Saturday, February 9, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on flooding the earth with truth

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
"I pray we will not simply participate in a flash flood that rises swiftly and then recedes just as rapidly. I am not suggesting a one-time glitzy initiative from which we quickly move on to the next task on our lengthy list of gospel things to do. We need not become social media experts or fanatics. And we do not need to spend inordinate amounts of time creating and disseminating elaborate messages....
"According to our desires and circumstances, each of us can contribute consistently to the growing flood of truth and righteousness. We should press forward using the Lord’s pattern of 'line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little' (2 Nephi 28:30).
"Imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored Church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a steady rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers—and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth. 'Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great' (D&C 64:33)."
- David A. Bednar, "To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood," BYU Education Week, Aug 19, 2014
Click here to read the full talk

I worked for the IT department of the Church in the years (late 1990s) when email communication was still the primary means of outreach and webpages were just becoming a significant force. It was fascinating to get a sense of the vision of Church leaders at that time, in knowing how important these new platforms were in helping establish the public image of the Church and sharing positive and accurate information about our beliefs.

Elder Bednar carries on that legacy of vision with this invitation, for Church members everywhere to participate appropriately and positively in social media channels:

By the time Elder Bednar shared these remarks 5 years ago, the interactive platforms known collectively as "social media" had exploded and were almost ubiquitous in usage and awareness. Again the Church faced the opportunity of using these opportunities in positive ways, and Elder Bednar joined with other leaders in inviting us to find the best ways to "flood the earth" with uplifting and accurate information.

I like the imagery Elder Bednar chooses in his invitation:
  • We don't want a mere "flash flood" that is just "a one-time glitzy initiative" of publicity. We need a steady, ongoing presence
  • The collective small efforts of millions of members can perhaps have a more profound effect than a more organized top-down campaign
  • We should each seek in our personal efforts to contribute to the "steady rainfall of righteousness and truth" that will accumulate into a profoundly positive influence for good
Sometimes, our willingness to stand for truth in public discussions is critical. But doing it in a way that is sensitive and kind is also critical to how it is received. We should never be combative or harsh; we should be examples of the Savior's gentle, loving approach. But clearly, we should all be looking for ways to contribute to this grand effort!

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

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