Annual Neal A. Maxwell Lecture teaches about legacies

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The 2020 Neal A. Maxwell Lecture was broadcast online on Nov. 7. (Maxwell Institute)

Church historian Kate Holbrook taught about the weight a legacy can have from the view of a disciple-scholar at the 2020 Neal A. Maxwell Lecture, held online Nov. 7.

The online premiere on YouTube concluded with a live Q&A with Holbrook. Versions of the broadcast are available in Spanish and Portuguese. This is a first for the Maxwell Institute that hopes to reach an international audience.

Holbrook, managing historian of women’s history at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints history department, shared a question that was frequently posed during Maxwell Institute Conversations with Terryl Givens. He would ask guests what they imagined or hoped their obituary would read. This led to interesting conversations on the legacy each person leaves behind.

“When we are consumed with what our legacy says about us, we invite torment into our lives. When legacy matters to us because of what we can do for others, we invite God, purpose and meaningful achievement into our lives,” Holbrook said.

She shared many examples of people whose legacies last because they advocated for others instead of seeking glory, such as Joseph Smith and others. She said Latter-day Saints are taught to help others rather than strive for fame. However, members still want their lives and work to have made a difference.

Church historian Kate Holbrook presents on legacies at the Maxwell Lecture. (Maxwell Institute)

“At it’s heart, history is an attempt to figure out what happened, but in doing so, we also define what mattered,” Holbrook said.

On being advocates, she said our most reliable advocate is Jesus Christ. When people are advocates for others, He becomes our advocate as well. “His advocacy is one of the great gifts the disciple-scholar and any disciple can enjoy, and it manifests itself in our lives in a number of ways,” Holbrook said.

She shared three ways the advocacy of Jesus Christ presents itself. First, it improves the quality of work completed and broadens the audience for those to see it. Second, it also gives faith to those who have been hurt by a negative review of their work that their work matters. Lastly, Christ’s advocacy leads to real truth and a confirmation of it.

“Ammon’s words also teach us that celebrating legacy in humility and gratitude does not require that we grovel. Ammon showed us how to feel good about helping others through gratitude rather than through boasting,” Holbrook said, quoting Alma 26:11-12 and 15 from the Book of Mormon.

Holbrook said to have this advocacy, it is important to nurture others rather than exploit them.

“God’s abundance is the real anecdote to the feelings that haunt us when we want to matter and shape our professions and sell more books than we actually do. With God in our hearts, we are more than enough,” Holbrook said.

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