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“Because of”

My testimony of the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ is not only what I believe, but why. When we understand why we believe what we believe, we are more grounded, constant, and secure in our beliefs. Throughout my life, I have had numerous personal and intellectual experiences that affirm and re-affirm my testimony. I have learned that a testimony is complete when we add because of to what we believe and have experiences that complete the because query.

I know that God lives and loves me because I have felt His presence in my life. At Christmas this year, when I prayed and asked my Heavenly Father who I might help, a person came to mind who was not on my screen. Following this prompting, I offered support and learned that my help was both timely and an answer to her prayer. God hears prayers and at times He lets us be the answer to others’ prayers. When my father died, I felt a mix of gratitude that he did not unduly suffer and of great loss at missing him. While walking, I prayed for comfort and experienced in a lovely sunrise an undeniable and consoling spirit of peace that God knew and loved my father and that my father was in His loving arms. Whenever I have had major decisions in my life around marriage, family, living, or career, I have turned to God for confirmation. In small daily requests and in times of crises or significance, I have felt God’s enduring presence. He answers prayers by offering me quiet assurances and clear directions. When I approach Him, He responds. I know the Lord loves me and I try to love Him back by my actions.

I know that Jesus is the living Christ whose atonement allows me to repent and begin anew because I have experienced the joy of living his teachings and the liberating freedom of letting go. I have visited sites where He walked and taught and marvel at how teachings from 2,000 years ago continue to guide my life’s decisions. He lived and taught us how to live so that we may find joy in our lives by following His teachings. I am a Christian because I am devoted to Christ-like living. I try to follow the 10 commandments and serve others. Even more, I have made mistakes because of my many weaknesses and sins. I work hard to learn by facing and overcoming my weaknesses which enables me to grow. But, when my sins begin to limit my growth and lead to despair, I have turned to the redemptive power of Christ’s atonement. In ways I don’t fully understand, I can avail myself of Christ’s expiation and allow Him to exercise mercy on my part so that I can leave my sins behind. I am forever grateful that Christ took upon Himself the obligations of my sins so that I may let them go and move forward.

I know that Joseph Smith was a living prophet because I have studied his work and felt a confirming spirit, and that we have living prophets because I listen to their words. God works in patterns. He has always called prophets like Noah, Moses, Abraham, and Peter who are His spokesmen. The pattern continues. God chose an imperfect young man to be a means of restoring His gospel. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from ancient records which testify of Jesus Christ, but which also serve as a testimony of Joseph Smith, who could not have created this marvelous volume of scripture of his own accord. Those who study the Book of Mormon find incredible insights from ancient prophets who knew the gospel. Joseph restored the Priesthood, which has blessed my life as I have received and given blessings of comfort. Joseph followed the Lord’s counsel in establishing a church that shifted attention from Joseph as an individual and charismatic leader to a Church as an organization that would outlive any single individual. Joseph Smith is a remarkable prophet whom the Lord chose to re-establish His church. Since Joseph Smith, we have continued a pattern of living prophets who continue to receive insightful and timely revelation from a God who loves all His children. They anticipate life’s problems and communicate the Lord’s desire to help us avoid those problems. In a recent conference, in the midst of global economic despair, their message was not chastisement for not listening to previous counsel to stay out of debt, but of love and hope for what can be. I have a testimony of living prophets because their counsel offers hope.

I know that the Church enriches lives because I have been a part of this community of Saints. I like organizations and have studied them for twenty-five years. Organizations have personalities or capabilities that take on a life of their own. The identity of this Church is one of family and service. I have been blessed by being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I travel around the world and meet a member in Singapore, South Africa, Norway, Copenhagen, Helsinki, or Newark, we immediately have a common bond. We don’t know each other’s hobbies, lifestyles, or profession, but our shared beliefs unite us. These gospel brothers and sisters have helped me feel part of an extended family. When we were on a three-year mission for the Church in Montreal, one of our young missionaries got stuck in Washington DC in a city-closing snow storm. She was scared to death, being from another country and not knowing anyone. She borrowed a phone from a fellow passenger and called me in Montreal. Within minutes, I called a church leader in Washington DC whom I had never met and within thirty minutes our missionary was picked up at the airport and she then spent a few days in another member’s home, being part of an extended family of Saints. I have seen people’s lives change as they join the Church and experience this community. A lonely and discouraged sixty-year-old man in Montreal joined the Church and found, for the first time in his life, a family of caring people who accepted him. As he changed from being homeless to being in a new family, his life took on meaning and we could see a physical and emotional change in him. The Church blesses the world through its extensive welfare outreach work, and its members by letting them have an extended family that shares common values and in which members care about each other. Some of my favorite teaching is not working with business leaders, but the weekly Sunday School class with sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in our local church congregation. I come to love and care for them, as others have done for my children. We are a village who raise children and sustain adults. When asked to serve as a nursery leader in Sunday services of eighteen- to thirty-six-month-old children, as a Sunday School teacher of sixteen- or seventeen-year-olds, as a bishop (or pastor) of a 500-person congregation, or to preside for three full-time years over mission in Montreal, we have gladly accepted these assignments because they help us grow by helping others. And, we have received help from this community. When we moved to our new home, we were welcomed into our new ward family with open arms, and food. It is so nice to have personal friends who share our values and who don’t care much what we do professionally, but care for us for who we are personally.

