Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, spoke about how to live with integrity, especially in the professional world. He shared what he learned from his friendship with Jon Huntsman, Sr.
Jon Huntsman was a friend and role model to Elder Rasband while he was finishing his college education. Huntsman grew up poor, studied hard in college, served in the Navy, worked for the President, and then had an idea to package eggs better. That idea led to his multimillion dollar empire. Huntsman became a billionaire and influenced many industries. Of him, Elder Rasband said, “He was a man of great integrity.”
Huntsman offered Elder Rasband a job. He valued Elder Rasband’s leadership and character strengths such as a strong work ethic and an ability to juggle the pressures of family, education, work and Church service.
The offer was an answer to Elder Rasband’s prayers, but Huntsman wanted him to start next week in Ohio. It couldn’t wait until graduation.
Elder Rasband and his wife prayed and talked together about what to do. She said, “Isn’t this what people go to college for, to find an opportunity like this one?” The couple agreed, and the Spirit confirmed their decision to accept the job.
Elder Rasband said things went well, and 11 years later, Huntsman appointed him president of his global corporation — still without a college degree. (Note: He emphasized to students he wasn't encouraging them to drop out of college.)
Elder Rasband shared several lessons he learned from this beginning to his professional career and from the example of Jon Huntsman.
Marriage is a Partnership
“I learned that marriage is a partnership and that you and your wife or husband are facing life together,” Elder Rasband said. “For each of you, your spouse will sometimes get the inspiration for both of you.”
The Rasbands have always counseled together and trusted God, which has been the foundation of their marriage. Elder Rasband also learned from Huntsman that his wife was a partner in every aspect of their life together.
Integrity is Everything
From working with Huntsman, Elder Rasband learned the importance of getting results, working well and having integrity. Being moral, ethical and honest was everything to Huntsman, Elder Rasband said.
He said the Thirteenth Article of Faith is a good measure of what integrity is. If all would follow this guidance, there would be more peace and compassion overall. Integrity may seem to be old-fashioned and out of place in today’s world.
“Certainly, it stands in sharp contrast to luminaries whose lives make headlines, but whose characters are sullied by devious, selfish, greedy and lustful behavior,” Elder Rasband said. “No question, my friends, integrity is a much-needed value in the world today.”
Elder Rasband said that in the Bible, the Lord chose David to care for the Israelites because of his integrity and skill. Elder Rasband encouraged students to continue learning good skills that will influence their family, work and community.
“Skill is important, brothers and sisters, but hearts guide hands,” said Elder Rasband.
Elder Rasband learned this from Huntsman when almost half of the company was sold. Huntsman agreed on a handshake and his word. It took six months for the written contract to be drawn up, and during that time the market improved and the piece of the company was worth a lot more. But despite losing millions in the deal, Huntsman was true to the terms agreed upon at his handshake.
Huntsman also showed that he would not be manipulated in business to slacken his integrity. He was operating a large plant in the Far East, when another business partner suggested Huntsman pay thousands of dollars in a yearly kickback to the government minister who met with Huntsman. Huntsman said he would never pay into extortion. He sold the plant and moved the operation out of that area. He lost millions, but no one ever demanded such “fees” again.
“Many of you will be asked in the years ahead to bend the rules, to grease wheels, to look the other way, to compromise. It may not be a million-dollar deal, and some may assume that is the way things are done these days. But your integrity will be on the line and the price will never be worth it,” said Elder Rasband.
Integrity in any Setting Comes from Love for Christ
The Lord chose David because of his integrity, but later in life David chose to abandon that integrity. David arranged to send a man into battle, where he would be killed, so David could have the man’s wife. God did not bless David after this, and those blessings were given to others.
“Everyone is vulnerable unless the decision is made in advance to never compromise principles, come what may,” said Elder Rasband.
How Will You Show Integrity?
“As a Church, we are facing challenges to religious freedom, to sacred doctrine determined by God whose Church this is,” Elder Rasband said.
He asked students to reflect on their covenants and think about if they always are living their faith. He said that the world’s standards will continue to collapse, but we must defend integrity and virtue.
“I assure you, no accumulation of wealth, recognition, position or popularity can supplant a heart full of love for the Lord’s ways and God’s children,” said Elder Rasband.
How is Your Integrity Now?
He concluded with a “spot-check” for determining one’s integrity. Elder Rasband encouraged the audience to always live with integrity.
- Do you choose to stand in holy places and be not moved? What does it mean to you to hold a current temple recommend and to count it a privilege? Do you seek peace and comfort in the temple? Is the temple worship of our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, part of who you are?
- Do you pray for promptings to help someone the Lord knows needs assistance? Or is your schedule too busy?
- When you make a mistake, do you deny it or blame someone else? Or do you face the issue and resolve it?
- When friends are maligning someone or being rude, do you step away? Do you take their defense? Or do you join in for the sake of being a part of things?
- How do you keep the Sabbath Day holy? Do you fully strive to live the BYU Honor Code? The Word of Wisdom?
- If you served a mission, are you still doing the work of the Lord or have you slipped back into old habits, setting aside daily scripture study and morning and evening prayer?
- Do you honor and sustain the President of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles? How do you speak of, support and follow their initiatives and teachings?
“You have people who depend on you, who need you, who will be blessed by your attention,” said Elder Rasband. “Leave here today recognizing that your morality, your ethics and your honesty is driven by the way you treat people.”
Next Week: Elder Kim B. Clark
Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy of the LDS Church, will deliver the Devotional address on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.