Following the Pioneers

Dallin H. Oaks, October

For many months we have studied the lives and accomplishments of our pioneers, early and modern. We have thrilled to some modern reenactments, in which many have been blessed to participate. . . . Now after all these studies and activities, it is appropriate to ask ourselves, “Therefore, what?” Are these pioneer celebrations academic, merely increasing our fund of experiences and knowledge? Or will they have a profound impact on how we live our lives?

This question applies to all of us. As President Hinckley reminded us last April, “Whether you are among the posterity of the pioneers or whether you were baptized only yesterday, each is the beneficiary of their great undertaking.” All of us enjoy the blessings of their efforts, and all of us have the responsibilities which go with that heritage. . . .

The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith. With faith in God, they did what every pioneer does—they stepped forward into the unknown: a new religion, a new land, a new way of doing things. With faith in their leaders and in one another, they stood fast against formidable opposition. When their leader said, “This is the right place,” they trusted, and they stayed. When other leaders said, “Do it this way,” they followed in faith.

Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. .. . We praise what the pioneers’ unselfishness and sacrifice have done for us, but that is not enough. We should also assure that these same qualities are guiding principles for each of us as we have opportunities to sacrifice for our nations, our families, our quorums, our members, and our Church. This is especially important in societies that have exalted personal interest and individual rights to the point where these values seem to erase the principles of individual responsibility and sacrifice.

Other great qualities in our early pioneers were obedience, unity, and cooperation. We have all thrilled at the example of the Saints who responded to President Brigham Young’s call to rescue the stranded handcart companies, or to pull up roots in settled communities and apply their talents and lives to colonizing new areas.

Our people have always been characterized by their loyalty and obedience to the direction of their leaders, by their unity, and by their extraordinary capacity to cooperate in a common venture. We see the modern manifestations of these pioneer qualities in the great contributions our brothers and sisters make in a wide variety of private projects and common efforts that require unity and cooperation. Another modern manifestation of Mormon obedience, unity, and cooperation is our unique missionary program, from the preparation and service of young missionaries to the remarkably diverse activities of mature couples throughout the world. . . .

In a day when our prophet has challenged us to reach out to welcome and fellowship new members and to reawaken the faith and fellowship of those who have strayed, we can gain strength from the example of the pioneers. The pioneer legacy is a legacy of inclusion. . . .

Another great pioneer virtue was their commitment to one another, to their leaders, and to their faith. . . .

What does it mean to be true to the faith? That word true implies commitment, integrity, endurance, and courage. . . .

As President Hinckley reminded us last April, “We honor best those who have gone before when we serve well in the cause of truth.”That cause of truth is the cause of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose servants they were, and whose servants we should strive to be. I testify of this and pray that we, too, may be “true to the faith that our parents have cherished,” in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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