President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was in the Europe Area presidency almost 20 years ago when the Madrid Spain Temple was being completed and readied for dedication. He came to the realization he and his wife, Sister Harriett Uchtdorf, would not be invited to the service.
This surprised him, because he had been greatly involved in the temple project.
“Harriet and I reminded ourselves that the temple dedication was not about us,” President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, recalled in his priesthood session of general conference address. “It wasn’t about who deserved to be invited or who did not. And it wasn’t about our feelings or our sense of entitlement.
“It was about dedicating a holy edifice, a temple of the Most High God. It was a day of rejoicing for the members of the Church in Spain.
“Had I been invited to attend, I would have done so gladly. But if I were not invited, my joy would not be any less profound. Harriet and I would rejoice with our friends, our beloved brothers and sisters from afar. We would praise God for this wonderful blessing just as enthusiastically from our home in Frankfurt as we would from Madrid.”
President Uchtdorf spoke of two of the Lord’s apostles during His earthly ministry, brothers named James and John.
On one occasion, they approached Him with the request that they be allowed to sit one at His right hand and the other at His left hand in His glory.
“The Savior now challenged them to think a little more deeply about what they were asking and said, ‘To sit at my right and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared’ (Mark 10:40).
“In other words, you can’t get honor in the kingdom of heaven by campaigning for it. Nor can you ‘power-lunch’ your way to eternal glory,” President Uchtdorf observed.
“In God’s kingdom, greatness and leadership mean seeing others as they truly are — as God sees them — and then reaching out and ministering to them. It means rejoicing with those who are happy, weeping with those who grieve, lifting up those in distress and loving our neighbor as Christ loves us.”
President Uchtdorf recounted an experience that occurred shortly after his call as a new General Authority. He accompanied President James E. Faust of the First Presidency for a stake reorganization.
As they were driving to the location, President Faust told him, “The members of the Church are gracious to the General Authorities. They will treat you kindly and say nice things about you.”
“Then,” President Uchtdorf told the priesthood session congregation, “he briefly paused and said, ‘Dieter, always be thankful for this, but don’t you ever inhale it.’ ”
President Uchtdorf said, “This important lesson about Church service applies to every priesthood holder in every quorum of the Church. It applies to all of us in the Church.”
President Uchtdorf told of an event that occurred during the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Myron Richins was serving as a stake president in Henefer, Utah, and the celebration included a re-enactment of the pioneers’ passage through his town.
The stake president was heavily involved with the plans for the celebration. Then, just before it, the stake was reorganized, and he was released as president.
Nevertheless, he volunteered to help with the celebration and was given the task to walk behind the horses in the parade and clean up after them.
“President Richins did so gladly and joyfully,” he related. “He understood that one kind of service is not above another. He knew and put into practice the words of the Savior: ‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.’ ”
Sometimes, like James and John, “we desire positions of prominence,” President Uchtdorf observed. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to serve the Lord, but when we seek to gain influence in the Church for our own sake — in order to receive the praise and admiration of men — we have our reward. When we ‘inhale’ the praise of others, that praise will be our compensation.”
Posing the question of what is the most important calling in the Church, he answered, “It is the one you currently have.”
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