A letter to BYU-Idaho Pres. Kim B. Clark

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Dear Pres. Clark:

Sorry to hear that people are so riled up again about you. While you continue to have numerous supporters in and outside the church, these folks don’t seem happy at all, let me tell you.

They say you are misguided, that you are off your rocker. It appears a good number of people in the church think you’re intent on dragging us down with this outdated Honor Code thing at Brigham Young University-Idaho. They’re calling it mindless obedience, a well-orchestrated plan to turn us into Amish or something you dreamed up because you must be bored.

By now, you know I am referring to this post on the President of BYU-Idaho Facebook page from a few days ago. Here it is again for those who missed it.

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Here’s one example of the many of the negative responses I found about you in about 10 minutes of searching. I didn’t spend any more time because wallowing in the mud makes it tougher to get cleaned up for church.

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Surprisingly, a good number seem to be from members of the church.

The ones who raised their arms to the square and sustained Gordon B. Hinckley as prophet, seer and revelator. I only mention him because he was the one who asked you to move to Rexburg and lead BYU-Idaho. It’s as if by implication that the prophet sure messed up on this decision.

Speaking of mocking and criticism, when did it become OK for members of Christ’s church do murmur, complain and criticize about you, your policies, BYU-Idaho and what took Chick-fil-A so long to get on campus.

You’re probably the first to admit that not every decision of yours has been a good one. Even as a church institution, BYU-Idaho has problems and challenges to resolve. Still it doesn’t mean that detractors get to stand you up against the wall and make you duck a barrage of verbal dodge balls.

Maybe we should remind folks what Elder Dallin H. Oaks said about criticizing church authorities. In a 1986 address to the Latter-day Student Association in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, he said:

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.”

But Pres. Clark isn’t a bishop or a stake president, so this doesn’t apply, somebody will insist. Maybe they forgot that you served as an Area Seventy for the church until you were released in May. And if Pres. Hinckley asked you to be the next president of BYU-Idaho, that’s good enough for me. I guarantee plenty of prayer and fasting went into that decision.

I’m sure you agree with Elder Oaks that Latter-day Saints don’t need to be docile or indifferent to defective policies, deficient practices, or wrongful conduct in government or in private organizations in which we have an interest. But we got to build people up and not be so quick to tear down. Whether they are the former dean of Harvard Business School or work at a local convenience store.

President David O. McKay said this about what he called “murmurers” and “faultfinders”:

“Speak not against the authorities.’ What does it mean? Be not a murmurer; that is what it means. It is one of the most poisonous things that can be introduced into the home of a Latter-day Saint—this murmuring against presidents of stakes, high councilors, Sunday School superintendents, etc. …

“Better stop murmuring and build. Remember that one of the worst means of tearing down an individual is slander. It is one of the most poisonous weapons that the evil one uses. Backbiting and evil speaking throw us into the class of malefactors rather than the class of benefactors.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 142–43.)

Oh and about the dress code. I chuckle when I see the people who say obedience in small matters doesn’t lead to bigger blessings. Only because it seems so Naman of them.

I know you’re not concerned about what people think, that they’ve pegged you as a Pharisee or wouldn’t allow the Savior on campus because of his beard or sandals. But it must be comforting to be on solid gospel footing after hearing these words from Pres. Hinckley about the Honor Code at BYU in Provo. Yes, we know the Honor Codes differ some between the two schools. That’s not even the point, according to Pres. Hinckley, who gave this address at BYU while first counselor to Pres. Hunter in 1994.

“I recognize that some have strong feelings concerning standards of dress and conduct. I can only say that in every game we play, we play by the rules. I hope you will not look upon the Dress and Grooming Standards as repressive. They have been designed with another objective in mind. Our leaders have taught through the generations that “cleanliness is . . . next to godliness” (John Wesley, Sermon 93, On Dress, c. 1780). Neatness in dress, modesty in dress, cleanliness in person—are these too much to ask of a student body of this kind of young men and women who carry in their hearts a conviction that you are indeed sons and daughters of God, our Eternal Father?”

It sounds to me like the Honor Code gets us ready to enter the temple where everybody wears white. When you consider how the temple prepares us for exaltation, the dress code doesn’t seem so much about what you wear but who you are and what you can become.

