For My Future Mate: The Pillars of Our Partnership

Hey babe,

Been thinking about you.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to, but I’m sure it’s good and I can’t wait to find out. I’ve been working on this thing I’m calling The Pillars of Our Partnership. I’d give anything for a window into your world, if even for only an hour. Here’s a little window into mine.

The other day I was telling Nate, you know, my buddy who started The Loveumentary — the podcast where he’s interviewed hundreds of couples and relationship experts like Gary Chapman who invented the 5 Love Languages — yeah, that guy. I was telling Nate I think he needs an anthem.

Not a song (are all anthems songs?) but like a creed.

(Brian, from Boston, said, “yo! a manifesto!”)

Yes, a manifesto.

A statement of values, the pillars he is gonna preach and that he can build a community around. Something that people listening to Loveumentary episodes, and who might show up to one of his events or a conference or a meetup or join a Loveumentary Facebook group, could all point to as the foundation of what they are working on in their relationships, and a set of ideals they can use when offering support to each other. In Seth Godin language, it’s the “people like us do stuff like this” situation. For Nate, “things like this” hasn’t been codified (yet).

So I suggested he do that.

A few days later I thought, “why wait on Nate? I’ll write my own.”

Before I share what I’ve got, a few obvious things:

[1] It’s a work in progress.

It’s about partnership, and until you and I actually start working on our partnership, all this counts as preparation.

And preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing.

[2] Perhaps even more importantly, I can’t even say we’ve come to a “first draft” until you add your say.

What’s below are my words. I know I’ve come a long way in learning and practicing the fundamentals of partnership, so I believe in my contribution, but that’s just it. It’s my contribution and I’m awaiting yours to round out this super rough draft.

I know you’ve got so much to contribute that’s unique and powerful. What you’re doing right now, what you’re learning . . . ah, I can’t even imagine how much awesome you have to contribute. Your perspective will deeply impact my understanding of partnership, as well as my performance of actually being your partner.

[3] These aren’t practices and positions I’ve perfected. I am a work in progress. It’s OK that you are too.

Just as preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing, knowing enough about something I’m striving for to write a handful of paragraphs about it doesn’t mean I’ve come anywhere near mastering the practice of it. Working with and toward the ideal of these pillars is something we’ll do together. I imagine that even if starting in a “maximally prepared” state (I read all the books! Listened to all the podcasts! Went to ALL the seminars!), actually being in a partnership will be incredibly challenging, shaping, stretching and growth-inducing. (Those are positively sounding words for HARD, incredibly frustrating and at times SUPER challenging.)

So yeah . . . this is my first cut and I eagerly await your input to get us to draft 1.

From there, every year and month and day we’ll get to revise and refine.


There are a couple life fundamentals that aren’t unique to partnership in my book, but are necessary pillars for living. Those are Choice, Responsibility and Communication.

Choice: people get to choose and we not only tolerate choice, we celebrate and embrace it . . . man, this is the first one and I’ve already re-written it several times. There are SO MANY THINGS that go into what all I mean by “choice” and how important it is. Our words and actions allow for others to choose. Every moment is a surprise because in humility we cannot predict and should not judge what others will do, and even when we do predict and predict correctly, we don’t arrogantly assume our prediction had anything to do with the outcome. Like I said, there’s a lot here. I could really use your help boiling down my thoughts. God’s ultimate gift to us is power to choose; we choose, circumstances and other people don’t choose for us no matter how much it seems the contrary, and we’re responsible for our choices.

Responsibility: directly following choice . . . because people choose, they and they alone are responsible for their choices and the following consequences. If this has a boundary where it’s no longer the case or becomes conditional, I don’t know where that is yet. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable at times. Especially nowadays when people love to blame life’s circumstances on “the system” or “the man” or some external object. Yikes. Ah . . .  so much to say!

Here’s another thing on my mind in this realm: expectations! Expectations are like choices we try to make for other people. They represent, among many things, made up rules we think everyone knows and has agreed to, even when they haven’t.

Example close to us and what we may face as we date: “If you really wanted to be a good boyfriend, THEN you would _____.” SAYS WHO? I mean, maybe. But is there a DEFINITIVE manual on being a good boyfriend? No! So if you WANT me to ____, ASK me. If you don’t ask . . . I may . . .  but I also may not! It may not be something I’m even thinking about . . . so if you want to be sure it happens, and you’re thinking about it, then ask me! Then I can choose to say Yes or No. And then I’ll be responsible for it, truly, because I have chosen.

