Called to be a Mission President

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Richard G. Scott

At one time I worked on the immediate staff of a very hardworking, demanding, misunderstood man who became the father of the nuclear navy that provided great protection for the United States at a critical time in world conditions. His name is Hyman Rickover. I have great respect for him. After eleven years in that service, I received a call from the First Presidency to preside over a mission. I knew I would have to tell Admiral Rickover immediately. As I explained the call and that it would mean I would have to quit my job, he became rather excited. He said some unrepeatable things, broke the paper tray on his desk, and, in the comments that followed, clearly established two points.

"Scott, what you are doing in this defense program is so vital that it will take a year to replace you, so you can't go. Second, if you do go, you are a traitor to your country."

I said, "I can train my replacement in the two remaining months, and there won't be any risk to the country."

There was more conversation, and he finally said, "I never will talk to you again. I don't want to see you again. You are finished, not only here, but don't ever plan to work in the nuclear field again."

I responded, "Admiral, you can bar me from the office, but, unless you prevent me, I am going to turn this assignment over to another individual."

He asked, "What's the name of the man who wants you?"

I told him, "President David O. McKay."

He added, "If that's the way Mormons act, I don't want any of them working for me."

I knew he would try to call President McKay, who was ill, and that conversation would benefit no one. I also knew that in the Idaho Falls area there were many members of the Church whose families depended upon their working in our program. I didn't want to cause them harm. I also knew that I had been called by the Lord. I didn't know what to do. Then, the words of the song we sang tonight began to run through my mind: "Do what is right; let the consequence follow" (Hymns, 1985, no. 237). While I had never contacted a General Authority in my life, I had been interviewed by Elder Harold B. Lee, so I had a feeling to call him. I explained that the admiral would try to call President McKay and would make some negative comments, but everything was all right and I would be able to accept my call. While doing that, my heart kept saying, "Is this going to turn out all right or will somebody be innocently hurt who depends on our program for livelihood?" The song would came back: "Do what is right; let the consequence follow." True to his word, the admiral ceased to speak to me. When critical decisions had to be made, he would send a messenger or I would communicate through a third party. We accomplished the changeover.

On my last day in the office I asked for an appointment with him, and his secretary gasped. I went with a copy of the Book of Mormon in my hand. He looked at me and said, "Sit down, Scott. What do you have? I have tried every way I can to force you to change. What is it you have?"

There followed a very interesting, quiet conversation. There was more listening this time. He said he would read the Book of Mormon. Then something I never thought would occur happened. He added, "When you come back from the mission, I want you to call me. There will be a job for you."

You will have challenges and hard decisions to make throughout your life. Be determined now to always do what is right and let the consequence follow. The consequence will always be for your best good. You will learn that it is easiest over the long run to stand for what is right and do the difficult thing to begin with. Once you take that position, following through is not too hard. An individual who cuts corners and justifies some departure from true standards, for whatever reason, finds that seeds are planted that produce problems later. Those problems are far more difficult to overcome than taking a correct stand initially.

Do what is right even though it seems you will be alone in so doing, that you are going to lose friends, that you will be criticized. What you will find is that by doing what is right, after a period of testing, the finest friends will be discovered and you can mutually support each other in your resolve to be obedient to all of the commandments of the Lord. I have never been sorry on any occasion that I stood for what was right even against severe criticism. You will learn that truth. You will also discover that when you have taken a determined stand for right, when you have established personal standards and made covenants to keep them, when temptations come and you act according to your standards, you will be reinforced and given strength beyond your own capacity, if that is needed. Difficulty comes when you enter the battle of temptation without a fixed plan. That is what Satan desires, for then you are ripe for defeat.

Personal Experience shared by Richard G. Scott at a BYU Devotional on March 3, 1996