I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I used your full name in my blog post title.

As a sign of respect.

Your friend,

Mike

 

Can we talk about talks?

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“Let me get this straight,” I said as I stared incredulously at my missionary district leader.

You want us all to bring investigators to a chapel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where we served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Then you want me, with my Dollar Tree Spanish,  to stand up and preach to them.

And then challenge them to be baptized THAT NIGHT?

I looked at him, looking for any sign that this was a joke.

He looked at me and just smiled.

“Sounds about right.”

That was nearly 30 years ago when I finally agreed to do this. I remember the nonstop prayers pleading for help from above, the fasting, the sleepless nights and the fear that made it impossible to concentrate on anything else.

I still remember standing outside the church that night, looking for any means of escape. A wise district leader wouldn’t let me. He talked to me and encouraged me until I walked inside the chapel.

Two hours later, as the six of us relived the event over sundaes, I couldn’t deny how good I felt. Confidence and peace had replaced extreme fear.

In an almost apologetic way, I begged forgiveness for not directly challenging investigators in attendance to be baptized.

Elder Johnson looked at me and smiled. It didn’t matter that he had almost perfect looks with perfect blond hair from California, he had the biggest heart.

Elder Henneke, you glowed up there when you were speaking. You were on fire, so full of the Spirit, he told me. Other elders nodded.

Fast forward 30 years.

Can you believe they want me to give another talk? Talks assigned to us three weeks earlier are prepared on Saturday night. More emphasis is placed on the right joke instead of the right Spirit. It is so much easier to find a conference talk to read.

Next time, it would be more truthful to end your talk, “and we read these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Before you blow off your next speaking assignment or convince yourself that you aren’t good enough, stop and consider a couple of observations.

1. Elder Dallin H. Oaks referred to sacrament meeting as the most important meeting of the church. Next to the ordinance of the sacrament, the Lord has trusted you to help change lives. When you were baptized, you promised to stand up for the Lord at all times and at all places. Loving Heavenly Father with all your heart, might, mind and strength doesn’t come with an escape clause when you get the call from the executive secretary.

2. Speaking in church can be incredibly scary. So was walking on water for Peter

You’re right. My stomach still knots up each time I am asked to speak. Maybe it’s physically impossible to get up and speak right now, for your brain will turn to mush. Remember when Peter started to walk on water before becoming afraid.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have “walk-on-water” moments, and giving a talk could be one of yours. If the Lord can help part the Red Sea, he can help you with a talk.

3. Since I’m not really a good public speaker, how do I know what jokes to use?

Oh for the love of John Bytheway, the Lord has not asked you to do stand-up comedy. He has trusted you to teach his flock through the power of the Holy Ghost. Live so you can qualify for the Holy Ghost and be willing to pay the price to receive its promptings. In an April 2011 General Conference address, Elder Jeffrey R, Holland described the process that each general authority goes through before they speak. That could be a lesson for us.

Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during he past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression.

Don’t compare yourself to others, schedule sufficient time for preparation and don’t settle for reading another talk. Just do the very best you can.

Then the Spirit can work through you, even calling an audible (changing the play) when you least expect it.

It happened to me as I was sitting on the stand ready to speak one Sunday. I had studied, prayed and sought the help of the Holy Ghost.

Right before I stood up, I heard a voice as if it were speaking right next to me.

“Put away your notes.”

I looked around and I heard it again.

“Put away your notes.”

I shuffled through my papers and saved out a quote.

Everything else came from memory.

Years later, I still wonder what would have happened I had more faith, to trust completely in the Spirit to say all the words that come through me. Or to have the faith to testify and invite people to drink from the living waters.

Even if it means I have the courage to walk on water myself.

 

 

 

Gospel lessons for dummies

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Two things you should know about the road where I live.

It’s so narrow that Amy Adams couldn’t fit through it without a pair of pilot cars and “over-sized load” signs. And if the tight fit wasn’t enough to make a new driver cry, somebody decided that this road designed for the Lollipop Guild crowd needed a set of S curves.

It was the first thing my neighbors told me about when I got there. Stay out of our snacks and watch out for the S curves.

“How do I get through it,” I asked nervously.

“Follow the sign, go slow and stay to the right.”

