Conference-goers anticipate personal messages of spiritual, temporal truth

Published: Friday, Oct. 5 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, right, exchanges greetings with then-Elder Thomas S. Monson. Elder Ashton delivered a landmark general conference sermon called "One for the Money."

Howard C. Moore, Deseret News Archives

SALT LAKE CITY — At precisely 10 o’clock Saturday morning, the old Nauvoo Bell will sound on Temple Square and the attention of members around the world will focus on the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

More than 100,000 will attend five conference sessions across two days. Millions more around the world will watch and listen via television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts.

They will be watching and listening for spiritual messages from church leaders, but also for counsel and instruction about more temporal topics, including financial responsibility.

“There have been a number of general conference messages that have applied directly to me, both personally and professionally,” said Stephen W. Gibson of Provo. “I have drawn from them in my life and in my business, and I think I have been better at both as a result.”

Gibson, a kindly and energetic septuagenarian, is a businessman, with more than a dozen profitable entrepreneurial ventures to his credit. He is also the founder and CEO of the Academy for Creating Enterprise, a school designed to teach microenterprise development among returned LDS missionaries in both the Philippines and in Mexico. So for him, general conference messages on financial responsibility have been especially meaningful.

As an example, he cited a conference quote from President J. Reuben Clark Jr., then a member of the LDS Church’s First Presidency, during the April Conference of 1938.

“I hadn’t even been born yet when President Clark delivered this sermon on financial responsibility,” Gibson said, “but I have heard this one quote referenced so many times through the years that it has become a guiding principle for me.” The quote has to do with what President Clark called “a rule of our financial and economic life in all the world that interest is to be paid on borrowed money.”

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies,” President Clark said in 1938. “It never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff.

“Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night,” President Clark continued. “You cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”

“That’s a powerful message that I’ve tried to share with my children as well as with the young, aspiring entrepreneurs that I’ve mentored,” Gibson said.

Stephen W. Johnson, branch manager for Raymond James Financial Services in Draper, Utah, has been similarly influenced by “One for the Money,” a sermon delivered by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the welfare session of the April 1975 general conference.

“I was a young man then, but the talk still impressed me,” said Johnson in his comfortable office just a few blocks west of the Draper Temple. “It was a great talk on financial responsibility, with 12 specific recommendations for living ‘abundantly and happily.’ The church eventually turned it into a pamphlet — I think I still have a copy of it around here someplace.

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