Feb 17 2012

Diligence

I was reading the Book of Mormon the other day and came across this scripture in the book of Jarom 1:11

 

Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the ateachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people tobdiligence; teaching the claw of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to dlook forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come eas though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.

As I read it, I tucked away the thought of being taught diligence away and didn’t think of it too much until I got to church today (In the middle east, church occurs on Fridays). I saw that diligence had an associated footnote and ran down two of the references, both in the Old Testament. They are as follows:

Joshua 22:5

But take adiligent heed to do the bcommandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to clove the Lord your God, and to dwalk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to eserve him with all your fheart and with all your soul.

Isaiah 55:2

Wherefore do ye aspend money for that which is not bread? and your blabour for that which satisfieth not? hearken cdiligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Ok…now, stay with me for a second. I’ve read these scriptures before. Many times. I’ve heard the generic definitions of the word ‘diligence’ and ‘diligent’, but today I wanted to see how the dictionary defined them. This is what I found:

persevering application : assiduous

Persevere: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

Application: an act of putting to use

Assiduous: marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application

The top definition is that of diligence. I then worked through the definitions of the words presented and something clicked that had never clicked before regarding diligence. Diligence is not merely acting in a consistent manner towards some goal. It involves careful attention and continues in spit of opposition and/or discouragement. Diligence then is much more than I had ever thought of before.

 

Even more, in terms of the Gospel and our diligence there, it becomes even more pronounced. If we are to be diligent, we are to have careful attention to our life. This means that every action we take will be analyzed to ensure we are on the right path. We will not be detered simply because we fail. Diligence is not a perfect state, but it is a careful exectuion of our plans.

 

Now, having this definition of diligence in mind, go back and read the three scriptures I listed. Do you see the deeper plea of the Lord as he asks us to be diligent? In Isaiah, the clarity is obvious now: careful attention to our choices will have us evaluting our choices and choosing those that will offer true satisfaction. We give more thought to our activities.

This may have always been clear to you, but for me it has been a revelation. As I move forward, working out my salvation with diligence, I now understand that it requires careful attention, not perfect consistency. The commandments have been laid out before ever since I was a young man. I understand everything that must be done and diligence, with faith in Jesus Christ, is what will allow me to partake of His salvation when my life is over.


Sep 16 2010

No time for rest

Act in All Diligence
BY PRESIDENT HENRY B. EYRING
First Counselor in the First Presidency

http://new.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/act-in-all-diligence

I remember sitting in the Priesthood session of this conference very clearly as President Eyring got up to speak (I had just gotten my iPad!) and as he introduced his subject, I thought, “Man…this ties in well with President Uchtdorf’s talk.”.

After reading the talks back to back, I think the same thing…President Eyring speaks of the importance to be diligent in the work of Christ.  President Uchtdorf talked about patience.  I can’t imagine being diligent without having patience.

How are the two related?  President Brigham Young promised to the priesthood holder who is diligent over a lifetime:

“An individual who holds a share in the Priesthood, and continues faithful to his calling, who delights himself continually in doing the things God requires at his hands, and continues through life in the performance of every duty will secure to himself not only the privilege of receiving, but the knowledge [of] how to receive the things of God, that he may know the mind of God continually.”

Princeton defines diligence as:

conscientiousness in paying proper attention to a task; giving the degree of care required in a given situation

persevering determination to perform a task

Whatever job we are performing, diligence ensures it will get done.  Patience is the vehicle that allows us to stay diligent.  Something I’ve learned in my life is that diligence is not equated with perfection.  Read the definition again.  Read through President Eyring’s talk.  Perfect execution is not mentioned.  This is a relief in my book.  How many times have you wanted to start something and try to be perfect at it – whether it was getting to work early, reading scriptures everyday, going a month without fighting with your spouse, etc.  - only to find yourself stumble mid-way through?  Does that mean you stop?  No.  Diligence is that attribute that gets you again.  It can keep you going if you feel you are about to falter, but even faltering and starting again requires diligence to the task at hand.  Patience helps you to not get frustrated for faltering, and helps you to get going again.

President Eyring expounded on the idea of diligence and working for the Lord by saying:

We are to learn our duty from the Lord, and then we are to act in all diligence, never being lazy or slothful.

I know that the Lord has an amazing work for people to accomplish.  My favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon provides this promise (1 Nephi 17:3):

And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.

The beauty of working for the Lord is that when we get our duty he expects us to do, we stands by us every step of the way – diligence and patience are granted to us, if we request it and show our faith in Christ, and we are given the capability to do the task at hand.


Jul 30 2010

Power vs. Authority

Today’s talk:
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

https://beta.lds.org/ensign/2010/05/the-power-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

I love this talk and I think it is very interesting that a talk on the power and authority of the Priesthood was given during a general session of conference and not kept for a Priesthood session. Interesting that is until you hit this section of the talk:

Some years ago I gave a talk entitled “What Every Elder Should Know: A Primer on Principles of Priesthood Government.” Later, when it was to be published, I changed the title to read “What Every Elder Should Know—and Every Sister as Well.”