I didn’t believe the  yellow sign when I saw it at first. I thought it was cute how slow these country bumpkins wanted me to go.

I’m supposed to go 5 mph? Tectonic plates shift faster than that.

Keep right, the sign said.

And then I went around the curves the first time. And I then I imagined another truck meeting me somewhere in the middle, resulting in the use of a spatula to get scrape my Camry off his grill.

So I was so careful at first, driving like a grandma during rush hour. I inched along while hugging the right each time, no matter how stupid the neighbors thought I looked.

Each day as nothing happened, it got easier to go a little  faster, to move inch-by-inch toward the center.

Then I could feel a tiny alarm go off in my head, warning me to be careful. And I slowed down again, not wanting to be that guy who took one head on for State Farm.

Each day on my way to work, I couldn’t help but think this could be a chapter from “Object Lessons for Dummies — The Mike Henneke Edition.”

It must have been one of those times when I heard this from Thomas S. Monson.

The Prophet Joseph declared, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” 5

Let us walk these clearly defined paths. To help us do so we can follow the shortest sermon in the world. It can be found on a common traffic sign. It reads, “Keep Right.” (Priesthood session, Aprill 1999 General Conference.)

I bet he got that from my old, yellow sign.

 

What I didn’t expect my mom to say

I lean back in my chair, not prepared for the response I had just received from mom sitting in front of me in a wheelchair.

Next to us, a movie continues to play on a large flat-screen television. Across the room, two other residents of the assisted-living facility stare off into the distance, each lost in their own little world.

That’s usually how I find mom these days, after the same diseases of the mind that slowly destroyed her mother, hit my mom hard. Less than six months ago, she seemed fine for the most part. Now after a combination of Alzheimer’s, dementia and strokes, she’s here in this place, where, despite the very best efforts of cheerful attendants, seems mostly devoid of life.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

She’s often connected enough to know that Alzheimer’s can be hell with your mind and family members around you. My mom saw what it did to her mother, making her fear this disease above any other.

On most days, I could be her waiter, the bus driver to take her back to Kansas or Army drill sergeant. With Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, it’s so easy for cynicism to creep in, so easy to shake your head at another family member. As if to say, “You’ll never guess what she said today.”

But today, she seems different, and I’m not sure why. The ever-present shroud over her mind appears gone for the most part. Her personal wall — a defense mechanism for nearly my entire life — also appears to be gone. Instead, I see someone more meek and humble, like a little child.

Mom tried her best with me growing up, while struggling to cope with challenges beyond her control. But I seemed to have born the brunt of her negativity. At least that’s how it seemed to young Mike.

In her effort to make me better, she always seemed to tear me down. Nothing appeared good enough.

Mike, you’re breathing wrong.

That’s not how you treat the Betamax.

With penmanship like that, you’ll never find a girl.

It has always bothered me for a number of years, even as signs of her negativity carried into our marriage. It took years, but my family and I grew to love her, in spite of some constant messages of doom and gloom.

Now we were face-to-face, connecting with each other for the first time since she became sick.

I ask her about her regrets in life, which she talks about openly.

Then I ask her one more question, the one I was sure I knew the answer to. It was only four months earlier — when the signs of the sickness first appeared — that I tried to get her to say something positive about me.

In the video snippet below, I interrupt a conversation between her and Micah.

“Is this the part where you say something nice about me,” I kid her from behind the camera.

As you can see, there is nothing mean about her reply. But despite my best efforts to draw something out of her, the compliment never happens.

It doesn’t bother me at all. Because I had learned to expect it by now.

Now here in this room where I usually dread to visit, I ask her one more question.

“What are you proudest of the most in your life?’

She looks me in the eye and doesn’t even hesitate.

“Why my kids of course,” she said.

I smile back at her and decide to press a little more, even though I have a good idea what she will say.

“So you really are proud of me,” I ask her.

Again, she doesn’t hesitate.

“Of course, I am. I wish I did a better job bringing you up. But I think you figured out how to get there.”

It was time to go. I leaned over, kissed her on the cheek and told her that I loved her.

As it turns out, I didn’t really know the answer after all.

And that’s more than fine with me.

