Dan Clark is an award winning motivational speaker and best selling author. He has traveled to 59 countries in the world motivating the masses to create a life of significance. He has also served as a Young Single Adult (YSA) bishop (twice). I first came across Dan’s speaking ability when I listened to his BYU Devotional. It inspired me to be a better leader in the Church and it inspired me to get him on the podcast as soon as possible. After a few miraculous encounters, I was able to meet Dan and he willingly agreed to sit down with me for an interview.
This is definitely one of the top 3 interviews I have done on Leading Saints and I am excited to share it with you. We discuss his young football career at the University of Utah, how he became a motivational speaker, his time teaching public speaking at BYU, how he was called as a YSA bishop, what he learned from that calling, how to run a linger-longer, how to increase the rate of marriage in a YSA ward, how to increase the quality of teaching in a ward, the power of stories and how to record them, and other basic guidance for public speaking in church.
Transcript is available below.
Dan’s 21st book, The Art of Significance
Book: The New Drug
Kurt Francom (LS): I had the opportunity to be be invited to Dan Clark’s home and— how are you Dan?
Dan Clark (DC): I’m great Kurt. How are you, Bishop?
LS:Good. Well, you know I appreciate— you’ve been kind of on my bucket list of interviews for a while and I think my first initial introduction to you was when (remove the I)you gave a devotional address at BYU and I think I’d probably been familiar with some of your work before, but that was sort of one of those moments I was like, “Wait, that guy is Mormon?” [laughter] So— and I really enjoyed them and I thought, “I’ve got to track him down and see if I can interview him,” and we randomly ran into each other at an event and I said, “Hey! Would you mind if I interviewed you?” and you were so gracious to say, “Yeah, come on over and we’ll do it,” so I appreciate that.
DC:Oh thanks, you just— your comment reminds me of my mentor, Zig Ziegler- he used to always say, “If somebody has to ask if you are a Christian, you must be doing something wrong,” so I apologize that you didn’t know that I was a Mormon. [laughter]
LS: Obviously I didn’t have too much experience with you to make a moral judgement on your background but …
DC: On on funny note, I’m a public speaker so I’m usually on a huge stage. Most of my audiences are about four to ten thousand folks and there is always kind of like a follow spot . Back in the day I used to have the craziest comments. People would come up and go, “Are you a Mormon?” and I’d just look and them and smile, and I’d say something like, “Why, do I glow?” and they would say, “Oh no, I saw your garment mark on your suit pants,” and I’m like, “Are you serious?” That’s just funny.
LS: Well, all the way from the top tier and they can pick you out?
DC: Oh yeah, that’s funny, so— proud to be Mormon, proud to be a Latter-day Saint.
LS: Nice, now many people may know you as an author. You’ve written twenty one books, right? Just finished your twenty first book. Did it come out recently?
DC: Actually it’s been out since 2013, its called, “The Art of Significance: Achieving the Level Beyond Success”, and I was always fascinated by how Stephen Covey secularized the doctrine and covenants and turned it into “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and you know a lot of authors smile and people even slam him for doing that but I’m thinking, “You know, what greater proof do you have of truisms than revealed Word?” So I took a sheet out of his book, if you will, and I identified what I call, “The Ten Highest Universal Laws of Life Changing Leadership”, and before I took it to the final edit, I made sure that I cross referenced it with the Scriptures and with revealed Word of God from the prophets, and yes I gave the prophets um— credit, but I didn’t say, “the Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley,” I just said, “theologian and hero, Gordon Hinckley,” or Uchtdorf or whomever I quoted but I did give credit where credit was due and I think that the response I’ve had is so amazing it’s similar to the response that Covey got with “Seven Habits” because I would hear so many Southern Baptists, so many folks who are famous for being anti-Mormon say, “You know, I don’t believe Steve Covey’s theology but man, do I love the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and I just smile, thinking, “If they only knew.” He should have just quoted D&C 15 or D&C whatever and he didn’t but we— we know, and so—
LS: Yea, truth is truth and—
DC: Yep, whether it is found on Christian ground of heathen ground.
LS: Yea, for sure. So you’ve now traveled the world being a motivational speaker— but let’s back up a little bit, kind of tell us— you mentioned your uncle, your great-uncle was J. Reuben Clark.
DC: Yea. You know, as an athlete at East High School and recruited around the country from some different universities and everyone just assumed that I would go to BYU because my uncle was J. Reuben Clark and when I decided to go to the University of Utah, it created no small stir amongst the people— as you know it was an interesting experience— never to slam the MO of the time— At the time at BYU, but when I came out of high school in 1973, I still remember being convinced that I didn’t have to serve a full-time two-year mission if I went to BYU that as an athlete— as a scholarship athlete, that would be my mission and so many of the guys my age that were recruited— I remember going on recruiting trip with Gifford Neilson and so many of the guys were exactly the same age, played against each other in high school, and most of the gents my age who went to BYU did not go on a mission. Gifford Neilsen did not serve a full-time mission, ya know, he’s a GA now—
LS: Yea, they’ve got him working now but— [laughter]
DC: He’s great human being but I’m just saying that my mission saved my life. That was the greatest two years of my life and would not have had a full-time mission had I played football and baseball at BYU so— I’m proud that I’m a Ute. I’ve taught public speaking at BYU for four and a half years which is amazing to show up in my red tie and have so many (inaudible) in my classes but I honor BYU, I love it— It’s the Lord’s university— it’s an amazing group of young men and young women— um but I’m still a Ute.
LS: Nice, so going back when you left for your mission— you went to Ireland right?
DC: Yes sir.
LS: So was that a tough decision then or you had made that early on that you were going to serve?
DC: No, it was a tough decision because when you pursue sports your whole life and you give all of your attention, your identity is caught up in being an athlete, and then you work hard and I was the starting defensive end my sophomore year at the University of Utah, so you start getting some publicity, and remove “get” a lot of attention, articles in the school Chronical and the Deseret News, its tough for you to walk away and accept a full-time call to be a missionary so— I really believe that was an inspiration to me— not only did it help me straighten out my life and get my priorities in line, but was an opportunity for me to feel like I was sacrificing something, I was giving up something to become part of something larger than myself— more than a football team and so going into the mission field, I had a little bit different attitude than some— meaning that I was so fired up to give it everything I had, when less would be sufficient, that the transition of going to the MTC— and just working hard, was not really a big deal to me. Ya know, it was just like, “Oh my gosh, “ and then I get sent to Ireland where we get in rock fights every day with the IRA, ya know, it was just basically going 2-a-days.
LS: Nice, nice. [laughter] Now with your— have you always— are you naturally this well spoken motivational type speaker, did you feel like that translated to your mission, or was that just starting to develop?
DC: Yea, I wasn’t really— I didn’t really like to read. I was probably a lousy speller and I could probably make people laugh in the back of the room but I could no more stand in front of the room and give a speech then fly to the moon. So my mission was really the transitional period of my life that laid the foundation for me becoming a public speaker even though that wasn’t my goal as things worked out it turns out to be my full-time profession.
LS: Wow, so at the time— just like every other collegiate athlete— you were headed to the NFL type of goal?
