Monday, November 2, 2015

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Rodger Dean Duncan

These are our friends Desiree and her aunt Maria. They are
from Brazil, and they live in our apartment complex. Desiree
is a pre-med student at Baylor University. They are lovely
people and attend the Waco 2nd Ward and the YSA Branch.
Teaching the gospel is a wonderful experience.

So far, every single person we've taught on our mission was already a Christian. At least in the sense that they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

But to an extent, much of their belief has been somewhat generic.

In most instances, they've never really considered much of anything we would call "doctrine." The typical view has been "I believe in Jesus, He's got my back, I'm good."

That's an excellent start. But not enough.

The Plan of Salvation is both good news and new news to the people we've taught. They are thrilled to learn that they (and all of us) are literally children of God. They are thrilled to know that their Heavenly Father has a specific plan for them and all of His children. They are thrilled to understand, with clarity, that choice is a key ingredient of the plan and that Father has given all of us the opportunity to choose specific behaviors and actions that will lead us back to Him.

The behaviors include obedience to principles. These are not "suggestions" with loopholes. They are commandments with promises. The actions include covenants and priesthood ordinances that open multiple doors of opportunity for spiritual advancement.

The Plan of Salvation is relatively simple. And, as someone once said, "to believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and there will be many wonderful surprises."

For some people, acceptance of the restored gospel does not require significant life changes. They're already living Christlike lives and their personal habits are congruent with what the Lord would have them do and be. When they accept baptism in the mode and by the authority prescribed by the Savior, they are on the path to progress that will bring them much happiness.

For others, baptism into the Church means significant changes in habits, behaviors, and even their circle of associates. Note that I did not say circle of "friends." A "friend" is someone who helps you be your best. An "accomplice" is someone who influences you to miss opportunities, to engage in harmful habits, to make bad choices. It's common for accomplices to masquerade as friends. One of the welcome benefits of the Holy Ghost is that He can help us know the difference, then have the courage to choose the right.

In coaching my business clients as well as fellow church members, I have for many years used a poem by Portia Nelson. It's called "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters." Read it carefully. See how it might apply to one of your challenges (we all have them).

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