 

Why you should give thanks after reading this

I’m grateful for $13 in my checking account until Tuesday. It helps me focus less on stuff and on what really matters.

I’m grateful for the chance to live by myself in a tiny apartment over a garage  for three months. The quiet here has led to some amazing inspiration and makes me treasure even the briefest of phone calls from home.

I’m grateful for walking down the hallway in high school day after, waiting for the name-calling, derisive comments and the laughter. It prepared me to help my own kids and blessed me with empathy for kids experiencing the same thing. Thanks-in-sand

I’m grateful for church held in an old schoolhouse where our most holy place consisted of a room with folding chairs on a wooden floor surrounded by a chalkboard. It taught me to never take for granted beautiful church buildings that now look and feel like mini temples.

I’m grateful for a dad who thought that watching television with him was good enough for bonding time. It gave me the resolve to be different, to be better for my children.

I’m grateful for those two car accidents on black ice, nearly drowning twice, just missing a head-on collision with a semi truck, nearly getting run over by a tractor and leaving two minutes later so I missed the incredible damage done by that moose crossing the road. It taught me that I’ve been protected by divine sources — that I can’t explain, but know to be true.

I’m grateful for a mom who made me memorize my first public talk at age 7 where I was so scared that I cried. And for that speech in humanities that may go down as the most epic fail in public speaking of all time. From those fails, I learned how to stand in front of a crowd and speak with some power and confidence.

I’m grateful for those who treated me unfairly and placed a tremendous burden on my family. It taught me humility and made me tougher.

I’m grateful for the guy who asked the homeless man in Dairy Queen, “would you like a sandwich,” and then bought him a meal. It taught me that nothing else matters.

I’m grateful to hear words like these, for they have taught me a whole new way to think of gratitude.

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. — Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (General Conference, April 2014)

 

Newspaper has bigger worries besides me

Two printed columns in the last five months.

Both about little ol’ me.

The latest one is in today’s Standard Journal by Managing Editor Greg Little. He appears to be offended by my opinions expressed on Facebook about how they covered a news story. I am not mentioned by name, it’s very obvious who they are referring to.

Little excerpt

For a guy who’s leaving town with his family, heading for a new job and a new beginning, they sure seem fascinated by what I have to say. If I am so incompetent as they allege, why do my words matter?

It would be so easy to fire back, to bring up damning emails and documents that I have in my possession. It would be so easy to seek out a lawyer to demand a retraction, or to march out numerous concerned citizens who have approached me to discuss the current direction of the newspaper.

But I don’t have time for that. Instead I’ll let Rexburg Mayor Richard Woodland speak for me. This is an excerpt from a mailing that was sent out to all media organizations and will go out with utility bills to everyone:

We seem to face a time within the City of Rexburg and Madison County where nay saying has become a popular sport or tool of a radical fringe that seems to be encouraged by an out of state newspaper. The Rexburg Standard Journal was at one time a locally owned and valuable asset to this community, however the current out of state owners have assumed  that “ginned up” controversies might sell more newspapers. Instead of being a builder it has become an adversary to the good people of this community. There has been such a diatribe against local officials that make them wonder why they bother to serve. Yet they do so, because they are builders. The naysayers are not builders! Some of them have been defeated in their attempts at becoming elected. They will not endure! Their names will be forgotten! Only the names of builders are remembered.

Trust me, mayor. I know how you feel.

I will be fine. My family and I are excited for what the future brings and grateful for the many friends we have made here in Rexburg. I can’t help but worry about the future of the Standard Journal. When a community newspaper loses the support of much of the community, they have more to be concerned about than whatever I have to say.

 

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The best “customer service” when I needed it the most

I didn’t pay attention to him at first, because I just wanted a place to wait with nobody bothering me.

With my wife shopping in another part of the store, I put my head down and stared at my phone like we all do.  

Less than a minute later, the restaurant employee worked to my attention from the other side of the room.

“Can I help you with something, or do you just need a place to sit,” he asked me politely from behind the counter. He was a clean-cut young man, one that I used to attend the same local LDS ward with for a time. I vaguely remembered he was a married student pursuing some sort of degree at BYU-Idaho, but not much else.

I motioned that I was fine and returned to my phone, struggling to set up an email account with little success.

