Jake Staley

"Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved."

-President Thomas S. Monson

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A man once asked Jesus, “which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… and the second… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:35-39)

One does not have to spend much time with Jake to know how much he loves the Lord and how much he loves his neighbor. From the day I meet him I was impressed and inspired at his desire to serve the Lord and all those around him. I was confounded with how much he could care for me before knowing me.

Jake’s demeanor does more than make people feel loved, his confidence in people is too profound to simply be defined by the word love. Jake makes people feel the presence of Christ in their lives, he makes people feel confidence in themselves, and always promotes people to follow the path to eternal salvation no matter their current situation. He does this without ever passing judgment.

After discussing with Jake the reasons why I respect him, we turned to why he feels he has developed these traits. Jake humbly explained, “My life is driven by my desire to get to know God better.” He continued, “I’ve always been intrigued by the gospel and I always think to myself, ‘what would I be like without the gospel?’ Every decision filters through that someway or another.”

Jake then used his childhood to explain how his parents and other role models shaped the direction of his life. “The first most influential people were my parents. My dad was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, and married my mom right after graduating high school. I never doubted my parent’s love for me and therefore I always trusted them even though I didn’t always agree with them. They were not super vocal about church, but they were great examples.”

Jake then described two bishops in his youth, “there was something very special about them and I desired to have that too.”

We then discussed the importance of having role models and the importance of being a role model. Jake pointed out a few times in his life when he realized he could be a role model to others. “In my early elementary years of school, I had three friends, one of which was the teacher. In fifth grade we moved and I didn’t have any friends at all. I met people but I knew they weren’t the greatest to be around. I recognized then that I had to be my own person.”

Jake further related, “I realized that culture, meaning the reason why we do things, can be a bad thing if there is too much of it. We can’t do things just because that is the way it is done. Rather, we need to live our lives according to the commandments. The Gospel is what makes you a better person, not just doing things because it is part of culture.”

Further into the conversation Jake noted, “I understood that if I was not a worthy person, it would give people a perception that can lead them astray. That is the beauty of the gospel, we effect each other every day. I always care about others, even when I don’t care about myself.”

Intrigued with Jake’s perspective on life so far, I was curious to know what his plans for the future hold. I smiled when he said he was unsure of his career path. I thought that someone like Jake, someone so confident with life, would have an exact plan drawn out in his mind. Jake expressed that his vision for a career is fuzzy, he expressed desires to be in several different careers, all of which he could have a positive influence on society. Jake did say he knew one thing, “I know I want to be what God wants me to be. And at the end of the day, I want to know that I did my part and I want to know I have a great family life.”

Inspired and curious about how to achieve the same in my life, I asked Jake how he plans to accomplish such a thing. He first stated, “Reading Lectures in Faith has been a great help in pointing me in the right direction. I always strive to be in the mindset of Jesus Christ, and I always ask myself, ‘am I in accordance with God?” Jake further related, “It is all done little by little. Looking back on life, I will be able to say that I had integrity, was full of love, and stayed true to God. This is all done one step at a time.”

At the end of the interview, I asked Jake what his favorite quote is and his answer perfectly summed up what kind of person he is. “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” (President Monson)

Jake is so much more than a great person, his motives and desires to be of service to God and Mankind put him in a class beyond description. Suffice it to say, Jake is an angel in disguise.

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