The Modern Mighty Women of Israel

M. JOSEPH BROUGH
Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency
Speech given on Apr, 9, 2019

Well first of all, I’d like to thank President and Sister Worthen. I felt very, very welcome. The only thing you could’ve done to probably make me feel a little more welcome was a big, red “U” in the parking spot outside.  I didn’t see that. 

Wow, what a privilege to have just had General Conference. Before I begin my remarks, I thought of one thing that occurred and happened in my life that I would share with you. I was at a fairly public setting with an apostle, the general primary presidency and the young men’s general presidency. It was some official meetings, and in that meeting, the general primary president and the young men general president were saving a seat towards the front of the room. Like most of you, I was sitting towards the back and saving a seat for the other counselor at my right-hand side. In walked this apostle, he came right up to my side and said, “Joe, is it ok if I sit here?”  What am I going to say, “no, you’re supposed to sit up there.” So, he sat down at my side. 

After a few moments, I could tell that he was not feeling well and he grabbed my wrist, my right wrist, he was on this side and he said, “Joe, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m not feeling well.”  I encouraged him to go back to his room, that we had this, and we could inform him what happened later on because I knew he had an upcoming trip to Asia for about ten days.  He stayed; I could see a little bit of sweat at the side of his face and he took a drink of water, and he again grabbed my wrist and he said, “I was fine yesterday. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t feel very well.”  Again, I encouraged him to go back to his room, but he stayed.

Then, he grabbed my wrist again and he pulled a little toward me, looked me right in the eyes and he said, “Joe, are you happy?” 

I thought ‘are you kidding me’?  He’s sick and he is worried about me being happy?  I said, “Yes, I’m happy.” 

“Good, because I’m in charge of happy.”

I want you to know that those fifteen men that we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelator’s that spoke to us this last week, they feel they’re responsible for our happiness.  So, they speak directly to us. They ask us to do things.  I hope we adhere to what President Nelson said and asked, “Let’s run to repentance.  Let’s repent quickly.” 

Recently, I have reread and contemplated two messages that had a tremendous impact on me when I was your age.  They were both general conference addresses by members of the seventy.  ‘The Impact Teacher and ‘The Modern Might of Israel’.  I invite you to review those addresses at some other time. 

I would invite you now to consider this statement by President David O. McKay “There is no greater responsibility in the world than the training of a human soul.”

Before going much further, I would like to introduce my topic with a personal experience. When I was about thirteen years of age, we lived on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. It was a glorious experience for a young man who loved the outdoors.  In the spring we often had the experience of having a group of heifers that required constant and watchful care. For those of you who do not know what a heifer is, it is a female cow having her first calf.  This situation requires that you check on the heifers about every six hours, including getting up in the middle of the night, so that if one is having a difficult time it can be assisted so the rancher does not lose the mother and/or the calf.

On one occasion, a rather wild heifer was having difficulty and needed our assistance. My mother, father, and I gathered in the field to try and herd the heifer into a smaller corral where we could help her. At times, such herding can be rather challenging, especially when the herding result is not where the heifer wants to go. We were spread out, with my mother on my left, and my father on my right.  I was in the middle, being the youngest and the fastest. 

As we began to crowd the heifer, she bolted to our left in an attempt to pass between my mother and the fence.  My mother ran toward the fence to try to turn the heifer back, but I noticed that the angle she was going would allow the heifer to pass, so I took a deeper angle and ran as well. Watching out my right eye, I watched my mother slip and dive head first like she was trying to steal second base in the world series. As you can imagine, in a field full of cattle, there are these round, fresh brownish bases everywhere.  My mother most gracefully slid through one and was covered literally from face to her toes.  Naturally, it was quite funny and I began to laugh. 

My mother, being the great sport that she is, also began to laugh.  However, the heifer got past both of us and that was not pleasing to my father, who was not laughing.  My father ordered us to get around and turn that heifer back toward the corral. To his demand, my mother wisely replied, looking directly at me, “come on Joe, we are going to the house, he can do it himself.”  Well, I had a real dilemma; obey my father or obey my mother.  I made the correct choice; I followed my mother.

