“May the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come”
Listen to this quote by Elder Ballard:
“For the devil is stealing time, the time we would spend to wonder at spiritual things. Instead, we get so caught up in the things that ‘seem’ to matter, when all of us need to slow down and find a time to contemplate.”
Let’s chat about that for a second. I have always considered my time-wasting to be merely a matter of my lack of self-discipline. The idea of the Devil “stealing time” is a different take on the issue. It makes it a little scarier, and a little more urgent, but also makes it more understandable.
I want you to take a moment to think about how the Devil steals your time.
More than anything else, Elder Ballard’s quote reminded me that I need to create more time to turn it all of and think. Carving out those moments just to think is not always easy. I equate it to cleaning out the basement: If I spend an afternoon sorting, throwing away, and reorganizing the stuff in our basement, inevitably someone in the family will bring out even more stuff and ask if there is someplace in the basement they can put it “for a while”.
It is that way with thinking time. Life – or sometimes the Devil – has a knack for finding out about our quiet time, and figuring out something “important,” “fun” or “urgent” to shove into that space we’ve just cleared out as our private time for thinking, studying and contemplating. As a business executive who works at least 50 hours a week away from home and as a wife to my eternal companion and mother to my 3 daughters, my free time is always under siege.
“If we stopped to think more, we’d stop to think, more.”
I know that making a case to prioritize “thinking time” could appear a little self-focused, but, personally, I think if I stopped to think more, the Spirit would have a better chance to reach me, and I would be better prepared to – what is it we say every Sunday – ‘strengthen home and family’…
Sisters, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, did you realize that we can thwart the very revelations of the Spirit that we seek? Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell you something YOU needed to know, but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of ‘just one more YouTube video’ or another video game or snapchatting.
President Hinckley once said, “We are here to assist our [Heavenly] Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere.” What a humbling statement by a prophet of God. He is saying that what each of you do as valiant Young Women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is as important as what He was called to do as the Prophet before President Thomas S Monson.
Which brings me to your sphere of responsibility to help build the Kingdom of God. After you have time to ponder, what can you do as young women of the church, especially if you don’t think you have a calling (hint: you always have a calling)?
“The power of a converted woman’s voice is immeasurable, and the Church needs your voices now more than ever,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve “A woman’s sphere of influence is a unique sphere, one that cannot be duplicated by men,” he said. Because of that influence, women have an important responsibility in strengthening the kingdom of God on the earth.”
Elder Ballard shared five key points regarding the important role we as women, young or old-er, have in strengthening and building up the kingdom of God on the earth.
1. Women and men are spirit daughters and sons of a loving Heavenly Father, and He has created a plan for all who choose to follow Him. Important to the plan is the eternal nature of gender. “Most everyone has family or friends who have been caught up in various troubling contemporary social issues,” he said. “Arguing about the issues generally does not bring any resolution and, in fact, can create contention. There are some questions about the Church’s position on sensitive issues that are hard to answer to anyone’s satisfaction.
“However, when we seek the Lord in prayer about how to feel and what to do in these situations, the impression comes: Do you believe in Jesus Christ and do you follow Him and the Father?” – Elder Ballard
It is by focusing on belief in the Lord that will bring reassurance and encouragement as you move forward in doing whatever you are asked to do, whether it is performing a service project for Personal Progress or cleaning your bedroom.
Back to Elder Ballard: “When all is said and done, each of us has the privilege of choosing whether or not we will believe that God is our Father, that Jesus is the Christ, and that They have a plan designed to help us return home to them. This of course requires faith, which is why faith is the first principle of the gospel. Our testimonies and our peace of mind and well-being begin with the willingness to believe that our Father in Heaven does indeed know best.”
2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church, and His Church is governed by and through priesthood authority and priesthood keys.
Earlier this year in his April General Conference talk, Elder Ballard said: “In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.
I know some of you are thinking, well then, why are men ordained to the priesthood offices and not women?
Elder Ballard explains: “When all is said and done, the Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has.” It is when thinking about the things not fully understood that individuals have to rely on faith.
“Do we believe that this is the Lord’s Church? Do we believe that He has organized it according to His purposes and wisdom? Do we believe that His wisdom far exceeds ours? Do we believe that He has organized His Church in a manner that would be the greatest possible blessing to all of His children, both His sons and daughters?”
Women are integral to the governance and work of the Church, and it is through our participation as we serve as leaders in Young Women, Relief Society and Primary in addition to our service as teachers, missionaries, temple workers, and most importantly, in our homes and communities (that includes online, y’all) —that we are able to use our unique spiritual gifts.
