(I started it on Friday……..does that count?)
Have you ever just wondered how you motivate your children to understand that they are unique and they have a special purpose in life, that they are amazing and have been given great and marvelous gifts and yet still understand that they are a part of a larger picture where they need to be humble with the talents the Lord has blessed them with and be willing to lift others and help them see their individual and unique gifts? I mean, where is the line? You want your children to know they are special, that they have a unique place to fill in the world, but not be so puffed up with their own conceit that they are unwilling to help others and lift them. Am I making any sense?
All of us have unique gifts. It says so in the scriptures.
D and C 46: 11-12
11 For all have not every a given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. (bold added)
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
We know we have been put here with our understanding of the doctrines of the kingdom and the covenants associated with eternity to help lead and guide the rest of our Father’s children to light, happiness, and peace. The Savior said so in the Sermon on the Mount:
13 ¶Ye are the a of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the a of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a a, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your a so shine before men, that they may see your good b, and c your Father which is in heaven.
And he repeated himself when he came to visit the Nephites after his crucifixion:
3rd Nephi 12
13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the a of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Behold, do men light a a and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
16 Therefore let your a so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and b your Father who is in heaven.
We are meant to be leaders. We are meant to show others the way. We are suppose to be living so as to set the example, the standard for those around us. Leaders are unique. They do not look the same, sound the same, or behave the same as other people. They are the leader because they are different. They have vision. They show others the way to obtain their vision and they bring them along with them.
Leaders can be leaders for good or ill. Our job as leaders is to help lift others and show them how to live after the manner of happiness. The Savior compares us to salt and light. Salt is a savoring influence that enhances flavor. It makes things better. Think about light. It warms us, provides vision in darkness and a measure of heat. It also enhances life.
A few years ago, one of my conference questions revolved around this scripture:
3rd Nephi 18
18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for a desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
Unfortunately, some Latter-day Saints seem to forego unselfish service to others, choosing instead to fix their priorities on the standards and values of the world. Jesus cautioned that Satan desires to sift us like wheat (see Luke 22:31; 3 Nephi 18:18), which means to make us common like all those around us. But Jesus taught that we who follow Him should be precious and unique, “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and “the light of the world,” to shine forth to all men (Matthew 5:14, 16; see also 3 Nephi 18:24).
We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. He rebuked some leaders in His restored Church for seeking the praise of the world and for having their minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord (see D&C 30:2; 58:39). Those chastisements remind us that we are called to establish the Lord’s standards, not to follow the world’s. Elder John A. Widtsoe declared, “We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it].” 6 That reality has current application to every trendy action, including immodest dress. As a wise friend observed, “You can’t be a life saver if you look like all the other swimmers on the beach.” 7
Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s teaching that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.
C. S. Lewis explained this teaching of the Savior: “The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. … What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come … the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” 8
A selfish person is more interested in pleasing man—especially himself—than in pleasing God. He looks only to his own needs and desires. He walks “in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world” (D&C 1:16). Such a person becomes disconnected from the covenant promises of God (see D&C 1:15) and from the mortal friendship and assistance we all need in these tumultuous times. In contrast, if we love and serve one another as the Savior taught, we remain connected to our covenants and to our associates.
Recently, as I have understood a little more of my role in mortality, I have not been as afraid to stand out in life. I do not need to be or wish to be the center of attention. But I have also stopped hiding my light under a bushel, if you will. I am out in our community, in our schools, in my neighborhood. I do not apologize for my large and loud family. We do not usually take all of us everywhere we go, but people know we have nine children. They can tell in their interactions with me that there is something different in my life. I am happy! (Even with nine children.)
Once in a while, I even catch them watching me. I can tell they are thinking and pondering about me. They can’t quite put their finger on what I already know. I am different than most of those they know because of the Light of Christ that shines in my life. It is my understanding of who I am, where I have been and where I am going. I know who to follow and I know what choices to make. I teach those things to my children and they are beginning to understand who they are, especially in relation to those around them.
They know for instance, that even though their role is to be the salt and to be the light, ALL of the people of the earth are children of God, are their brothers and sisters, are people who have talents and gifts within them. They recognize they have a responsibility to encourage those people, those friends and acquaintances in the paths that will bring them the most joy and the most happiness. Those paths are always the ones in line with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the scriptures and by the prophets. Even if their friends will not listen to the missionaries, or read the Book of Mormon, they can encourage them in righteous choices that will bring them closer to a place where one day they will accept the message. Each step forward is the right way, and sometimes, just being their friend and giving them encouragement will influence them to make a better choice.
Our salt and light isn’t intended to be the center. It is intended to improve and influence, to enhance the lives of our brothers and sisters who do not necessarily know the laws of eternity, to give guidance and direction, which implies allowing them to use their agency. Allowing agency means sometimes, maybe a lot of times depending upon the people we are working with, we will be rejected. Rejection is not a measure indicating the message or advice or counsel is bad. It is simply agency, and a reflection of the heart receiving the message. If you are rejected, simply move on. Don’t push, just move on. Look for those who are watching you and pondering. You can see it in their eyes. Reach out to those who are wondering why you are different, and then explain it to them.
As you pray about those around you, the Lord will help you to know who are the prepared of heart. He knows their thoughts and their intents. He has heard their quiet questions wondering why you are different. He will lead you to those who want to know. Then be willing to open your mouth and share who you are and be the salt and the light you were intended to be.