DC: Yes, that was my goal. Baseball was my best sport so I had dreams of playing professional baseball as a pitcher and yes, I was a projected number one draft pick by the Oakland Raiders coming out of college. I got hurt so— the rest, as they say, is history. You know, now that I look back on it, we wouldn’t be having this interview had I not been paralyzed playing football and so my injury clearly is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I don’t want the listeners to misunderstand that I’m saying the accident is the best thing that happened to me but who I became as a man, and what I discovered about life and priorities as a result of going through the setback clearly makes it one of the best things that ever happened to me. So really and truly, what we learned from the “Doctrine and Covenants”, that these things will give you experience, that they are for our good, that adversity introduces us to ourselves. No one will ever know how good we can become until we’re actually tested. It— it played out in my life, ya know, I really believe in the power of quotes and I’ve had the privilege as a professional speaker and author to try to come up with my own quotes and I suppose two are my most famous, “Pain is signal to grow not to suffer”. Once you learn the lesson the pain is teaching you, the pain goes away. So in life, there are no mistakes, only lessons,” and quote number two, “Crisis does not make or break the man or woman, it just reveals the true character within.”
LS: Amen brother. So after your mission, obviously you have this injury and that was— and I know you’re paralyzed— you talked about in the devotional— it was well over a year that you were paralyzed.
DC: Fourteen months and I wasn’t just paralyzed physically, I was paralyzed emotionally. You know if you are walking down the street and you fall over and you break your leg, and especially if it’s a compound fracture, strangers will stop and help you get medical attention. But If you break your heart, if you shatter your dreams and no one sees it, and we live in a culture via big boy don’t cry, most people don’t run to your rescue. So it’s more of a lonely, “cave-dweller man” mentality — that I can deal with this, I can handle it and as I said in the devotional, since you reminded me, I had people come up to me who cared and said I know what you’re going through and I used to think, “You don’t have a clue,” you know, let me rip your arm off, let me shatter your dreams, let me paralyze you for fourteen months and see how it feels. And because of the nature of this podcast, you know, the average person talks between 100 and 200 words a minute and yet we think between 200 and 400 words a minute— which means no one ever knows everything that we think. No one ever knows everything we feel. No one ever knows everything that we really want to say— the author Thoreau was right when he wrote, “Men lead lives of quiet desperation.” A lot of us have been alone in a crowded room, alone. A lot of us have felt lonely in loved ones arms and so at the end of the day, there is only one who really knows, and that’s the Savior. You know, the Atonement is more than just all-encompassing forgiveness of sins, it’s all of our pain, all of our sorrow, all of our shattered dreams and ironically through my injury I am even grew stronger in my knowledge of the Atonement— my understanding of the Atonement and my personal relationship with the Lord is stronger than ever before— became stronger than ever before having had to deal with the personal conversion on a daily basis. Why did this happen to me? How can we team up? How can I get this joint venture with heaven back in place where I pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on me. And even though I had a strong— strong powerful testimony of the Savior and of the Lord and of the church and of all things good as far as our Gospel goes, I was hurt after my mission and it shook me for a while and I really had to figure out what it was all about and realize that it was about deepening my relationship with the Savior.
LS: Wow, so that obviously— the NFL was not an option at that point.
DC: No, and you know it’s— it’s interesting how I don’t know — If I would have been humble enough to fall in love with my wife. Where if I would have been in a place where I could have introduced myself or been introduced to my wife— now we have four beautiful children and an amazing family and you know, all the other opportunities I’ve had to teach, to talk to millions of people all over the world, in fifty-nine countries now, would never have happen had I not been hurt playing football. And its one of those questions that I’m going to ask the Savior in the first two minutes of my interview— you know, why did this happen? You could have healed me instantaneously but you didn’t. You know, why didn’t I get that change of a lifetime to be a professional athlete and make my dream come true— and it never happened but something else did.
LS: So how did that remove second “That” injury was sort of the beginning that launched you into the career of motivational speaking and traveling the world and doing what you do?
DC: Yes, sixteen doctors told me I would never get any better and as I started to get better, I was asked to speak. And, you know, you have seven minutes of material originally so you invite other friends to join you on the platform and pretty soon I— I started coming up with stories and experiences and then I could embellish my recovery because it was actually happening in real time. And yea it’s amazing how things just happen as they are supposed to happen and it helped me understand that everything is always okay in the end and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
LS: Wow, and tell us— how did you— how did Zig Ziegler become a part of your life and what was that experience like?
DC: When I was hurt, at the University of Utah, the Vice President, Norm Gibbons, brought me a cassette tape to listen to by a “motivational speaker” by the name of Zig Ziegler. I thought, “well his mom ran out of names.” So out of curiosity I plugged it in and I listened to it and it changed my life and all he did was tell stories and one particular story resonated with me about a West Texas wildcat oilman who continuously drilled for oil trying to strike it rich and one his last day— on his last dollar he actually hit such a large reserve of oil under the ground that it gushed out of the ground with such force that it destroyed the derrick and as Zig would say, “ and the man become an instant millionaire, or did he?” The oil had always been there, all he had to do was figure out a way to drill down and get it out to use it as it was meant to be used and for some reason that resonated with me— that you don’t have to think outside the lines, you don’t have to think outside the box because what if the answers are still in the box.— that everything required of us to become all the we were born to be is already inside of us. All we have to do is associate with the right people. And since then, I have realized that we become the average of the five people we associate with the most, which means, if you hang around five broke people you’re going to become the sixth. If you hang around with five negative whining people, you’re going to become the sixth. And the flip side of that is that we must be wiling to pay any price and travel any distance to associate with extraordinary human beings. And so, what happened was— when Zig Ziegler was coming into town to do one of these big PMA rallies at the Huntsman Center, and his tape had changed my life— it had literally saved my life, I had hit so far rock bottom and I’d lost my identity and didn’t think I could get back up and go again, I positioned myself backstage so that as soon as his forty-five to sixty minute keynote speech, I yelled out to him, “Zig, you changed my life! You touched my life, you saved my life! Can I take you to dinner?” and he said, “Call my office and talk to Lauri Majors, I’m coming back to Salt Lake City in three weeks to do a followup seminar and we can get together then.” So I hounded Lauri everyday and finally she said, “Mr. Ziegler said you can pick him up at the airport and take him to his hotel and I’m thinking, “that’s fifty minutes if I get lost but I’m going to take a chance.” So I pick him up and drive him to Hotel Utah— beautiful building which is now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and by the time I got him to the front door of the hotel he said, “Is there any place I can see this program you’ve been doing in the Utah schools?” and I laughed and said, “Yea, I’ve rented a little small ballroom and I’ve got the whole slideshow— the deal set up. May I present it to you?” and he laughed and said, Yea,” so it was mono on mono and fifty-five to sixty minutes later, after I gave him my program, he was in tears, I was in tears— he gave me a one person standing ovation, flew me to Dallas, Texas the next week to speak to his entire company, x sponsored me in the National Speakers Association the next week— I met him in Chicago for ten days for the National Convention and he took me under his wing and just basically x made me his guy and mentored me for the next twenty-five years. You know, when I first got started, I kind of alluded to it— when I was getting better and I was asked to speak x I presented my idea to the Utah State Office of Education and Lyla Betoken was the president who started Utah Youth Village and she was impressed they unanimously voted to help me— and they endorsed me to have me speak to the Utah State Legislature so I went up to the capitol building, spoke to al the legislatures and they voted to sponsor me to speak to every high school and junior high in the state of Utah in 1982 and 1983. So after that first year of over 100 schools in ’82 when I had this conversation with Zig, he was so intrigued by how many speeches and how many schools I had already spoken to, why he allowed me to present him with my sixty minute high school assembly program at the Hotel of Utah, which basically was serendipitous— more than serendipitous and led to my career.
LS: Wow, talk about an intimidating crowd. It’s one thing to stand in front of ten thousand people— it’s one thing to stand in front of one and when it’s Zig Ziegler— right? But it worked out and what a great remove second “what a great” story.
