Our Responsibility to Contribute to a Better Life
President David O. McKay
(Read by his son Robert R. McKay)

David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1967, pp. 149-153

As this great conference draws to a close, I bear testimony that our anticipations, our hopes, and our prayers that it might prove to be uplifting and inspirational have been realized. May there come into everyone's heart, and into all our homes, the true spirit of Christ, our Redeemer, whose reality, whose inspiring guidance I know to be real.

The gospel is our anchor. We know what it stands for. If we live it, feel it, and bear record to the world by the way we live, we will contribute to its growth and upbuilding. Speak well of it, of the priesthood, of the Authorities; let the standards of the gospel radiate in our lives.

Contribute to the better life

We cannot go from this great conference without an added responsibility to contribute to a better life around us. As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts, if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them.

The gospel finds its greatest expression in the individual. It finds expression in the home, as we have heard in this conference. Our homes radiate what we are, and that radiation comes from what we say and how we act in the home. No member of this Church—husband, father, or child—has the right to utter an oath in his home or ever to express a cross word to his wife or to his children or to parents. We contribute to an ideal home by our character, by controlling our passions, our temper, by guarding our speech, because those things will make our homes what they are and what they will radiate to the neighborhood. Anger, hatred, jealousy are but tools of destruction.

Radiation of divine influence

The Savior set us the example—always calm, always controlled, radiating something which people could feel as they passed. Remember the woman who touched his garment? The Savior felt something go from him (Luke 8:43-48)—that radiation which is divine.

Each individual soul has that divine radiation. The body is only the house in which we live. God help us to radiate strength, control, love, charity (which is another name for love), consideration, and best wishes for all human beings. We should do what we can to produce peace and harmony, no matter what we may suffer.

We leave this conference today with greater responsibility than ever before—as men of the priesthood, as women of the Church, and as the youth who are the leaders of tomorrow—to make our homes such as will radiate to our neighbors harmony, love, community duties, loyalty.

And what is the responsibility which rests upon every member of the Church? Read the 107th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, and there find enumerated the duties of the various organizations of the priesthood. In the 99th verse, we find the following:

"Every man learn his duty"

"Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence" (D&C 107:99).

Two principles in that admonition stand out as the duty of the officers to whom this revelation was given: first, to learn—to know what one's duty is; and second, to act in all diligence in the performance of duty.

To know one's duty, to learn the truth, is the duty of every member of the Church, of every man and woman in the world.

All mankind, I believe, are being impelled, lifted upward by that Spirit which makes them desire the truth. There is a natural feeling which urges men and women toward truth; it is a responsibility placed upon mankind. That responsibility rests upon members of the Church in a greater degree than upon their fellowmen.

There is no one great thing that we can do to obtain eternal life, and it seems to me that the great lesson to be learned in the world today is to apply in the little acts and duties of life the glorious principles of the gospel. Let us not think that because some of the things we have heard during this conference may seem small and trivial, they are unimportant. Life, after all, is made up of little things. Our life, our being, physically is made up here of little heartbeats. Let that little heart stop beating, and life in this world ceases.

The great sun is a mighty force in the universe, but we receive the blessings of its rays because they come to us as little beams, which, taken in the aggregate, fill the whole world with sunlight.

The dark night is made pleasant by the glimmer of what seem to be little stars; and so the true Christian life is made up of little Christ-like acts performed this hour, this minute, in the home, in the priesthood quorum, in the organization, in the town, wherever our life and acts may be cast.

In an article written at 88 years of age by Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, New York City's Riverside Church minister, author of 35 books, and known nationwide for his Sunday broadcasts and his dauntless dedication of his own life to the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, when asked, "Isn't it hard to believe there is a moral order in the universe when we look around us today?" he said, "No harder than it always has been. There never were any 'good old days.' The tragedy of the human heart has been the same since time began—the tragedy of man's blinding self-concern that prevents him from accepting God's ways.

"In this world if we want physical results, we must fulfill physical conditions. If we want spiritual results, we must fulfill spiritual conditions. This is the law of life, and it is both stern and magnificent. Modern religion says: Go out in God's world and fulfill His conditions. If you want health, fulfill the conditions of health—physical, mental, and spiritual. What a man sows he indeed reaps. Sow friendliness and reap friendship. Sow unselfishness and reap an enlarged life. Sow goodwill and reap a better world for our children. Sow worship—the uplift of the heart toward the Highest—and reap openhearted responsiveness to things Eternal." (Reader's Digest, October 1966, p. 71.)

Gospel is established among men

God help us and all the world to sense the reality that the gospel of Jesus Christ is established among men, and that through obedience to it the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man may be realities to eve mother and father, every son and daughter. God hasten the day when that testimony will be real in every heart.

Throughout this conference you have heard testimony from men who, with tears in their eyes, if you were close enough to see, their lips quivering with emotion, testified that they know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and gave instructions about organizing Christ's Church; and that Peter, James, and John, who held the authority from the Christ himself, gave that authority in this dispensation; that the Melchizedek Priesthood was bestowed upon the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery; that John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus Christ, bestowed the Aaronic Priesthood.

My testimony

You know that, and you know these men who have given you their testimonies during this conference. I give you my testimony that God lives; that he is close to us; that his Spirit is real; that his voice is real; that Jesus Christ, his Son, stands at the head of this great work; and that no matter how much of the atheistic philosophy takes hold of the blinded boys and girls and men who hear Satan's voice, the truth stands as declared by the Father and the Son to that boy Prophet. You and I, and all true members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have the responsibility to declare that truth to the world; and the world is full of honest men and women waiting to hear that truth. Let us not condemn them. Condemn the evil men who would blind them with their sophistry and with false reasoning. Some of our young boys are so blinded, but it is our duty as officers of the Church to lead them from the things of the world.

