A few weeks ago, T Money and I were asked to speak in church. In the LDS church, (Mormon church), we don't have pastors speaking. We have members of the congregation give talks every Sunday. This was the first time we spoke together since being married (pretty crazy, huh?!). I had family members ask to read it, so I thought I would share it here as well. If you have any questions on it, let me know. Enjoy :)
We were asked to speak on the conference talk, “Good, Better, Best” by Dallin H. Oaks. I’m sure many of you have heard, read and even taught a lesson on this particular talk. It is a wonderful one.
In this talk, Elder Oaks presents the idea that there are many more good activities than we have time to complete during this life, so we should be certain we are participating in the best activities. He gives several examples of good, better, and best activities. Most of his examples follow a simple pattern: there are three activities, one is good, one is better, and one is best. We should forego the good activities to make time to participate in the best activities.
In the talk, He encourages us to simplify our lives, ensuring that the essentials are accomplished, but allowing some good activities to fall by the wayside so as not to overwhelm or overburden ourselves and others.
Now this may just be me, but I feel like I am constantly fighting with myself regarding the “good, better, best” battle often. I have to, sometimes, stop and ask myself, “Is this issue or this activity that I am focusing on the BEST thing I should focus on?” I’ll give you a perfect example: Yesterday, I needed to go into my classroom. The end of the trimester is coming upon us and I was severely behind in my grading (thus is the life of a teacher). However, I had not, unfortunately (yes, guilty!) completed this talk. My apartment was a disaster, it looked like an episode of the show “hoarders.” (It may or may not still look like that). I hadn’t unpacked from a previous trip and there were loads of laundry to do and fold and put back. I had to stop and ask myself, “What is the most important or BEST thing for me to do first, today?” I really wanted to lay in bed, watch some Netflix and avoid ALL of the things that I needed to do. Quite honestly, I tried to justify doing just that. “Oh, I’m tired from a long week of teaching and work. I can just plan my young women lesson later and my talk later." Yet, as I’m sure you can all guess what the answer that kept bombarding me was: The BEST activity, the most important thing to do was to complete this talk, study the scriptures and be prepared spiritually for Sunday.
I want to consider the parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14 with this idea of “Good, Better, Best.” The Savior teaches an invaluable lesson about the destructive consequences of allowing worldly excuses to annul the things that matter most.
In the parable, a certain man hosts "a great supper" and bids his guests to attend, saying through his servant, "Come; for all things are now ready" (Luke 14:17). But one by one, the diners who had committed to the feast make excuses, including awaiting a land inspection, caring for oxen, busy with domestic life, etc.
When the excuses are relayed to the master, he commands his servant to go into the streets of the city and invite the poor, the maimed and the blind to the feast. He further instructs the servant to go beyond the city walls to "the highways and hedges" that "my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).
Each excuse was credible, yet each allowed personal cares to interfere with the commitment to attend this most important engagement. In each excuse, the guests who declined the invitation lost both the joy and nourishment of the feast and the respect of the royal host.
The refusing guests are the covenant House of Israel. Their personal cares and material wants overshadowed their commitment to the master of the feast. The second invitation to those in the streets represents the gospel being taken to the gentiles who were looked upon as spiritually poor, maimed and blind.
In his talk, Dallin H. Oaks explains that many husbands and fathers (and so many of you mothers) feel the pressure to be the breadwinners of the family. He explains that although this is very important, the breadwinners work should not be an excuse or override the importance of spending time with his or her family. He says, “Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, “I just didn’t spend enough time with my job.”
Want vs. Need
In each of us there is a tug of war between want and need. Wants are often mistaken for needs. Streamlining the social calendar or suppressing certain desires in favor of weightier matters is a challenge. Loyalty to more important matters rewards both the process and the priority.
In his talk, Dallin H. Oaks, says: “The amount time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth.
I grew up in a household where we spent lots of time on extracurricular activities. I was playing three sports, had church activities, was in student council, was in plays and choirs and other singing groups. Yet, even through those busy, long, stressful days, my father and mother would bring us in to read our scriptures every night. Even if I had to be pulled by the hair downstairs (ha!) or if I fell asleep during it, I always remember my parents making that a priority. They supported in my extracurricular activities wholeheartedly, because they believed that those things were beneficial, but they also knew and followed through with the importance of my spiritual wellbeing.
Feasting on spiritual things requires accepting and attending the invitation to the feast. It is not enough to promise the master with promises, but to actually attend.
Yet, even a "chosen generation" (that’s us) can permit worldly cares to overshadow attention to needed spiritual nourishment. Like the guests who declined the invitation to the great supper, we lose the blessings of the feast when worldly cares smother our own best commitments.
Worldly Care and Spiritual Commitment
Self-pleasing wants such as social media, television and other things often override genuine spiritual needs.
Dallin H. Oaks, in his talk, says: “Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best.
As we consider good, better and best, it is important to remember the parable of the Great Supper. It is not only a lesson about covenant people losing promised blessings, it is also a warning about the default of distraction. Our desires and choices determine our eternal destiny (see Alma 29:4-5). It is imperative that we remember what important choices we need to make in our lives. Ask yourself what is good, what is better, and what is best?
I’d like to bear my testimony that when we stop and evaluate our lives, we can know, with guidance from the Savior what BEST things we should be doing at the moment. The Savior wants us to succeed, and He will guide us in making wise decisions. I have a testimony of this gospel. It is very basic, but it is strong. I love my calling. I love getting to know the mia-maids and other young women. I love their sass, personality, talents and testimonies. I love the examples of the leaders I work with and their patience as I am everywhere! I love my husband. I am grateful for his patience and support through everything. I love this ward and the open arms we have felt as we have come into it. I love this church. I know that without this gospel I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I know President Monson is a true prophet of our latter days. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.