Thursday, February 3, 2011

A consecrated life -- an example from the front lines

One of our sacrament meeting talks this past week referenced Elder Christofferson's "A Consecrated Life" (from October 2010 conference). As I listened to the talk in church (our speaker focused on Enoch as an example), I thought of other examples.

The first that sprang to mind was my own father. He was not a perfect man, but he was a good man, an honest man, a hard working man. My father was a convert to the church in his early thirties. He and my mother had four children (I was the youngest) and were doing their best to rear us in a good way. Dad worked professionally as an engineer, and they were active in their Presbyterian church.

When my father heard the gospel, he accepted it as we all did. He had a struggle to give up certain habits that were not consistent with church membership, but he did it. He developed the faith to pay his tithing. And he dedicated himself to service in his new church.

During those years of young and growing children, Dad worked more than he wanted to, was away more than we wanted him to be, and still served faithfully wherever he was called. He was not the most eloquent high council speaker, but he was sincere and devoted to the Lord. My mother often helped him with research for his talks, and I traveled with him on multiple occasions over his years of service. He was diligent in his other assignments, whether shepherding his assigned ward (which he attended every week) or planning a youth conference, establishing family history centers, organizing stake temple trips or whatever else he was asked to do.

He worked hard to provide for us. His traditional thinking firmly rooted him as provider and protector of our family, and provide he did. He also repaired and improved our home, and enjoyed laughing with his kids. At some family nights, when we had all reduced ourselves to giggling uncontrollably after singing many, many hymns (at his insistence), he would finally suggest that we let Heavenly Father in on the joke as we said family prayer.

He taught me mostly by example, rarely by lecture. He encouraged me to believe I could do anything if I worked hard enough, and that I should not assume deficiencies in myself. He warned me the night before my wedding that my new bride should finish her degree or he would be most disappointed.

About the time I left on my mission, my parents moved with Dad's work to West Africa, before the church sent missionaries there. That time away from the mainstream church (my folks held a sacrament meeting in their living room each week for themselves and another expat or two who would attend at times; later, after the revelation on the priesthood, the senior missionary couples would sometimes join them) gave my father a chance to rethink and renew his commitment to living the gospel and serving in the church. Upon his return to the US, he also returned to service on the high council, and I heard him speak in a ward conference the week I came home from my mission.

Even in his most senior years, he served. In retirement he was a branch president in West Virginia, serving many hours each week to meet the needs of his little flock. (He was released after a stroke disabled him for a time.) And years later from his assisted living facility in Michigan, after my mother's death to cancer, he traveled with another member of the high priest group leadership monthly to the Chicago temple to work as an ordinance worker.

I don't know that he was a great scripture scholar. I don't think he considered himself a great teacher. And his approach as often as not was decidedly pragmatic rather than mystical.

But if he had something to give, he gave it. If he could serve, he did. And I would do well to follow his example.

My father passed away three years ago this week.


  1. Very nice, Little Brother. Thanks for that memory...

  2. Catching up on your blog--a lot of great posts recently! But this one moved me a lot--your love and admiration shines through. Thanks for sharing.