In the Old Testament, King David’s mighty men had developed the skills of a warrior to a very high degree. They were determined, and with faces of lion’s, completely without fear, they were prepared for any battle. 

I believe that some of Heavenly Father’s warriors could be called the modern, mighty women of Israel. 

During an attack on an English fort outside of Orleans, an arrow hit teenage Joan of Arc above the breast. In plain sight of everyone in the battle, while Joan had her wounds dressed, the French, who had been attacking all day long, faltered.  As her troops were retreating, Joan returned to the battle and stuck her banner on the edge of the ditch around the fort and declared “there should be no retreat!” Both the French soldiers and the English soldiers, who previously thought she was dead, or at least mortally wounded, were shocked. The French gained courage and attacked. The English were afraid and fled.

While the battle raging between good and evil, I have seen many a mighty, modern woman of Israel stick her banner in the ground, in her own way, as she takes a stand and defends the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained, “I have been remarkably blessed by the moral influence of women, in particular my mother and my wife.” Likewise, I have been blessed by righteous woman, impact teachers, who stand in holy places and declare there should be no retreat. 

The Apostle Paul taught: honor and they father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise that it may be well with thee and now mayest live long and on the earth.

When I was young, I thought this scripture meant that you lived long because your mother did not kill you for being disobedient. Today, I hope each of us will recommit to bring honor to our mothers by living the commandments of God. I hope each one of you will text your mother today and tell her that you love her. Now, you can wait until I’m finished to do that, on second thought, for some of you who are forgetful, do it now. 

Some of you, about half, are starting to say, well he is not talking to me. Remember, however, that you need one of these mighty women of Israel by your side in eternity.  Please do no wait until eternity to find her, this especially goes for my nephews that are here listening today.

For all of you as you listen, please remember that bringing honor to the mighty women of Israel in your life, will bring joy.

With regard to those impact teachers, President Russel M. Nelson said, “It would be impossible to measure the influence that such women have.  Not only on families, but also on the Lord’s church. As wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, as teachers and leaders, and especially as exemplars and devout defenders of the faith. 

President Dallin H. Oaks paid tribute to one specific mighty, modern woman during World War II.  He said, “My widowed mother supported her three young children on a school teacher’s salary that was meager. When I became conscious that we went without some desirable things because we didn’t have enough money, I asked my mother why she paid so much of her salary to tithing. I never forgot her explanation, “Dallin, there may be some people who can get along without paying their tithing, but we can’t. The Lord has chosen to take your father and leave me to raise you children, I cannot do that without the blessings of the Lord and I obtain those blessings by paying an honest tithing.  When I pay my tithing, I have the Lord’s promise that he will bless us and we must have those blessings if we are to get along.”

Please allow me to describe such impact teachers have done in my life. I can remember my own mother teaching that same principle of tithing to me.  When Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf counseled “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith”, I truly expected that his next comment would be to use my mother as a living example of that truth. 

My mother is a faith filled, modern, mighty woman in Israel. My grandmother is also such an example.  She was widowed when my father was two years old and one of my uncle’s just days old. She did not have a high school education, yet she was a modern, mighty woman in Israel. My uncle, who was only days old at the passing of my grandfather later wrote, “My dad lost his dad, that would’ve been my great grandfather, three weeks before he was born. His dad was also thirty-three at his passing. His mom died when he was seventeen, therefore no one to support him on a mission. He wanted all of his sons to serve missions and extracted a promise, as he was dying, that my mother see all of his sons would serve a mission.”

