Our Eventual Personal Priesthood Interview
One of my favorite parts of my mission was our weekly zone or district meetings. After an opening hymn, prayer, announcements, and recitations (of D&C 4 and the Standard of Truth), it was then time for each companionship of missionaries to stand before this group of peers and give a stewardship for their respective areas. Those few brief moments listening to my fellow missionaries each week were riveting, faith promoting, and insightful into interpersonal relationships, goal setting, obedience to mission rules, and so very much more for me. I loved to see elders or sisters stand with smiles on their faces and excited to report about the great things they were doing for the Lord in their small part of the vineyard. And it likewise broke my heart to see companionships stand up and squirm, looking at the ground, avoiding eye contact with any of us, and giving a variety of reasons for why they weren’t teaching anyone in their wards or branches.
I knew when I had been called to serve in the Washington Seattle Mission of the Church that the Lord had called me there for a few very specific reasons. One of those reasons was to learn how the Church functioned in full capacity. Having left on my mission from a small ward where I had been the only active youth, I didn’t know much about presidencies, stewardship, callings, keys, and all of those small nuances of doctrine that a traditional LDS missionary had been taught in their youth. But I was grateful beyond words to the Lord for sending me to the Seattle area to see how things should work. One early Sunday morning my companion and I had just left a PEC meeting with the Issaquah 5th Ward bishopric in our meetinghouse behind the Seattle Washington Temple. We cut through the gym in the center of the building to hasten to our other ward’s early morning meetings, and as we did so I saw in a dark corner at 7AM the High Priest Group Leader of that ward. Sitting on a folding chair, opposite one of his fellow high priests, he was leaning forward and peering into this brothers eyes with a look of pure love and concern. The Spirit touched me. I felt the Savior’s pure love present in the little PPI, and as we rushed hurriedly by it did not surprise me to hear the words “home teaching”.
Since Creation, and even before, stewardship has been a defining principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our insightful friend Merriam-Webster defines stewardship, in part, as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”. At different points in life we will all hold different stewardships. And a thorough studying of the verses referenced in the Topical Guide and Index to the Scriptures would be of great benefit to you when you have some time. Each stewardship is different. Your family responsibilities will be different from mine. And my callings in the Church will be different from your’s. However, at some point all stewardships will end (other than our familial ones), and we will be called back to return and report what we have done with what we were given. It is an eternal principle.
So with that in mind, I share this experience of Brother Fred A. Baker, who was the Managing Director of the Church’s Department of Physical Facilities some years ago. In June of 1965 a group of brethren from the Physical Facilities Department of the Church were doing some work inside the Hotel Utah, which we now know as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square. At the time President David O. McKay and his wife lived in the hotel on the southeastern corner of the eighth floor. As the men were working on this particular day, President David O. McKay stepped out of his apartment, and in his usual friendly manner stopped to chit chat with these brethren. As President McKay stopped to explain to them the importance of the temporal work in which they were engaged, he paused and told them the following:
Let me assure you, Brethren, that some day you will have a personal priesthood interview with the Savior, Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which He will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.
“First, He will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you been actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?
“Second, He will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.
“Third, He will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.
“Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your Church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and a mission president are probably equals, but He will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellowmen in your Church assignments.
“Fifth, He will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.
“Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country and the world.”
(Quoted by Robert D. Hales, Presiding Bishop of the Church, at a BYU Devotional assembly 15 March 1988)
Personally I think of my many stewardships daily. I am a son, a friend, a manager, and a Latter-day Saint. I have the responsibility to stay out of debt, to seek out a wife, and build a family in Zion. Like many in my age bracket I have sought to do the Lord’s will in every aspect of my life, but have often wondered at the end of many days, “Did I do enough?” Elder Christofferson’s recent words have been of great comfort to me though. He said, “True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes.” And that, in simple summation, is true and has been of great comfort to me. I am not responsible for saving the world from terrorism, curing cancer, or discovering a new way of space travel. My life, like so many others who are Latter-day Saints, is just a simple life. I arise each day and try to do the best with what God has given me.
And so, in closing, I look forward to that day when I do get my PPI with the Savior. Because, despite my continual failings, I’ve applied the Atonement in my life, depended wholly upon His amazing mercy, and I know I’ll be able to look Him in the eye and say, “Lord, I did my best.”
What more could anyone really ask for?
– Stan Way