DC: Yea, and it actually— because this is an LDS podcast, you know, Zig is a— vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention which are the most famous anti-mormons, it was a chance for me to always slide in my testimony— my relationship. He has a— he gave me his Bible and signed it, you know, I have it upstairs in my library, but he would always, you know, spear head— keeping us from building a temple and, ya know, in Highland Park— old money section of Dallas, Texas— but as soon as the Lord pulled his strings and we got the clearance, he would always write me a letter— Zig would always write me a letter, you know— I appreciate your character and an honor you as a young man and even though we don’t agree on theology, I honor you as a human being and I know your families come first and he would say all the right things about the church and I would realize as I would attend his Sunday school class— down at the First Baptist Church in Prestonwood, Texas— it was like a motivational speech— his with the Bible in his left hand. And I attended his Sunday school class many times over the years— right across the street from a (stake?) center, so it was easy for us to see the great spacious building out the window as we were partaking of the sacrament, but x it was an opportunity for me to always try to showcase the integrity of our Gospel message in our church and have some conversations with him and speaking to several other churches other than the LDS church, you know, I spoke to the Catholic Dioceses in Ohio and Missouri— a lot of the places where they still have a strong x hold, Episcopal Diocese, multiple times to the Seventh Day Adventists, the Souther Baptist Convention, Fellowship of Christian Athletes— which are predominantly young people who are taught to me anti-mormon and to be able to show up and in my own way testify and bare my testimony and to have the world know that I am LDS but we definitely are Christian and don’t you ever question that again or I’m going to rip your lips off kind of a deal— you know?
LS: So generally speaking I mean they all knew kind of your background in the church and some put up with it, some embraced it, but—
DC: Yeah, in fact, coming up in November here in Salt Lake City, I’m the keynote speaker for the Ecumenical Council non-denominational meeting and it’s valley wide, you know, it’s kind of a state wide deal, so every denomination will be represented— the Jews, Islam, Hindus— we have all different kinds of denominations and I’ve been thinking and praying about what my message would be— and obviously I don’t want to offend anyone by just talking about Jesus— but I think the one individual— the one belief we have in common is almighty God and I’ve had extraordinary experiences through answers to prayer— direct answers to prayer, priesthood blessings— which I don’t need to refer to as priesthood blessings but prayers to Heavenly Father— who helped heal me, who helped me in incredible ways and I think that’s kind of our greatest asset as a Latter-day Saint— is to not put too much emphasis on what makes us different but to find the commonalities of what makes us the same— the same God who made you, made me too and you can’t convince me that there are four gods in heaven arguing who their promised people are and who they are going to bless and who they are not going to bless. There is not a Christian god, and a Jewish god, and a Muslim god, and another kind of god— there’s one God and it’s our responsibility to find out who He is and worship Almighty God in the way that we need to. And every single time I run into someone, especially in the war zone, where, you know, they question the validity of God and the belief in God and someone says to me, “ I don’t believe in God,” I always counter with, “ What version of God is it that you don’t believe in?” There are so many— you know there are nineteen world religions, there are over two hundred thousand— I think it’s two hundred and nineteen thousand interpretations of God and there are thirty-four thousand different understandings or interpretations of Christianity. What version of God is it that you don’t believe in? And I laugh because I always say, “You know, there is a really good chance that I don’t believe in the same God that you don’t believe in either. “
LS: Yea. [laughter] At least we can find common ground there eh—
DC: You’ve got that right.
LS: Nice, so obviously you’ve had— this is— this is a calling in life for you as far as going out and speaking to these groups and being motivational, but also, you’ve had more formal church callings as well. You’ve been a young single adult bishop twice, so tell me, what was the first time you got called, what was that experience like when they extended that call to you?
DC: It was a “man in the mirror” experience asking the same questions that I had to ask and it led to my recovery from my injury. I stayed paralyzed for fourteen months because I was asking the wrong questions. I was asking the doctors how to get better when I should have been asking myself, “why?” Once we answer why, figuring out the “how to” is pretty simple. So, when I was first called to be a bishop, we had some training from Elder Ballard and one of the things that he did right out of the shoots was shock us to death and say that between Farmington— you know north of Salt Lake to the Point of the Mountain— not even Utah county, just from Farmington to the Point of the Mountain, we had seventy thousand young single adults on the — on the membership of the church— the church records, and thirty thousand of them were inactive. So that’s when I first heard the word “rescue”. President Watson wanted us to rescue those thirty thousand inactive. And so when I was first called to be a YSA bishop, obviously I sat down with an executive secretary— I’d been the high councilor for that ward for four months so I knew some of the folks— and I sat down with the executive secretary and some of the leadership and just said, “okay I want to have you school me. I want you to coach me up on those with an inactive membership who were within our word boundaries,” and I said, “ I want appointments. I want you to reach out to these folks.” And I remember this one kid, I won’t mention by name, but the executive secretary— I said, “ Tell me about this kid,” “Oh, bishop I’ve known him for a long time. You don’t want to invite him into your office because the church will burn down.” I’m like— you’ve got to be kidding me. They said, “ Oh yea, he is a return missionary but he’s been inactive for a long time. He’s got a wild girlfriend. You really don’t want to talk to him,” I said “Yea I do.” So I get an appointment with him on a Tuesday night and he comes strolling in jeans and an open collar shirt, no shave and in my mind he didn’t respect the bishop’s office but I didn’t say anything and I said, “how ya doing?” and he says, “How you doing, bish?” And we sit down and I said , “Talk to me about you, what do you like?” and we started talking about the Utah Jazz and he was a University of Utah sports fan and we connected at the sports level and from my speaking, I always— you know I’ve learned over all these years that it’s never about you, it’s about the audience— seek to bless not impress, and if some audience member leaves you impressed by who you are as a speaker— then you’ve blown it. The goal of any speaker is to have people leave you, impressed with themselves so they are inspired to become more of who they already are. And so the quote is, “The only place from which a person can grow is where he or she is— we have to go where they are physically and emotionally. Only there can we invite them to improve. Only there can we invite them to grow. And so I— I relied on the spirit, you know the bishop’s office is a sacred place— so many spiritual experiences happen in my sanctuary in my office and it was fun for me to contrast when I was a motivational speaker— when I was actually inspired and said things that I never said before as a speaker, things I had never written before as an author— knowing I was in direct tune with Heavenly Father and felt the spirit and said things that were extraordinary and so I said to this kid in my office, I said, “Hey,” I said, “Did you think you’d ever come back to the church,” and he said, “Eh bishop— you don’t want me walking in this church again— the place will burn down,” and I said, “Yea I’ve heard that about you,” and he laughed and I said, “You know, I just want you to know you’re welcome and I’d sure like to invite you— and out of curiosity I’d like to invite you to see if you’ve felt anything and see if you’ve missed anything.” He said, “Yea, maybe sometime.” So a couple of weeks went by and he never showed up. So I had my executive secretary set up a second appointment and he strolled in wearing jeans— I think it was probably the same shirt— he didn’t shower a lot apparently and no shave and he said, “Hey bish, how ya doin?” So we start talking and I found out a little bit more about his personal life and I said— asked him some questions of why he had gone inactive and he just said, ya know, the influence of his friends, you know, his girlfriend and again I said, “Yea well I’d sure like to invite you back sometime so you can report to me to see if it’s different— see if you’ve missed anything” and sure enough about two weeks later, I’m on the stand and a Sacrament meeting starts and he comes strolling in to Sacrament meeting, sits on the back row of the bench in the chapel before we get to the cultural hall with the