As a young man growing up, I was reminded many times of that promise that my mother made to my dad to see that each one of his boys would serve a mission.  I always knew that I would serve a mission. I always had a testimony of the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though I didn’t always do the right things, I think I was a little like Amulek in the Book of Mormon when he said “I never have known much of the ways of the Lord and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I had never known much of these things, but behold I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power. Yay, even in the preservation of the lives of this people, nevertheless, I did harden my heart for I was called many times and would not hear. Therefore, I knew concerning these things would not know.”

My grandmother is the one who taught my uncle of Lord’s mysteries and his marvelous power. My grandmother kept her promise, even though it required that she work three jobs while she supported two missionaries out in the field at the same time. Additionally, a schoolteacher boarded in her home and added to the family income.  I remember that same grandmother expecting me to continue to fulfill that promise made to my grandfather.  She successfully sent all of her grandsons, and many of her granddaughters, on missions. 

Remember what President Nelson said, “It would be impossible to measure the influence that such women have. Not only on family, but also on the Lord’s church.”

Well let’s try and measure the impact of this one, uneducated by worldly standards, modern, mighty woman of Israel.  Her posterity have now given more than 160 years of full time mission service. Four have served as mission presidents, and one is a mission president’s companion. Now, how many missionaries all over the world have been impacted by her? How many were invited and accepted the invitation to come unto Christ and become members of his church because of one, righteous woman?  President Nelson is right, we cannot measure the impact of even one such a woman, let alone all of them.

Sisters, brethren you can listen too, not all of you have the same plan in life. Not all of you will look and act exactly the same as you become modern, mighty women of Israel. The settings, the challenges, and the circumstances of your lives are unique to the plan Heavenly Father has for you, so let me suggest the setting in which you can be called upon to be a modern, mighty woman of Israel. Your strength is needed in each. 

Sisters, you might be a modern, mighty woman of Israel in the workplace.

Sister Julie Beck said to nurture is to cultivate, care for, and make grow.

Recently I was having a particularly difficult day, wrestling with issues. One of the meetings I attended that day, Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society General Presidency was present.  At the conclusion of the meeting, she kindly asked something like, “Joe, you don’t seem like yourself today. Is there something I can do to help?” She probably does not even remember that. I thought I was disguising my feelings very well.  As one of the modern, mighty women of Israel, she was caring for me as we served together. How simple, yet powerful.

May I mention another woman I know at church headquarters, she has no children, yet she has nurtured you and children as a Young Woman President and a Stake Primary President and she has helped edit every public talk, including this one, that I have given in my calling as a member of the Young Men General Presidency. As an impact teacher, she has the ability to help cultivate, care for and make grow in the process of offering words, thoughts and meaning that are amazing.

You might be a modern, mighty woman of Israel in the face of great tragedy. 

One such modern, mighty woman of Israel is your age. She served as a missionary with us in Guatemala. She just finished her graduate degree and will soon be getting married. During our service, she and her companion were kidnapped. Heavenly Father will not let me to share that difficult and miraculous experience with you today, but the Spirit does allow me to quote one of the first things she stated upon her release, “We taught them, meaning the kidnappers, all of the lessons.”

Recently she had to face the loss of her father in a tragic accident. After the accident, but before his passing, she told my wife and me that she knew Heavenly Father had prepared her to face hard things. In a humble, and committed manner, she indicated that she was prepared and would valiantly face what Heavenly Father asked of her. Of course, she wanted her dad to survive, yet she knew she was prepared to accept the will of Heavenly Father.  She taught her Mission President what it means to be a modern, mighty woman of Israel.

You might be a modern, mighty woman of Israel in a leadership role. 

In his plea to his sisters, President Nelson said, “The kingdom of God is not, and will not be complete, without women who make covenants and keep them. Women who can speak with the power and authority of God.”

The woman, who has affected me and speaks with that power and authority, is my beautiful bride.  It is amazing how many times I get credit for what my wife has done. For example, if you ask the missionaries who have served with us in Guatemala what one thing they have learned in the mission field, invariably they will say something like, “faith in Jesus Christ combined with exact obedience brings miracles, or faith in Jesus Christ combined with exact obedience give us power.”

