Spencer W. Kimball on the Sabbath

President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, said: “We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you.” (“The Sabbath—A Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4–5).

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

16 thoughts on “Spencer W. Kimball on the Sabbath

  1. The good news for the modern day is access to computer tablets. A talk or lesson bores you then find a talk or the scriptures to read instead. Some of my blogs come from what I study during church. Yet, try not to be rude when using alternate reading and worship material.

  2. I think all people reading this have had moments when they found church boring or challenging. The onus falls on us to find a way to deal with these feelings in a way that will still allow us to be at Church and to worship.

  3. Bruce R. McConkie said that the finest sermons he ever delivered were ones he gave to himself, in his own mind. It’s possible to stay engaged even if the speaker/teacher is struggling. It takes work and focus, though.

    On the note of Sabbath worship, I think we’ve all been guilty of approaching it too casually. We do this a lot; we get casual in our prayers, or casual in our scripture study, and we take our meetings too casually at times. I don’t mean to say that we need to show up and be all serious and dour, but I think it’s easy to lose sight of the purpose of what we’re doing.

  4. One thing that drives me absolutely crazy in sacrament meeting is when someone is giving a talk and half the people in the congregation have their heads down. It makes a big deal to the person who is up there trying to give a good talk whether your head is down or whether your face is up and you’re looking at them. Have the courtesy to look at them the entire time even if their talk isn’t all that great. If you make this effort I can guarantee you the Spirit will thank you and you’ll feel it. Next time you feel like putting your head down give it a try. This way we will all feel the Spirit a lot more.

  5. I’ve noticed that our bishop, and our Stake Pres when he visits, constantly look at the speakers during sacrament meetings, no matter the quality of the talk or the delivery. I’m not at that point yet.

    We had some non-member first-time visitors this past Sunday, and I’m grateful that all three speakers were engaging, including the High Councilor.

  6. It would probably behoove us all to remember that the purpose of Sacrament meeting is not for us to be entertained. President Kimball mentions some of the purposes above. This reminder certainly applies to myself because I am one of those people who often gets very bored in Sacrament meeting. It is probably a good idea to show charity to the speakers by actually trying to pay attention to their talks.

  7. It’s true that we don’t go to church to be entertained, but we go to entertain, and we also go because we need help. Worship can be done anywhere, at the temple, at home, in the woods. But church is for service, and to be served, where we cry repentance, where we encourage, offer comfort and friendship, and where we entertain others, and where we go to be served and comforted in our weaknesses. It’s supposed to be a hospital for the sick, where we are both doctor and patient.

    Church is boring and useless for most people because few people are truly serving. They are simply ticking off boxes to assuage their guilt and satisfy themselves in their endurance to the end. But to serve, and be served, in a real, selfless way, is something different, and unfortunately, it is too rare. When someone gets up and preaches a sermon like he really wants to save your soul, like he really loves you, really wants you to change, you feel it, and it makes a difference, it changes you. That should be all the time, not an exception.

  8. Nate, I agree with some of your comment, but you need to consider that a lot of people, perhaps even the majority, just don’t know how to speak in public. They are either shy or inexperienced or feel intimidated or uncomfortable. Part of the Sunday experience should be to show support to these people, because all of them have value and are learning and progressing. It just may be that these people don’t know how to show things when speaking in public. All of us would love a church filled with Neil Maxwells, but what we usually get is a church filled with people just trying to get through the talk without running from the room in embarrassment. That is just the reality of a church run by laymen.

  9. That is true of course Geoff, and I agree. I try to always listen to people and look at them, especially when I am teaching and someone is giving a comment.

    But I thought your comparison with Neil A. Maxwell wasn’t the best choice. He is the one apostle that always seemed most distant, with his fancy poetic language, allienating broad swaths of people from the truths of his message in the process. But someone like Elder Eyering, who gives meandering, sometimes completely non-sensicle talks has everyone in tears. He cares so much, that he stumbles in his anxiety, and that is the spirit of the Book of Mormon. The Gentiles can mock what it says, because it is not poetic and powerful writing, but it is full of anxiety, full of yearning, full of desire to cry out repentance and save people.

    Maybe that’s not everyone’s style, but it is often the style of new converts, who are full of zeal, but without knowledge. We have too much knowledge, and not enough zeal. I think that is our problem right now in the church.

  10. Wow….Neal A. Maxwell was a gem of a man. From what I’ve read of him from his fellow Apostles, Elder Maxwell was the one who was most likely to be serving his fellow quorum members, whether shining shoes, slipping a thoughtful note of encouragement to an acquaintance, bending over backwards to make people feel at home in presence.

    Just because he gave weighty and profound talks shouldn’t be a knock on his character.

  11. It was wrong of me to insinuate anything with Elder Maxwell. I’m sure he was an increadible person. I liked his talks because they were an intellectual challenge to keep up with. But they went over the heads of most people. Compare him to Elder Holland, who has an equal amount of poetic and rhetorical genius. Unlike Elder Maxwell, no one could ever mistake the meaning of one of Elder Holland’s talks, no matter how uneducated the saint. Every poetic and rhetorical device is dripping with a passion to communicate, a desperate cry to repent, to change people. As brilliant as he is, one could never accuse Elder Holland of showing off or displaying any kind of rhetorical virtuosity for it’s own sake. That’s why I think he and Elder Eyering are great models for us all. They take the gospel out of it’s abstract, duty-oriented spirit, and make it real and personal. They go to the podium to change lives, not to give a talk, lay down the law, or fill an assignment faithfully.

  12. Nate, I know what you mean. Elder Maxwell’s talks are meant to be read and thought about. This is difficult sometimes. In gospel doctrine, I sometimes bring out his quotations and read them slowly. You don’t really appreciate his brilliance until you really ponder the poetry of his words. This is not something that all people will respond to.

  13. And as more idiots ignore his words, the more idiotic we become… the dumbing down of Mormonism begins with each of us.

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