Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
It is a pleasure to be with you today and to see so many faces and friends I know. I am grateful for my association with your Bishop and this opportunity he has given me.
I would like to speak today about our need for Self-improvement. President Wilford Woodruff said, “However good we may be, we should aim continually to improve and become better.”
President Woodruff gave this counsel at a time when the Church and the Saints flourished, they were no longer persecuted, they had the blessings of the temple, they lived in peace and happiness in the promise land of the Salt Lake Valley. So, why did he give this counsel to the Church when things were going so well? Because the Lord does not want us to become complacent and become idle. He wants us to always strive to become better and progress from grace to grace, just as the Savior did in His mortal journey until we receive the fullness of the Father.
Improvement is a process, not an event. It requires action on our part and continually pushing ourselves forward and learning more. “For behold, this life is the time for all to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 34:32)
In our “Come Follow Me” reading this week, we read about Enoch being taken up to meet and talk with God face to face. Enoch was shown many wonderful things, including the second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. However, before the day of Christ coming, Enoch saw much tribulation and wickedness poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth. Brothers and Sisters, we are living in those turbulent times that Enoch foresaw, and there will be even more turbulent times to come as we get ever closer to Christ’s Second Coming.
Elder Christoffel Golden of the Seventy said in his October 2021 General Conference talk, “For those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel, more than ever before we are required to confront the reality that we are getting ever closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. True, great difficulties yet await those on the earth at His return, but in this regard, the faithful (who are prepared) need not fear.”
So, given the turbulent times we live in, and what is still to come, how important is it for us to continually improve and prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?
In the 2021 October General Conference, Elder Michael A. Dunn gave a talk, titled 1% better. Elder Dunn used the example of the British Cycling Team to get his point across.
For more than a century, the national bicycle racing teams of Great Britain had been the laughingstock of the cycling world with no major victories in over 110 years. And despite devoting enormous resources into cutting-edge technology and training regimens, nothing worked. Nothing, that is, until 2003, when they hired a new coach who committed to a strategy he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains.” This entailed implementing small improvements in everything. The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.
The coaches approach aligns well with that of the Lord, who taught us the criticalness of the 1 percent—even at the expense of the 99 percent. Of course, He was teaching the gospel imperative to seek out individuals in need. But what if we applied that same principle to our self-improvement.
Elder Dunn said, “habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. If you can get just one percent better at something each day, by the end of a year … you will be 37 times better.” I love this approach, because focusing on 1% improvement each day instead of trying to become 100% better, is very obtainable and something I can do and continue to work on.
Well, over time, these improvements implemented by the British Cycling Team turned into stunning results. During the ten-year span from 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic gold medals and captured 5 Tour de France victories. This success is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history. And in 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics, British Cycling won more gold medals than any other country, proving that improvement turned into daily habits can sustain success. I believe with all my heart that we too can obtain stunning results if we devote our time and action to improving ourselves by just 1% each day.
The Lord has counseled us on how He intends to impart knowledge to us as we strive to improve ourselves. “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto my children line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more” The Lord does not want us to become idle. He wants to give us more so we can improve ourselves in every way, but like the British Cycling Team, we must take the steps to receive it – it requires action on our part!
On that note, the Stake Presidency discussed in their virtual broadcast a couple of weeks ago, that they have implemented several initiatives to help us improve, while drawing closer to Christ and helping us to withstand the turbulent times we live in.
1. Come Follow Me Virtual Classes
2. Temple Focus Virtual Classes
3. Powers of Heaven for the sisters
4. Self-Improvement Courses
I wish to say a few words regarding the New Self-Improvement Courses being offered. Our First Self-Improvement Course, Emotional Resilience, is starting Tuesday night at 7:00 pm at the Stake Center. It will last 10 weeks with group meetings taking place every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm at the Stake Center. This course is available for all adults, both members and non-members.
Given all the stress we have been through with COVID, and caring for loved ones, as well as all that we continue to have to deal with in this wicked world we live in, this course is for all of us and will help us learn spiritual and practical skills to help each of us better care for our body, mind, emotions, and relationships. This course has been prepared to help individuals learn and put into practice principles of faith, education, hard work, and trust in the Lord.
Each course is a joining of the spiritual with the temporal and is designed for each of us, regardless of our current circumstances. There is something, some golden nuggets of knowledge and insight for everyone, regardless of how good we think we are doing! So, go to www.ocselfimprovement.org and register to attend the Emotional Resilience Course.
The Lord’s has counseled us to seek continuous improvement- “…that everyone may improve upon their talent, that everyone may gain other talents,… Everyone seeking the interest of their neighbor and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.” This is exactly the focus of the Self-Improvement Courses and why we should want to share these programs with our neighbors. Building ZION in Huntington Beach as we learned from the City of Enoch is not just about lifting up ourselves, it is about lifting up our neighbors as well. So, please take the time to share these self-improvement courses with your neighbors and friends and attend the course with them if at all possible.
Elder David A. Bednar declared, “Small, steady, incremental improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Because every effort to change we make, no matter how tiny or insignificant it seems to us, just might make the biggest difference in our lives.”
Brothers and Sisters, if we are prepared, we do not have to fear these last days filled with great tribulation. Satan is raging and filling the earth with evil, but if we do everything possible and take advantage of all the programs the Lord is providing for our improvement, we not only will survive, but we will be prepared for whatever lies ahead until we meet our Savior again.
Elder Dunn quoting Alma declared, “It is by small, simple, and, yes, even just 1 percent things that great things can be brought to pass.”
President Russell M. Nelson said, “Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.”
I bear you my testimony that these programs are designed by the Lord for our development and preparation because He loves us and wants us to improve in all aspects of our life. I testify that as we are diligent in participating in these courses, we will be uplifted, strengthened and fortified individually and as families. We will be better prepared for the Savior’s Second Coming, I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.