Sunday, January 18, 2015


It was a wonderful and magical way to pass time – sitting at a picnic table in the park – lying on a sleeping bag looking up at the stars – walking along the beach – anywhere, anytime.

The number of players could expand or contract – with a buddy – with a troop – with someone very special – it could even be done in silent solitude.

The marvelous thing about this activity – it didn't require a board – no dice or spinners were involved – no special table was necessary.

Like few other games – there was no keeping score – no winners were ever declared – no one ever received bonus or penalty points.

I suspect in my great grandfather’s day it would have been called ‘what would you do if you had a thousand dollars?’ My great grandchildren will probably call it ‘what would you do if you had a billion dollars?’ In father Abraham’s day shepherd boys probably called it ‘what would you do if you had 1000 sheep. In our young days, my friends and I called it ‘what would you do if you had a million dollars?

I suspect young minds have always included on their wish list such stuff as the latest and shiniest means of transportation – the most fashionable clothes to drape over one’s body – fulfilling dreams to travel to distant exotic places – someone to answer you’re every bidding – palaces with endless views. Imagination was the only limit to the length of the list.

Just as the shepherd boys on the Palestinian plains, that stuff which they once imagined while playing ‘what would you do if you had 1000 sheep’, is now but piles of rust and dust. Likewise, with those wishes of my great-grandfather’s peers, what remains are now but memories stored in the halls of museums. Even the majority of the contributions which my friends and I made while sitting at a picnic table or walking along the beach have long ago migrated to a junk yard or a sanitary landfill.

As the days, months, years and decades are added to one’s sojourn on earth, hopefully, wisdom is also added to their youthful longings. Hopefully, they come to understand that accumulation of wealth brings with it a corresponding increase in accountability and responsibility to their expanding stewardships.

Unlike the game we played when we tired of trying to count the stars, which had no rules, there seem to be significant rules which govern how one acts as a steward over that with which they have been blessed.

Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Luke 12:15)

So unto him unto whom much is given much is required… (Doctrine and Covenants 82:3, Luke 12:48)

For is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich unto God. (Luke 12: 21)

For where your treasure is, there will be your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)

Wo unto the rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls’ and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: (Doctrine and Covenants 56:16)

It has always amazed me whenever accountability and responsibility of the stewardship over blessings comes into a discussion, how quickly condemnation begins to be heaped upon the 1% who have been blessed with an abundance and much more.

However, the rules of stewardship accountability don’t seem to be restricted to that miniscule portion of the earth’s population.

And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked… And also ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain and turn him away to perish… For behold are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend on that same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have… how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God… I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that; I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give… And now for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor every man according that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants… (Excerpts from Mosiah 4)

I suspect few of those who have inhabited the earth have ever reached the level of the widow who gave her mite, which was her all. As I have read the story of this blessed lady I have often seen her as a type of Jesus the Christ and our Heavenly Father, who have given all, that we might enjoy of the earth’s abundance and gain eternal life.

Seldom do we find that the children are required to emulate the Father in giving all, but the Eternal rules which govern temporal stuff seem to indicate that we need to be careful about how much we withhold from our brothers and sisters and retain for our own excesses. After all did the Savior not give us the admonition to emulate the Father even unto perfection?

There are two groups I have become aware of either personally or by reputation, which I feel have in some way caught an understanding of the stewardship responsibility which attends the stuff they have at their disposal.

The first comes out of the 1% group which in actuality had 1000 sheep or a billion dollars while they were on earth. I marvel at the Barons who accumulated vast fortunes while helping forge the foundations of our nation who used their wealth to build libraries, museums, hospitals and many other institutions which have not rusted nor rotted, but continue to enrich lives long after they themselves have gone the way of all the earth. I deeply admire those of the 1% of our current generation who have made the billionaires’ pledge and who quickly step forward to feed, clothe and administer to the needs of those who stand in need of succor.

The second group is those charitable souls I was acquainted with during those years I was privileged to live in Mexico and Colombia. When, as a young 19 year old, I found myself in small towns in central and northern Mexico it did not take me long to realize I was in a much different environment than what I had left in Southern California. I came from a family which had enough and to spare, and was raised by parents who freely gave of their time, talents and substance. In Mexico I found myself involved with many who did not have enough let alone to spare. Yet time and time again I witnessed them taking from their meager lot and putting their mite upon a brothers plate. When Kathleen and I had the opportunity to reside and serve in Colombia we were constantly made aware of people, both those who had and those who had not, succoring the needs of neighbors.

One of my blessings, for which I will ever be grateful, is that I have spent my days immersed in a society which teaches and practices the stewardship responsibility and accountability which accompanies blessings.

Even though I seldom play ‘what would I do if I had a million dollars’ anymore, I would hope if I did my list would be much less selfish and much more selfless than the one I sputtered as a youth.

I thought about adding to this Thought all of the blessings which are promised to those who are faithful stewards, but then I realized that once we begin to expectantly dream of stuff we don’t yet have we have missed the whole point of being faithful stewards.

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