Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lesson recap: Advancing the work of the Lord

I taught the lesson today. It's George Albert Smith, Lesson 15, Advancing the work of the Lord. Here is part of what we discussed. Do read the whole lesson when you get a minute.

God directs His work, and He calls upon every member of the Church to participate in moving it forward. 

We are doing so much. Besides missionary work, think of all the ways we as women advance the work of the Lord...visiting teaching, callings, service, family history, temple work, teaching our families and other youth, feeding folks, nurturing others, and the list goes on. Every family prayer, every family home evening, every simple act of kindness, every Sunday at church, every session of scripture study is advancing the the work of the the Lord. Let's pat ourselves on the back and acknowledge the good work we women do in the church.

It's a cooperative work. Let's see our work as a cooperative one with our brothers in the gospel. Every calling in the church is a service calling where hierarchy plays no part. Neylan Mcbaine reminds us:
You are needed. You matter. You have a purpose. Your opinions matter. Not just at home behind closed doors, not just with our children, as essential as those influences are, but also in the broadest context of the Lord’s kingdom.

We women need to do a better job of claiming the power and direct access that comes from being a child of God and realizing that power in the choices we make in our own lives. Ours is not a gospel of limitation; it is a gospel of empowerment to get the education we want, pursue our dreams, work in partnerships with spouses and friends to raise families, contribute to our communities as our talents dictate, and seek out answers to our deepest questions without intermediaries.
Inventions of our day are blessings. George Albert Smith embraced technology to do the Lord's work. 
While the first half of the 20th century saw significant challenges (WWI, WWII, the Great Depression), it also brought new technologies that President Smith believed would further the Lord’s work. He was a strong proponent of the aviation industry and saw it as a way to fulfill his travel assignments as a General Authority more efficiently. He also supported the Church’s use of radio and television to take the word of the Lord to a broader audience.

“We ought to regard these [inventions] as blessings from the Lord,” he said. “They greatly enlarge our abilities. They can indeed become blessings if we utilize them in righteousness for the dissemination of truth and the furtherance of the work of the Lord among men. The great challenge facing the world today lies in the use we make of many of these inventions. We can use them to destroy, as we have sometimes done in the past, or we can utilize them to enlighten and bless mankind, as our Heavenly Father would have us do."
Are there ways we can use the technology of today in good ways to do the Lord's work?

Air travel, radio, TV, internet, social media (Facebook, Twitter,, YouTube), smart phones, texting or e-mails, blogging about your faith and your family, crowdsourcing at The Vineyard (indexing, submitting photos, tagging photos) or LDS Tech. While most of these can be used for evil or to destroy let's focus instead on using them to build the kingdom in positive ways.

There is ample opportunity for every member to participate in the work of the Lord.
The responsibility for the conduct of this work does not devolve alone upon [the President of the Church], nor upon his counselors, nor upon the quorum of the Apostles; but it devolves also upon every man and woman who has been baptized by the servants of God and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … We cannot shift the responsibility if we would; our Father has placed it upon our shoulders, and we must round them up and help to carry it off triumphant.
Consider that no one can take your place. This story from Sheri Dew illustrates.  No One Can Take Your Place, page 196-199.)

In 1971 as a shy Freshman at BYU Sister Dew struggled for self-worth. "I wasn't talented enough, thin enough, smart enough, cute enough, or basically anything enough to amount to much." She was homesick and lacked social skills. But she did know how to play basketball.
I had grown up playing basketabll in the great basketball stae of Kansas, and had had some success on the court. More than anything, I wanted to play ball for BYU. So my shyness notwithstanding, I found out where and when team tryouts were being hed and showed up at the gym at a certain hour. but when I pulled open the gym door and peeked inside, a group of girls were already running drills. and they looked good! Clearly, I wasn't in Kansas anymore. Suddenly, every insecure cell in my body began to scream, "What are you thinking? You aren't good enough to play ball here! You can't compete with these girls! What has gotten into your head!" I quickly closed the door and told myself that if I just had a few minutes to regain some composure I would go in. I began to pace up and down the hallway outside that gym, telling myself that at any moment I would go in, I paced and paced...for three hours I paced—until the tryouts were over. I am sorry to say that I never went in.
Now fast foward 30 years. Sister Dew spoke to female athletes at BYU, letting them know she believed they had already accomplished so much. She told this story. Afterwards Dr. Elaine Michaelis approached and said she was the women's basketball coach then, and that it was the only year she had not been able to fill her roster. Her team went that year one girl short.

All the way home Sister Dew stewed. If only she'd had the confidence to try. Maybe she could have made a difference.

The lesson here, from Sheri Dew, is that no one can take your place.
Oh, sure, we have all let others down and watched someone else step in to fill the gap, and we've all at times helped fill in the gap when others have let us down. So yes, it's possible to fill in for someone. But it's not possible to take their place. No now, not ever.

No one can take your place in your family or with your friends. No one can take your place in your ward or your extended family, in your neighborhood or a the company where you work. No one can have the influence you have been prepared to have on all who come within your sphere of influence. Without question, no one can fulfill your foreordained mission. No one can do what you were sent to do. No one.
I think we forget this. Ask the Lord what His will is for you, expect Him to give you the power to carry it out. Know that is may be different for you than the sister sitting next to you. We are here to do our work. And He will give us the power to carry it out.

Doctrine and Covenants 64: 33- 34
 33 Wherefore, be not aweary in bwell-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of csmall things proceedeth that which is great.
 34 Behold, the Lord arequireth the bheart and a cwilling mind; and the willing and dobedient shall eeat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

Sisters, it is a great work we are involved in. We can contribute in many ways, both large and small. It's a cooperative work where all hands are needed and appreciated. Blessing await those who are willing and obedient.

Let's do the work in the way women work well...learning, spreading information, tending and befriending, communicating, cooperating, creating community, and seeking balance. These are some ways we can advance the work of the Lord.


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