Now, what do we mean by the world? It is sometimes used as an indefinite term. I take it that the world refers to the inhabitants who are alienated from the saints of God. They are aliens to the Church, and it is the spirit of this alienation from which we should keep ourselves free. We are told by Paul not to conform to the fashions of the world (1 Cor. 7:31). Timothy was warned not to partake of those things—the evils of the world—and to "flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22).

The pure in heart

Purity of heart! Zion is the pure in heart (D&C 97:21), we have been told, and the strength of this Church lies in the purity of the thoughts and lives of its members. It is then that the testimony of Jesus abides in the soul and strength comes to each individual to withstand the evils of the world.

It is the responsibility of every member of the Church to preach the restored gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that the evils of the world may be met by the counteracting forces of truth.

Quicken discernment and recognition of temptation

When do temptations come? They come to us in our social gatherings; they come to us at our weddings; they come to us in our politics; they come to us in our business relations; on the farm, in the mercantile establishment. In the dealings in the affairs of life we find these insidious influences working; and it is when they manifest themselves to the consciousness of each individual that the defense of truth ought to exert itself. There may never come a greater opportunity to defend this Church.

When that still small voice calls to the performance of duty, insignificant though it seems, and its performance unknown to anyone save the individual and God, he who responds gains corresponding strength. Temptation often comes in the same quiet way. Perhaps the yielding to it may not be known by anyone save the individual and his God, but if he does yield to it, he becomes to that extent weakened and spotted with the evil of the world.

Beware hidden influences of evil

It is the unseen influence at work in society that is undermining the manhood and womanhood of today. It is these unseen influences that come from the world that overcome us when we are least prepared to defend ourselves. When we do not withstand the encroachments of these evil influences, we weaken the possibility of defending the Church of Jesus Christ. This is an individual work, and what the individuals are, that the aggregate is.

Divine blessings for righteousness

God bless you, my dear fellow workers. Bless you in your homes. Make your faith shown by your works in your home. Husbands, be true to your wives, not only in act, but in thought; wives, be true to your husbands. Children, be true to your parents; do not arrogate to yourselves that they are old-fashioned in their beliefs and that you know more than they do. Girls, follow that sweet mother and her teachings. Boys, be true to your fathers, who want happiness and success for you, which come only through living the principles of the gospel. Strangers, seeing such homes, will say, "Well, if that is the result of Mormonism, I think it is good." You will show by your faith and acts in everyday life what you really are.

To no other group of men in all the world is given a better opportunity to serve mankind than that which is afforded the elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To establish salvation and peace to the extent of their individual efforts, their lives are dedicated. To make the world a better or a safer or a fitter place for man, their talents and means are consecrated.

Just to be associated with you, with men striving toward such an aim, is a joy, and to assist you in this quest, an inspiration. Unselfishly you are trying to serve your fellowmen in love. You are true followers of the Master, for to those who have the Christian faith, the most sublime of his teachings, and to him who penetrates its deepest sense, the most human of all is this: To save mankind, the Lord came to dwell among us in the form of man, and was willing to make himself known by this—simple, though glorious, principle love.

The animal world is filled with selfishness, each thing seeking its own life, its own perpetuation. But Christ lived for love. ". . . love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind . . . And . . . thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:37,39).

God bless the elders and the sisters who, if not with perfect love, at least with a desire to bring joy and peace to others, are engaged in the noblest calling of life. Worth servants of Christ you are!—our teachers, followers of the true Redeemer, our Lord. There is nothing greater than this noble work, none more righteous. Yours is the joy promised by the Savior, who said:

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

"And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (D&C 18:15-16).

Blessing to hold and honor divine authority

God bless you men of the priesthood. May you hold it in dignity and righteousness that comes from within, not from without. To hold the priesthood of God by divine authority is one of the greatest gifts that can come to a man. He is greatly blessed who feels the responsibility of representing Deity. He should feel it to such an extent that he is conscious of his actions and words under all conditions.

God bless our friends who are contributing to the advancement of this great Church. We are grateful for their friendship and goodwill.

God bless us that we may go home with a firmer resolve than we have ever had before to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be kind to our families and to our neighbors, to be honest in all our dealings so that men, seeing our good works, may be led to glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

I leave my blessings with you, with the sick and afflicted, with our men in the service, and with our missionaries scattered around the world. I pray that God's protecting care will be with them wherever they are.

God bless you officers and leaders, stake presidencies and bishoprics, of the Church. May the love of the Redeemer be in each heart, and that means that the love will be expressed in serving one another.

God bless these brethren of the General Authorities for their devotion and untiring efforts in furthering his work on earth. May they be blessed with increased health and strength to carry on their great responsibilities throughout the world.

I know that God lives, that his Son Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that divine beings restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith the gospel of Jesus Christ as he established it in the meridian of time.

I bear this testimony as we part this afternoon, and pray the blessings of the Lord to be upon each of you, that the influence of the priesthood quorums, of auxiliaries, and of the missionaries may be more effective from this time forward than ever before in leading the honest in heart of the whole world to turn their hearts to the worship of God and give them power to control the animal nature and live in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.