Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seeing beyond tobacco smoke and into the soul of a man

From page 71 of "An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown":

We had a wonderful stake organization and a lot of good wards. [As stake president in 1920s Canada] I tried to put into practice what Bishop Harris had taught me so many years earlier about tolerance, understanding, and seeing beyond the smoke a cigarette and into the soul of a man. To illustrate this, I would like to cite the following experience.

We had for sometime been looking for a bishop for the Tabor Ward – Tabor being a ward about 40 miles southeast of Lethbridge – but we could not find the right man on the records. We were acquainted with practically all of them, so the three of us – my two counselors and I – got in my car and started for Tabor. As we were driving along we beheld a car approaching us in the opposite direction. I immediately recognized the driver and hailed him to stop. He stopped and got out of the car. He was smoking a cigar.

After exchanging pleasant greetings and talking for a time, I said, "Burt, we want you to be the Bishop of the Tabor ward."

He held up his cigar and asked, "Hell, with this?"

I answered, "Hell, no. Without it."

He threw it down on the ground, stepped on it, and said, "By hell, I'll try it."

He never smoked again and became one of the best bishops we had. In fact, he did away with cigarette smoking entirely in his ward. This was an incident in which we were not bound by the strict rules of the law but could forgive and utilize the abilities of men despite some obvious weaknesses.


Anonymous said...

Nice story. Too bad that would never happen today.

(Sorry for the snark. I'm just losing hope that the church as a whole will be less pharasaical in the future. But I'd love to get my hope back.)

Clean Cut said...

You and me both, Anonymous. I guess I'm hoping that sharing stories like this might do some good and help to make the church less pharisaical in the future.

Anonymous said...

I remember a time not even that far back when men who were good men but who might not be active and who had WOFW problems could serve as scoutmasters. We had one of the best scoutmasters any group could ever had. Not active at that time, drank coffee on scout camps, but fantastic scoutmaster...who later became active because of his involvement with scouting in our ward.