folding chairs and he shows up in jeans and an open collar polo shirt— no shave and he sits there and as soon as Sacrament meeting was over he b-lines it up to the front, shakes my hand, I said, “How you doing man?” He said, “I just wanted to make sure you knew I came,” and I said, “Ya I saw you come in,” I said, “Thanks for coming,” he says, “ I thought you’d say that to me,” I said “You feel anything,” he says, “as a matter of fact yea I did,” I said, “You think you’ll ever come back?” He goes, “yea maybe.” And sure enough, a couple of weeks later he strolled in to Sunday Sacrament meeting with no tie and— same look, ya know. As soon as Sacrament meeting was over he b-lined it to the front and I said, “Yea it still looks like your Sunday best on,” and I said, “ I think that’s the only shirt you own— you know if you need a couple other bucks of something— maybe I could take you to Nordstoms,” you know I kidded him. He laughed and I said, “You feel anything,” and he said, “Yea I did” and I said [crying], “Cool,” and he said, “Yea I think I’m going to hang around today,” and he attended all three meetings— Sacrament meeting was our first meeting— and afterwards he just kind of disappeared and the next week he shows up with a tie on and then next week I get another interview with him— meeting and he comes in with a different look on his face and I said, “what’s up man?” he says, “Yea, I broke up with my girlfriend,” and long story shorter, “He says I’m not really ready to talk bishop and I said, “that’s cool,” ya know, “when you’re ready, we can have a great conversation.” Long story within six months x he had gotten his act together and x a few months after that he’s engaged and he got married in the temple and the understanding that came to me as a professional speaker really transposed itself into my bishop’s office in that — for no other reason than we have to go where they are and invite them where they are physically and emotionally, to come back— to feel the spirit — not by preaching, not by quoting scriptures but by just relying on the power of the spirit to convert— to remind and the conversations that I would have with everyone always started with— that there are five steps of repentance but there are also five steps of forgiveness and the coolest thing is that they are the exact same five steps. So as a bishop and I professional speaker I took great— great pride in choreographing the emotion of Sacrament meeting and I should confess my sins under podcast, but If I asked someone to talk for ten minutes on repentance— I always gave equal time to have some one speak for ten minutes on forgiveness because that’s what its all about. The goal is not— is not to have people leave church feeling guilty but to realize it’s not a country club for saints— it’s a sanctuary for sinners and that we’ve got to reach out and have everyone feel welcome and come and feel the spirit. And so, the speakers that I would invite to speak in Sacrament meeting came from my interviews during the week— what’s on people’s minds? And when I would find out that this young lady was very artistic and exceptionally spiritual— knowing that religion is for those of us who are afraid to go to hell and spirituality is for those of us who have already been there— sure enough she shows up with that little diamond in her nose— dressed like a gypsy, smelling like incense, and she would be the Sacrament meeting speaker on the significance of feeling the spirit of acceptance and not judging people. And suddenly we turned our Sunday school class into an optional “here’s the curriculum, go to Sunday school” and we had a huge ward that increased by membership— probably ten to twenty people every week. And so we had two Sunday schools and two Relief Societies and two elders quorums but we also had a Marriage Prep class and the three in a half years that I was a bishop, we had over one hundred and thirty young men and young women get married and so the brethren would be calling me and interviewing me, “what’s your secret?” Well, we would talk about the right things. And I remember one day when the question was asked,”Okay let’s make a list of all the qualifications of the young man who you’re looking for in a husband and let’s make a list of all the qualifications that men are looking for in a wife,” and as the discussion would always begin, “Oh yea, return missionary,” and about five minutes into the discussion, this great young man who just was recently married in the temple convert— convert to the church— one of my favorite people of all time, Abe, he raises his hand and says, “ Bishop, may I interrupt?” and I said, “Yea Abe,” he goes, “ I am a convert, I didn’t serve a mission— does that mean none of the young women in our ward want to date me because I’m not a returned missionary?” and suddenly the conversation went to yea isn’t it sad, isn’t it pathetic that calling yourself a return missionary no longer holds the same cachet as it did when you and I served— that so many of our young men and young women are coming home and going inactive. They don’t have the guts to keep the commandments or they don’t have the courage to face the music and go through the steps of repentance and forgiveness to come back when they know they should. And maybe there’s a bishop who’s not sensitive enough to say, “Wait a minute— you confess your sins— why don’t you just come back and start feeling the spirit and know that you’re loved. Same God who made you made me too— the Atonement encompasses everything and we started to have so many non-members come to our Marriage Prep class. We had gypsies show up with glitter all over their bodies and guys show up in their biking outfits who showed up on their ten speeds. And our marriage class— our Marriage Prep classes were so significant about what do we need to know about people building— not MarriagePrep— we needed people prep, that character mattered, that ambition mattered, that spirituality and a relationship with the Lord mattered— not so much religion. And because we knew that our church was true, obviously that became part of a topic of conversation— that we needed to be married in the temple. That we needed to live our lives according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation— the plan of happiness and take our endowments and qualify for the highest kingdom— obviously we know that, but instead of scaring people away that they didn’t have a fighting chance, we brought them into the fold and helped them understand that plan of happiness begins with the testimony of the Savior and we can all gain that. And suddenly, we stated having people ask the right questions and part of my BYU devotional revealed one of the conversations we always had in our Marriage Prep classes, you know, love is a commitment not a way of feeling. Romance is not love, romance comes from a Greek word that means erotic so I don’t want to think— I don’t even want to talk about it but if I love you because you’re beautiful, that’s romance and If you’re beautiful because I love you, that’s real love. It’s a value creating love that inspires us to be the best we can be. So I loved being a YSA bishop. It was an extraordinary time in my life— the best calling in the church.
LS: So going back to— just to dig in a little more— that you would say the— the success of individuals becoming married in your ward, you would credit it to that— Marriage Prep class and the way you approached it in that class or was it an overall culture of the ward?
DC: I think all of the above but we understood that service before self is the best way to pick up chicks. That instead of being in that awkward position, “Oh may I have your number and can I call you,” if we had service projects, if we had callings where everybody would show up— we created over three hundred and fifty thousand names in family history extractions while I was a bishop. And so, when people needed meaningful callings and you’re running out of the titles, when we had over sixty young men and young women called to do extractions in family history names, and we would gather together on a Wednesday night and bring in pizza and create a culture of service before self and connect the dots all the way to the end users, we are saving souls. That we’re not going to the church and we’re not going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead— they’re not dead, their alive and they need us and we created the culture of service before self and your kind of awkward socially and you’re sitting at a computer next to someone else and you’re having fun serving the Lord and the conversation goes to a point where, “Hey let’s all go out for ice cream afterwards,” or, “let’s bring in Cafe Rio and have fun,”— one of the things— I shouldn’t spill the beans— but this is a secret to all YSA Bishops, the most powerful part of the mingle— of the meet and greets, the linger-loungers, is the line. If you’re going to serve food, you don’t serve food from both sides of the table, you make them stand in line as long as possible because it forces them to have conversations. If you’re shy and timid and you go through a line and get your food you’re going to go in the corner and be by yourself and be shy and timid but if you’re in line for thirty minutes waiting for your food and you’re forced to have conversation with people when you’re really not comfortable having conversations, it opens up the door— it’s awesome!
LS: It’s funny you say that because the first time I talked with my wife was in line at the potato bar at my YSA ward
DC: There you go!
