Elder Groberg shares personal experiences to help people make life choices

Written by: 
LeeAnn Lambert
Elder and Sister Groberg talk with a student after devotional on Dec. 6

Making decisions such as who to marry, what career to choose and where to live, said Elder John Groberg in his Dec. 6 devotional address to the BYU-Hawaii student body, will be easier if they listen and obey the prophets, counsel with older, experienced people who can show them the way, faithfully fulfill church callings and seek inspiration from God.

“You should get the facts, weigh your options, counsel with good people, but above all sincerely ask God: Is this the person I can best work together with to build thy kingdom?” said the emeritus LDS Church general authority about deciding who to marry. “If you are sincere, I know from personal experience that god will answer your prayers.”

During his talk, Groberg said he felt inspired to share stories from his life and showed video clips from the movie “The Other Side of Heaven,” released in 2001 about his mission to Tonga and his relationship with his sweetheart, Jean.

Katherine Christensen, a senior majoring in TESOL, said of Groberg’s devotional address, “I loved that he used his personal experiences to help teach us. Each time he speaks it is so profound and you can see a recurring theme. The thing that inspired me the most was how he explained very simply that our No. 1 goal should be to build the kingdom of god with our whole hearts. Once we have done that, every life decision afterwards should be dependent upon it.”

Brandon Kamimoto, a junior in psychology from Mililani, said, “I thought it was interesting first off that he used clips from the movie to explain his thoughts. But the message was great, hearing him talk about having faith and trust in the Lord to deliver us from times of tribulation.”

Kamimoto added, “Also, when he started to talk about finding a partner in life who will help in building the kingdom of God; it talked to my soul and gave me a new perspective about choosing a lifetime partner.”

Tiffany Greer, a junior from Virginia studying elementary education, said, "The devotional was so powerful. I have always found Elder Groberg's story to be so inspiring. By seeing him in person, after hearing of his story in 'The Other Side of Heaven,' was affirmation of his testimony of the gospel. It was so moving."

Groberg said his “mission to Tonga was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I loved everything about it. It was right for me, just as everyone’s mission is, or will be right for him or her. What a joy to know that you are called by a prophet of God to serve where you can best help build his kingdom.”

Groberg met his wife on a blind date before becoming a missionary. When he left for his mission in Tonga, they had only agreed to write each other, he said, and then see how they felt when he returned home.

But while on his mission traveling between islands, Groberg said his ship capsized. As he desperately swam to shore, he said he came to understand that god knew him, and miraculously he felt Jean’s hand and heard her voice during the ordeal.  Because of that experience, he said he “knew what I should do when I got home… Sometimes it is in the midst of incredible turmoil that we are able to see so clearly that other concerns just fade away. I testify that as we sincerely strive to build and strengthen the kingdom of god, he will always help us see ‘the next step.’”

Introducing Groberg before he spoke in the Cannon Activities Center, was his wife, Jean. She said her husband “loves all people because he sees them as children of god with unlimited potential…We love you wonderful youth of Zion. Expect marvelous changes as you go forth to serve and prepare for Christ’s second coming.”

She said when he got home from his mission, they were married in the Los Angeles Temple. He went to BYU in Provo for his bachelor’s degree and then Indiana University for a master’s in business administration before returning to Idaho to work in the real estate developing business.

In talking about choosing a career, Elder Groberg said to use the same advice of listening to the prophets, counseling with older mentors, building the kingdom of God, and praying for inspiration. “I love you all and assure you that the Lord will help you see clearly what you should do to build his kingdom. I also promise you that as you faithfully build his kingdom in the way he desires, he will give you the strength to act properly and fulfill your purpose in life and fill you with unspeakable joy.”

Groberg was called as a bishop in Idaho at age 27, said his wife. In his 30s and with five children, the family went to Tonga when he was called to be a mission president. He later became a regional representative and then a member of the Quorum of the Seventy in 1976. Over the years, they moved their family to Hawaii, Argentina and Hong Kong, and their family grew to 11 children.

Speaking of Jean and himself, he said, “In all we tried to do, we had as our primary goal: To do what God wanted us to do to help build his kingdom in the way he wanted us to.  We made mistakes, as we all do, but we continued to try.” He added, “Building the kingdom of god, largely through our family, is not only our greatest duty, but also our greatest source of joy.”

After being given emeritus status as a general authority in 2005, Jean Groberg said, her husband was called to be the president of the Idaho Fall Idaho Temple.

Groberg urged people to never aspire to any church calling but always accept whatever calling they are asked to do and then put their whole selves into doing that calling well. He said there are a limited number of people called to leadership positions but there are no limits to callings for mothers, fathers, teachers, and good members. “I assure you that any and every call is as important as any other in building the kingdom. Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to decide where to serve, only how to serve?”

Talking about President David O. McKay’s prophesy that BYU-Hawaii will prepare men and women to establish peace internationally and build up the church, Groberg said, “It took many years and lots of work, but the vision that President McKay saw so clearly is coming to pass and you are part of it... what a glorious privilege to be part of its fulfillment.”

Xay Pastores, a TESOL sophomore from the Philippines, said, "I really love what Elder Groberg said about doing our part to build the kingdom of god. We have that great privilege to be part of the building of his kingdom here on earth but sometimes we forget it. We forget who we are and who we can become. But as we see ourselves as how the Lord sees us, we will do better, and we will have the desire to improve each day.

Pastores continued, “I think of the few years that I am here in BYU-Hawaii and ask these question to myself,  ‘Is what I am doing right now helping me fulfill my purpose?’ and ‘What can I do right now in order to be what the Lord wants me to be?’ These questions help me to get back right on track. I know that if I have the vision of my Father in Heaven in me and act upon it now, I will be a blessing to others especially my home country and those I serve.”

For additional direction and power to keep the commandments, Groberg encouraged people to get patriarchal blessings, attend the temple, and never deny truth once it has been revealed to them. ”Dedicate everything you have or ever will have — all that you are or ever will be — to building and strengthening the kingdom of god,” he said. “As you do, I promise you that the Lord will lead you along — step by step — here a little, there a little — until you become what he wants you to become.”


Date Published: 
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Last Edited: 
Thursday, December 15, 2016