Text of Simplicity Talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins, from Area Broadcast

I received a reply from Elder Robbins through his secretary, with the text of his talk and permission to share it. It’s in the link below.

This is one of my favorite messages I’ve ever heard at church, and I hope it spreads far and wide. Even more so, I hope we try to live it.

Simplicity Final


Living On Borrowed Time

Something that often helps keep me on the right track is reminding myself that I’m living on borrowed time, that for all I know, I could have died any number of times and that I owe my ongoing existence to God.  This keeps me from being too lazy or too selfish, and I think helps me stay pretty grateful for life.

For example, two summers ago I was at Lake Powell in Utah.  I thought it might be fun to swim across the channel where our boat was docked.  For some reason, I didn’t tell anyone I was going out, and I didn’t put on a life vest.

About ten minutes into the swim, I realized I might get a cramp or kick some debris in the water or otherwise lose the ability to swim.  It was a pretty tense twenty more minutes until I made it to the other side.  (I’m not a strong swimmer, and apparently I’m not very bright.)

I guess something could have happened and I could have died, but that’s just one instance I know about.  Who knows how many times we’ve escaped a doom we’re not even aware of?

So any more time we get after those things–any time we have at all, really–can’t be squandered.  It’s precious, and we owe it to ourselves and to God to make something of it.

But this view also takes away fear.  If we’re living on borrowed time, then we have nothing to lose: every minute is just an extra bonus minute we’ve been gifted with.  So there’s no reason to hold back in service or sacrifice or any worthy goal, because our days are gloriously extended by a loving Father who lets us exercise our will to make the most of them:

I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?  

Mosiah 2:20-24

“Stop Grabbing the Electric Cupcake”

A valuable life lesson

A valuable life lesson

An analogy I came up with last week to help enlighten my students, far too many of whom have tried to slide by, giving the minimal amount of effort they could and still pass the class, and who (shockingly!) failed my class for the last grading period:

There’s a classic episode of The Simpsons where Lisa is doing a science experiment at home.  She puts a food pellet in a hamster cage, but attaches it to a little wire that’s hooked up to a battery.  The hamster nibbles at the pellet, gets a bit of a shock, and quickly gets as far away from it as he can.

Lisa notes in her journal that the hamster has learned a lesson.

Then she puts a cupcake in the kitchen, and likewise puts an electrified wire in the back.  Bart comes by and grabs for the cupcake.  It zaps him but, unlike the hamster, Bart does not learn his lesson.  He keeps grabbing the cupcake, and keeps getting zapped.  He’s immediately addicted to a pointless cycle of self-destruction.

Here’s the application:

Bart is like too many students who, seeing how delicious that cupcake is, keep letting their hunger for it overcome their common sense.

The cupcake is the elusive goal of getting by in a class without having to work very hard.

The wire and battery represent the inevitable failure that follows this course of action.

After all, as Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  How many kids must be thinking, “THIS time my plan to goof off and somehow be just good enough will surely work like a charm!”

Now, when I see students slacking off, or otherwise doing things that will hurt their chances for success, I tell them, “Stop grabbing the electric cupcake.”  They’re already sick of it.

If only I could get them to strive for the huge chocolate cake of well-earned achievement!