Sunday, November 29, 2015
Two weeks ago when Brother Palmer phoned and asked me to give a talk today
on gratitude as part of the Remembrance Day week, I was happy to do it. I am
passionate about the principle of gratitude. As part of my professional work, I
have thought a lot about it. At that time, however, I was unaware that, in light of
the events of the last week, namely the new policy governing same sex marriage
in the church, it would also be the key for coping with the immense personal pain
of that issue.
In my work, I design and deliver training to employees and leaders in
organizations. I have the wonderful opportunity of teaching the principles of the
gospel as I do these workshops. In just the last two weeks I have delivered
courses about change, conflict, relationship building and performance
management. In all those programs I had the opportunity to teach about love
and compassion and forgiveness. The gospel principle I teach the most about,
however is gratitude. I rarely use that term. It is usually couched in terms like –
employee recognition, positive feedback, consequences and appreciative or
Expressing gratitude is a powerful tool in organizations. It builds employee
motivation and engagement, reduces turnover, and increases growth and
productivity. There is a body of research called the Pygmalion studies, where
over 350 experiments were conducted to investigate one study. A teacher was
given a group of children and told that they were exceptionally bright but
currently functioning below their potential, when in fact they had very average
scores on achievement tests. Within a short period of time the children were
performing as if they were gifted.
In follow up studies it was found that when we have a positive view of someone
we behave differently towards them. We notice what they do that is positive and
remember it. If an intention is unclear we attribute a positive intention to the
behaviour. We share more information with that person, we exhibit more
positive behaviours–we smile, pat them on the back etc. And most importantly
we get what we expect – positive behaviour and results. They become more of
the person we think they are.
Unfortunately the opposite is also true. When we have a negative view of
someone, we notice their mistakes and remember them, we attribute negative
intentions to their behaviour, we smile less, share less information and also
unfortunately we get what we expect – their behaviour is negative and
When we express our gratitude, about what someone has done, they are
motivated to do more and better whatever it was that we appreciated. This is
particularly important with children as they grow. My grandfather was wise as he
said, “Don’t tell a child what they have done that is wrong, tell them how to do it
right.” An emphasis on the positive is key.
Expressions of gratitude are positive. Gratitude is a principle with a promise.
When we express gratitude it changes both us and the other person. We
experience joy as we see the other person succeed and grow. Our power to
influence also grows. They want to rise to OUR expectations. When we receive
expressions of gratitude WE want to be better and seek to develop and grow.
There is good reason why Heavenly Father and the Saviour want us to be thankful
for our blessings and express our gratitude to them. They want us to grow and
become like them. They love us and want us to accept more of their love and
direction. They want to bless us more and they can’t do this if WE do not
acknowledge what they have given us already. If we wish to become like the
Saviour we need to become more aware of the great blessings that we have been
given and acknowledge the Lord’s hand in our lives. In doing so we will become
more motivated to change our lives and to draw closer to God.
The scriptures teach us what we need to know about gratitude
In Philippians 4: 6 we are told HOW- Be careful for nothing; but in everything
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
In Alma 34:38 we are told WHEN and WHere “take upon you the name of Christ;
that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever
place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily,
for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
In Mosiah 2:34 we are told ABOUT WHAT to be grateful for: “ye are
eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have
D&C 78:19 we are told of the great blessings we will receive. And he who
receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of
this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
Brothers and Sisters I am grateful for many things that the Lord has blessed me
with especially in this time of personal trial.
I am grateful to my parents. My mother who loved me unconditionally. She
exemplified patience in times of great personal suffering. She demonstrated what
support and compassion in a family means on a daily basis, especially when times
are difficult. She is a model for me of patience and love.
I am grateful to my Father who above all else taught me how to think for myself.
When I came upon D&C 9: 8 “ study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it
be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;
therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” I knew how to do the thinking that
answers to prayer require. I have experienced great answers to prayer because
My Father also taught by both word and his actions, the importance of the
principle of integrity and its related principles of honesty, respect for others and
service. He held himself to a high standard in this regard. He demonstrated that
integrity is active – it is standing up for what you believe with courage and
conviction especially when it is difficult – even when those who you love and
respect do and say things that you know are wrong. This is especially true when
that which is wrong hurts others who are vulnerable. He told me that those who
are strong should take care of those who are weak and expected that I would be
one of the strong.
