In his priesthood session address of general conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf referred to the character Rip Van Winkle, who slept for 20 years and awoke to find he had missed the American Revolution.
“Today, I would like to take the same theme and propose a question to all of us who hold God’s priesthood: Are you sleeping through the Restoration?” said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Rather than being complete at the time of Joseph Smith, the Restoration is an ongoing process, he noted.
“Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ,” he declared.
He then asked, "When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work? Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?”
He mentioned three major reasons why it is “easy to become a bit sleepy with regard to building the kingdom of God.”
“When we seek self-service over selfless-service, our priorities become centered on our own recognition and pleasure,” President Uchtdorf said.
“Naturally, we all have a desire for recognition, and there is nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying ourselves,” he said. “But when seeking the ‘gain and praise of the world’ is a central part of our motivation, we will miss the redemptive and joyful experiences that come when we give generously of ourselves to the work of the Lord.”
He identified the words of Christ as the remedy, quoting Mark 8:34-35 about denying oneself, taking up one’s cross and following the Lord.
“Addictions often begin subtly,” President Uchtdorf observed. “Addictions are thin threads of repeated action that weave themselves into thick bonds of habit. Negative habits have the potential to become consuming addictions.”
Identifying some forms of addiction as pornography, alcohol, sex, drugs, tobacco, gambling, food, work, the Internet or virtual reality, he said, “It saddens our Heavenly Father to see how willingly some of His noble sons extend their wrists to accept the chains of devastating addictions.”
He said the remedy is first to understand that addictions are much easier to prevent than cure.
“When we are tempted to do things we should not do, let us listen to the loving warning of trusted family, friends, our beloved prophet, and always, the Savior,” he admonished.
Of those who find themselves in the grip of addiction, President Uchtdorf said, “Please know first of all that there is hope. Seek help from loved ones, Church leaders and trained counselors. The Church provides addiction recovery help through local Church leaders, the Internet and, in some areas, through LDS Family Services.”
He said the Savior suffered the Atonement to help individuals change, “to free you from the captivity of sin.”
“The most important thing is to keep trying – sometimes it takes several attempts before people find success.”
“Some of us are so busy that we feel like a cart pulled by a dozen work animals – each straining in a different direction,” President Uchtdorf observed. “A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn’t go anywhere.
“Often we devote our best efforts in pursuit of a hobby, a sport, vocational interests, and community or political issues. All these things may be good and honorable, but are they leaving us time and energy for what should be our highest priorities?”
The remedy, he said, once again comes from the words of the Savior. He then quoted Matthew 22:37-39, the injunction to love God and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“Even in Church service, it is easy to spend a lot of time just going through the motions,” President Uchtdorf said, “without the heart or the substance of discipleship.
“Brethren, we as priesthood bearers have committed to be a people who love God and our neighbor, and are willing to demonstrate that love through word and deed.”
He issued a call to awaken, saying, “There is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families and as Christ’s Church to give only a half-hearted effort to this sacred work.
“Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It is an effort of once and for all.”