Tuesday, September 23, 2014


One of my dreams, as a younger man, was to become a basketball player.  There is a beauty to the game that appeals to me and I loved the competition and comradery I experienced on the floor.  But, alas, I was never very good so my efforts were limited to church-ball and pickup games.

Not my team but they look great.

Today I find that my love for the game has diminished considerably.  Part is my inability to participate with any real consistency.  Yet, I don’t feel the same loss for baseball (another beloved game) so it must be something else.  If I were to guess, I suspect the state of the game has turned me off and driven me away.

NBA, college, and to some extent high school teams have lost the idea of team.  Instead of highlighting the combined efforts necessary to be successful, basketball has become a forum for idolizing individuals.

One of the greatest BUT also one of the most selfish.

Everyone loves Kobe and LeBron because they are such marvelous talents (and they are), but how successful would they be if they didn’t have teammates to get them the ball?

I know, life and basketball are different but I think principles of truth still exist – and one I will not relinquish is the principle of TEAM.

I spent a lot of time with my boys on one of these.

In my mind, the great players of the game were those who invited all to come in and play AND helped them become the best they could be.  Players like John Stockton, Tim Duncan, Bill Walton, and Chris Paul work/worked tirelessly to hone their talents.  The difference between these players and those above (and others) is they intentionally included everyone on the team in the effort to win.  Yes, they were stars, but it was not beneath them to allow others to have success as well.

I’ve been considering the same principles in the lives of people like you and me.

There is a tendency for many of us to reach for ‘stardom’ and, if not intentionally then at least subliminally, we try to push others down in our quest for heights.  It seems more glamorous to have name recognition and the attendant excitement.  But when we look carefully, most of the glamour and hype are short-lived and usually leave us with the bruises and scars that come from selfishness.

It takes a strong person to see the limelight and know they could bask there-in but recognize their abilities are needed for another, less ‘glorious’, purpose.

Joseph Smith Jr.
One such man (a hero of mine) was the brother of Joseph Smith.  Hyrum, the older brother of Joseph, was a capable, talented, dedicated brother who had everything that would make a man popular in his day.  He was handsome, strong, gentle, spiritual, and thoughtful – but he was also very humble.

In later years, there were many who thought Hyrum looked and acted more like a prophet than his brother.  After all, Joseph was known to challenge grown men to wrestling matches (not WWE type) or play baseball or run races with the young boys of the town.  Hyrum, on the other hand, was more inclined to follow the rules of proper adult decorum.

And that’s the rub.  Hyrum was good for Joseph. 

Here was a brother/counselor who could be trusted and whom Joseph knew would always provide good counsel, unfettered by frivolity and light-mindedness.  The Lord even expounded on Hyrum’s attributes and outlined several characteristics that set him apart from other people of his time (see D&C 11):

Hyrum Smith the assist king
1.    He had an honest heart
2.    His judgment was righteous
3.    He had the spirit of revelation (means he could listen to God)
4.    He was loyal to those he loved

In other words, Hyrum was a great set-up man for the Prophet and was in a place where he could assist with the coming forth of the work.

Never – not once in all the years they worked together in the Restoration – did Hyrum rebel or speak against his beloved brother.  Others abandoned the work (even some of their family) and many turned violent against them, but these two brothers were loyal and faithful until the very end.

And the assist always went to Hyrum.

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