Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (deceased) from his book ’21 Principles’ shared:
On occasion the Lord will give us vital spiritual guidance by inspiring others to share what they have learned.
Such mentors greatly enrich our lives through thoughtful communication of their knowledge and experience.
One of the great sources of help we can receive as we make our way through mortality comes from the presence in our lives of mentors, people who want to help us, who are interested in our well-being, who may have had better experience than we have. Such a person need not be older than we are, but should be someone who is willing to give counsel that is founded in principle and doctrine.
Some of the greatest lessons I have learned in my life have been taught to me by those brethren and sisters who have mentored me, given me counsel, seen me struggling with an issue and taken the time to share their experience and provide tremendous encouragement. Let me share with you an example of that. President Spencer W. Kimball was a very powerful mentor in my life. On one occasion I was struggling with something and he taught me a lesson with an example. He said, “What would happen if I put a rotten apple in a barrel of good apples?” Well I am not a horticulture expert, but I knew the answer that they would go rotten. He said, “What should you do?” I said, “Turn the barrel upside down, dump it out, and pur more apples in it.” He said, “Would that work?” I said, “Sure.’ He said, “No.”
Why wouldn’t it work? What was missing? He taught me that you’ve got to get down there and clean that barrel out, get rid of all the rot. Then you can put good apples in and they will stay secure. What was he teaching me? How to live life. When you make a mistake, you want to correct it, clean it out, so that the barrel is full of good apples.
To serve and to intentionally reach out to help each other is a great blessing. When you can become a mentor for another because of personal experience you have gained, do it. Age does not matter; experience does. It is very feasible for an experienced youth to mentor to someone very much his or her senior.
Sometimes just the way a person lives provides a mentoring experience for others. Such a mentor in my life was President Ezra Taft Benson. When he was Secretary of Agriculture, he didn’t lay down all the principles he had lived with. He built them into what he was doing. My father happened to be on his immediate staff, so I had an opportunity to be a little closer than normal what occurred. Organizations from around the country would organize caravans, hundreds of buses coming into the nation’s capital to pressure him to change his policy. He just stood there, listened to them, and politely said, “No.”
They threatened, “We’ll have the people vote against you.”
“Fine, as long as I have this assignment, this is the way it is going to be.”
When I would hear that Secretary Benson was going to be testifying on the hill, I would go up and watch in those committee meeting rooms how this great servant of the Lord reacted under tremendous pressure. He was accused of many things falsely in those hearings, but it never seemed to bother him. His integrity to what he felt was right was so firm and his convictions so deep that he wouldn’t let the adversity or even false accusation bother him. The only emotion I ever saw him during these experiences was once in a while the back of his neck would get a little red. That was all. He wasn’t movable. He stayed right on the path.
He was one day readjusting and reorganizing those who worked immediately for him, and he called a man into his office and asked him if he would accept the responsibility of being in charge of credit services for the Department of Agriculture. This man had another assignment, a lesser one, in the department, and he said, “Mr. Secretary, I’m very honored and pleased that you would give me that assignment. I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I think I would like to return to my office.” Elder Benson again invited him for this assignment, and he again graciously declined. Finally, Elder Benson said, “Ken, if you have anything in your office you would like, get it, because I would like you to come down here now and serve with me.”
That example was a tremendous one for the man who accepted the new assignment. He had an opportunity of living close to a man who was gifted and talented and was also obedient to the teachings of the Lord and was willing to give and share. The example changed his life, and he became a member of the Church. President Benson confirmed him a member. That man was my father. How grateful our family will ever be for the influence of that significant mentor in his life! ~Richard G. Scott, 21 Principles (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), 45-47)