LS: And here we are ten years later so— [laughter]
DC: One hundred and thirty marriages of young men and young women in our wards because we created the right culture, the right environment, a safe environment for people to open up and say, “oh my gosh, I saw you in a service project. Your heart is in the right place. You have ambition. You have social graces. You are classy. All of these things that we should learn on a mission— but we can learn them without going on a mission— which allows all of those who are converts to the church to set a standard that yes being a returned missionary isn’t as cool as it once was and we need to restore it back to its level of high— high esteem. And for anyone who is a returned missionary who happens to stumble upon this podcast— If you’re not currently keeping the Commandments and keeping your covenants, it’s not too late.We need you to come back. People are watching. And I wouldn’t be— It would be scary to think of those souls who could have saved— D&C 18, “Worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” and I would be afraid for my soul for eternity to think about those who I discouraged from coming into the Gospel because of your lack of discipline and your lack of desire to keep the covenants simply because you’re a wuss.
LS: Nice, nice— so I’ve heard of many bishops that have served, you know, in their family ward and then later on they are called to serve in YSA ward— not a lot— I h remove “e” aven’t heard of too many that served as a YSA bishop twice. How did that how did that second time come about?
DC: Well it was— it was— it was important for me, I don’t know if it was important for the Lord, but I was a Singles Ward Bishop.
LS: Oh, okay.
DC: And then they dissolved the Singles Ward world because they needed more they needed a better tracking system and more accountability in the YSA world and so they created the official YSA Stakes with YSA Stake presidents that they had not had before and so I first served in the Salt Lake Community College— which was awesome— amazing leadership— gene pool in the Murray area and then I was recalled to be a YSA bishop up at the University of Utah, which was under a different Stake presidency and a different MO. Where we were relegated to make sure the members attending our services lived in our ward boundaries— which was controversial— and I was in the heart and soul of that controversy and sometimes I questioned that— that wisdom and I’m not challenging the revelations of the brethren but let us remember that they had cut back male missions to eighteen months for a while— thinking that was a better idea and it turned out that was a really bad idea and they restored the mission back to two years— especially for foreign speaking missions where you really only got in the flow of your foreign language at eighteen months anyway so at the six months at the end of your mission where the most productive and— you know, not all the revelations proved to be absolutely flawless and I don’t know if keeping the YSA agers up to age 31 in their own geographic area is still the wisest decision because I see so many who don’t want to go to church with the young men and young women they went to high school with. They need to change the menu— we used to call our photo directory in the ward the menu and I think in my experience, things happen for reason but it’s our responsibility to determine what the reason is and I think it’s shameful that we have to have eighteen to thirty-one year olds move just so they can date somebody else who is not in their ward and I think that needs to be thought through again and maybe prayed about in a greater degree. The over thirty-ones that were relegated to go out to pasture, so many of them right now are still broken-hearted and offended that they— their social live revolved around the YSA world and suddenly they were kicked out with no real infrastructure to take care of them and I know that now we have those mid-singles wards that have been created and one of the first ones in the church was actually organized by my brother as a member of the quorum of the seventy— Dennis Webb, the mayor of Holiday, was the first bishop of mid-singles and I’ve talked to him about some of the struggles and ongoing challenges but there is not one better that he to spearhead this powerful need in the church— to take care of that age group and I love them so much— they’re so amazing and they just need to be encouraged to find someone and marry in the temple.
LS: Yea, so
DC: And you can probably tell I’m opinionated now— probably be excommunicated on Thursday after your podcast airs.
LS: We’ll try not to alarm that downtown — I’ve got your back alright— not that I’d have much pull there but— [laughter]
DC: I just think we need to be real, you know, the Lord— He wants everyone to feel His love and sometimes they don’t— and that’s just our responsibility to reach out and do whatever we can to make sure they feel His love.
LS: And I think you’ve hit on a lot— with the YSA wards— the— a lot of good principles with the, you know, word “rescue”and really focusing on that demographic as going inactive and sometimes that YSA bishop is that only connection to challenges them and bring them back. Even to the point of creating a culture of— of service rather than just creating a culture of let’s have a bunch of activities and hopefully start — people start pairing out— pairing up, right. anything— any other guidance you’d maybe have for a newly called YSA bishop or bishopric that they should consider or think about as they are going into this new— this new calling?
DC: Yea, you know, I’ve told my brother in the Seventy that they should have an MTC for new bishops I remember when I was first called and I— I— the bishop who I— who I followed was Paul Huntsman— his dad was, you know, Elder John Huntsman and my brother had been his stake president so it was kind of an incestuous nepotism culture in my sacrament meeting when I was called to be this new bishop and as you can imagine my brother flew in from California and my mom, and everybody was in stock that I had been called to be a bishop. But they came to support me and after I was ordained as a bishop, it was just a wonderful spiritual experience all my family left and the executive secretary walks up to me and says, “Bishop, we’re running a little bit late, are you ready for your first appointment?” and I said, “Yea,” kind of took a deep breath and went into my bishop’s office and in came this couple and thirty minutes later they walked out of my office and my executive secretary says, “Are you ready for your next appointment,” and I said, “No, give me twenty minutes,” and I closed the door and I hit my knees and I have never pleaded with— with God to that degree— I had never had that much of a personal conversation with heavenly Father in my entire life that began with, “Are you serious? What has just happened to me?” and I prayed and prayed for— for humility and for inspiration and for understanding and— and immediately opened up the— the manuals— both the manuals and devoured them word by word about policy and about procedure and I would recommend any YSA bishop who, in my experience knew about a month before I was actually going to be called— so I had some prep time, and I would recommend any YSA bishops to just read and manuals and to interview other bishops, start listening to conference talks, probably the most significant conference talks that I could recommend would be, “Love and the Law,” by Dallin Oaks, um— I would examine the proclamation on the family and I would read everything that you could possibly come up with on the explanation of that. I would become familiar with the plan of salvation, which reminds us that the two primary reasons we come to earth and to gain a body and to prove to our heavenly Father that we can keep his commandments when we weren’t in his presence— to walk by faith and tie that into our dealing with homosexuality and the gay and lesbian world where we’re not slamming them per se in the proclamation of the family, what we’re doing is we’re escalating and elevating the concept of the definition of marriage, know that, in order for our spirits in the pre-existence to come to earth and gain a body, it has to be a heterosexual relationship— because that’s going to come up. I would have them become to understand the signification of pornography and that that’s always a deal breaker, and when you start reading the books, “The New Drug,” and you start analyzing the situations, that you’ve got to come up with your own stories and your own parables and your own experiences to counsel your young people. But I would also just finally say that it’s the Lord’s church and it’s amazing when you’re in tune and don’t allow your own ideas to get in the way— that you’ll be counseled and directed in what you need to say and that the keys are real and that when I was released I was told, “Wow, there’s going to be a great let down. It’s going to be an unbelievable let down when you’re released as a bishop,” and after about two weeks, I had no let down and I’m like, “Wow, I must not have been a very good bishop, you know, I must not have really worked at hard as I could have,” and then it dawned on me that for three and a half years, never once did I ever come to church for myself, I always came for someone else— what a cool transformation in my life. And one day, I’m walking into my home ward and I just started sobbing and went outside and my wife says, “Are you okay,” and I said, “Yea, I just need a minute,” and I went and got in my car and I realized that, yea, I no longer had the keys— that I was just back to being a motivational speaker and it was a real, real experience. I could sense the significance of the keys and how important it is for us to— to pray and realize that every Sunday was a fast Sunday for me— that I would get to my bishopric meeting— I would get to the office by six, I’d read the scriptures, again study the manuals— bishopric meeting would start at six thirty, sacrament meeting would be our first meeting at nine or nine thirty when the change— when the schedules changed and so we’d be done by twelve or one or whatever and then I would counsel at the ward until probably four or five— sometimes six on a Sunday and I’d drive home and never once was I hungry, never once was I thirsty, and it was amazing how the scriptures proved true— that the Lord will boy you up, you know, that’s why we have elderly men as apostles who still have quicker steps than we do— who have so much energy because the Lord and the spirit bolsters us and strengthens us and I’d give everything to be another— to be called as a YSA bishop again— it was the greatest calling in the church.
