A Great Locomotive
Mutual Improvement Association June Conference
Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah
June 10, 1916
The subject assigned to me is “Responsibility of Officers”—musical directors, choristers, members of committees, and various other officers. Duty and responsibility go hand in hand.
I cannot help but refer this morning to the parable by our Savior that he has so beautifully given to us of the talents. He tells us in this parable that every member of this great organization has a talent. To some are given more than to another, but that does not signify that the one that has the least talent should not emphasize it and cultivate it and assume the responsibility of that talent. I won’t go into detail about the talents, because they are in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew—they are there for us to read—there for our benefit—but I will say: When the men to whom God himself had given the talents were brought before him, the one to whom he had given five talents came and said, “I have doubled my talents that thou gavest me.” Jesus said, “Blessed art thou; thou hast been faithful in few things, and I will make thee master over many.” He said this also to the one to whom he had only given two talents.13 That is such a stimulus to us, for whether we are called to the presidency, or to the counselor’s office, or to any office, our place in this great work means just as much as the greatest place.14 It can be compared, my brothers and sisters, with a great locomotive. Every little pin, every little wheel, every little mechanism, has its work to do in order to keep the whole machinery in harmony.15 In our church we have an individual place, and no matter where we are called to work, no matter what our office may be, we should do our part and do it cheerfully, and as we do one part, our responsibilities and talents will be added to, and we will go onward and upward as it is destined that we shall go.
I want to call your attention to the chorister, for instance. In the first place, officers, we are expected to select our workers, as has been told us so beautifully this morning by our president, with wisdom and with a prayerful heart, so that we may select those fitted for special places, those whom God has blessed with particular talents, and then, when they are selected, we must place the responsibility with them.16 Watch their progress or their failure, not saying, “Now we would like you to act in this capacity” and then turn around and say to someone else, “You see that she does it, will you?” Do you know that that weakens our strength and confidence and weakens the confidence of that particular member in us? If an officer can be made to feel that she is really a worker and that her position means something to that association, I believe she will assume her part.
I could not help, during this entire conference, thinking that it is almost useless for me to take five minutes. We have had example after example on this particular subject. We have had Sister Cooper lead us in singing.17 We all know and feel that she is just inspired when she leads us, and it has helped to inspire our choristers that they will go home feeling that they, too, must assume the responsibilities of leadership in that particular calling. When we have placed even a small member on a small committee, that position too should be magnified, and once in a while it will not depreciate us in their opinion if we will occasionally go to these officers and say, “Well done; you certainly have done well, and we expect you to do many, many more things,” and in that way, I feel that they feel that it would be a sin to betray the confidence that we have in them.18
I feel that perhaps it would not be amiss for me to tell you what I once heard President Woodruff say.19 To me, President Wilford Woodruff was as perfect as any man I ever met. He was a little, unassuming man when I was a child, and he lived away off in the country with one of his families, and I was taught to reverence and respect him.20 I do not know any other one man I was taught to respect quite so much. It was just in the time of my life when I yielded to that influence, and I heard him say in after years, when he stood at the head of this great organization, that he was blessed just as much as a humble elder in the church as he ever had been as president.21 To me, that is a stimulus through life, and I very often tell it in our organization. Never mind what position you have; try to realize that unless that position shall be magnified, you would not have that position—in fact, there would be no position for you.
We must remember that in our organization, our strength and our power are measured by the support we give it—we, as Mutual Improvement members. Our power is only measured in this great Mutual organization by the individual responsibility that we assume in it; and so on in the whole church. By the responsibility which the members assume is the power and the progress of the church felt.22
Now, my dear sisters, I do not know whether I have strengthened your faith in regard to this, or whether I have left one thought with you, but remember with it all that we are God’s children, and that we owe him everything that we can do in his service, and there should not be one position in it—not one—but what is worthy of our very best, and if we give our very best efforts to any calling that we are called to act in, the very best will come back to us.
May God bless this work and bless every earnest worker in it, that our influence may be felt throughout the length and breadth of this earth. I ask it in the name of Jesus, amen.