“Let us not forget that approximately one-half of all of the teaching that takes place in the Church is done by sisters. Much of the leadership provided is from our sisters. Many service opportunities and activities are planned and directed by women. The counsel and other participation of women in ward and stake councils, and in general councils at Church headquarters, provide needed insight, wisdom, and balance.”
Elder Ballard added pointedly: “…And let me add that any priesthood leader who does not involve his sister leaders with full respect and inclusion is not honoring and magnifying the keys he has been given. His power and influence will be diminished until he learns the ways of the Lord.”
3. Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean that they are the same. Although responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature, they do not differ in their importance or influence. Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women working together to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church.
4. Elder Ballard explains, “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is by definition priesthood power.”
“While the authority of the priesthood is directed through priesthood keys, and priesthood keys are held only by worthy men, access to the power and blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children,” he said.
Blessings of the priesthood are not limited to men alone; they are available to all who have entered the waters of baptism and subsequently received their endowment in a temple.
“The endowment is literally a gift of power. All who enter the house of the Lord officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. This applies to men and women alike,” he said.
5. The world needs women of the Church who know the doctrine of Christ and who can bear testimony of the Restoration.
“Never has there been a more complex time in the history of the earth,” he said. “Satan and his minions have been perfecting the weapons in their arsenal for millennia, and they are experienced at destroying faith and trust in God and the Lord Jesus Christ among the human family.”
All—women, men, young adults, youth, and young boys and girls—have the Lord’s purposes and His Church to defend, protect, and spread throughout the earth. More distinctive, influential voices of faith from women are needed, for only women can show the world what women of God who have made covenants look like and believe.
None of us can afford to stand by and watch the purposes of God be diminished and pushed aside. I invite you to seek the guidance of heaven in knowing what you can do to let your voice of faith and testimony be heard.
“We must all defend our Savior and testify that He is the Christ, that His Church has been restored to the earth, that there is such a thing as right and wrong. If we are to have the courage to speak out and defend the Church, we must first prepare ourselves through study of the truths of the gospel.”
We live in a world today that is caught in a steep, slippery slide of diminishing moral values. Against that backdrop, your character and integrity as young women of the Church stand out in stark contrast to the surrounding masses mired in mediocrity. Mediocrity is spiritual cancer. You are anchored to eternal truth.
Elder Russel M Nelson said, “As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will be in great demand. . . . You will gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience. After all, those who do not stand for something will likely fall for anything.”
Do your choices and decisions that you make today influence your future? Or the future of others, people you maybe haven’t met yet, or may never meet? Let me share with you the story of Gøsta Berling of Norway. As a child, he suffered from heart valve damage due to rheumatic fever. As Brother Berling grew older, heart surgery became necessary for him to live. At the time, as this was back in the 1960’s, only a handful of physicians in the world had the training and experience to perform the surgery. One world-reknowned heart surgeon made the trip to Norway and successfully replaced the damaged heart valve, allowing Brother Berlin to enjoy a long, healthy life where he subsequently served as a mission president and translated the Doctrine and Covenants into Norwegian.
In the role of translator and mission president, President Berling had a great influence the lives of many others. And the surgeon who extended President Berling’s life? He was someone who made the most of his gifts and education, performed at the top of his profession as a heart surgeon yet was never sidetracked from the gospel of Jesus Christ or his family.
That surgeon was Elder Russell M. Nelson.
If we develop our character, the Lord will use us to bless the kingdom and the world by blessing individuals. Consider the kinds of decisions you will be called upon to make in your life. How will you use your talents, your education and perhaps most importantly, the spiritual lessons you have learned?
Whether you make your contributions to the world in an operating room, or like me, in a boardroom, or like my mother in a classroom, or most importantly, in your own living room — you can and will make a difference in the world and build the Kingdom of God in these latter days, if you move forward in faith with a righteous life.
The most important lesson to learn today is to bring your decisions and efforts before the Lord in your daily prayers and ask for further light and direction. Trust Him. He knows you, and He loves you.
My dear sisters, alll of us in the Presidency love and admire you; we pray for you. We know that you desire to heed the whisperings of the Spirit, to follow the Savior, and to be His hands in this great work to build the Kingdom of God in these Latter-days. I bear witness that this work is true, that each of you is a child of God. The Savior is at the head of this Church with President Thomas S. Monson as His prophet.
May you always find joy is my blessing and my prayer that I leave with you along with this lesson about building the Kingdom of God, in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen