member family were to help another individual or family come to the Church, there would be several hundred thousand new members
  • If one adult couple chose to serve a mission from each ward, the missionary force would grow from 27,500 to over 40,000
  • If each family were to help bring a less-active member back to full participation, there would be tens of thousands of returning members
  • If each temple recommend holder would perform a single additional endowment there would be great blessings on both sides of the veil
  • If each member performed an act of quiet Christian service, feelings towards the Church would be impacted
  • If we spent a few more minutes of individual attention with spouse and family members each month we would be greatly blessed
So the prophetic challenge was to increase our efforts of obedience and service in "seemingly small" ways, with the promise that the whole Church would see a "surge in spirituality."

Well might each one of us consider, today, 40 years later—in what ways am I paused on a plateau in my spiritual progress? And what small changes or efforts should I make, personally, to bring great strides of progress?

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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