I include the sisters because it is crucial for everyone to understand what is expected of the brethren. Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters—who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers—we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected.

Ah – so that is the reason.  As a missionary I ran across my fair share of people that took issue with how the Priesthood was given to the men of the Church and not the women.  It is given to the men, because that is the role they are to play.  It is authority and power based in God the Father’s authority and power.  We are taking after our Heavenly Dad in a very real way.  The catch?  We can’t have the power (the important part of the equation) without the help of the sisters.

What is the difference?  I’ll quote President Packer:

Authority in the priesthood comes by way of ordination; power in the priesthood comes through faithful and obedient living in honoring covenants. It is increased by exercising and using the priesthood in righteousness.

The power of the Priesthood can only be unlocked through righteous living.  The sisters in the Church, I would venture to say, are generally closer to Christ than the brethren of the Church.  All the Prophets have talked about great and spiritual their wives are and even in my own life, I have seen the women involved constantly amaze me at how in tune they seem to be spiritually.  This is why there exists such a great symbiotic relationship between men and women: Men, who have the authority of the Priesthood, require righteous living to unlock the power of that authority.  Women provide that light and example that men need.

It makes this section even more powerful:

The priesthood does nothave the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.

It is clear why marriage must be between a man and a woman.  Even if you take procreation off the table (a major reason why marriage needs a guy and girl), the Priesthood power would not exist with two guys (they wouldn’t have the grounded, spiritual lightening rod that a woman brings to the relationship) or with two women (the authority and thus the power just flat wouldn’t exist).

This relationship then really becomes about the husband and the wife working jointly to call the power of Heaven into their home to protect against Satan.  President Packer:

Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The adversary is not actively disturbing our Church meetings—perhaps only occasionally. By and large we are free to assemble as we wish without much disruption. But he and those who follow him are persistent in attacking the home and the family.

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.

I really liked this talk and it has given me some great ideas on areas my wife and I can tweak in our relationship, especially as it pertains to ensuring the right protection exists on our home.


Apr 20 2010

A thorn in my backside

This particular isn’t anything too earth shattering, but I think it is still important. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the concepts of diligence and patience and the role they play in our lives – both temporal and spiritual. All of us face a ‘thorn’ in our lives that can be used to keep us humble – if we choose that path. The detail of these thorns should remain personal, but the process of removing them should be met with joy from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul described this briefly in 2 Corinthians:

2 Cor. 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Lest we worry that life should be spent in discomfort because of this thorn, Paul offers hope in the follow verses:

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Notice that he had to go to the Lord 3 times before an answer was even given. I love the response of the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for thee”.

His grace is sufficient to remove all thorns. We just need to be diligient in going to him and then in ensuring that our life follows a disciplined model to keep the grace of God in our lives.

I recently finished both the book of Alma and the book of Helaman. Both are great examples of the diligence and patience required to accomplish something great. Alma shows it in temporal terms, Helaman shows it in spiritual terms.

The latter third of Alma chronicles the massive war between the Nephites and the Lamanites. This war lasted from 74 B.C. to about 53 B.C. That is a total of 19 years! During this time, the Nephite leaders did not give up hope. The diligently went around their lands ensuring that cities were fortified, that their people were strengthened. When they lost a city, they didn’t sit and cry about it – they made plans for how they would get it back and when they won it back, they made it stronger. They were faithful in the Lord and the Lord guided them on this holy mission of temporal protection. Can you derive the spiritual symbolism from this? The wars were not put there to keep the readers entertained, they are there to provide us a spiritual battle plan that works.

The book of Helaman describes the spiritual diligence that is required once we’ve removed the thorn that is impeding us. In fact, if the wars in Alma can be likened to our battle against Satan and removing the thorn from our side, than the book of Helaman can be likened to what needs to be done once we’ve gotten rid of the thorn. Nephi – the central prophet in this book is spiritually taxed as he is sent to call to repentance his fellow Nephities who have decided to stray from the Gospel. This is a hard task as they are not very nice to him at all. His patience during this time as well as his diligence brings to mind a talk by President Eyring in the most recent Priesthood session of General Conference. You can find the whole talk here: http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1207-21,00.html

I love how he ends the talk:
I close now with this counsel to the Lord’s priesthood servants. Ponder deeply and diligently in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Persist in prayer for the Holy Ghost to reveal to you the nature of God the Father and His Beloved Son. Plead that the Spirit will show you what the Lord wants you to do. Plan to do it. Promise Him to obey. Act with determination until you have done what He asked. And then pray to give thanks for the opportunity to serve and to know what you might do next.

His process follows exactly what Nephi did to stand fast in the commandments of the Lord. For his diligence, he was blessed with a unique ability in this life. For everyone, this process brings the blessings of salvation and eternal life.

I have taken great pains to remove my thorn, I now need to take the precautions and the steps to follow Nephi’s example and President Erying’s counsel to keep the thorn away and progress towards the Lord’s waiting embrace.