Tower Builders

Tower Builders
Philo T. Farnsworth

“There you are…electronic television!”

On September 7, 1927, a young inventor successfully broadcast an image from one room to another over airwaves. Philo Farnsworth had invented television. It’s in the history books. He came up with the idea as a 14 year old in Rigby, Idaho. What’s rarely in any history book is that later, when his ideas were coming to fruition, his brother-in-law, Cliff Gardner became a crucial part of the invention.  Philo was, without question, a creative genius, but Cliff was able to see things as they were and see his place in the process. Knowing he did not have Philo’s mind for science, Cliff decided he would learn to blow glass. He saw from the technical drawings that Philo was going to need glass tubes, and couldn’t just run down to Radio Shack and get them. On that day in 1927 (a year before the release of the first talking motion picture) their image dissector camera tube broadcast its first image.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin instructed that a tower be built so he could address his people and be heard over a much greater distance. Like King Benjamin, Philo Farnsworth had a great message to share with the world and Cliff Gardner built the tower. Without Cliff’s glass tubes, Farnsworth’s television would only be a sketch on paper.

Cliff Gardner

There are many tower builders around us everyday. When a church leader has a message for the world, tower builders make it happen. Camera operators bring the message into focus. Audio engineers make it audible. Building engineers make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable. Satellite engineers get the signal into space and back again. In a very real sense, it is a team effort. And none of this would be of any value if no one on the other end made the effort to hear.

No one ever accomplishes something great alone. Fortune 500 CEOs don’t double a company’s value without the custodians who sweep the floors. An NBA player does not win a championship without fellow teammates, coaches, family support, ticket takers, or fans.

A good team is made up of diverse members with different skills, different abilities, experiences and interests. Every member of a team has something to offer even if it is something as simple as a different point of view. When a team is made up of vastly different personalities and experience, the creativity of the team is often greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes the most valuable teammate is the person who disagrees with you. Having someone disagree with you can open your eyes to an entirely new way of looking at something; and looking at things in a new way is the first step in creating something great.

We should never let our jobs, our hobbies, our church assignments or anything else become more important than people. An airplane was delayed and passengers were getting antsy wanting to board. The two agents at the gate worked feverishly to accommodate the demands of the passengers–demands that were becoming more frequent by the minute. Finally, in frustration one of the agents said to her co-worker, “If it weren’t for these passengers, we would have this plane in the air already.” The question begs to be asked. Without the passengers, what would be the point of getting the plane in the air?

In a world that places a monetary value on things, individuals often get placed into value niches. We may see the leader of a congregation as more important than the members of that congregation.  Often a manager in a corporation is valued above those who work to make his vision a reality. God is no respecter of persons. He does not value one of us over the others. God knows us each individually and understands and appreciates our unique talents, and personalities. We each have a role to play and we each will play that role in a way that is uniquely us. As important as prophets have always been, they are not more important than the people they serve. Imagine a prophet saying, “If it weren’t for these people, I could have had this church in the air hours ago.”

If we remember nothing else as we perform our individual roles, let’s remember this: People are more important than anything.


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