Wednesday, November 17, 2021

President Spencer W. Kimball on decisions and commitments

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Now may I make a recommendation? Develop discipline of self so that, more and more, you do not have to decide and redecide what you will do when you are confronted with the same temptation time and time again. You only need to decide some things once!
"How great a blessing it is to be free of agonizing over and over again regarding a temptation. To do such is time-consuming and very risky.
"Likewise, my dear young friends, the positive things you will want to accomplish need only be decided upon once—like going on a mission and living worthily in order to get married in the temple—and then all other decisions related to these goals can fall into line. Otherwise, each consideration is risky, and each equivocation may result in error. There are some things Latter-day Saints do, and other things we just don't do. The sooner you take stands, the taller you will be!"
- Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Planning Your Life," New Era, Sept. 1981, p. 50
Click here to read the full talk

This is such wonderful counsel for youth, and the principle applies to those of us who are not-so-young as well. President Kimball was warning youth specifically about temptations they might encounter, but the application is more broad than that. Key principles in our lives, relating both to things we should avoid and things we should seek, are best decided once and then committed to deeply.

The decision to avoid certain actions or behaviors as an act of obedience is a powerful one. It's the positive aspect of this that I find even more compelling, as we decide and commit to the kinds of things we will do regardless of circumstances that might persuade us otherwise.

But the key to both of those approaches is the depth of our personal integrity to our own commitment. How well do we remember those earlier decisions when confronted with a temptation or with an occasion to skip a positive behavior? It's easy to see why the frequent refrain of prophetic and scriptural counsel is that we "remember," including Alma's memorable words about "enlarging" our memories through scriptures (see Alma 37:8).

The final line of this excerpt is significant: "The sooner you take stands, the taller you will be!" I love that. President Kimball, though small in stature, was known as a giant of a man because of the depth of his faith and insight. I think he took his stands very early and never wavered.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
June 13, 2015

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