I know that the doctrines of the church bring peace to my heart because they make sense and give direction and meaning to my life’s choices. We have been promised that we will know the truth by testing it, or we shall “know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16, 20). The fruits of the doctrine are many. Living the Word of Wisdom wherein we take care of our bodies, gives me health. Paying tithing, where we donate money to the church, helps me develop more fiscal discipline. Spending structured and unstructured time together as a family builds lifetime bonds with my wife and with our children. Attending the temple to make covenants renews my spirit. Taking the sacrament on Sunday renews my connection to Christ and helps me to feel His spirit in my life. Reading scriptures, saying personal prayers, and serving others helps me find meaning and purpose in my life. Being married, or sealed, for eternity gives me stability in my marriage. The doctrines of the church make sense. They are logical. Each doctrine has a blessing attached so that when we understand and live the doctrine, we have access to those blessings.

Faith can be complex, mysterious, and profound. For me it is also simple, straightforward, and pragmatic. I have a firm testimony of gospel principles “because of” my experiences. I know that the gospel offers similar blessings to those who will open their minds and hearts to its principles and practices.

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David O. (Dave) Ulrich is a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He studies how organizations build capabilities of leadership, speed, learning, accountability, and talent through leveraging human resources. He has helped generate award-winning databases that assess alignment between strategies, human resource practices, and HR competencies. Professor Ulrich grew up in Oregon and Missouri, graduated from Brigham Young University, and earned his doctorate in business at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)

He has published over 150 articles and book chapters, and twenty-two books: The Why of Work (2010; with Wendy Ulrich; McGraw Hill), Leadership in Asia (2009; edited book; McGraw Hill), HR Transformation (2009; with Justin Allen, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mark Nyman; McGraw Hill), Leadership Code (2008; with Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman; Harvard), Companion for Strategic Human Resources (2008; with John Storey and Pat Wright; Routledge), HR Competencies (2008; with Wayne Brockbank, Dani Johnson, Kurt Sandholtz, and Jon Younger; SHRM and RBL Group), Leadership Brand (2007; with Norm Smallwood; Harvard), Human Resource Value Proposition (2005; with Wayne Brockbank; Harvard), The Future of Human Resource Management (2005; with Michael Losey and Sue Meisinger; Wiley), Human Resources Business Process Outsourcing (2004; with Ed Lawler, Jac Fitz-enz, and James Madden; Wiley), 100 Things You Need to Know (2003; with Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo; Lominger), Competencies for the New HR (2002; with Wayne Brockbank; Society for Human Resource Management), Why the Bottom Line Isn’t (2003; with Norm Smallwood; Wiley), GE Workout (2002; with Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas; McGraw Hill), HR Scorecard (2001; with Brian Becker and Mark Huselid; Harvard), Results Based Leadership (1999; with Norm Smallwood and Jack Zenger; Harvard), Learning Capability (1999; with Arthur Yeung, Mary Ann Von Glinow, and Steve Nason; Oxford), Tomorrow’s (HR) Management (1997; with Gerry Lake and Mike Losey; Wiley), Human Resource Champions (1997; Harvard), The Boundaryless Organization (1995; with Ron Ashkenas, Steve Kerr, and Todd Jick; Jossey Bass), The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide (2002; with Ron Ashkenas, Todd Jick, and Katy Paul-Chowdhur; Jossey Bass); and Organizational Capability (1990; with Dale Lake; Wiley).

Professor Ulrich edited Human Resource Management 1990-1999, has served on the editorial boards of four professional journals, and was elected in 1994 as a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources. Among his many other honors, he received the Pro Meritus Award from the Employment Management Association in 1995, for “outstanding contribution to the human resources field,” and, in 1997, was given the Warner W. Stockberger Achievement Award by the International Personnel Management Association to “recognize an individual in private or public life who has made a contribution toward improvement of public personnel management at any level of government.” In 1998, he received lifetime achievement awards from the Society for Human Resource Management, the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment, and the Employment Management Association. In 2000, the World Federation of Personnel Management granted Professor Ulrich its George Petitpas Memorial Award for lifetime contributions, and he was listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the “world’s top five” business coaches. Business Week ranked him as the #1 management educator and guru in 2001, and, in 2005, Executive Excellence ranked him #2 management guru. That same year, Fast Company named him among the ten most innovative and creative thinkers of 2005. In 2007, he received both the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Training and Development and an honorary doctorate from the University of Abertay, in Dundee, Scotland. He was ranked the most influential person in the human resource field by HR Magazine in 2006, 2008, and 2009.

Accompanied by his wife Wendy, Professor Ulrich presided over the Canada Montreal Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2002 to 2005.

Posted December 2009