Elder David F. Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about tenacity at the Tuesday morning devotional.
Elder Evans began by referencing his small blunder during the prayer in the last General Conference in which he meant to say, “I pray that our faith may be strengthened,” but instead said, “strength may be faithened.”
A popular meme was created and shared to his Facebook page within a few minutes which emphasized his point that once something is said in a digital format, one can never take it back. The meme flashed across the screen and the audience laughed.
“My prayer today is that not only will your strength be faithened, but that also your faith might truly be strengthened,” he said.
Elder Evans began to recount a time he and President Uchtdorf discussed the word “tenacity.” President Uchtdorf defined the word as the ability to stick to a task even when obstacles arise. Elder Evans believed tenacity to be a quality worth developing.
“Those without tenacity may strive halfheartedly against an obstacle, only to give up and quit when it becomes too difficult; others quit before they have even begun because their task seems insurmountable,” Elder Evans said.
Elder Evans agreed with President Uchtdorf and said that tenacity is required to achieve true discipleship and the goals needed to prepare for eternity.
“Our ability to be tenacious in all good things will determine whether we become the sons and daughters of God He knows we can and must become,” Elder Evans said.
Elder Evans outlined examples of tenacity in the scriptures, specifically comparing this generation of students to Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors. He said that the scriptures explain that the warriors entered into a covenant, that they were blessed according to their faith and were true at all times to whatever they were entrusted with.
He quoted Alma 57:24 and 26 and explained that the warriors were delivered “because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe — that there was a just God, and whoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.”
He continued by quoting what Helaman said of the warriors in Alma 57:27, that they are young with firm minds, and they put their trust in God continually. He said that we must do the same.
“In life, it is when the rains descend and the floods come and the winds blow and beat upon us and on our house that we determine whether our faith is strong and whether we put our trust in God continually. There simply is no test until after the adversity,” Elder Evans said.
He encouraged church members to serve in whatever capacity they are called to in the Church with the same tenacity of which he was speaking.
Elder Evans told of some experiences when he and his wife, Mary, were called to preside over the Japan Nagoya Mission. He compared missionaries to the 2,000 stripling warriors, tenacious in their desire despite a difficult path. He said that a mission is not easy and all will be injured in some way – whether the hurt comes from unresolved transgression, accident, sickness or from seeing a loved one reject the gospel or turn unfaithful.
“Through all of this, we come to know God, and we grow to become the Savior’s disciples. Our very hearts change and that change becomes permanent as we continue to choose righteousness over sin and doubt,” Elder Evans said.
Elder Evans gave an example of a tenacious missionary, Sister Marci Barr, who served in the Nagoya Mission in 1999. Japanese did not come easy for Sister Barr, but she was persistent with a stubborn determination to learn it. Once she learned Japanese, she never stopped talking and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“There are great promises to faithful, persistent and even tenacious missionaries who open their mouths with boldness and love, and who work with all their might in the ways that the Lord has set forth. One such promise is that the Lord will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you,” Elder Evans said.
On the last day of Sister Barr’s mission, she spoke to a group of high school-age Japanese girls on the subway about the gospel and its restoration. She gave a missionary tract to one interested girl, and shared the gospel one last time before she was released.
Elder Evans said that Sister Barr did not mention the experience on the train because to her, it was not particularly remarkable. She was continuing to do what she knew to be right, all the way to the end.
“Perhaps this is the best definition of gospel tenacity I know: No matter what, continue to have faith in God and His promises and do what is right, all the time, regardless of who knows,” Elder Evans said.
Elder Evans said that the girl Sister Barr taught on the train, Hitomi Kitayama, was taught and baptized over time, using her own form of tenacity as she learned and embraced the truths of the gospel despite opposition from family and self-doubt.
Six years later, Elder Evans met Hitomi at a mission conference in Tokyo, where she was serving as a missionary. She told of her meeting Sister Barr and her later conversion to the gospel. She was described as a truly happy missionary. After Hitomi’s mission, she met and married another return missionary who Elder Evans had taught on his first mission to Japan in 1971. They now have three children.
Elder Evans explained that tenacity is needed in more than missionary work. He said we need tenacity to overcome personal sin and temptation and achieve goals.
“In all of this, and in every other righteous thing, our commitment to do right and be right will be challenged by the world. Each of us will need to be one who just won’t quit – who keeps trying until we reach our goal. That goal, ultimately, is eternal life with our husband or wife, with our children and their children, generations to come,” Elder Evans said.
He said that in order to gain the tenacity, strength and commitment needed, one should establish worthy goals that are compatible with the ultimate goal of eternal life. Making such goals requires prayer and personal revelation.
He explained an example from his life when he wanted to be a physician from a very young age and held on to that dream for a long time. Before the birth of their second child, he had a feeling that medical school was not where the Lord wanted him. Instead, the newly opened J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU is where he felt he belonged.
Elder Evans was determined and went to his stake president to discuss his worries. Instead of telling him what to choose, the stake president told Elder Evans to study the ninth section of the Doctrine and Covenants with his wife and come to a decision together to take to the Lord. Then they were to pray to confirm if their decision was right with the Lord.
“This revelation does not need to take months and months of agonizing. Rather, it takes the desire to find out what the Lord would have you do, and then the determination to do it,” his stake president said.
Two weeks later, Elder Evans was back in the stake president’s office with the answer they had received: he would go to law school. “If you care enough to go through the process to seek God’s will, God will care enough to answer,” Elder Evans said.
He said that one should pray about finding a worthy companion and continue on the path by going to the temple and making sacred covenants.
“If you want to make and keep sacred covenants and have the motivation to achieve your most righteous goals, prayerfully seek the blessing and responsibilities of marriage,” Elder Evans said.
He quoted a story from Brother Tad Callister’s talk in the last General Conference. Brother Callister’s mother told him to pray to have help finding a good wife, because it would be the most important decision he would ever make.
Elder Evans then said that great motivation comes from knowing what God wants one to do and acting on that without delay.
“Find out what God would have you do. Study it out. Make some decisions. Take them to the Lord and find out. Then get on with achieving those goals,” he said.
He encouraged listeners to live righteously and stay close to the Lord to be tenacious in righteous things. He was straightforward and said to avoid pornography completely. He said that the habits formed or deepened at this time in students’ lives would stay with them for years to come.
Elder Evans said not to procrastinate repentance and to carry a current temple recommend because it is the best measure of righteous living. He reminded the audience that God is true to His word and referred to the promise in section 90 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
When direction is not clear, Elder Evans said there are patterns from the scriptures, particularly Nephi, that can help.
“Don’t become paralyzed waiting for the Lord to solve every problem. Rather, move forward in faith knowing that there will be sufficient light along the way to provide the guidance that will be needed,” Elder Evans said.
He concluded by quoting Elder Jeffrey R. Holland within his testimony, reminding listeners that they should not give up.
“Make righteous goals. Always pray and seek his guidance. Keep your covenants, especially when life is hard. Seek the blessings of eternal marriage and family. There is happiness and help ahead. Be tenacious in every righteous thing. In all of this, remember, ‘Some blessings come soon, and some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.'”
Watch the full devotional here.