I was asked to give a 5 minute talk in Ward Conference on Sunday stating the goals of the Young Men in our Ward. I took a little different approach than the other auxiliary leaders and tried to share the goals in a parable, rather than just stating goals. Here is the talk...
I am addressing this talk specifically to the young men, aged 12 to 18 in this ward.
There is an old parable that I’ve somewhat adapted to our day. As the story goes, a fairly aged, but wealthy farmer wanted to pass along his wealth to one of his two field workers. Both workers had been hard-working faithful employees, but the old farmer wasn’t sure which one would continue to work the hardest and carry-on the well maintained farm. He devised a plan; his property and assets were worth more than a million dollars and he would give it all to the worker that found the three largest ears of corn.
The two men were told to stand in front of a row of corn. Each man stood side to side, each peering down their own row of corn. They were then instructed that the one that made it to the end of the row with the three largest ears of corn, by the end of the day, would inherit the farm and all the assets. However, as they set out to find the largest ear of corn, once they passed on an ear, they could not go back. The farmer would be waiting at the end of the day.
The first worker figured he had plenty of time to make it through the row, besides; it was just three ears of corn, how hard could that be? Determining he had plenty of time he decided to text his buddies to see if they free to play a little Guitar Hero. After hours of Guitar Hero, he determined he still had plenty of time so he watched some TV, and surfed the net. After much idleness and procrastination he hurriedly went through the corn field at the last minute. He started getting a little nervous as he sped through the row quickly, looking for the largest corn. Within a few minutes he dashed out the other end of the row panting a bit, but happily handing an over three impressive ears of corn to the farmer. Surely the farmer would be impressed that he had finished and managed to beat the deadline. Besides he had run really, really fast and worked really hard during the last few minutes of the day.
However, to his surprise, he looked over at the other worker, who had slowly but methodically harvested all the corn as he went down the row, working all day long. The second worker had harvested one stock at a time, packing each ear of corn as he went down the row. The second worker, also out of breath, sweat rolling down from his forehead, reached the end of the row, and slowly but confidently went through his entire bag to find the three largest and most impressive ears of corn.
Who do you think the farmer picked to inherit his wealth? He picked the second worker. Not only did he hand over the three largest ears of corn, he had worked his way through the crop. By strength, hard work, long hours and no short cuts, he labored to finish the goal and learned the value hard work.
Each of you will find this principle to be true in life. Anything of value takes time, energy, commitment, and effort. But here is the key principle, don’t procrastinate and then be in such a hurry to get to the goal that you fail to learn the value of preparation and hard work. Success does not lie in the achievement of the goal, rather in the journey toward the goal.
In the parable, what might the three ears of corn represent? In selecting three goals for the young men of the 16th Ward, I would highlight #1 Duty to God Award, #2 Eagle Scout Award, and #3 Preparing to Become a Missionary. In the parable, I could have stated that the first farm worker was distracted enough that he had failed to even complete the task of harvesting all 3 ears of corn, however, I would like to make the challenge that each young man in the 16th Ward will earn their Duty to God, Eagle Scout, and begin preparing now for a mission. The differences in each young man will be determined by their preparation and work during the harvest and not by just completing the harvest. Furthermore, once your time as a young man has passed, you will not be able to return and complete these goals.
In September of 2001, the First Presidency of the Church sent a letter to priesthood leaders stating “We desire all young men to strive to earn the Duty to God and Eagle Scout awards. As youth work on these goals, they will develop skills and attributes that will lead them to the temple and prepare them for a lifetime of service to their families and the Lord.” (September 28, 2001, the First Presidency sent a letter to priesthood leaders)
As you mature through your teenage years and begin preparing to serve the Lord, Elder David A. Bednar, in his 2005 talk on Becoming a Missionary counseled the young men and stated “my earnest hope for each of you young men is that you will not simply go on a mission—but that you will become missionaries long before you submit your mission papers, long before you receive a call to serve, long before you are set apart by your stake president, and long before you enter the MTC.” (2005, General Conference talk on Becoming a Missionary).
The Duty to God and Eagle Scout Awards will help you in becoming a missionary. The path will not be easy, it is and should be hard.
In closing let me share a message from President Ezra Taft Benson "Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life" (Ensign, May 1986, 44–45).
4 years ago