Saturday, October 30, 2021

President Harold B. Lee on success in life through service

President Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"That man who is ambitious for personal gain and personal advantage is never a happy man, for before him always are the receding horizons of life that will ever mock his attempts at acquisition and conquest. That man who serves unselfishly is the man who is the happy man. 
"In the military service there were awarded ofttimes for outstanding accomplishment, national decorations and certificates of merit, and always with the citation were these suggestive words: 'For meritorious service beyond the call of duty.' 
"Therein lies the way by which we, too, can reach the highest goals and win the merited plaudits of our Heavenly Father. That which we do beyond the call of duty, beyond that for which we are compensated by material wealth is that which gives us the greatest joy in life." 
- Harold B. Lee, "On Earning Salvation," Conference Report, Apr. 1947, pp. 45-51
President Lee's thought illustrates the great dichotomy between the world's approach to life, and the Christian disciple's approach. It can be summarized as "man's search for happiness." In the worldly view, it's all about "personal gain and personal advantage." But the Gospel view is all about unselfish service.

The Savior's injunction, "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11) may seem contradictory to some; but it's the essence of the Savior's message, and the true key to happiness.

A true Christian is one who is consistently giving "meritorious service beyond the call of duty." What a wonderful standard to aspire to.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 22, 2015

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