Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Conscious or Casual Our Preparation is Cumulative

A story from the life of David O. McKay

[Today's blog is devoted to sharing with you a little-known story about David O. McKay which I first encountered last week while preparing a Sunday School lesson.  Sister Smith's profound commentary before and after invite further reflection.  I encourage readers to read the entire talk.  DWB.]

"Preparation may be conscious and skillful or casual and undirected, but, in either case, it is cumulative.

We may not realize it at the moment of choice, but our response is an infallible index of what we have become.
One of our favorite Church stories is that of President McKay when he was a young man loading stock for market with his brothers.
The McKay brothers, unlike many of their neighbors, did not dress in overalls and heavy boots when they were working. By rural standards they were elegantly turned out as they loaded calves, sheep, and hogs into the waiting wagons with speed and grace before an admiring crowd of small boys. Nearing the end of their labor, young David O. decided he would hoist the last hog aboard all by himself.  As he started the mighty heave it would take, he slipped–and ended with the hog on top of him and both of them deep in the loading corral mud.  The boys on, and peering through, the fence waited expectantly.
Slowly, David extricated himself, wiped futilely at the muck that now almost covered him, and then said to the assembled youngsters, “No use waiting, boys; I’m not going to swear!” His decision not to swear on this occasion was the same as it had been on many occasions.  The control of his tongue, in a moment of stress and humiliation, was reinforced by the countless other times when he had resisted the easy and insecure recourse of profanity.
We rarely succumb to temptation in one overpowering moment.  The strength of living by a principle is built line upon line, time upon time, of facing a moment of challenge and responding appropriately. Every important choice is the inevitable result of a hundred earlier choices."

Barbara B. Smith, “‘...For Such a Time as This,’” devotional address, 16 February 1982, in Brigham Young University Fireside and Devotional Speeches (Provo, UT: University Publications 1982), p. 92, emphasis added.  Also available on the web at: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1109

Let's think together again, soon.

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