LS: I would agree that the bishop, obviously I wasn’t a YSA bishop, but definitely the best calling ever— I mean, it’s obviously a lot of work but just relating to some of the experiences you’ve had— it’s fulfilling, for sure .
DC: May I throw out one more suggestion?
DC: Because of my experience with this first kid who felt the spirit and came back and found a babe to take to the temple and the rest is history— happily ever after as a day at a time proposition, what I counseled and institute in my wards— in both wards, was a teacher training program, because I was a motivational speaker and I taught public speaking, I instituted a teacher training program that I wanted almost to make mandatory for every single member of our ward— funny. And yes I would choreograph the motion and hand-pick the speakers for sacrament meeting and it was because if that— this young man had taken the challenge and come to sacrament meeting— come to church the first time after being inactive after ten years, and had he accepted my challenge to come with the simple request, “See if you feel something. See if you miss anything,” can you imagine how disaster it would have been— how disastrous it would have been had he showed up to sacrament meeting and the speakers were unprepared and started their speech, “You know, I was asked to speak, but I forgot all about it, so this morning I woke up,” and had they just pulled out an end sign and had a talk or stuck their nose in the scriptures and read scriptures and had not been prepared, this guy would have left going, “Man, I didn’t miss anything.” And so I made sure that I made every single one of our instructors in relief society and elders quorum and Sunday school took it seriously and that they fasted and that they prayed and that they began preparing their next week’s lesson on Monday after than Sunday— so that they had every opportunity to know what they were supposed to teach— not just lesson nine from the manual but how they were supposed to— to connect with each member that was there and the non-members who were there and especially the inactive who were their for the first time, that they would feel the spirit, that they could leave their class— that they could leave their meeting if— with nothing else an actual spiritual experience that they could build on for the next week. And so, if you’re a bishop— especially a home ward bishop where your assignment is to let your members grow, a YSA bishop who’s assignment is to let your members grow— a YSA — YSA world is extraordinary— it’s the extraordinary place to develop future church leaders because where else are they going to get an opportunity to be a relief society president or servant relief president or elder’s quorum presidency at such a young age and it prepares them to be the future leaders of our homes and our stakes— we know that, our home wards and our home stakes, but what we need to do is also accentuate and emphasize that significance of being tutored and mentored in preparation. Don’t you show up and give a ten minute speech in sacrament meeting and bomb. I can’t afford you to do that. And if I have to ask you to speak twice in the same six-week period of time and members are like, “Well what about me opportunity? Why don’t you ever invite me to speak in church?” I would bring you into my office and say, “Okay, here’s your chance,” and I would say, “ What important to you? Okay, that’s what I want you to talk about. If you understand tithing, if you understand faith, if you understand prayer, if you understand offerings, if you understand fasting— what do you have the strongest testimony of? I want you to preach. I want you to teach,” and you don’t just practice what you preach, you preach only what you practice so that we can fill the spirit and there’s no hypocrisy and if you’re willing to do that, your my speaker. If you’re willing to do that, you’re my teacher. I’m not going to say, “This is for your personal growth— that’s a bunch of crap. You will grow— and obviously teachers learn more than the students when we prepare our lessons, when we prepare our sermons, when we prepare our speeches in sacrament meeting— obviously we grown and learn a heck of a lot more through preparation that anyone who listens to our sermon— who listens to our speeches, who listens to our class instruction. But I’m saying, I’m not going to take a chance. I am not going to take a chance that there is an inactive or an investigator in your audience, in your room, in your congregation and you don’t take your preparation seriously. And that means, you better fire up and if you’re not willing to fire up, I’m not going to expose you to those who need you to fire them up and that’s pretty selfish and that holds true for two and a half-minute talks. That holds true for road shows— are you serious? You’re going to have nine people who can’t play their musical instruments be your music for this road show? No, let’s get some— let’s get some classic professional folks who make it an extraordinary experience for everyone and that’s my own opinion Dan Clark 6:2 and that might offend someone— who are listening but this is an interview of me and that’s— I think we— it’s our responsibility to make being a Latter-day Saint cool— I think it’s our responsibility to make being a latter-day Saint sophisticated and elegant and that we can be polished professionals and that we need to invite people to walk on higher ground and that we need to be articulate and use— you know, be grammatically correct when we speak and that’s the responsibility of church leaders to have teacher training so that we do and that we become.
LS: And we— there’s so much talk in leadership about presiding over meeting and many times we just default to this idea that presiding is— that leader leaning over and saying when we end the meeting— but truly presiding is creating a meeting that is so high quality that everybody there is enriched and like you said earlier, about public speaking, it’s about the audience, right? And If they don’t become enriched and leaving like, “Wow, that was a good use of my time,” then it’s on the presiding— you know, to — not creating a meeting that does that.
DC: Yea, which means we have to educate what a testimony is before fast and testimony meeting. That if somebody continually stands up and takes twenty minutes on a travel log and complains about what sucks in their life, at some point we’ve got to pull them into the bishop’s office and be like, “Listen, you know, we can have these private conversations and we can counsel you and help you become all that you were born to be, but testimony meeting is to stand up and testify the Savior and to testify of an experience you had with prayer and with paying you tithing and how Malachi is a prophet who basically testifies that the windows of heaven will be opened up and you’re going receive a blessing so large that you can’t receive it and then close I the name Jesus Christ and sit down and if we can educate our members, then suddenly the quality of our testimony meetings changes— which gives an opportunity for an investigator to say, “Holy cow, I don’t know what’s going on in your church but I felt something that I have never felt before and I want to come back.”
LS: Awesome, and that— already segued that way— final topic and subject I want to talk about is— do you still teach at BYU? Or that was just a —
DC: No that was just a four-year run and, you know, maybe the Utah deal got to them.
LS: Yea, they ran you out of town with pitchforks and all—
DC: When they were beating us in football— really it was okay, they felt sorry for me but— now that we’ve dominated…
LS: Oh boy [laughter]
DC: They don’t really like my red tie.
LS: So— obviously leaders in the church, they’re faced with a lot of public speaking opportunities and some of those, you know, if it’s Sunday lesson or, you know, speaking at a ward conference— they’ve had time to prepare, but a lot of time, you know, that speaker will go short and maybe don’t feel inspired to end the meeting so you— yI remember several times as a bishop, having to stand up with twenty— thirty minutes In front of me and having to fill that— again still keeping that high quality, you know, level of the meeting. So, is there some— obviously you’ve taught college courses on this and it can’t be done in just a few minutes on a podcast, but what are some basic best practices that you could say to a leader— ready to up to that lectern… make sure you do this or that or consider this or that?