Wow, there’s so much in here about boundaries of responsibility to unpack, but for now I’ll say: no circumstance can force choice upon a person, all choices are ours, therefore all results are ours.

OK OK OK some more here too . . . when it comes to development and personal needs, it’s my job to find out what I need to learn, it’s my job to then learn what I need to learn, it’s my job to seek mentors and teachers, it’s my job to learn and develop; it’s my job to be healthy, it’s my job to be fulfilled, it’s my job to discover what I like and what nurtures me and then do the work to obtain those things; it’s my job to ‘discover’ and decide what’s important to me — my values; it’s my job to declare for myself that “I am enough.” It’s no one else’s job to do any of those things for me. The same is true for you. Can I ask for help? Absolutely. I look forward to yours. Can you ask me for help with those things? Absolutely, I want you to.

Communication: pretty inescapable from the above on responsibility. Communication is . . . using words to express yourself as accurately as you can — yourself, meaning mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually; all the aspects of you.

Communication is using the words “will you” for requests (see my unfinished rant on people saying “Do you want to ____?” as an imperative or invitation). In response to people’s requests, communication is using the words “Yes,” “No,” or “No, and here’s my counter offer.” Communication is verbally expressing wants and desires, and then for the ones you want right now actually making the request (Will you…?) beyond the statement of desire.

Communication is transforming all internally held desires/hopes/expectations into words. Communication is not ever putting someone else in a position to mind-read their way to connecting/helping/working with/serving/loving you. Communication is not attempting to mind read, but is instead asking questions to let the person you are interested in hearing from speak the truth from their own mouth rather than getting answers from your imagination.

Communication is knowing you can only hold people to the promises they have actually made with speech and signatures (that sounds like responsibility and choice too).

Communication is acknowledging fulfilled promises and healthy behaviors; I think that’s a not-yet-complete functional definition of gratitude.

Communication is: owning and stating your stake in the ground, what’s important to you, what you value, the thoughts and intents of your heart, and taking the responsibility to let the world know what you’ve chosen in those realms.

See? I need your help here.

What’s missing? And how can it be said better . . . more simply and in fewer words?

With all that in the background . . .

Here’s my start at:

The Pillars of Our Partnership

The Pillars of Our Partnership
Not a stock photo — snapped this at Yale. Inside there are memorials for every student who has ever served and died in the U.S. Armed Forces. I was moved.

Why Partnership?

Because we believe that all performance is elevated and enhanced when done with the support of a dedicated partner. Even if the ‘act’ is solo (such as running a race or giving a speech or performing a piece of music) . . . a human preparing/practicing/living/acting without a dedicated partner will always, in the long run, underperform a human acting with the support of a dedicated partner.

What do I mean by dedicated?

Tennis star + coach  >  tennis star + coach(*0)

tennis star + coach + spouse  >  tennis star + coach + spouse(*0)

A coach could be called a partner. But a coach isn’t a dedicated partner. A coach is a partner for the activity they coach. A dedicated partner is a partner for all things.

This ‘math’ is our belief.

And it’s not performance alone that’s elevated and enhanced, but experience too.

Shared sorrow is half sorrow.

Shared joy is double joy.

Remember in Into The Wild when Alex Super Tramp writes “happiness only real when shared”? Yeah. All experience of that sort happens in the space between the Self and another.

And on.

The Pillars: Priority, Striving, Belief, Equality, Service, Togetherness, Forgiving, Vulnerability, Unconditionality

Priority: Partnership is a relationship that comes first. When I can respond to several people, I respond to you first. When I choose to allocate my time to several opportunities, I allocate time for us first. Regardless of circumstance or proportion and in all cases of competing choices, consideration goes to our partnership first.

Striving: I am a human. You are a human. I live and act imperfectly. Even when my intent is thoroughly pure, my actions will fall short and be laced with imperfection. The measuring stick, therefore, is not result or absolute ability. What counts is striving, putting forth effort that matches the bounds of present ability, accompanied with a willing heart that were it immortal and perfect would perform perfectly. Jesus asked if anyone had any fishes and loaves. He didn’t complain when the numbers were few. They gave what they had, and He made that work. Likewise, I give what I have and you make that work. You give what you have and I make that work. Together, we give grace to each other for our imperfect humanity.

Belief: Ready for this?