That is what she taught, she taught it at every moment; no, she lived it. Sometimes I get the credit, but she was the actual impact teacher. She could teach it so simply. She reminded the missionaries that there was no room for doubting when we are exercising faith in Jesus Christ.  She lovingly taught that exact obedience was not perfection, rather it was keeping the commandments as best we can and when we fall short, repenting quickly. It was not tomorrow. There was true remorse and repenting today. 

When the age reduction for missionaries was announced, we received a tremendous influx of sister missionaries. At times, we had a difficulty selecting the right areas where we should have sisters serve. As a result, we ended up with a zone in Antigua, Guatemala where the majority of missionaries were sisters. It had approximately eight elders and fourteen sisters if I recall correctly.  In one zone conference, we focused on the sisters, however, as my wife was teaching, the spirit prompted her to pay particular attention to one of the few elders in the meeting. She stopped and walked over in front of one of our district leaders who was nearing the end of his mission, she looked right in his eyes and said something like, “Elder, do you know President Brough and I love you?”  I watched that missionary’s eyes fill up with tears.  I knew him as a very good missionary and thought he obviously knew of our love.  Later, in a private setting, he told me that he had decided he was going home, he was going to return home from his mission and go inactive. He did not feel loved. To be honest, I was shocked, but that moment changed everything. 

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “women bring with them into the world, a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities such as faith, courage, empathy and refinement in relationships and in culture.”

I witnessed that divine gift as my wife cultivated and cared for that missionary in her role as a mission leader. I recently spoke with him and he is doing just fine.

You may be a modern, mighty woman of Israel in your home. 

Remember, to all of you who are mothers, or who will be mothers in this life or in the life to come, Elder Christofferson declared “in all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person, in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teachings, her sons learn to respect womanhood, and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their virtue and to stand up for what’s right again and again, however unpopular.  A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses. To be serious about education and personal development and to make ongoing contributions to the wellbeing of all around them.”

I am saddened when I hear one of these impact teachers or modern, mighty women of Israel say, “oh, I’m just a mother.”  Just a mother, just a great exemplar and defender of the faith.

We must honor those we call mom. In addition to your texting your mother, I would like to invite each one of you to reach out today to one of those impact teachers, or mighty, modern woman of Israel who has influenced your faith and commitment to the Savior and his earthly Kingdom. Do it now if you need to so you don’t forget.

To the mighty women of Israel, who have anchored their banner in the ground declaring there should be no retreat, we appreciate you.

I would like to thank the modern, mighty women of Israel in my life who have stood faithfully against the adversary and lived their testimony declaring that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true.  You have influenced me so that I can also declare that I know those same things to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes

1. See Vaughn J. Featherstone, “The Impact Teacher,” Ensign, November 1976; and Monte J. Brough, “The Modern Mighty of Israel,” Ensign, November 1993.

2. Featherstone, in “Impact Teacher,” paraphrasing David O. McKay, “Guidance of a Human Soul—The Teacher’s Greatest Responsibility,” Instructor 100, no. 9 (September 1965): 343: “Teachers have the greatest responsibility of ­anyone in the world—the guidance of a human soul!”

3. Brough, “The Modern Mighty of Israel;” quoting from 1 Chronicles 12:1, 8; see also 2 Samuel 23:8–39.

4. Scott Manning, “Joan of Arc’s Military Successes and Failures,” 6 January 2010, Historian on the Warpath, scottmanning.com/content/joan-of-arc-military-successes-and-failures.

5. D. Todd Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women,” Ensign, November 2013.

6. Ephesians 6:2–3.

7. Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” Ensign, November 2015.

8. Dallin H. Oaks, “Tithing,” Ensign, May 1994.

9. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join with Us,” Ensign, November 2013.

10. Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know,” Ensign, November 2007.

11. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters.”

12. Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women.”

13. Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women.”

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M. Joseph Brough, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, delivered this devotional. 

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