DC: Yea, I’ll give you the same counsel. I gave my brother who— when he as called into the Quorum of the Seventy. He calls me and he says, “Dan,” he says, “Do you have any suggestions for public speaking,” and I said, “Absolutely Sam,” I said, “This is my suggestion.” I said, “What you need to do create a devotional book. Don’t go buy one— you create a devotional book and you keep it with you at all times and all places,” and it’s a little miniature Franklin planner or something and I said, “Find a three-ring binder,” and I said, “I wouldn’t put it on an iPad,” I said, “ I wouldn’t put it on your phone,” I said, “I would carry it with you,” and I said, “the way you memorize a story is to read the story, and then write the story and then read the story out loud and then put your notes down— read it in your own words, read the story, read it in your own words, and after about three or four times, you’ve got it down and then you lock and load it in your library— the lock and load, you know, it’s a steel track door, you mind is so incredible, lock and load it in your brain as something that is a resource as part of your repertoire and then do that with another story, and do that with another story,” but I said, “now that you’re a general authority, you know what I would do? I would make a list of the most frequently talked about subjects in the Church. There’s not place better than to start with the first four principles and ordinances of the Gospel— faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost— because when you talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can also talk about the difference between the persons of the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ spoken of in Moroni seven. The spirit of Christ is given to every man that he may know good from evil, wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge,” and to many people do not understand the different between the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ. The light of Christ is commonly called, “our conscience,” and if every single human being, member and non-member, believer and non-believer was born with a conscience, that means our conscience will never fail us. Only our desire to follow it decreases as we continue to do the wrong thing. If the two of us, Kurt, walk into a room and it stinks so bad our noses start to wring and our eyes start to bleed— if we stay in the room for five minutes, suddenly it doesn’t stink anymore— it’s become the new normal. And as 1 Nephi 5:17 talks about, you know, they become past the point of discomfort— passed the point of feeling— well what I’m doing babbling on— I’m rambling on here just on that one topic alone— if you could create a small speech and write it out and memorize it so it because to the point of conversation and you can keep it in your three-ring notepad and it’s on the Holy Ghost, it’s on receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hand and you compare and contrast that with the light of Christ— so that when a missionary goes out of the mission field, and as Boyde K. Packer teaches us in, “Preach my Gospel,” the light of Christ is something that resonates in every human being and so all you’re doing is coming— inviting that investigator to come in contact with something that is already inside of him or her— when you understand the significance of the spirit of Christ and then can talk to them about— Would you like this feeling? This prompting as part of your everyday experience— receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as your contact companion— that’s why you should be baptized now and not wait, so you can confirm that you are not just a member of the Church but have access to the gift of the Holy Ghost as a contact companion. If you can put together a short five-minute— seven minute sermon on the Holy Ghost and then the light of Christ and as a public speaker, I think you should throw in a quote and a scripture— a quote and a scripture— make it secular and spiritual, thrown in an emotional story — a testimony and something funny and all of a sudden you have that in your book and you take each one of these topics— faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the light of Christ, tithing, fast offerings, pornography, keeping the Sabbath day holy, the identity of the Savior— one of my favorite subjects which I concluded my BYU devotional with is that when Joseph Smith was inspired by James when in (incomprehensible) as a fourteen year old kid to ask heavenly father which church he should join, the scripture didn’t say, “If any of you lack knowledge,” the scripture didn’t say, “If any of you lack information,” the scripture said, “If any of you lack wisdom,” and the dictionary definition of wisdom is applied knowledge, what are you are you going to do with what you know? That’s another sermon. The other part of the great— the most important significant lesson that we learn from the first vision in my mind is that when Joseph knelt down to ask Heavenly Father which church he should join, he is visited by the Father and the son who introduces Jesus and says, “Joseph, this is my beloved son, hear Him.” He called Joseph Smith by his name. That’s another sermon— God know’s you name. Cross reference that with Luke 19— the story of Zacchaeus— I mean, that’s so amusing— Zacchaeus, the little midget that— who collects tithing— he’s a tax collector, and what did I say, he collects tithing? No, he’s a tax collector, he’s a publican and he’s so small he can’t see over the throngs of people when Jesus comes into Jericho so he climes up into a sycamore tree. Jesus sees him and stops and says, “ Zacchaeus, come down from that tree.” Jesus knew his name, Jesus knows your name, he knows my name, he knows every listeners name. So my advice to a bishop is to come prepared— If you shall prepared— I mean if you are prepared you shall not fear. So on your off time, don’t just study the scriptures, write-up little stories and scriptures and speeches, sermons, and keep them in a book and no matter how much time you have, it’s amazing how if you can continuously do what I suggest my public speaking student to do— you don’t prepare a speech, you prepare yourself to speak. You’re always in search of the new story. You’re always listening to conference talks. You’re always preparing yourself— so you’re never left holding the back. So my brother— he’s an awesome speaker, and so often he’ll be on the program with one of the quorum of the twelve and he might say, “Elder Clark can you stand up and just bear your testimony on,”— he’s already prepared man— he whips though his notes and says, “Oh yeah, I’ve got five minutes. I’ve got great— I’ve got seven great, great minutes on, you know, blood atonement— I’m just kidding— I’m never stumped— I’m just kidding.
LS: Nice, well that’s great advice and I know stories— that’s always something I try to focus on when I am giving a talk or do have some time— it’s like what is that— what’s the story that’s going to hold that all together because that’s where— that pulls people in, right?
DC: Yeah, and remember, Mark reminds us that Christ never taught without teaching by parable and we know the reason why Jesus used parables and if he was the greatest storyteller that ever lived and the greatest teacher and only taught with parables, why can’t we? So we’ve got to have stories and that’s part of our teacher training. You know, don’t just read from the blooming manual, interview some folks, come up with your own experience, ya know, fast and pray, come up with your own testimony of the Savior, read every single thing that Jesus said in the scriptures and take notes and over the course of a week preparing for a lesson on the Savior— suddenly your testimony is so much stronger than it’s ever been and you can close the manual and testify with tears in your eyes— connecting heart to heart, spirit to spirit, that I know, that I know he lives. That’s where the power an instruction and the power in teaching comes from.
LS: And you know— a lot of people their reaction is— oh well, you know, my life, hasn’t been that fantastic. I don’t have any fantastic stories of me being injured or coming through this great adversity— everybody has stories, if you really sit down and start thinking about them, start writing and praying that — guide me to these stories that hold principle I think—
DC: We pray for strength— God doesn’t give us muscles, he give us opportunities to create strength— to become strong. You know, I really think that— I think that we— we need to take our testimonies more seriously because it’s a work in process and I think what we have to do on a daily basis is figure out how we can strengthen our testimony that week before we gather together on Sunday. So that we come to church excited to bless other’s lives, not just come for ourselves. Oh my gosh, you won’t believe what happened when I gave a Book of Mormon away this weekend on an airplane. Oh my gosh, you won’t believe what happened this week when I actually offered to say a prayer in a business meeting and I didn’t give a rat’s-wack-a-doodle if they were LDS or not. You know what so funny this year— I was invited to give the invocation at a Nascar race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway— and someone said to me, “Are you going to give an LDS prayer,” and I’m like, “Heck yeah! It’s the only way I know how to pray,” and afterwards I didn’t start, you know, “Father God” like so many folks that are afraid they are going to offend someone, and then they say, “In Your name, Amen,” no! We were taught to begin our prayer with Heavenly Father and to close in the name of Jesus Christ— He’s our mediator. So I gave an LDS prayer— of course I did— and afterward I had so many people come up to me at the racetrack, “Oh it was so meaningful that you ended in the name if Jesus,” they weren’t Latter-day Saints, “Oh it was so cool that you actually finished your prayer in the name of Jesus,” I’m like sorry I didn’t know any other way to do it and what happens to be my Lord and Savior and that’s the way I do it. It’s okay, it’s okay.
LS: Cool, the last question I have as far as public speaking is— you mentioned developing quotes— and I know this is a powerful thing to do as you’re public speaking. Any thoughts on how you go about developing those quotes?