  • I believe in my own goodness. You believe in me believing in my own goodness. I believe in you, believing in me, believing in my own goodness.
  • You believe in your own goodness. I believe in you believing in your own goodness. You believe in me, believing in you, believing in your own goodness.

This is the ever presence and victory of belief (over fear and doubt). We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We assume first and always that the other has and is acting with the best intent — even when it seems and feels there’s ill will or intent to do harm. We assume positive will because we believe in each other’s goodness.

Believing in goodness also means believing you always have something to contribute and teach, while believing the other has something to contribute and teach you. Belief is believing in value.

Belief includes courage, and when I say, “you are enough,” you believe it, you believe that for me it really is enough and because I haven’t said so, I truly am not expecting more.

Equality: I hold myself to the same standards to which I hold you. Every agreement is a two-way street. Everything we ask for is also something we are willing to give. What applies to me, applies just the same to you.

Service . . . and Acceptance of Service: This is a pillar to love AND be loved. It’s not enough to give. Sometimes giving is easy. Service here is also to receive it. Sometimes, it is hard to receive help and support.

I look for ways to serve you, you look for ways to serve me.

You look for ways to ask me to serve you, I look for ways to ask you to serve me.

We both ask for help and support and service from the other. Especially in areas where we know the other may be lacking competence, comfort and confidence.

Because I know you embrace my meager, imperfect offerings of service, I look forward to you asking me to do things I’m no good at doing, but that will make the world of difference for you and for us. This is one way I really show my love and demonstrate Priority. Likewise, I look forward to asking for your help with things I know will be hard for you or that you may not enjoy, but you’ll strive (just as I strive) to serve because you, like me (equality), put us first (priority), being more willing to serve our partnership and be possibly embarrassed or frustrated, than tickle those insecurities and withdraw from growing our union.

Togetherness: We do all things together. See above re: how this holds even for solo performances.

You still have your victories, I still have mine. You are still responsible for your choices, as I am responsible for mine.

And yet we embrace an element of togetherness in all things.

We invite and value and recognize an element of shared victory. Of contributing service that enhanced the outcome. Of a material impact worthy of acknowledgement and commendation.

We don’t have boundaries about “my things” and “your things.” There’s always some shred of sharing and togetherness. If it isn’t obvious, or if it’s tempting to do solo and to push the other away, we resist that urge and look for and invent some way to do all things together.

Why? Because at least tangential involvement is always possible, and because of complementariness: my strengths support your weaknesses, my weaknesses are supported by your strengths. Complementary support IS how we grow together. And that’s what we’re committed to as partners: growing, excelling, experiencing . . . together.

Are we attached at the hip? No. Do we text each other every hour of the day? No. Do we relay every thing that happened to each other every day? No. Must we like the same things? No. Must we always travel together? No. Is asking for space ok? Yes, with a definite time limit of when we’ll reconnect.

All experiences are OPPORTUNITIES to grow individually and they are LEARNING experiences in how to come closer together, more fully knowing each other, operating together and fulfilling … partnership.

Forgiving: I see two kinds here.

One is forgiving in response to misperception: seeing that our experience of hurt follows our mistakingly and temporarily believing the other’s intent was for harm or driven by ill will. To come around and believe there was no ill intent and our hurt was not desired is to forgive. It’s not so much forgiving me as I didn’t intend to harm, but it’s forgiving yourself and our mutual imperfect communication that led to your misunderstanding. This again is a humble acknowledgment and an embrace of our common humanity, and it is where leaning on the Lord is so helpful. I didn’t mean for you to feel hurt. Yet, you felt hurt. It’s OK, because He felt that hurt. He can take the hurt. I didn’t want you to have the hurt. But now you’ve got it. Give it to Him. You can be whole.

The second kind is forgiving in response to actual ill will or intent to harm. I pray these situations between us will be few and far between. Ideally, never. To not include forgiving as a pillar would condition partnership on perfection. Perfection is unattainable in this mortal sphere. The moments we stand on this part of this pillar will hurt the most.

But the Lord has healed me and He has healed you. We can be made whole again and again and again.

Vulnerability: Vulnerability is a particular type of communication. It’s communication where you and I share and express all our thoughts and feelings, even the ugly ones.

There is a boundary here which is “dumping.” That’s vomiting all the nasty, which is sharing all that with no commitment for healing, improvement, forgiveness, etc. That’s not vulnerability. That twisted “vulnerability” is a form of dominating and emotional manipulation.

As Brené Brown says:

“Real authenticity actually requires major self-monitoring and isn’t . . . [communication with] the lack of self-monitoring.”

Healthy vulnerability, what I’m talking about, is that anything could be shared. There’s a willingness to share anything, and what actually gets shared is the complete truth of what’s relevant. (What’s relevant? Hmmmm . . . )

Vulnerability, in both directions is knowing it’s OK to be fully transparent because sometimes thoughts and feelings are just passing by and temporary . . . and hanging on to them and not sharing them has a way of keeping them around longer and allowing them to do more harm. So we share them, to be honest about how we feel and where we’re at in the moment. And (together) we work through them so they soften and then lose their grip.

It’s OK to share because I can stack up what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment as an experience you’re really having and not as something you’re committed to forever. And likewise, you won’t hold anything I ever share over my head, especially the stuff that I’m passing through. How can I say this better? Maybe we can borrow straight up from Neal A. Maxwell and Joseph Smith:

“Our light speeches from time to time, have nothing to do with the fixed principles of our hearts” said Joseph Smith. Should we not distinguish between the utterances of the moment and considered opinions? Do not all of us wish for that same understanding on the part of our friends, hoping they, “with the breath of kindness,” will “blow the chaff away”? (NAM, Mar 1986)

More . . . some of this came out in the section on service: vulnerability is asking for things that seem and feel hard to ask for . . . help where it feels embarrassing you can’t do it alone, desires that seem dark or weird or unconventional, challenges you’d rather me not know that you have.

Vulnerability is sharing the “darkness” within. Our inner demons. Our naughty thoughts. Our carnal natures. We all have light, and darkness. Vulnerability is letting down all propriety in each other’s company. It’s OK to be 100% you, even all the things you’ve ever thought were never OK about yourself.

Everything that’s there is you, and all that makes up the you that you are that I love. Therefore, it’s OK to share.

What else?

Vulnerability is also this: I can be strong for everyone in the world, but you are the one person where it’s OK for me to expose myself completely . . . I don’t always have to be strong for you. I will be strong. I will be strong with you and for you. But in my weakest moments, it’s OK to bare my all and be completely weak and exposed. It’s OK to have moments of powerlessness with you, moments where you have total advantage over me. And it’s OK because you’ll love me still. And I’ll love you still. And you won’t take advantage of me. And I won’t take advantage of you. And we won’t abuse the privilege of seeing the other in our weakest, most exposed positions.

I am a man. I’m supposed to be strong . . . and with you, just you, my partner, it’s OK in those moments if I’m not strong. While I’m strong for everyone else, you are the one person who gets to be strong for me.

Unconditionality: We live and choose and speak and love and act on these pillars. No. Matter. What. Nothing you do earns my fulfillment of my promises. Nothing I do causes me to deserve your fulfillment of your promises. We each, independent of the other, at all times and in all things, choose to strive to fulfill our promise in the partnership.

# # #


I have no idea how grand and soul-stretching a journey this is going to be.

If being an entrepreneur has been a rollercoaster, then I imagine we’re in for the face-smashing, extreme-Gs of interstellar space travel. But tell you what, and this is probably obvious, I’m up for it. Not looking for an ordinary-tier partnership. I want and am working and will work for what’s extraordinary.

So, there they are for now: nine Pillars of Our Partnership.

Nine though? Don’t like the number. Would rather there be 8 or 10 or 12. I bet you’ll point out some biggies I left out. We’ll get there.

I’m so . . . just brimming and teeming with anticipation for you and what you’ll add.

When you get this, will you holler?

Onward and upward,

Nat Harward

P.S. also toying with mottos, crests, etc. “Truth and Kindness, in Deed and Word.” <== What do you think? (what led to this: strive to be kind, but never demote the truth. Words are powerful, but greater sermons are preached in action.)

P.P.S. [Nov 15] Had this thought . . . conflict and negotiation gotta go somewhere, right? Are they pillars? I don’t know . . . conflict is inevitable, you and I will never be 100% on the same page and that’s a good thing because it means we’re both continuing to have unique and meaningful contributions. We need each other. And when we’re not on the same exact page, that reality requires negotiation . . . which is communication that gets at how two people who want to choose differently will then choose to choose together . . . ok, so maybe there’s a second tier of pillars, things that combine pillars . . . communication + choice + togetherness ==> conflict; resolving conflict requires negotiation.

