“The thing I remember from that talk and still reference to my children and my clients is his fourth recommendation: ‘Teach family members that paying financial obligations promptly is part of integrity and honesty development.’
“What a great concept,” Johnson continued. “In my profession, I see a lot of people who will take on a debt and then walk away from it. But if you’re going to be a truly honest person, if you incur a debt, you pay what you owe, and you pay it on time.”
Elder Ashton’s recommendation so impressed Johnson that he says it has become part of his professional philosophy.
“Sometimes,” he said, “when a client comes into a lump sum of money, they’ll say, ‘Rather than pay off my mortgage with this money, I’d like to take it and invest in this killer deal.’ ”
Johnson chuckled. “It’s always a ‘killer deal,’ ” he said. “I’ve never had anyone come in and say, ‘Hey, I really want to invest in this lousy thing.’
“But I’ve seen a lot of ‘killer deals’ that ended up killing the investment,” Johnson said. “So my advice is usually to pay off the debt first. Not only is it a matter of personal integrity, as Elder Ashton said, but I also think it's good financial planning.
“It's good to be out of debt,” Johnson continued. “That’s a sound financial principle. And I have found that usually what comes from the brethren at conference is sound advice.”
Which is a thrilling thing to Gibson, and one of the great blessings of general conference.
“I remember sitting in general priesthood meeting with my son back in October 1998 and hearing President Gordon B. Hinckley (who was then president of the LDS Church) talk about the dangers of debt,” Gibson said. “President Hinckley made if very clear that he wasn’t predicting famine or prophesying anything frightening, but he said, ‘The time has come to get our houses in order.’ ”
“So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes,” President Hinckley said. “In fact, some are living on borrowings.
“I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people,” President Hinckley continued, urging listeners to carefully consider “the condition of your finances.”
“I urge you to be modest in your expenditures,” he said. “Discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage. This is a part of the temporal gospel in which we believe.”
For Gibson, watching conference via satellite transmission with his son, it was a powerful moment.
“I was thrilled that a prophet of God was giving us good, solid temporal advice,” he said. “He was sharing his wisdom — but it was the wisdom of a prophet. I talked to my son about it afterwards, and he got the point. As a father, I really appreciated that the prophet would speak to us so clearly on something so important to our temporal happiness.”
Which, according to Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also has a spiritual component.
“All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways,” he said during the Saturday morning session of general conference in April 2009.
“To provide providently,” he said, “we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies.
“When we live providently,” he concluded, “we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.”
On Salt Lake-area TV: All four general sessions will be broadcast live on KSL/Ch. 5 and on cable/satellite channel for BYU-TV. KBYU-Ch. 11 will will repeat the morning sessions at noon and the afternoon sessions at 4 p.m. both days.
On the radio: KSL Radio (AM-1160/FM-102.7), KBYU (FM-89.1) and BYU-Radio (Sirius XM-143) will air all four general sessions. KSUB/KSSD (AM-590), Cedar City; KMTI/KMGR (AM-650/FM-95.9), Manti; KSVC/KMXD (AM-980/FM-100.5), Richfield; KLGL (FM-93.7), Richfield; and KDXU (AM-890), St. George, will also air the general sessions live. For the complete list, visit www.bonneville.info
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