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3 Things I Learned in Sunday School That Guide My Work Today
With Hanukkah underway and Christmas now just four days away, I wish everyone the happiest of holidays, whatever and however you may celebrate. In just ten days, we’ll all ring in a new year together.
As Christmas approaches, I find myself reflecting on the values and principles I learned in Sunday School and otherwise from the teachings of my faith that genuinely guide my work. None are unique to my faith tradition, but I learned them growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Serve others. The defining experience of my life was visiting Rexburg, Idaho following the failure of the Teton Dam in 1976. With my father and hundreds of members of local congregations, at age eleven, I helped dig muck and mud out of a house for an entire day. I’d never before felt so helpful. Just last month, I was at it again with members of my faith volunteering to help clean up the devastation of Hurricane Ian. Together, we helped over 10,000 families.
Do your part. The best manifestation of this principle is that following a church meeting involving folding chairs (and tables), members don’t have to be asked to put them away. When the gathering concludes, members put up the chairs. A few years ago, I attended a large meeting with probably 800 people, 500 on folding chairs. I kid you not—the chairs were all put away three minutes after the meeting ended. Five hundred chairs. Three minutes.
Love everyone. While I am troubled by some past and present practices in my faith toward certain groups of people, the Church's teachings are unambiguous on one point: God loves all his children and so must we. I have learned to reject aphorisms like hate the sin and love the sinner. It isn’t my place to judge sin in anyone but myself. I am asked only to love. Everyone. Period. No exceptions. I am still learning.
Again, none of these ideas are unique to my faith—or any faith. Many people who belong to no organized religion, including those firm in the belief that there is no divine being in the universe, share beliefs in similar principles.
Guided by these three principles, I look forward to collaborating with you in 2023 to continue working to solve the world’s biggest problems. Together, we can reverse climate change, eradicate extreme poverty and improve global health.
For now, I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas and Kwanzaa blessings. May your New Year’s celebrations be joyful and your 2023 be full and prosperous.