Vincent had a turn checking out the front seat of the ambulance with a few buddies.
I think I mentioned I had a talk last month. I took a selfie before I left my house. I think it went well so I thought I’d post the talk I wrote. I didn’t edit it for my adlibs, but this is pretty much what I delivered.
I was asked to combine three different talks given in general conferences to help form my thoughts for this talk. One of those talks was the “Good, Better, Best” talk given by Dallin H Oaks in October 2007. I can think of plenty of Good, better, best things to say, but most of them are jokes and I shouldn’t. Wait, here’s one:
It’s good to agree to give a talk.
It’s better to prepare early to give your talk.
And it’s best to be finished giving your talk so you can hope you are done with your turn for a bit.
(Maybe you thought I was going a different direction with that… See, plenty of ways to think about “Good, better, best.”)
Of course when Elder Oaks gave his talk he was talking about choices we make and how we can choose the good (which IS GOOD!) or we can choose the BEST, which is obviously much, much better than just good.
Elder Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”
I think that’s the end goal for the majority of us here. We want to make good choices so we can develop faith in Christ and strengthen our families. That’s what this life is all directed at. That’s why we are here. Faith and Families. That’s what the gospel is all about. The HOW we do that is the hard part.
Elder Oaks says, “Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.”
He continues, “We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”
When Andy and I were first married and we’d both come home from work and I’d make some dinner, I’d ask him if he liked it and he’d always just say it was, “good.” I thought that meant he didn’t like it that much because I was used to using many more adjectives to describe yummy food, so I thought maybe I should try harder or something until he told me that he really did like it (again with the lesser adjectives to describe!) and he ate two platefuls, which should be enough to show me he thought it was “GOOD”. I like to think I’ve improved in my cooking skills since then, but that’s still the answer I get, but to him, Good is GOOD! I just had to learn that although that’s his answer, that’s about the highest it goes on his food rating scale. Gross, tolerable, good. That’s about it.
Do we settle for only good, when we could have the BEST? Do we do that with our faith? Do we do that with our families? Are we doing all we can to make our faith and our families hit that best line? Or are we barely reaching the good line? How can we improve that? I know I have work to do in all areas of life, especially those two areas. I’d give examples, but we all have areas to improve and each family has different strengths and weaknesses.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”
Elder Richard G Scott added, “Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”7
It is hard sometimes to decide to simplify work. One thing I started doing a few summers ago when I started working was to give my kids areas of the house for a week for them to be in charge of. They’ve been able to take ownership of those areas and while it might not be done to the “BEST” standard according to me, they are getting their jobs done and it’s less on my plate, which makes life more simple.
I told a friend just this week that the only way to get things done when you’re overloaded with things to do is to delegate, and then I started thinking of if maybe I could delegate my talk so I didn’t have to do that. (I decided I must have needed to reread these inspired words of guidance from our church leaders though.) But really, delegating or eliminating or simplifying things that aren’t top priority are the key to being able to put the things that are more important at the top and keep them there.
“Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service “with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. … The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. … What is most important in our Church responsibilities,” he said, “is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed.”8
We just had a new chorister called in primary and she’s doing excellent! One of the first things I told her was that we like doing things simply. I knew that she’d recently had a baby and she has other children and I don’t want her to stress out about making a perfect sign that she’ll use for a week to teach a song (unless she really loves doing that!) I love what she did to help the primary children learn a song about the Temple this month. She gave groups in both junior and senior primary a line from the song and a paper to draw how they imagine the phrase and she uses that each week to remind them of the words. Simple and effective.
Another talk I was asked to prepare with was the talk given by Larry R Lawrence of the Quorum of the Seventy in the October 2015 General Conference titled, “What Lack I Yet?”
I especially liked the way he talked about the “New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.”
When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?”3
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”4
The young man was stunned; he had never considered such a sacrifice. He was humble enough to ask the Lord but not faithful enough to follow the divine counsel he was given. We must be willing to act when we receive an answer.”
The young ruler wasn’t willing to do that last step to be better than just good. He was willing to ask what else he could do, but wouldn’t do it.
I think many of us have been there too. Of course there are things all of us could change if we tried harder at it and things we could improve. I know I have MANY, MANY things I need to improve, but haven’t yet.
Elder Lawrence says, “If we are humble and teachable, the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve and lead us home, but we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way.” He also said, “The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us.”
I also think it’s important to not just pick at ourselves and think about all the ways we could change or things that we aren’t doing well. We need to play the “Glad Game” like Pollyanna and think of all the good things about whatever it is. When I think I’d like a bigger, nicer place to live, I start thinking about how nice it is to only have to clean the house we have and how plenty of people would be overjoyed to have ANY house, let alone one I complain about sometimes. It’s that way with pretty much anything. If you play the “Glad Game” you can find something good about anything and it helps you appreciate what you already have or what you are already doing. One thing I’ve heard said about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it adds another layer of understanding to what you already know. If we continually build those layers, we’ll be “strong and immoveable.” Our faith and our families will have the strength needed to weather the storms of life.
Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Be persistent, brothers and sisters, but never be discouraged. We will have to go beyond the grave before we actually reach perfection, but here in mortality we can lay the foundation. “It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.”9
The way to find out what things in your own life need adjusting, much like the sails of a boat, is to pray about it. Listen to the promptings that come to you, and ask on them. It’s not good enough to just sit in the boat and say you’re safe from the ocean. If you don’t have guidance and direction, you could easily sit in the boat until you run out of food or something worse happens, like hitting something you shouldn’t. If we go back to good, better, best, it is better to be in the boat working and it’s BEST to know where you are heading and what to expect on the way there so you can choose the best route to get you safely to where you want to be.
President Eyring spoke of prayer and faith in his talk in October 2015, he said, “You can treat those moments of inspiration like the seed of faith that Alma described (see Alma 32:28). Plant each one. You can do that by acting on the prompting you felt. The most valuable inspiration will be for you to know what God would have you do. If it is to pay tithing or to visit a grieving friend, you should do it. Whatever it is, do it. When you demonstrate your willingness to obey, the Spirit will send you more impressions of what God would have you do for Him. As you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase. We need that constant help from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”
I know that I have had many promptings in my life to change the direction my boat was taking. I’m grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help me along my path to return to live with Heavenly Father. Many of those adjustments happened for me while I was in middle and high school. Many more happen often as an adult. You are never too young to start!
I know that we are led by a living prophet on the earth today and that if we follow his teachings, which are the same as the teachings of Christ, we will eventually hit that best mark even on the things we struggle with if we are consistent in trying to improve and following the direction of the Holy Ghost. I’m so thankful for the Gospel and the way it helps me to see what’s really important in life and the way we are encouraged to always improve.