P.P.P.S. Guaranteed I will keep thinking of more facets; this chain of post-scripts will prolly get mighty long. Will work in those thoughts with you.

P.S.x4 [Nov 16] The word mindfulness belongs here. It’s laced in throughout already, but is so distinct it deserves to stand on its own, no? Perhaps as a pillar of living and there’s a version of it for partnership.

By |2023-11-05T21:00:28-07:00November 14th, 2016|Faith, General Life|3 Comments

Faith Is . . .

I’m tired of lots of gospel words getting thrown around without precise definitions, so as an exercise for myself I’m laying out what I MEAN when I say . . .


And Faith would be one of those.


Faith is . . .


faith is deciding that a set of principles or positions are true and that you are going to live and abide and act as though they are true, when you have no factual reality/basis that they are, universally, for everyone, true


and it is going forward with that framework, believing in it, believing in yourself for having made it, believing in the source that makes it work (God), believing that come what may, you will weather it and the framework will still work and bring about the results you want

the belief is all there … and it’s living / speaking / choosing / acting in accordance with … that is the faith part

By |2016-10-09T19:02:43-06:00October 9th, 2016|Faith|0 Comments

Fear of Yours Not Welcome in My Corner

Had a recent insight on fear.

I coached Damian Reid in 2015 to his first half marathon in 6 years and am coaching him in 2016 for his first marathon ever.

He shopped the marathon circuit, showed me a few options, I made recommendations, and he landed on Cape Town, South Africa (Sept 2016).

A few days later…

Screenshot 2016-06-12 19.58.25

I get cold feet about all kinds of things in life.

But the worst kind of cold feet I can get is other people’s cold-feet fear.

<<Damian gave me full permission to share these details. Thanks, brah.>>

I believe Damian was initially acting responsibly and giving this gentleman the benefit of the doubt.

He’s from Africa … specifically Botswana which looks to have more adjacent border mileage with South Africa than any other country.

He’s run three marathons … that’s 3 more than Damian and most people you meet.

He’s the champion of a squash club in a major metropolitan area … obviously still a committed and accomplished athlete.

Unless Damian really wanted to pull out his phone to check the course elevation during this quick, post-match conversation, I’m sure the thing for him to do was nod and say, “Thank you, I’ll take that in consideration and speak with my coach.”

I’m glad he did basically that.

Damian recapped the info. He suggested we may go to Plan B. He trusted me. By so doing, Damian put his faith in himself and in me as his coach ahead of any fear triggered by Mr Botswana. That shows great strength on his part.

People can be totally wrong. And this guy was.

Having an appointed supporter and champion to be there for me in life’s challenges has been a super awesome practice, and once I have those people clear on the roles they embrace for me, then they ARE the person I go to when I hit moments of doubt, darkness, fear or spiraling questions.

When people spew doubts, their fear, and more questions in response to mine, I get more darkness … and now I’m 2x in the dark, or even worse, because I have mine AND theirs. Bad recipe for any situation where I care about moving forward.

Doubters don’t belong in my corner. Who does? People whose faith surpasses fear.

People committed to helping me (and you) through moments of doubt, fear and seemingly unanswered questions are better suited to shine light and direct me to my own light switches so I can see clearly.

As a coach, my athletes count on me to make solid recommendations and not knowingly let them walk into high-failure, low-learning situations. Living + training at sea level, then running a first marathon at elevation counts as one of those. (Post for another time: great coaches do on occasion run their athletes/clients thru inevitable-failure, high-learning situations.)

My athletes, clients, friends and anyone I know, myself included, will experience fear. What I aim to do is support them to recognize their own faith. And, when invited, help them move smartly, faithfully and powerfully toward their faith, even in the face of whatever fear is there.

I felt confident I hadn’t overlooked the geographical challenges of the Cape Town Marathon for Damian, and I thought I’d show him what goes into those evaluations so in the future he can make them on his own.

Here’s what I found:

Screenshot 2016-06-12 20.20.56

I Googled “cape town marathon” and found exactly what I was looking for:

unfounded fears of cape town marathon elevation

(gray, left axis = elevation; blue, right axis = pace of the Strava user who recorded this. Bless the internet and smart phones. And Google. And GPS. And Strava.)

What follows is how my texts went down as I shared this image and more with Damian.

Damian, it’s between 0-200′ above sea level … the whole time!