It was several minutes later before I noticed him again, efficiently wiping down walls behind me.

“Do you need me to move,” I asked.

“No, you’re good,” he said with a smile, moving around to the other side of my table.

He was so polite to me and I didn’t deserve it. Despite all the blessings showered upon my family, despite all the good people I had met and the miracles I had seen, my spiritual tanks were running low tonight.

It wasn’t too much later when the employee asked about my employment prospects. He knew that I had been unemployed for five months, but didn’t know much about the acrimony that never seemed to let up.

I told him about my new job and how I would be leaving for Oregon in less than a week.

After he offered congratulations, he looked at me.

“I know it probably hasn’t been easy for you here,” he said. “When I first saw you in church, I noticed how much energy you had to live the gospel. That really made an impression on me.”

I smiled, mumbled thanks and he returned to his duties.

I tried but couldn’t concentrate on anything else except what he said.

Before I left, I walked across the room and motioned for him to come out of the back.

“Remind me what you’re studying,” I said to him. He was working his way toward becoming a lawyer.

“Thanks for what you said,” I told him.

It hasn’t been easy here at times, I said. In fact, it’s been incredibly hard. “But your comment means a lot to me,” I said.

After shaking hands, I walked out of the restaurant with a smile and more energy.

All because of some of the best customer service when I needed it the most.

 

Go look in the garbage

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I knew something was wrong when I read the words from the website.

The Idaho Department of Labor said my unemployment benefits would arrive in a plain, white envelope from Fargo, N.D. While a very secure way to deliver a debit card containing our benefits, it could easily be misidentified as junk mail.

The next thought alarmed me. I suddenly remembered seeing such an envelope and had mistakenly thrown it away in our garbage bin. The thought was so clear, so illuminating  I knew it was from the Spirit.

There was a chance it was still in the garbage. But today was garbage pick-up day. I had to hurry. I threw on some clothes and headed to the curb. As I walked out the door. I could hear the unmistakable sound of a garbage truck, just three houses down.

I quickened my pace.

I quickly threw open the bin and started rifling through sacks of garbage.

From one house away, I could see truck drop my neighbor’s bin back in place. My house was next. Still nothing.

Right as he pulled up to me, I caught a glimpse of a tattered, white envelope at the very bottom of the bin. The return address: Fargo, N.D.

The driver watched with amusement as I tossed a garbage sack back in, shut the lid and held up the envelope in triumph.

Stepping off to the side, I panicked again as the envelope contained several papers relating to my benefits card, but no actual card was visible.

As I was about to give up hope, I turned a paper over and there was it was — affixed to a piece pf paper.

I looked up into heaven and mouthed a “thank you.” And made a vow to get this changed to direct deposit by the end of the day.

 

The wrong way to get to the right way

Which direction to take?

A young Elder Holland stared at the two roads, praying to know which direction to go.

 

Very little of it made sense.

It didn’t make sense that I knew I was supposed to go to this job interview in another state, in another time zone, some 1,000 miles away.

It didn’t make sense because — although the job sounded pretty good on paper — it involved leaving my family for several months, working regular Sunday hours and returning to a newspaper, something I wasn’t sure I was ready for.

Yet as I fasted and prayed beforehand about the job opportunity, I had that knowledge, that undeniable conviction, that I needed to go to Washington state to study it out in my mind and figure it out for myself.

Driving into Port Angeles, it felt good at first. Many of the people there were so kind, the salary was more than I expected and it gave me a chance to relive the incredible scenery of the Olympic Peninsula. My mom lived next to 50 miles to the west.

One of the beautiful lakes where I would be working.

One of the beautiful lakes where I would be working.

I started talking myself into how our family could live there, how maybe I could sneak into church on Sundays and justify working the rest of the Sabbath at the newspaper.

Then came the shattering news on Day 2 of my tryout there. My son-in-law, Nick, had been rushed to the emergency room the night before, on the verge of death. And my good wife, who had portrayed strength through so many trials this year, showed signs of emotion, fatigue and stress.

From the darkness of that conference room in Port Angeles, the quiet voice from within was unmistakable, “You need to go home.”

I informed my wife and everyone at the newspaper that I needed to rush home. They understood and put everything on hold.

