Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Potentials and Privileges

                    Families grow stronger when parents teach their children to live up to their potentials and privileges.  Parents have the greatest influence in the lives of their children and should instruct and discipline their children sufficiently for them to learn correct behaviors and attitudes.  Children need much encouragement and help to achieve their potentials.

                    In his address to the priesthood brethren in the April 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency told the story of man whose lifetime dream had been to sail the Mediterranean Sea on a cruise ship.  He wanted to walk the streets of the ancient cities of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul.  In order to reach his dream, he saved every possible penny and made every necessary sacrifice until he had enough money to purchase his ticket.  In order to save money on food, he brought a suitcase full of food with him - beans, crackers, powdered drinks, etc.  He spent the trip eating the food he had brought.

                    The traveler thought that the activities on the ship cost extra money so he didn't work out in the gym, swim in the pool, play miniature golf, or attend movies, shows, or cultural presentations.  He also thought that the meals cost extra money so he didn't partake of the luscious food available at all hours of the day and night.  The man was grateful for the opportunity to see the great cities and other sights, but he did not enjoy the other blessings of the cruise.

                    The man might have gotten off the cruise ship without realizing his losses if a crew member had not spoken to him on the last day of the cruise.  The crew member asked him which farewell party he would be attending.  It was at this point that the man realized that almost everything on board the ship - food, entertainment, activities, etc - were all part of the price of his ticket.  "Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges."  (See "Your Potential, Your Privilege," Ensign, May 2011, p. 58.)

                    Like the traveler in the above story, children often do not know what their potentials or privileges are.  How many people live and die without knowing that they are children of God?  The most important information that parents s should give to their children is that they are children of a Heavenly Father and have the potential to become as He is.  Parents can teach this truth to their children by teaching them to pray to Heavenly Father and to listen for counsel from him.  They can teach their children to study the scriptures and to listen to living prophets and apostles in order to learn more about God and how to become like him.

                    A week or so ago, Anchorage was enjoying several beautiful sunshiny days in the midst of a rainy period.  I was too ill to go outside and work in my yard, but I took advantage of this great blessing by spending as much time as possible in the sunniest room of my house.  I carried my laptop to the dining room table in order to work on my blog and keep current with the news, and I napped on the couch of the adjoining living room when I was tired.  I didn't want to miss out on the sunshine because I know that the nice weather will soon be followed by cold and darkness.  I took full advantage of this blessing to the extent that I could. 

                    I did not have the opportunity to take music lessons in my childhood or youth.  I willingly made the necessary sacrifices in order that my own children might have the opportunity to take piano lessons.  All six of them took lessons, but most of them quit taking lessons as soon as they could convince me to do so.  Some of the children have since relearned to play the piano in order to play the piano in their own homes, but none of them took full advantage of the opportunity to learn music.  I believe that they would have been more excited about practicing their lesson material if they had seen me playing and enjoying the piano.

                    Even though my children are all adults now, they sometimes call for help when they need to make important decisions.  Recently one of my daughters called about a decision she needed to make - whether or not to take a job that was offered to her.  She indicated that she thought I had "an open conduit to God" and asked if I would pray about her situation.  We talked for awhile about the various pros and cons of the situation, and I told her that I would make it a matter of prayer.  I did kneel in prayer for guidance as to what I should tell her and felt the impression to tell her to pursue the new job.  I sent her a message with the information and asked her to see if she got the same answer from God.  I am grateful for the opportunity I have as a mother to seek counsel for my children, and I am also grateful that they know how to go to God on their own.

                    Parents can teach their children how to make good decisions by remembering the counsel given to Oliver Cowdery in April 1829.  Oliver was told the steps to making a decision in a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost…."  (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2).  "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
                    "But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; …." (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9).

                    President Uchtdorf taught three principles to living up to our potential and privilege:  1) "Read the Owner's Manual.  "If you owned the world's most advanced and expensive computer, would you use it merely as a desk ornament?  The computer may look impressive.  It may have all kinds of potential.  But it is only when you study the owner's manual, learn how to use the software, and turn on the power that you can access its full potential….
                    "As a people, we rightfully place high priority on secular learning and vocational development.  We want and we must excel in scholarship and craftsmanship….  I invite you to also become experts in the doctrines of the gospel…. 
                    "We live in a time when the scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets are more easily accessible than at any time in the history of the world.  However, it is our privilege and duty, and it is our responsibility to reach out and grasp their teachings.  The principles and doctrines of the priesthood are sublime and supernal.  The more we study the doctrine and potential and apply the practical purpose…, the more our souls will be expanded and our understanding enlarged, and we will see what the Lord has in store for us."

                    President Uchtdorf:  2) "Seek the revelations of the Spirit.  A sure testimony of Jesus Christ and of His restored gospel takes more than knowledge - it requires personal revelation, confirmed thorough honest and dedicated application of gospel principles….
                    "If we are not seeking to use this channel of revelation, we are living beneath our … privileges."

                    President Uchtdorf continued:  3) "Find Joy in … Service.  … You may want to ask yourself if you are merely going through the motions … doing what is expected but not experiencing the joy that should be yours….
                    "Too often we fail to experience the bliss that comes from daily, practical … service.  At times assignments can feel like burdens.  … let us not pass through life immersed in the three Ws:  wearied, worrying, and whining.  We live beneath our privileges when we allow worldly anchors to keep us away from the abundant joy that comes from faithful and dedicated … service, especially within the walls of our own homes.  We live beneath our privileges when we fail to partake of the feast of happiness, peace, and joy that God grants so bountifully to faithful … servants."

                    Parents can strengthen their families by teaching their children to live up to their potentials and privileges.  Parents can help their children to do so by offering positive encouragement.

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