The entire elevation gain is 721′

The Salt Lake Marathon, while at moderate elevation, has a total gain of 789′

Berlin has 366′

New York City has 454′

Boston has 572′

721′ is nothing crazy

And most importantly … 

In your half marathon you climbed 935′ … you got this 😊

(1,870′ over the course of a full marathon is challenging for a road race and specific training for such is smart)

I imagine will be stunning to run all the way around Table Mountain … without ever going up it (shaded green = mountains):

Fear of Cape Town marathon - route on elevation map

The hardest parts will be miles 16 and 17:

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - the hardest miles

Highest elevation gain in a mile … 145′ … and then the steepest drop in the next mile … 131′ down.

Going up that late in the race will burn your hamstrings …

… and coming down will be an extra load on your quads.

And then you’ll hit mile 18 … that proverbial wall!

Which is also fairly uphill looking at rest of course … 92′ up.

Those 3 miles will be a HUGE mental game and discipline to execute whatever plan we make ahead of time.

So excited for you!!!

Man! Love digging into this race info and thinking about strategy for ya!!!

When you take a look at all this … will you let me know how you feel?

Damian’s a champion. He got it:

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - got it

Back on track. Fear put to rest.

I have no idea how many years ago Squash Club Champion ran his marathons. And I really don’t think he meant ill will. I don’t think he was consciously aware of fear or wanting to incite fear in Damian. I genuinely think he thought he was being helpful … most people do when they give advice … and, to the extent that now Damian and I have thoroughly looked at the elevation profile of Cape Town 2016, he was helpful.

Perhaps it was an innocent slip of memory. Perhaps one of the three marathons he ran is somewhere else in South Africa or around Cape Town and is at elevation. Or maybe years ago the same Cape Town marathon Damian selected had a route at elevation.

Whatever the case, none of that matters because the only relevant items are the facts about Damian’s race and Damian’s preparation for those realities.

So it is in all aspects of life.

I experience so much “advice,” even when given with the best intentions, that, when unrobed from the cloaks of “wisdom” and “concern” for my well-being, amounts to a presentation or attempted transfer of the giver’s unresolved fear and insecurities. And guess what? Their fear and insecurities are theirs. Not mine. And 99% of the time the fear isn’t grounded in reality.

So …

Thanks. But if I see or smell fear, I’ll hand your a ticket for a seat in the stands.

When I’m in the ring — and when, ever, are any of us not? — ya gotta have faith for a spot in my corner.

RIP Muhammad Ali

January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

A man who lived word and deed entirely in faith ahead of fear.

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - Muhammad Ali

By |2021-01-15T15:37:23-07:00June 12th, 2016|General Life, Triathlon|0 Comments

Botox and the Fountain of Truth

In last month’s First Presidency message, President Monson referred to pre-colonial explorers who sought after a lost city of gold, in hopes they’d come upon the Fountain of Youth and thus open the doors to eternal life.

Still today, people seek out and spend up for age-defying creams, vitamin combinations, skin paralyzing treatments and fishy supplements that may or may not do anything substantial to preserve the form of one’s face and figure.

May I echo President Monson’s suggestion that the real recipe for prolonging youth is drinking deeply from and obeying that which flows from the Fountain of Truth. By the grace of Jesus Christ, in the resurrection what we have sent out in the way of obeying God’s commands shall commensurately return unto us again in the form of His eternal blessings, including glorified bodies. You might say that there is a positive, causal relationship between one’s obedience to God and the glory of his or her resurrected frame.

In parting, my friends, enjoy these words from one of my favorite hymns.1

Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire;
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies.
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes,
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast,
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Though the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.


  1. John Jacques, “Oh Say, What Is Truth?” Emphasis added. Hymns, no. 272.
By |2023-11-08T10:06:40-07:00November 8th, 2009|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

More Than Words: Service and Examples

Sacrament Meeting Talk | BYU 113th Ward

It is a delight to speak today. If you’d be so kind to pray for me, and I’ll pray for you, then perhaps the Spirit will guide me to say what our Lord would have me say, and you’ll hear blessings, comfort and counsel meant just for you. And we will be together edified, having met to renew covenants and show with more than words that our love for the Lord and each other is real.


