Alertness, eternal vigilance required in the game of life

President Gordon B. Hinckley recounted a baseball story in the priesthood session Saturday evening to illustrate a point about dedication and character.

He told of a World Series game in 1912 in which a player, attempting to catch a fly ball, dropped it, causing his team to lose the game and the Series.Although he played brilliant baseball for nine more years, the man was afterward known as the one who dropped the ball.

"This phenomenon is not peculiar to sports," commented President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency. "It happens every day in life.

"There is the student who think he is doing well enough, and then under the stress of the final exam, flunks out.

"There is the driver who all of his life has had a flawless record, and then in a moment of carelessness is involved in a tragic accident.

"There is the trusted employee whose performance has been excellent, and then he succumbs to the temptation to steal a little from his employer. A mark is placed upon him which never seems to disappear entirely.

"There is the life lived with decency, and then comes the destructive, ever-haunting one-time moral let down."

President Hinckley said it points up the need to be constantly alert, the need for unrelenting self-discipline, the necessity of constantly building strength against temptation, and not to misuse time.

"What we do in our leisure time can make such a tremendous difference," he declared. "Pity the poor man or boy of low purpose and weak ambition, who after a day of work finishes his evening meal, and then turns to the television screen for the rest of the evening to watch pornographic video tapes or sleazy network programs."

There is no surer way to "drop the ball" than to become engulfed in the tide of pornography, he warned.

"On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even eventually to Godhood. . . . Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. . . . But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for His children that they might approach Him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in Godly strength and wisdom."

He said eternal vigilance is the price of eternal development, adding that occasionally one might stumble and that he thanks God for the great principle of repentance and forgiveness. "When we drop the ball, when we make a mistake, there is held out to us the word of the Lord that He will forgive our sins and remember them no more against us. But somehow we are prone to remember them against ourselves.

"For the priesthood of this Church it is so important that we walk the high road."

President Hinckley admonished: "We must strengthen one another, help one another, play the game together if we are to win the victory. . . . As holders of the priesthood we must live by a greater loyalty than other men. We must live with loyalty to God in whose name we are authorized to speak and act."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed