This was written for a stake conference by Haily and is a great reminder - especially at this busy time of year. We would love to post any others from our readers (you can email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you Haily!
When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites in the America’s after his resurrection, he called twelve disciples to direct the work of the kingdom in that part of the world. After calling those twelve, Jesus began toteach the multitude. He hadn’t gone very far, however, when he again, “looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen” and gave them this advice in 3 Nephi 13:31-33. I have been thinking a little bit about these disciples and what thoughts must have been going through their minds as they were given these new responsibilities and what comfort this bit of advice must have given them. This scripture has also brought me comfort and perspective many times as I have sought balance with the different demands oflife, while striving to become a disciple of Christ.
We live in a very busy world. There are constantly many different things vying for our attention. How do we, then, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness while having faith that all these other things shall be added unto us? A few years ago when my oldest 2 sons were ages 1 and 3 and my husband had a busy calling, I often felt like I was the only one who was too busy to cope. I wondered how I could accomplish all that I felt I needed to, especially when it seemed like my husband was never home. Then, one day, in a conversation with a friend, she casually started talking about her husband’sbusy schedule. He worked late hours at his job and was attending school. My friend wasn’t complaining, she seemed to understand that everyone was busy and that we all did the best that we could. In talkingwith this friend I realized that I had been so caught up in my schedule that I had neglected my commitment to bear one another’s burden’s. My lack of focus had caused me to lose power in organizing my time and in searching for the peace and joy that I craved. When we are weighed down with responsibilities we tend to turn inward, focusing only on ourselves and forgetting the needs ofthose around us. We develop a condition that Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers to as an “excessive pre-occupation with self”. The cure for this condition is simple service, not in deed only, but also in attitude. As we come to understand that others struggle with busy lives as well, we learn to RSVP a no-thank-you to our self appointed pity parties and, putting our shoulder to the wheel, we begin to look for ways that we can organize our efforts and make the most of our time. We learn that serving others and striving to seek first the kingdom of God is about what the Lord wants for us, and not following our list of to-do’sbut the Lord’s list for us. Then we can truly feel the joy that is associated with becoming a disciple of Christ.
So we’ve discovered that we’re not alone in our busy state and that new thought gives uscourage and hope that we can balance our schedule successfully as others have before us. What’s the first step? What’s the key to feeling satisfaction that we’ve organized our lives in such a way that ourHeavenly Father knows that we seek first his righteousness? I’ve determined that the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit is the key. I remember, a few years ago, taking a walk in my neighborhood and walking by the home of one of my friends and thinking about her and wondering how things were going for her. This friend of mine is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and I found myself thinking that I was failing in my responsibilities as her friend and an example to her of a memberof our church. Almost immediately, upon thinking about her, I had new thoughts like: “How can I fulfill my duty toward her, when I have sisters that I visit teach that could use more care and love than I am giving them?” I started to think of not only my duties as a visiting teacher but my responsibilities in my other callings and responsibilities toward family and other friends, my home and my community! As you can see, I quickly became overwhelmed! It’s amazing how your mind can take one simple thought ofdoing more and run away with it! In our regional conference just three months ago, Sister Julie B. Beck taught us that “The ability to qualify for, receive and act on personal revelation is the single mostimportant ability that can be acquired in this life.” When we have the spirit as our daily companion these overwhelming thoughts that sometimes come can quickly be put into perspective as we re-examine our lives and do a quick mental check to see if we are following the Lord’s plan for us. When wefollow the Lords plan things that are most important seem to fall into place more easily. We feel peaceat the end of each day, knowing that, although we may not have accomplished everything on our list, wehave done our best with the Holy Spirit as our guide, and are therefore entitled to the love and approval of our Heavenly Father.
In order to have the Spirit with us constantly, Sis Beck suggests prioritizing our tasks into threecategories: essential’s, necessary’s and nice-to-do’s. She explained that she is amazed when she put’s the essentials first, how many necessary’s and nice to do’s she is able to accomplish. Remember thepromise? “…all these things shall be added unto you.” Sis. Beck also explained that when our priorities are out of order we lose power!
Since our goal is to know the mind and will of our Heavenly Father through the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, than our list of essential’s would include: prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance. If we live in families, especially with children at home than our goal as parents should include sharing that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost with our children and teachingthem to recognize the influence of God’s spirit. So our list would grow and include FHE, family prayer and family scripture study. Given the state of our world I’m sure you have all had experiences in whichyou felt the influence of Satan in your home and family. A few years ago my husband and I had an experience like this and I felt that our goal of an eternal family and life with God and our Savior was being threatened. No longer was family scripture study and family prayer considered simply, a good idea; it became essential. Without doing all in our power to seek first the kingdom of God how can we and those for whom we have stewardship have “hope for a better world, even a place at the right handof God”? (Ether 12:4)
While preparing for this talk, an article in this month’s Ensign caught my eye. It’s titled “All things in wisdom and order” by Elder John C. Taggart of the Seventy. He says: “To persist or persevere means to remain on the path. Those who do so find, to their delight, that the journey brings moments of surprising joy and great blessings, even as the way grows rocky or steep.” Brothers and Sisters, I testify that this is true because as we seek first the kingdom of God our natures change. We are able to eliminate the non-essentials not because we have to, but because we want to. Suddenly who’s getting kicked off our favorite reality show isn’t quite as important as spending a few more minutes in the scriptures or taking one more trip to the temple. I testify that God lives and that he loves us. His is the great plan of happiness. He knows of the joy that awaits us, but also of the joy and peace available today, in this life, if we choose to follow him in all things. This is made possible through the Atonementof our Savior Jesus Christ. I know he lives. I know that he stands at the head of this church and that he will come again. I pray that we may prepare ourselves for that day, in the name of Jesus Christ.