When LDS Business College President Bruce Kusch was a mission president, one of his sister missionaries came to a gathering with a worn out shoe that was duct taped together.
“For Sister Hoffman, those shoes represented who she was as a missionary. ... She was offering her whole 'sole' as an offering, and doing everything she could to make sure that those shoes endured to the end,” President Kusch said to LDSBC students gathered in the Conference Center Little Theater.
In their first devotional of 2019, President Kusch and his wife, Sister Alynda Kusch, spoke on the condition of hearts and souls.
While his wife focused her remarks on the state of the heart, President Kusch offered four of his own “whole soul” invitations: Come, Partake, Offer, Endure.
The Book of Mormon has over 40 invitations for us to “Come unto Christ,” President Kusch said. Such admonitions suggest action, willingness and humility. This process is not a “one-time event” but a “journey of a lifetime” as we come to accept the Savior’s teachings and become better disciples.
Each week we are invited to partake of the sacrament, which represents the Savior’s power and redemption, President Kusch explained.
“In doing so, we act. We take. We eat. We drink. We promise. We commit. We renew.”
By accepting the invitation to offer our souls unto Christ, our role “transitions from partaker to giver,” President Kusch said.
This transition entails paying a price to God and cultivating a greater willingness to serve Him in a more personal, individual way. It's important to offer a “broken heart and contrite spirit,” President Kusch said, and to do all that is possible to align one's will with God’s.
The final step, President Kusch said, is to become a “whole soul” of Christ.
“It is a lifetime of correct decisions that make it possible for you and me to endure to the end. The scriptures are clear that the promised blessing of eternal life is contingent upon our enduring, in persevering, in living our lives with grit, commitment and determination.”
Despite these necessary steps, President Kusch made one final distinction:
“Brothers and sisters, where you and I are on this continuum is probably not as important as how you and I feel about where we are, and if we are making progress toward being a 'whole soul' Latter-day Saint.”
A mighty change of heart
Explaining how her sister underwent reconstructive heart surgery at a young age to repair a pulmonary valve, Sister Kusch told the audience that they, too, could figuratively experience a mighty change of heart.
“What is the condition of your heart?” Sister Kusch asked. “Is it soft, so the Lord can teach and mold you, so He can help you? Or is it not? Are you compassionate, submissive and willing, or are your tendencies more to being jealous, willful and rebellious?”
Stating that having a hardened heart is a learned behavior, Sister Kusch gave the first steps toward changing one’s heart — praying, listening to the prophet and being obedient to the commandments.
“If we look to Nephi as an example of what we can do, you will remember that he was first willing to follow his ... father and keep the commandments of the Lord. We can do that. Nephi had a great desire to know and to believe. We can do that. With faith and humility he prayed to know. We can do that. As a result, he received divine guidance and it was the Lord that softened Nephi’s heart.”
Sister Kusch also asked the audience to consider the results of having a softened heart. Those benefits include being more believing, feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost and the Savior and experiencing greater peace.
While these changes may seem intimidating, Sister Kusch suggested making small changes each day rather than seeking immediate perfection.
“Here is my invitation: Do something today to increase your faith. Do something today that will yield a changed heart.”