I am pleased to share this message with our brothers and sisters and friends in Canada. The Church in Canada is an important part of the worldwide Church. There is a rich tradition of faith among the Saints who live in the provinces of Canada. I will forever be grateful for that influence in my life through my Canadian born and raised wife, Diane. I now see that strength among our children and grandchildren who honor both their American and Canadian heritages.
We live in a world that can be confusing. Leading a balanced life can be difficult for any of us. There is not an exact pattern for everyone and even our own blueprint may change during different phases of our life. However, seeking balance—giving adequate time and effort to each of those things that really matter—is vital to success in our mortal probation. There are certain fundamental responsibilities we cannot neglect without serious consequence.
What are the essential parts of our lives? I wish to suggest four: our love for Heavenly Father and His Son, our care of our families, our service to the Lord, and our life’s temporal work.
Love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The scriptures speak powerfully of this sacred duty. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, …Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:36-37). “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ...and a love of God.…” (2 Nephi 31:20).
Our love of Heavenly Father and His Son is foundational to all else. It enhances every other aspect of our lives and allows us to love ourselves and others more completely. Answers to our most challenging problems are found only when we love and have faith in Them.
Care for our families. The Family — A Proclamation to the World states: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children...Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness...to observe the commandments of God.” Prophetic counsel has taught us that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home” (President David O. McKay) and “the most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes” (President Harold B. Lee).
For many, properly caring for the family is the first area of compromise when other demands arise. The results of neglect are not always immediately apparent. Nurturing the husband-wife relationship and building a spiritual home requires men and women of vision and commitment.
Service to the Lord. A natural extension of our love of God is our desire to serve Him. “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me…” (Doctrine & Covenants 42:29). The way we serve Him is by serving one another. “…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Service is an imperative for true followers of Jesus Christ.” (Pure in Heart 1988 p. 37)
Our time spent in Church service may vary during different periods of our life depending on specific callings we may receive and our family circumstances. However, our desire to serve should never waver.
Life’s temporal work. Although our careers or occupations may appear temporal, they support other, more eternal aspects of life and can provide valuable service to others (Doctrine & Covenants 29:34). Again, The Family — A Proclamation to the World gives clear direction. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
Church leaders have strongly encouraged individuals to obtain a quality education which will allow choices in one’s life work, and they have encouraged dedication to an honorable trade or profession which will serve our spiritual life.
These four parts of our lives must not be neglected. Each need constant care to fulfill its proper role in making us “whole” as righteous followers of Christ (see Mark 2:17).
How can each of us know if our life is out of balance? Well, most of us just know. We simply need to admit it and exercise the discipline to change, substituting higher values and better habits for those we have been living. We need to follow the counsel of our prophets to do it now before any further damage is caused by our lack of attention to other indispensable parts of life. We must thoroughly understand the guiding doctrine and then do our best each day. We organize, prioritize, and live worthy of spiritual guidance required when making the difficult decisions. Often, we seek counsel from those closest to us.
From time to time, we may be out of balance for a brief period as the immediate needs of one portion of our life takes temporary precedence. When this occurs, we knowingly work through the issue and seek to stabilize ourselves as soon as possible, before the short-term solution becomes a long-term trait.
When we are out of balance, we have a choice. We can delay making changes and experience the tragedy of a failing family or the sorrow of losing our own spirituality, or we can be attentive and continually nudged by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to make necessary changes. Seeking balance among the essential responsibilities of life is preparatory to salvation. To encourage our constant effort, we are counseled “…it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize…” (Mosiah 4:27). It is my witness that it can be done, and the prize is “…eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (Doctrine & Covenants 14:7).