Two days later, I made it to Rexburg, and by the next morning, had traveled to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. I would spend much of that next week after that providing whatever support I could as Nick made a miraculous recovery from severe bleeding in his brain.

While I was in Salt Lake City, I felt prompted one afternoon to visit the LDS Tabernacle on temple square. From my seat near the back of the building, I sketched out on a piece of paper the pros and cons with this job in Port Angeles. Around me, tourists from other parts of the world listened as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints demonstrated the remarkable acoustics of the historic building.

As I did that, I felt prompted to look up talks on keeping the Sabbath Day holy from general authorities.

I read excerpts from the first few talks on the subject, before coming to this one from Elder John H. Groberg. I wasn’t even done before I knew my answer. It was not right for me to accept employment that required me to work on Sunday. Everybody else has different circumstances, but this my revelation for my circumstances at this time.

Still, as I wrote the letter to the newspaper executives explaining the situation and withdrawing my name from consideration, one thought persisted.

If Heavenly Father knew all along that this wasn’t the right job and that this was the wrong road, why did I feel so strongly like I needed to go there? It surely wasn’t a surprise to him that NIck would be sick and I would be needed on the morning of the second day. Not to mention that we spent a significant amount of our cash reserves for some trip expenses.

It didn’t make sense at all.

Until this week, when a friend sent me this story from Elder Jeffrey Holland, about when he and his son were returning home late in the evening from a wilderness exploration and came to a fork in the road.

As they both prayed about which way to go, father and son both felt strongly like they should take the road to the right. They didn’t travel more than 400 feet before realizing it was the wrong road.

“We went to the right and it was a dead end … clearly the wrong road,” Holland said, recounting the story. After retracing their route, they ended up on the right road heading home.

As I pondered this story, I realized that this was my answer. That we needed to experience a slight detour to help remind us what the right path looked like.

We’re still walking, and it might take awhile. But thanks to that detour 1,000 miles away, we know we’re headed in the right direction.

Watch the story of Elder Holland and the wrong road below.

 

Five lessons from the unemployment line

Found these principles scrawled on a crumpled up Taco Bell napkin.

1. Life isn’t fair. Deal with it.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Trouble knocks early at your door when you’re still in your pajamas. The phone rings and it’s the school again. Somebody else needs to go to the hospital. Your mom wants you to fix her computer from 1,000 miles away. And somebody ate all the snacks.

For proper perspective, go read this post by Middle-Aged Mormon Man and consider this quote from Pres. Thomas S. Monson from General Conference earlier this month.

Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome.

2. Stop murmuring. Stop it now.
If there were such a thing, I would so own the Murmuring Merit Badge. It used to  be so easy to complain, so easy to channel Lamen and Lemuel. Even though we profess to trust God and his plan of happiness (emphasis added), let’s complain to anybody who will listen. And not only that, Murmurers find themselves as tourism promoters for the Land of Woe. Nephi had to endure so much murmuring that he couldn’t even begin to mention all the complaining from his brothers. “Now I do not write upon these plates all the words which they murmured against me. But it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life.”

3. Following the prophets provides a literal temporal and spiritual refuge.
Three months ago, we were prompted to cash out a sizable 401K, despite the penalty that comes with early withdrawal. We paid down significant medical debt, eliminating several bills in the process. It so tempting to take the remainder and buy some expensive toys or to travel somewhere. We could have easily done both. Instead we felt prompted to tuck it away as a c ash reserve, just in case.

One month later, I lost my job. Because we listened to the prophets and their advice on debt, we have enough cash reserves to get us by for at least a few more months.

4. Elder Bednar is right.
If you haven’t already, go back and reread his talk from last conference on “The Windows of Heaven.” The blessings from paying tithes and offerings are true. I’ve seen it so many times, even the small and subtle miracles that he mentions. I’ve posted the entire talk here for you to review again.

5. Put the gospel first.
Yes, you need education and training. Yes, you need to know the skills to find a job, because, as fathers, you are “responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” But our employment (or lack thereof) will not ultimately define us in this life. 

Back to Pres. Monson.

The history of the Church in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer. The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head on, and to emerge victorious.

The Lord knows what we need, both temporally and spiritually. By putting him first and seeking his plan for us, we will emerge victorious.