Sunday, June 22, 2014

Priorities and Balance - Discussion Topic #1 / Guest

Elder Russell M. Nelson wrote a magnificent article in the August 2001 Ensign titled:  'Identity, Priorities, Blessings'.  I wish to use his remarks as a springboard for our first discussion topic.

[NOTE: What may work best is if you wish to simply make a brief remark on the topic to use the comment section, but if you wish to augment and elaborate upon the topic please post a new posting with the label of 'discussion topic 1' so we can search topics later. (you can find the label feature in the bottom right of the post writing window).  I hope to have a running discussion on this topic for perhaps two weeks and then begin a new topic.  We can explore and see if two weeks is enough time or too much and take turns presenting the topic starter.  Let's dive in.]

"How do you determine your priority? Ask yourself, What do I really want most of all? Compare your answer with the high standard revealed by your Creator. He said you are to “seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all … things shall be added unto you” (JST, Matt. 6:38). You build up the kingdom of God as you place your family first. A husband’s highest priesthood duty is to love and care for his wife, to bless her and their children. A wife’s highest calling is to love her husband and nurture their children. As you serve the Lord, know that your “duty is unto the church forever, and this because of [your] family” (D&C 23:3).

"How do you obtain your blessings? How can you qualify for eternal blessings—even “all that [the] Father hath”? With your identity preserved and your priorities properly honored, our Father’s blessings will flow to you by virtue of the holy priesthood, which is without beginning or end" -Elder Nelson [Identity, Priorities, Blessings].

What I find striking about Elder Nelson's remarks is that our ability to properly determine our priorities in life stems from a correct understand of who we are as children of God.  With the knowledge that we will be resurrected and have the divine potential for eternal lives with our spouses we should make priorities now that will lead to where we ultimately wish to end up, with our Father in heaven.

The above verse from Matthew reminds us of the transitory nature of our experience here on the Earth.  We have an eternity with our Father in heaven before this world and hope to have an eternity after.  In that context our lives here are but blips in our eternal nature.  How sad to squander a future eternity of endless joy for brief successes now.

We must select carefully the priorities and steps we take now to ensure they most effectively lead to where we wish to go ultimately.  Knowing who we are and where we wish to go allows us to correctly make decisions and priorities to achieve this goal.

I am reminded of Elder Dallin H. Oaks' excellent talk on:  "Good, Better, Best"  A short quote from his remarks:

"Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, 'I just didn't spend enough time with my job.'"  -Elder Oaks , Good Better Best.

With limited time we must select the very best things to do to reach our heavenly home once more.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave excellent council several years ago on the proper priorities of our lives.  He indicated that the significant ones should be in the following order:  Family, Work, Church

As Elder Oaks would observe each of the three of these is very good and without prophetic council we may not be certain in which order to organize these.  If I can add to the list slightly I suggest the following hierarchy:  God, Family, Work, Church

We must cultivate and strengthen our relationship with God and His son Jesus Christ before we are truly prepared to do anything else.  Doing so helps us to realize our true identity and therefore put everything else in order.  The way I like to see it is that the closer to God we draw the more our will becomes His will and if we are acting upon His will we will never go astray and will be entitled to divine assistance as we do His work.  Hence the quote from Matthew above:  "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God" (JST, Matt. 6:38).

A second point from Elder Nelson worth discussing is the paramount relationship with our spouses.  We've identified that our family comes before work or church but I submit that our spouses come before our parents, in-laws, cousins, or even children.

I know such a notion is hard to hear for some.  They rightly realize the great responsibility and duty to rear and teach their children.  Yet the Lord in Genesis said:  "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:23-24).  We are first married to our spouses then have children.  Ultimately the children will reach adulthood and marry and "leave his father and his mother" and cleave to their spouse and the two of you will be alone together again.  It is with your spouse that you are promised the potential of endless posterity, without your spouse that is not possible.

So cleave unto your spouse.  Love her and nurture your relationship with her.  Dave told me a while back that part of being on the high council is having a weekly date with his wife.  Good council for all of us; keep dating and doing nice little things for our wives.

When our relationship with our Heavenly Father is in order and the relationship with our spouse is in order we can profitably teach and rear our children in love.

This just a random person sleeping in studio, but I'll tell you from sad experience that it's not comfortable

Lastly a personal experience:

Going through the architecture programs at two universities I was often required to spend long hours working on projects.  There is a perverse culture in architecture school that whoever stays longest is the coolest.  Quantity over quality in a way, though more time often yields good results for designs.

Yet I know that keeping the Sabbath day holy is crucial to my relationship with my heavenly father and a time to be with my family.  So I never once worked on school work on the Sabbath.  Sometimes that meant I stayed until midnight on Saturday and returned at midnight on Sunday night to resume but that day was important.

As a corollary I know that I can do all that I can with the time I have available and then put absolute trust in God that He will make up the difference.  I can't count the number of times on Mondays when the instructor would be late or reach my desk last giving me needed time to finish my work before presenting it.  It may seem a coincidence but many many small miracles, or as Elder David A. Bednar would say 'tender mercies', saw me through many a day.

Trust God and His promises.  Do what is required to unlock the windows of Heaven to receive the blessings He wishes to pour out upon us.  If we need money, pay tithing.  If we need time, keep the Sabbath day.  If we need health, the word of wisdom.  He asks us to do simple things to bless us abundantly.

More can be said on proper priorities and I look forward to each of your insights and experiences.  I've blathered on long enough.  Setting a balance in life is not a one time event.  By the nature of a 'balance' it implies movement and in so doing constantly reevaluating the balance as one goes.  For example Troy in going back for his dual master's degrees had to reevaluate how to balance his life.  A new job, child, home, calling, etc each calls our balance into question.  I am eager to hear how each of us has maintained balance and priorities as we go along.

Originally Posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 4 April 2010


(5 April 2010) Lloyd --  One of the reasons I am going to the temple this Tuesday is to deal with my job ordering me to work on Sundays.  Should I seek other employment, find another position at my current job that allows Sundays off, or mainly work on gaining greater insight into the Lord's intentions?

(6 April 2010) Troy -- I too have committed to not doing homework on the Sabbath and it's made all the difference! I also commit to having a weekly date with Emily and another weekly date with one of my kids. I miss them so much it hurts to even think about it. Only this weekly bit of attention attenuates the guilt I feel. But they've been so understanding.

I've had to make sure that no matter how stressed I am, when I walk through the door I'm happy and positive. The kids are only going to see me for a few hours each day so I'd better make sure it's a good experience. But I confess it's hard. They want to tell me their stories about epic lego battles and the latest episode of Clone Wars and all I can do is think about all the homework I have to do and the tests I have coming up. I promised Emily I would do better and I think I have.

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