Brothers and sisters, there are 8760 hours in a year. Figuring each day the average American spends roughly

  • 8 hours working,
  • 7.5 hours | sleeping,
  • 1 hour & 15 min eating,
  • 45 min showering and personal grooming,
  • 30 min | exercising,
  • 1 hour | laundry, cleaning, dishes and other business around the house,
  • 30 min reading or in self-education,
  • 2 hours watching TV,
  • 30 minutes corresponding via phone/e-mail/text/social network,
  • 30 min buying things, and
  • 1.5 hours | traveling to and fro,

that leaves about 840 hours of “discretionary” time remaining for the year. Now, some of these numbers are my estimates,1 but others come directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2

And perhaps going through this list you thought of other items important to you that I did not include.

Well let me add a few. As a “good,” active Latter-day Saint, you “should” be spending

  • 15 min/day studying scriptures,
  • 15 min/month calculating and preparing tithes and fast offerings,
  • 15 min/day in personal morning, evening—and the occasional day-time—prayer,
  • 4 hours/month attending the temple,
  • 4 hours/month preparing lessons and visiting people for Home and Visiting Teaching,
  • 30 min/day rounding up the family and having morning and evening family prayer,
  • 3.5 hours/week for the Sunday meetings block,
  • 30 min/week reading and preparing for Sunday School,
  • 30 min/week reading and preparing for Priesthood/RS,
  • 2 hours/week performing your calling—at least one of those hours is spent in a meeting,
  • 2 hours/month genealogy research,
  • 2 hours/every other month finding people for the missionaries to teach or accompanying them to lessons, and of course
  • 6 or more hours once/year … preparing to speak in church.

All this sums to 844 hours of activity, or about 101% of your “discretionary” time.

Now brothers and sisters, you are no “average” American—you are spectacular children of God—but there is just no way to do it all.

The key is balance: to do what is best,3 to do it in order, running only as fast as you have strength.4

“What is impossible for you is possible with God’s help in His service,” President Eyring said.5

In His service, you can beat the limits of time and perform miracles.

Make time to serve, always

“If we have not yet learned,” said Brigham Young, “that poverty, sickness, pain, want, disappointment, losses, crosses, or even death, should not move us one hair’s breadth form the service of God […] it is a lesson we have to learn.”6

I recall learning this lesson during the first weekend of my first year at BYU. I woke up one morning feeling sick and decided to stay bed. Later, I still didn’t feel well and couldn’t even keep down the lunch my roommate was so kind to have gotten for me. Sometime in the afternoon, the numbers 139 and 19 penetrated my mind. Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed and wrote the numbers down, then fell asleep again.

When I got out of bed, I saw my note and thought the numbers might refer to a verse in the Doctrine & Covenants. Despite four years in seminary, I didn’t know there is no 139th section. So I did the next best thing and rolled back to section 138. I read verse 19.

“And there he [being Jesus] preached unto them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall…”7

I later wrote in my journal, “Lesson learned. I, even in my sick condition, am to preach the gospel wherever I am.”8

In the face of poverty, sickness, pain, disappointment and death, there is strength enough for more than words to show you feel that your love for God and His children is real.

The best service is simple: homes, neighborhoods and wards

It’s easy, brothers and sisters; it is. More than words is all you have to do to make it real.

All around us lie simple opportunities to serve. In October 2007, Elder Michael J. Teh said, “much of the service needed in the world today relates to our day-to-day associations with each other. Often we find these opportunities within the confines of our own home, neighborhood, and ward.”9

Your home and visiting students need to hear more than, “when’s a good time we can see you this month?” or “call us if you need anything.” Drop by on your way home from school or work. Or send them something you found that relates to their interests or an issue they are dealing with. Then from more than words, our ward members will know that you do love them.

In “The Last Lecture,” Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch said, while battling cancer, “It’s a thrill to fulfill your own childhood dreams, but as you get older, you may find that enabling the dreams of others is even more fun.”10

Through his final years, Pausch shared many words through his book and speaking engagements. But it was his demonstrated optimism and determination to do good to the end that were more than words, enough to show his love for his neighbor is real.

You’ll invite the Spirit and make more a home than an apartment if you say to your roommates more than good morning, goodnight and “did you get the mail?” You’ll notice today that my roommate, Andy, has returned from 2.5 months of military training. Another roommate—who I presume is not given to throwing parties or decorating—printed a simple sign and hung it on our door: “Welcome Home Cadet Villagran.” And it was more than words when, upon seeing Andy, this roommate cheered and threw his arms around him.

Personal connection

In our crunch of time, it is tempting to reduce everything we ought to do to an exchange of words. If tweeting your testimony along with a tiny URL to the First Presidency Ensign message counted for home or visiting teaching, we could drastically cut the 844 hours of “standard LDS service time,” allowing you more time to pursue your interests and further recreation. But that just won’t do.

From the 21st chapter of the Gospel of John:

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”11

To feed each other with the bread of life requires more than the passage of words through our ears or across our eyes. In Jesus’ Bread of Life sermon in John 6, Jesus challenged the faithfulness of so-called disciples who were more interested in free food and “feel good” words.12

Commenting on Jesus sending out the 12 in Matthew 10, James E. Talmage says, “He would have only genuine disciples, not enthusiasts of a day[—or, I add, “friends” who only click “I like this”—]ready to desert His cause when effort and sacrifice were most needed. Thus did He sift the people.”13

More than words

Some of you may have recognized a phrase I’ve repeated from a song by an early 90s metal band. Well, that band also wrote a nice little love tune called, “More than Words.” Now, the Savior never said these words, but please imagine for a moment that He did.

Saying “I love you”
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew how easy
It would be to show me how you feel

More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know

What would you do if my heart was torn in two?
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real
What would you say if I took those words away?
Then you couldn’t make things new
Just by saying “I love you”

More than words
Now that I’ve tried to talk to you
And make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands
And touch me
Hold me close, don’t ever let me go

More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me,
‘Cause I’d already know14

It was with more than words that Jesus walked into a garden, bent His knees and had His heart torn in two. Yes, He spoke words as He prayed. But it was more than words that He drank the bitter cup, hung on the cross and died in agony. In more than words, He sent prophets in every age to talk to us and help us understand that all we have to do is close our eyes and reach out our hands. With more than words, He opened His hands and His feet for everyone in the Nephite multitude to touch.15

Living the great commandment

“If ye love me, [more than words,] keep my commandments,” He says.16

And, “which is the great commandment in the law?”

“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Notice, He does not command, “and with all thy mouth.” It was He who inspired the Proverb, “as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.”17

Again did He say, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…”18

“And the second [great commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”19

Then you wouldn’t have to say…

When you and I live and love with more than words, trumpets and fanfare will not be needed to announce that we are a “city that is set on a hill [and] cannot be hid.”20

You will perform simple acts of kindness and not feel the need to say anything about it. Your more-than-lip-service love will radiate and warm the hearts of your family, neighbors and fellow saints. And they will follow in your footsteps, repenting and serving their way to the Savior and His kingdom.

When the day comes that you arrive at the Kingdom of God with Christ enthroned and exalted, then you won’t have to say that you love Him, ‘cause He’ll already know.

I know, from more than the words in the scriptures, that God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ love me…

Please don’t allow the crunch of time to discourage you. You won’t be able to do it all, but you can do your very best.21

With a little more than words, others will know your love for them is real. And that will make all the difference22 to them, to our Father who is King, and to Jesus who is Lord over all.



  1. LDS Time.”
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Charts from the American Time Use Survey.”
  3. Dallin H. Oaks. “Good, Better, Best.” Ensign, Nov 2007, 104–8
  4. Mosiah 4:27
  5. Henry B. Eyring. “God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder.” Ensign, Nov 2007, 55–58
  6. Young, Brigham. “Comprehensiveness of True Religion—The Saints But Stewards.” A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered at Great Salt Lake City, December 5, 1853. Journal of Discourses, 1:336. Reported By: G. D. Watt
  7. Doctrine and Covenants 138:19
  8. “Fall 2004.” Emphasis added. Journal, June 2006, 121
  9. Michael J. Teh, “Out of Small Things,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 35–37
  10. Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. Hyperion: New York. 2008, 117
  11. John 21:16
  12. John 6:47-71
  13. Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ. Emphasis added. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Salt Lake City, Utah. 1981, 421
  14. Cherone, Gary and Nuno Bettencourt. “More than Words.” Extreme, 1990
  15. 3 Nephi 11:14-16, emphasis added
  16. John 14:15
  17. Proverbs 23:7
  18. Matthew 15:18
  19. Matthew 22:36-39
  20. Matthew 5:14
  21. Hinckley, Gordon B. “Standing Strong and Immovable.” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 21 quoted in Staheli, Donald L. “Securing Our Testimonies.” General Conference, Oct 2004
  22. Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” The Poetry of Robert Frost. Henry Holt and Company: New York. 1979, p. 105, l. 20
By |2023-11-08T15:57:51-07:00August 9th, 2009|General Life|0 Comments