DC: Yea, the first thing to do is understand plagiarism. The second thing is to find that quote that’s meaningful to you and then, take that message of the quote and create your own— it your own words. One of my favorite hymns of all time is, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” One of the greatest songs I’ve ever written— one of the greatest church songs that I’ve ever written, you know, done by my daughter and David Osmond, that I wrote specifically for a (incomprehensible) fireside for our YSA Stake is called, “I know He Lives.” It’s my take— it’s my testimony— it’s my version of, “I Know that my Redeemer Lives.” The melody is nothing like it but the message is the same using my own words and my own scriptural references. One of the great songs of all time is called, “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and I’ve co-written songs with Henley who wrote that song— well I wanted my own version so I wrote a song called, “Quiet Hero,” the melody is not the same, the message is with my own words. And it’s an opportunity for me to have my own hit song, to pay tribute predominately to those who understand service before self and I first used to sing it when I used to do teaching services and pay tribute to educators. The world is full of quiet heroes who never seek the praise, who are always back off in shadows and never seek the limelight days, you know, you are my hero— that’s how the hook of the song ends with the chorus. So I challenge everybody to create their own quotes but I challenge everyone to understand that the brain is a muscle and you must massage it and exercise it everyday and the best way to do that is to memorize a scripture everyday and to memorize a quote everyday. That’s what I used to do on my mission— when I went on my mission and I heard that Bruce R McConkie memorized over fourteen hundred scriptures when he was a missionary— so I set a goal that I was going to memorize over fourteen hundred scriptures while I was a missionary and I did.
DC: And I still have my scripture cards and every one of my missionary companions know that that was important to me. And while I was on my mission I read the Book of Mormon seven times and the New Testament seven times and the Old Testament once and Jesus Christ multiple times and my mission— instead of just basically reading books that talk about the scriptures, why not read the scriptures because that’s where you fill the spirit the most and that’s where you get the actual words from Christ and from the original apostles and I took that seriously. And so, I have to admin, my very first scripture I memorized— I wanted to have success so that— and because success breeds success— I memorized from Luke 11, “Jesus wept,” and I got the first word down pretty easy and I just had to keep remembering that second part. But I challenge you to do that, once you get in the habit of doing that, it’s amazing how it’s easy for you to remember people’s names, it’s easy how you can remember what people say without having an note-taking apparatus with you in a sacrament meeting, at a general conference you can actually remember pretty well what they’ve said, and ten you take it to the next level where you not only find a scripture— find a quote and memorize it but then you start writing your own. And I take a lot of pride, I have— I call them 60 Clark-isms— and I’m proud of them, you know, they’re pretty significant no matter what you’re past is, no matter what your future, a lot of people quote them. You can’t always control what happens but you can always control what happens next.
DC: A lot of people quote that.
LS: Cool, well my last question I have is— you look over your time obviously serving as a leader in the church, but even in the world as you’ve traveled the world and been with many leaders, motivated many leaders, been in font of crowd, how was your experience as a leader made you a better disciple of Jesus Christ?
DC: Hm— great question Kurt. I think, you know, the ultimate human being as an altruistic egoist— all giving and all taking— that if we understand that we pay our tithing not for the blessings we expect— not because Malachi says that there’s a promise involved, but if we pay our tithing because we have faith, if we pay our tithing not because the church needs our money but because we need to exercise faith, if we pay our tithing because we know we should, suddenly what that does is it teaches us on a daily basis that the real person— the real leader is a follower and a leader in every moment. That calling yourself a leader and standing in the front of a room no more makes you a leader than sitting in the middle of a garage makes you a truck. And so the leadership in the Church is not a title and leadership in the Church is not about— oh my gosh I have a prestigious calling— and I’ve been caught up in humility in that way so many times and I suppose so many have. We’re, you know, I’m released as a wide state bishop and I was a high counselor before that and I had a lot of attention when I went to the chapel and suddenly when I’m released I’m like— oh my gosh— you know, the bishop is not inspired, you know, he’s wasting this vessel— this amazing, you know, spiritual gad of a man— why don’t I have a calling again? Why aren’t I in the elders quorum presidency or the— you know, why aren’t I the high group priest leader or something and even in my situation I know that I go there sometimes. I’m like, are you serious? And what I’ve learned is that leadership is a calling— not a title and that the greatest service I can render is not necessarily in the chapel but outside the chapel where people look at me and say, “ Wow, he’s a Latter-day Saint. He’s a good guy,” or more importantly he’s a good guy who happens to be a Latter-day Saint— that their one in the same. So I think leadership is— is a dedication to doing what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do no matter what happens. A dedication, a commitment to obedience, to use my feel will agency to choose to obey. That actually goes— that takes us full circle, Kurt, in that— in my last book, I think you all should buy one because I need the money, but it’s called, The Art of Significance: Achieving the Level Beyond Success, and in the first law of heaven, which is the first law of the universe as I secularized our understanding, the universe was organized by a set of laws and we know from Doctrine & Covenants 130 that “there is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world upon which all blessings are predicated when you obtain any blessing from God is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.” We know that. Well, when you throw in the idea from a secular perspective, that when we receive any increase or desired result, it’s because of strict obedience to that law upon which that increase or desirable result is predicated and when we do not receive that increase or achieve that desired result and suffer consequences, it’s because is obedience to the law upon which it is predicated. When myself, as a public speaker, can set that tone and establish that truism in every audience and every corporate event, and say— if you understand the rules of the game you can play the game by the rules and only when you play by the rules do you give yourself a chance to win— when you know how the universe has been organized and that it had been set up by a specific set of rule, and you realized that we were given our free will agency to test our obedience, and because that test was going to be tougher that we thought, that we were also given an opposition in all things to make sure and guarantee that our free will agency was always in place. And because of opposition and all ting we would be tempted— not to make the right choices — we were given a conscience— every person was given a conscience— that because every person was given a conscience and our conscience will never fail us, only our desire to follow is decreases as we continue to do the wrong thing— which means it’s our responsibility to associate with the right people and because we become the average of the five people we associate with the most and the law of attraction states that we attract what we believe we deserve in a relationship, in a car, in a job, in an outcome, it all makes sense in the glory of God come to— and perusing the glory of God, or for the glory of God, comes full circle and comes to fore-wish and because we’ve obeyed and chosen to obey using our free will agency to walk on higher ground— being a motivational speaker is pretty easy because all I’m doing is teaching the Gospel and nobody believes me if I’m not the same off stage as I am on stage so I better preach the Gospel in my actions not just in my words. I’ve rather see a sermon preached then hear one any day. I think the responsibility in the definition of being a leader becomes pretty obvious. It’s not a title, it’s not being a bishop or a member of bishopric, or a member of the stake presidency, it’s realizing that I hold the exact same priesthood that President Monson holds. And when a loved one asks for a blessing, I don’t need to go find a general authority, I need to exercise my own faith and keep the commandments simply because it’s the right thing to do and then the leadership opportunities take care of themselves.
LS: Perfect! Should we cut it off there?
DC: Yea. Wait a second— I know the Church is true— I want everyone to know that. And I know the Book of Mormon is true. I’ve— a had a chance to hold and handle and to read through the original translation of the Book of Mormon and I’ll never forget his handwriting. I’ve had the opportunity to hold and read through the three letters that the Prophet Joseph wrote from Liberty Jail that became the one hundredth and twenty-first section, one hundredth and twenty-second, one hundredth and twenty-third of the Doctrine & Covenants, so I’ve had extraordinary spiritual experiences with apostles and prophets, I’ve had extraordinary experiences with the priesthood and anyone who listens to this I want them to know there’s only one God and not four. And I want them to know there is a Savior, Jesus Christ, who has atoned for our sins and I happen to know that there’s only one true church because of that. And anybody who needs to feel the spirit and receive counsel from priesthood leaders, needs to find that one true church and keep the commandants and seek membership in that church for the full blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that one true church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So no matter how many mistakes I’ve made or what a bonehead I’ve been off stage, don’t let what I’ve done interfere with your ability to seek the Gospel and the truisms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s true, and I know it and I suppose because I just testified and should close in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen