Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man (Hardcover)
"If ever there was a time, if ever there was a season, if ever there was a cause that cried out for men of purpose and men of purity to step forward and draw upon the powers of heaven, it is today." So writes author Robert L. Millet.
This inspirational book uplifts and encourages the men of the Church, helping us to recognize the opportunities the priesthood brings to bless and enrich the lives of those around us.
Men of Valor is a reminder that every man who leads his family in righteousness can have a powerful leavening effect on a society whose moral values are rapidly eroding, and can make a difference in a struggling world that needs the bright torch of priesthood power.
All men will appreciate this call to purify their lives, to set themselves apart from things of worldliness, and to become a royal priesthood and a holy nation -- to become mighty men of valor!
- Published: March 2007
- Pages: 145
- Run time: Approx. 3.5 hrs.
About the Author
Robert L. Millet, an Abraham O. Smoot Professor and former dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, is a professor of ancient scripture and a lifelong scholar of the last days. After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU in psychology, he earned a PhD from Florida State University in religious studies. He has served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a seminary teacher, bishop, stake president, and member of the Materials Evaluation Committee. He and his wife, Shauna, are the parents of six children.
I CAN DISTINCTLY REMEMBER sitting on the edge of my mother’s bed when I was ten years old. I was overcome with a feeling of gloom, and my mother sensed it. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Oh, I don’t know for sure,” I said. “I’m just feeling really, really sad.” As moms do so well, she managed to pry out of me what was at the heart of my heart. I finally responded: “Mama, I don’t want to grow up. I want to stay ten years old forever.” She looked at me with puzzled eyes and inquired: “Why, son? Why don’t you want to grow up?”
I had thought about this matter a great deal and was able to reply rather quickly: “It just seems so tough to be a man. Daddy works so hard and is gone so much with his job. Uncle Joseph works at the Standard Oil long, long hours, and he just seems to hate every day of it.” (I would later come to appreciate the fact that my uncle’s complaints were actually expressions of how much he loved working there.) “Grandpa Millet works there too, and he has to ride his bicycle to work, and between working all night and spending much of the day building our new chapel, he looks run down. And he gets sick a lot. And then there are those men who don’t have jobs. You know, the ones that come by our house all the time and ask for something to eat. They look so lonely. Mama, I like being ten, and I think I’m just gonna stay right where I am.” Mom smiled and nodded.
Well, as fate would have it, and despite my protests, I grew older. And then there came that time when I was about fifteen when all I wanted was to grow up and be a man. Men were cool. They could buy cars and drive motorcycles, and they had pretty girlfriends and wives. They didn’t have to be in by 10 o’clock, and they could stay up late at night watching TV. And the ones I knew, although they certainly were not wealthy, always had money in their wallets.
A full-time mission grew me up in a hurry. Suddenly I was getting up at weird hours in the morning, walking down the streets of New York City or New Haven or Short Hills or Hartford, and knocking on the doors of people I didn’t know from Adam. I was fielding hard questions from hostile ministers who knew more about Mormonism than I did, and I was wondering how a nice kid from Baton Rouge had managed to get himself into such a mess. I was washing my own clothes, cooking my own meals (or something like that), ironing my shirts, and writing checks for our rent and food. When I was ten I hadn’t wanted to be a man, but now, whether I liked it or not, I was expected to act the part, even if I didn’t feel ready. Manhood had arrived. Ready or not, it had come.
As time went by, I stopped worrying about being a man and began to concern myself with a more specific issue: what kind of a man would I be? Would I be tough and macho, like John Wayne or Clark Gable? Tenderhearted and approachable like Robert Young (star of Father Knows Best) or Andy Griffith? A sports hero like Johnny Unitas or Arnold Palmer? Or would I be like some of the men in the Church I had encountered in the mission field? Would I ever be in a position to know the scriptures and teach the gospel with power and persuasion, like Harold B. Lee or Marion D. Hanks, general authorities who visited our mission regularly? Would I strive for the deep and profound spirituality of a Dewitt Paul, the patriarch in New Jersey, or Hugh West, the stake president in Connecticut? Would the day ever come when I would possess the dignity of Jay Eldredge, my first mission president, or would I ever adore and honor my wife like Harold Wilkinson, my second mission president?
Well, it’s now been about forty years since I entered the Eastern States Mission, when I began to form a few opinions about what mattered most and when it became clear to me what kind of a man I wanted to be. My wife, Shauna, and I were married in 1971 and had six wonderful children—and now the number of grandchildren is on the rise. I have been privileged to work for the Church for over thirty years, most of that with the Church Educational System, and the rewards have been sweet indeed. Life has been good to me and mine, even with our heartaches and our challenges. God has been mindful of us and has never forsaken us, even in our lowest moments. Now, as I approach sixty years of age, I find myself, oddly, asking: What kind of a man have I become? And even more strangely: What kind of a man do I yet want to be?
Being a man in the twenty-first century is not easy. My guess is that each of us, whether we are nineteen or ninety, finds himself posing the questions: What kind of a man am I? What kind of a man do I want to be? And certainly more poignantly, What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be? Things have changed in so very many ways from what I nostalgically and sentimentally call the “golden days” of the 1950s. Oh, there was crime and immorality back then, and indecency and corruption, to be sure. But it was a simpler time, a happier time, and evil had not spread its wings as broadly as they are spread today. Satan was alive and well in the days of Ozzie and Harriet and Beaver Cleaver, but the father of lies rules and reigns today on planet earth. It is, in fact, a great day for him, a day for the evil minions to celebrate their power. It is not unlike the time foreseen by Enoch the seer some five millennia ago: “And [Enoch] beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced” (Moses 7:26).
Modern man has yielded to the harsh, the crude, the vulgar, the profane, the immoral. Today’s television sitcoms portray the father of the family (if there is one) very differently than Robert Young or Ozzie Nelson or Ward Cleaver. Rather than being a warm, wise, and loving friend to his wife and children, the father is typically depicted as a clumsy buffoon, an inane and even unnecessary appendage. In creating that caricature, producers and directors have done irreparable damage to the God-ordained image of what may be one of the most significant roles and offices in eternity—that of a father, that of a real man.
Thank God for holy scripture, which provides example after example of boys who became men who changed the world for good. Thank God for men of our own time who have refused to adorn themselves in the robes of mediocrity and compromise and worldliness, who are what they are and stand up for what they are. And thank God for spiritual leaders in our time who teach timeless and timely lessons; who have no desire whatsoever to be popular, only righteous; and who hold tenaciously to absolute truths amidst the shifting sands of secularity in a world rapidly plummeting toward ethical relativism.
As men of the covenant—as those who have come out of the world into the marvelous light of Christ—we have a job to do. Mormon pleaded with his son, Moroni, at a time when they observed with horror the disintegration of their own civilization: “And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding [the people’s] hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God” (Moroni 9:6; emphasis added). They did, and we do. We have a world to awaken, a society to save, an ensign to erect, a message to deliver—a message containing glad tidings of great joy.
So many men in our world have been lulled into carnal security, have concluded that because they are not guilty of major violations of the law of the land or the law of God, all is well; some even within our own ranks fall into this category and have slipped ever so subtly into a spiritually comatose condition. Lehi’s message, given some six centuries before the coming of the Messiah, seems very applicable to our day and time: “O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound. . . . Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent. . . . Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity. . . . Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness” (2 Nephi 1:13, 14, 21, 23; emphasis added). Similarly, his son Jacob pleaded with the men of his day: “O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death” (Jacob 3:11).
Likewise, notice the sober warning and sublime promise from King Benjamin: “O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, . . . I pray that you should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:40–41).
As we take these warnings and promises to heart, we can partake of the magnificent power of the word of God that Alma the younger testified of. Speaking of how that power had transformed those taught by his father, he said: “Behold, [the Lord] changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word” (Alma 5:7; emphasis added).
In short, we teach the gospel, we proclaim the message of salvation, and we call ourselves and others to repentance in order that people might be awakened to a sense of their duty toward God (see Alma 7:22).
A testimony of the gospel is a necessary but insufficient condition for salvation. Even the devils “believe and tremble” (James 2:19). The importance of building upon one’s testimony and thereafter becoming truly converted is dramatically illustrated in the life of Simon Peter. Peter was a humble man, a fisherman, when he was called by Jesus to the ministry. As a member of the meridian First Presidency, Peter was frequently alone with the Savior and was privy to many of the moving and pivotal spiritual experiences recorded in the New Testament (see Matthew 14:28–29; 17:1–9; 26:37; Mark 5:35–43). There is little doubt that Peter was a good man with solid desires, one who had a testimony of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. After Jesus had preached his powerful Bread of Life Sermon, in which he identified himself as the true Bread of Life and the Living Manna, many of the disciples were offended and “walked no more with him.” Christ turned to the Twelve in a poignant moment and asked: “Will ye also go away?” Peter responded in deep sincerity and conviction, speaking for himself and the others of the Twelve: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66–69). At Caesarea Philippi some six months before the crucifixion, Jesus asked the Twelve: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Again answering for the Twelve, Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16–19).
Although the New Testament attests to the fact that Peter had a testimony, it also affirms that he was weak—that he slipped and stumbled and fell. Not infrequently he was chastened by his Master for his shortsightedness and impulsiveness. Almost immediately after Peter’s remarkable testimony at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus began to prepare his chosen Twelve for what lay ahead—his impending arrest, passion, and death. “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:21–23). Here we see that Peter, the rock or seer stone (JST John 1:42), had become a stumbling block. And of course there was the most classic of Peter’s blunders—when he denied knowing Christ on three separate occasions on the night the Savior was arrested (Matthew 26:69–74).
How could one who had a testimony fall short so often? How could one who knew as Peter knew slip as often as Peter did, even to the point of an outright denial? The answer to such questions seems to lie in a conversation between Jesus and Peter at the Last Supper. Jesus said: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31–32; emphasis added). Though Peter had a testimony, he was not fully converted. Inasmuch as the full power and gifts of the Holy Ghost were not given until the day of Pentecost, Peter had enjoyed only flashes of inspiration. After the resurrection of the Lord and after Pentecost and the accompanying baptism by fire, Peter and the Twelve would walk in a new light. One needs only to read the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles to witness a transformation in the man Peter. He is bold and certain and solid in his ministry—a permanent and indelible impression had been planted, for the Spirit had made Peter into a new creature in Christ.
As Peter and John walked through the Gate Beautiful on the way to the temple (as recorded in Acts 3), they passed a lame man who begged alms daily. President Harold B. Lee described this touching scene: “Here was one who had never walked, impotent from his birth, begging alms of all who approached the gate. And as Peter and John approached, he held out his hand expectantly, asking for alms. Peter, speaking for this pair of missionaries—Church authorities—said, ‘Look on us.’ And, of course, that heightened his expectation. ‘Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk’ (Acts 3:4, 6).”
President Lee continued: “Will you see that picture now of that noble soul, that chiefest of the apostles, perhaps with his arms around the shoulders of this man, and saying, ‘Now, my good man, have courage, I will take a few steps with you. Let’s walk together, and I assure you that you can walk, because you have received a blessing by the power and authority that God has given us as men, his servants.’ Then the man leaped with joy.”
Through the cultivation of the gift of the Holy Ghost, Peter was born again, converted, turned wholly to Christ and to His righteousness. Peter could now strengthen his brothers and sisters. “You cannot lift another soul,” President Lee added, “until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul” (Conference Report, April 1973, 178; emphasis added). Truly, “one is converted when he sees with his eyes what he ought to see; when he hears with his ears what he ought to hear; and when he understands with his heart what he ought to understand. And what he ought to see, hear, and understand is truth—eternal truth—and then practice it. That is conversion. . . .
“When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us” (Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 92).
President Lee called upon us to stand on higher ground, to place ourselves in a position to lift and liberate and lighten the burdens of others, to help them see things from an elevated perspective, to see with new eyes and feel with a new heart. “This journey to higher ground,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin explained, “is the pathway of discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a journey that will ultimately lead us to exaltation with our families in the presence of the Father and the Son. Consequently, our journey to higher ground must include the house of the Lord. As we come unto Christ and journey to higher ground, we will desire to spend more time in His temples, because the temples represent higher ground, sacred ground.
“In every age we are faced with a choice. We can trust in our own strength, or we can journey to higher ground and come unto Christ. Each choice has a consequence. Each consequence, a destination” (Conference Report, October 2005, 18).
You and I are not here on earth at this time by chance. We are here as a part of a grand plan of salvation, during an era in earth’s history when the forces of the enemy are combined (see D&C 38:12). But it is also a time when God has chosen to restore his holy priesthood through modern prophets and engage the forbidding enemies of the kingdom—attacks on marriage and the family, immorality, violence, insensitivity, and preoccupation and distraction—through the weak and the simple, that is, through those President Joseph F. Smith called “soldiers of the Cross” (Gospel Doctrine, 91). “Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit; And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; . . . and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them” (D&C 35:13; compare 1:19, 23).
I believe the message in the hymn “Rise Up, O Men of God” (Hymns, no. 324) is a plea, a call, a divine invitation for us to rise above the telestial tinsel of our time; to deny ourselves of ungodliness and clothe ourselves in the mantle of holiness; to reach and stretch and grasp for that spiritual direction and sacred empowerment promised to the Lord’s agents, to those charged to act in the name of our Principal, Jesus Christ; and to point the way to salvation and deliverance and peace in a world that finds itself enshrouded in darkness, a world that yearns for spiritual leadership. Nephi prophesied of a time when the power of the Lamb of God “descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). That day and the time are upon us. Let us step forward and respond enthusiastically to the call.
POINTS TO PONDER
1. What does it mean to “grow up unto the Lord” (Helaman 3:21)?
2. How often do I think about what kind of man I want to be? How often do I think about what others will remember most about me? What kind of priesthood legacy am I leaving?
3. The Prophet Lehi pleaded with his sons repeatedly to “Awake! and arise from the dust” (2 Nephi 1:14). In what ways do I need to wake up? How is it that I have been called to arise from the dust? (see D&C 113:7–10).
4. Peter was counseled by the Master at the Last Supper to become converted and then to strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:31–32). In what areas of my life do I need to undergo a conversion, a mighty change? How can my conversion then be used to lift and bless the lives of my brethren and sisters?
by Kim - reviewed on September 30, 2008
I bought this for my husband for Father's Day. It is a must read for priesthood holders.
A GREAT READ FOR ALL FAMILY MEMBERS!!
by katherine - reviewed on April 03, 2008
I love this book!! My father was called as bishop and was told that this was one of the best books to encourage him. And I love to read so one day I just picked it up and fell in love with it!!! It truly made me realize what kind of a future husband I want. This book was absolutely amazing and very uplifting,if I could give it 10 stars or more I would!!
ONE FOR ALL PRIESTHOOD HOLDERS
by Jason - reviewed on September 08, 2007
This is a must read for every priesthood holder (or potential priesthood holder). Brother Millet helps us to see the evils and temptations of our day and helps us to understand how to rise above them and be men of God. The book contains many scripture references as well as several life experiences and practical applications. This is one that should be read more than once to fully appreciate.
This helped remind me of the expectation, our Heavenly Father and I have for myself as the man I need to be-no matter what..
by Edward - reviewed on April 16, 2008
What has been written for us by Robert Millet, is an asset of reminding of the consistancy of 'THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED' for all of us and our families. We are reminded, we have the ability, desire, faith, and knowledge to follow thru in our positions/responsibility as husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers in Jesus Christ, both in our private family life, along with our professional environment to realistically be sons of God, in all times, in all places for ourselves and those around us as we rely on the 'TENDER MERCIES OF THE LORD'.
A Great Book for all Priesthood Holders
by Michael - reviewed on June 08, 2009
This is a great book to help remind all priesthood holders of their purpose and importance in society and life. It is a real easy read and flows wonderfully from topic to topic with a textbook type review after each chapter. I recommend reading the questions at the end of each chapter before reading the chapter to get the most out of the reading.
Positive and Uplifting
by Brynette - reviewed on July 02, 2009
I bought this for my husband for Father's Day and he loves it. He's regularly telling me about what he's read and it's importance for not only him, but for myself and our children. This book has already inspired him to make small but meaningful changes and he's not even finished it yet! Great addition to our library and our lives.