The Purpose of Church to Perfect the Individual

President David O. McKay
President David O. McKay

(After the Brethren had assisted President McKay to the pulpit, he chuckled as he said:)

“I am not as weak as seems.”

We have had a great Conference and my heart is full. I should like to express appreciation, especially to the brethren and sisters who came down here this morning before daylight in order to get a seat. This audience is blessed by the presence of those men and women who have traveled many miles, some of them getting up in the middle of the night, to come down here and stay all day. I think their having done so preaches a sermon to all of us to devotion to the work, willingness to accept any assignment, and eagerness to get the guidance of truths as proclaimed by the members of the General Authorities.

I have dictated a few lines expressive of my feelings for fear I should not be able to say impressively what I want to say to you brethren and sisters, and give a blessing to all of you, so I am going to ask one of my sons to read what I handed him this afternoon and let that be the message I want to give.

He then evoked laughter from the audience as he said:

“I wish I had freer use of this old tongue that wants to wrap itself around my teeth.”

God bless you, brethren and sisters, you stake presidencies, you bishoprics of wards, you officers, stake and local, you mothers and fathers, you young people who are doing so much to build up the kingdom. Much of what you brethren and sisters do we never hear about, and it seems as though you are working without visible results, but no good deed can be performed, no kind word can be spoken without its effects being felt for the good of the whole. Sometimes the good may be infinitesimal, but as a rock that is thrown into a pool starts a wave from the center which continues to enlarge until every part of the shore is touched, so your deeds, silent, many of them unknown, unspoken, and unheralded, continue to radiate and touch many hearts.

We are not unappreciative of what you are doing. Nobody can go out to a dedicatory service of one of our church edifices, hear incidents, details, illustrations, of what seems to be sacrifices of hours and hours of work freely given, without being deeply impressed with the integrity and sincerity of the members of this Church.

Why do we hold these conference meetings and all other meetings in the Church? They are held for the good of the individual—for your son and my son, your daughter and mine. The Lord has said, “. . . if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15-16).

The whole purpose of the organization of this great Church, so complete, so perfect, is to bless the individual. How that stands out in striking contrast, in opposition, to the claim of the communist who says that the individual is but a spoke in the wheel of the state, that the state is all in all, the individual being but a contributing factor to the perpetuation and strength of the state.

That idea is diametrically opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus sought for a perfect society by perfecting the individual. He recognized the fallacy in the dream of those who hoped to make a perfect society out of imperfect individuals. In all his labors and associations, he sought the perfection of the individual.

The goal he always set before his followers was the emancipation of men and women from greed, from anger, from jealousy, from hatred, from fear; and in their place he hoped to bring about a complete and normal development of the individual’s divine powers through right thinking and unselfish, efficient service.

He promised no material rewards, but he did promise perfected, divine manhood. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). And with that divine manhood comes the resultant happiness—true happiness.

God bless you, my dear fellow workers, you General Authorities, stake presidencies, bishoprics, every officer and teacher throughout the land—every member! May the Spirit of the Lord abide in your hearts and in your homes, that people, partaking of your radiation of honesty, integrity, uprightness, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, will be led to glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

God help us to bring about that peace in the only way that it can come, which is through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I pray in his holy name. Amen.

Original Source

The Purpose of Church to Perfect the Individual
President David O. McKay
President of the Church
David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 137-138
Accessed 16/10/2016