I am grateful for being a Canadian and for the values that are the foundation of
our culture. As Mayor Nenshi said in a speech delivered to the 2015 Lafontaine-
Baldwin Symposium in Stratford Ontario
”When Canada works, it works better than anywhere. What we know is that
we’ve figured out a simple truth—one which evades too many in this broken
world. And that simple truth is just this: nous sommes ici ensemble. We’re in this
together. Our neighbour’s strength is our strength; the success of any one of us is
the success of every one of us. And, more important, the failure of any one of us
is the failure of every one of us.
This means that our success is in that tolerance, that respect for pluralism, that
generous sharing of opportunity with everyone, that innate sense that every
single one of us, regardless of where we come from, regardless of what we look
like, regardless of how we worship, regardless of whom we love, that every single
one us deserves the chance right here, right now, to live a great Canadian life.
I love what the Mayor said and what we as Canadians aspire to be. It is what we
have gone to war to defend.
We are the country that leads the world in human rights legislation with our
Charter of Rights and Freedom. This great document is great, I believe, because it
reflects Christ’s principle of “no respecter of persons. We are all equal; in the
household of God.”
I am grateful that this has shaped other legislation in ways very different than
other countries, specifically the U.S. and we have less to fear as a result. It
shaped our Civil Marriage Act that outlines the legal basis for same sex marriage,
the importance of religious freedom and our nation’s commitment to stable
marriages and families.
A portion of the preamble explains these important tenants
WHEREAS nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience
and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to
hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious
groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their
WHEREAS marriage is a fundamental institution in Canadian society and
the Parliament of Canada has a responsibility to support that institution
because it strengthens commitment in relationships and represents the
foundation of family life for many Canadians;
AND WHEREAS, in order to reflect values of tolerance, respect and
equality consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, access
to marriage for civil purposes should be extended by legislation to couples of
the same sex;
I am grateful for my family. My sweetheart and husband of 43 years is my best,
dearest and closest friend. He shares my life, my loves, my sorrows and my
values. We have grown closer through our individual and shared trials over the
years. He blesses my life daily and I am not sure how I will ever be able to live
happily without him.
I am grateful for my six children and their considerable talents, intelligence and
compassion. I am especially grateful for our youngest daughter Anne who is gay.
When she was born 20 years after Erin, our oldest and 11 years after Greg, Gillian
wondered why she came so much after the others. We now know why.
The legal and cultural landscape of Canada has changed in the last 30 years. Anne
is a now able as a gay person in Canada to experience in this country the
opportunity to love freely and marry without persecution whomever she wants.
This will allow her to be true to the spiritual identity that Heavenly Father blessed
her with. In her, the Lord saved the best for the last. She is the whole package.
As her sister wrote this week to us and her siblings “Anne is the smartest and
nicest of all us (sorry guys).” And Mere was right. Anne is an example of courage
and compassion in all that she does. Whether it is being captain of her high school
rugby team or speaking to classes at BYU about being gay, she displays courage
and what her patriarchal blessing describes her “great intellect and great insight
into life” and as such the Lord commissions her to use these gifts to bring
happiness to God’s children to comfort others and to lighten the burdens of
mortal life.” Her plan to become a Human Rights lawyer is consistent with the
In her letter to the family about the recent church policy she said that her first
thought was for us and how much this policy would hurt us. She writes ”I know
that the church's position puts some of you in a seemingly impossible position,
and I wish I could make that go away. I wish more than anything that I could take
away the struggle”. Her next thought was for her LGBT friends. She “What most
concerned me when reading my friends' reactions to the change was that more
families won't accept their gay children. I am so worried about my dear, dear
friends. There is so much hurt in a community that I love dearly.”
Always her thoughts are for others. This despite the fact that the church will for
her choice to build a happy life of love, learning and family for herself will brand
her an apostate, revoke her baptism, take away from her the freedom to fully
worship and serve in the church and deny her the blessings of the temple. I am
grateful for her and her example of love and her “Ability to mourn with those who
mourn and to comfort those who stand in need of comfort”. She will continue to
keep her baptismal covenants even as the church takes her membership away.
At this time I am most grateful for the example and love of the Saviour. His
courage in cleansing the temple and chastising those in power at the time– the
Pharisees and lawyers, encourages me to show courage in righting wrongs. His
example of compassion and love for all people - the least in the society in which
he lived – the lepers, the Samaritans and of course women instructs me in my
responsibilities as his disciple . I must be one of the strong that cares for the
weak. More than anything else, I am grateful for his personal sacrifice and
atonement for me and my sins. I owe everything to him – who I am and will be,
what I have and will have. He is my Exemplar, my God, my Saviour and my friend.
I know he knows, understands and loves me.
4 ¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem
him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Brothers and Sisters, Let me quote from President Monson’s talk “Joy in the
Journey”. Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word.
By so doing, give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen