Finding Christ at the center
Whether or not that’s true, Elder Holland hit another home run. In his address entitled “The Message, the Meaning, and the Multitude,” Elder Holland emphasized the meaning behind General Conference and all its associated activity. He sums it up very well in the end:
I couldn’t agree more. That small formula describes how we LDS singles can experience greater joy in our journey — by striving to place Christ at the center of our lives, our faith, and our service.
Center your life on Him
Elder Holland begins by recounting the story of a blind man begging on the side of the road to Jericho who becomes frantic when he learns that the Savior is passing by. Though some in the crowd try to calm him, he will not be calmed. He insists on nearing himself to the Lord.
When he finally has audience with the Savior, he beseeches Christ to heal him of his blindness. Christ does so, rewarding the man for his faith.
Elder Holland admits admiration for this small story, and I have to confess the same, especially considering Elder Holland’s description:
We hear many voices today filled with confidence that their message best describes how life should be lived. But in all that, how can you have your best life if you aren’t heeding the voice of the Bread and Water of Life?
Can you honestly say that Christ is the center of your life? If so, how many and which of those elements proves that Christ is the center of your life? You shouldn’t need to look far for the answer.
Center your faith on Him
Elder Holland’s counsel to seek answers for questions of faith from those who actually have faith is both wonderfully simple and simply wonderful. We sometimes miss the simple approach because we think that the answer we’re missing can’t be in something simple, or else we would have seen it.
Yet we’re all learning as we go. Elder Holland himself admits his recent insights about the simple story of the blind man on the road to Jericho. He then proclaims that, just as for the blind man who sought the Savior, finding Him doesn’t have to be complicated for us.
We can find the Savior as we study the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. We can find the Savior as we share the gospel. We can find the Savior in supporting recent converts. We can find the Savior by serving in the temple. I love Elder Holland’s description of the temple experience centered on Christ.
What actions in your life prove you’ve centered your faith on Christ? If all you do is go through the motions of a rote autopilot existence, you’re missing the deeper joy found in seeing and focusing on the deeper meaning your faith can have.
Center your service on Him
Adopting a personal ministry can deepen your conviction to a life and faith centered on Christ, especially when you center that personal ministry on furthering the Lord’s work.
I’ve long spoken of adopting a personal ministry and how partnering with the Lord to bring a unique contribution of goodness to the world can support LDS singles through the often challenging years of singleness. That support comes more readily and infuses more deeply when you center your service on Christ.
That doesn’t necessarily mean adopting a cause like missionary work or family history service as your personal ministry, although it could. In reality, the best personal ministry you can adopt is the one that uses your unique talents and gifts to accomplish the work the Lord wants you to do.
That’s why partnering with the Lord is so essential. Only then can you know what work He wants you to do, what your unique talents and gifts are, and how you should use them in accomplishing the work He has planned for you. If you’ve questions about any of that, consider Elder Holland’s remarks:
When you partner with the Lord, He will surely lead you along. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Don’t forget the Lord
I’m especially nervous about midterms because they comprise such a large proportion of my final grades. And my grades are a huge input into whether or not my funding will continue into next year.
Because so much is riding on my performance right now, I naturally felt after a priesthood blessing. Being away from home, I asked my elders quorum president who my ministering brother is. I learned I haven’t yet been assigned one (apparently being here for only two months I’m still new), but my elders quorum president volunteered to offer one.
As he laid his hands on my head, he pronounced some items I thought were rather generic. But I was impressed with this counsel: Don’t forget to make time for the Lord’s work.
As I reflected later on that counsel, I recognized great wisdom in it. The pressures currently upon me push me to spending inordinate amounts of time between sleep sessions in deep devotion to my studies. But I shouldn’t allow those pressures to push deep devotion to the Lord out of my daily life. I must reserve time and space for His work, and I must remain firm in keeping those appointments.
His work matters more
Of course, keeping those appointments requires a resolve which life has a way of testing. Currently I feel like mine is being tested to the limit. Resisting that impulse to spend more time with my studies feels difficult.
But I also know I can’t expect the Lord to help me with my work if I’m unwilling to help Him with His. And in the end, His work matters more. Years or even just a few months from now, my performance in school will be whatever it is, and it won’t mean very much. But I can always look back on moments when I chose to do the Lord’s work and find continual value in that choice.
Yes, I can’t help but think about the consequences of poor performance as I write those words. Losing my funding will mean I can’t afford school, and that will mean either taking on huge debt with student loans or dropping out entirely and finding a new job (both of which I hate).
But I also can’t forget the sustaining hand of the Lord as I traveled here. I felt the Lord with me in my journey. He helped me as I went along my route here, which wasn’t always as planned. Why would he lead me through all of that only to see me fail? He wouldn’t, and that thought encourages me to walk in faith.
Put the Lord first
I share this episode from my life with you today by design. Yes, I think the program is improved when I can get personal with my audience, but my real intention in sharing this episode is to offer an analogy. And that analogy has great application for LDS singles.
We all have moments in life when we feel the tug of daily living. Life can get hectic as demands increase in quantity and volume. And the strain from all these demands can feel quite intense.
But as I was recently reminded, we need to slow down and remember the Lord. That starts by putting first things first in our lives. And we should always put time for the Lord’s work first in our schedule.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t do our own work or make the time necessary for it. Rather I am suggesting that we not forget to create sufficient time for the Lord first in our schedule. Time spent in prayer, scripture study, and furthering His Kingdom will keep us close to Him Who controls all things and can move all things for our ultimate good. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Learn, live, love
The formula has three parts: Learn it, live it, love it. When we incorporate this formula into our lives, we fill not just own our social needs but those of others as well.
We first need to learn what to do before we can do. That may seem obvious, but this step is about more than just learning the what or even the why. It’s also about learning the how, as in how to think more effectively.
Many of our problems stem from how we think. That means many of the solutions we seek will also come from how we think. Learning more effective ways of thinking makes possible more effective actions which in turn lead to more effective realities.
Of course, the what and the why are also important. Believing in a brighter tomorrow is essential, but knowing how to use the tools and materials you need to build that brighter tomorrow is no less necessary.
What tools and materials will you need to build all the relationships in your brighter tomorrow? Many resources offer potential answers. Certainly partnering with the Lord will help. Seeking counsel from Him and trusting in His direction will lead you to the resources you need to learn what you need to learn in your individualized journey through mortality.
Once you’ve learned what you need to do and how to do, the next step is to live it. It’s time to bring the hammer down and get cracking.
And that means now. Often we want to understand the entire plan — how all the puzzle pieces fit together — before we take the first step. But your delay in taking that first step will delay the blessings that come from building the social relationships you need in your life.
You don’t need to know the end from the beginning to take the first step. All you need to take the first step is to know the first step. Beyond that, you can walk in faith that He who does see the end from the beginning will give you each next step you need once you take the prior step.
You’ll also find the light will move with you as you step out in faith, especially when the next step you need to take is into the dark. Take each next step, and the light will again move with you. The Lord will not abandon you as you follow His plan for you.
The third and final step is to apply the not-so-secret sauce to the whole mix. I’m talking here about love. You just got to love it!
Of course, loving it means sharing love in your interactions with others. It means placing love in the driver’s seat behind your actions towards them. But it also means loving your journey.
We’re talking here about social relationships. That means whether we’re talking about family or friends, we’re talking about people. And people, as we all know, are imperfect. That means some of our efforts will yield less-than-desired results. In those moments, we need to love the journey enough to continue the journey.
On that point, the final General Conference address of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin comes to mind. He likewise acknowledged life won’t always go as we would like. But we can find joy when we face life with the attitude of “come what may, and love it.”
When it comes to the relationships you want in your life — family and friends as well as that special someone — you’ll succeed more when you learn it, live it, and love it. Learn how to think and what to do. Live the counsel you receive after partnering with the Lord. And love, love, love. When you do, you’ll feel the enjoyment of more satisfying relationships in your life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Open your mind
Of course, what I heard was personal ministry. We all have light that can help someone else see more clearly the path ahead. When you embrace a personal ministry, you commit to sharing your light with those around you. But sometimes to run the errand the Lord needs you to run, you need to open your mind.
Embrace your errand
Sister Craig begins by reviewing some principles behind revelation. Most don’t experience the fantastic visions we read about in the scriptures. That’s because they don’t need them to accomplish what the Lord wants them to accomplish.
God often speaks to individuals in quiet, reflective moments isolated from distraction. Sister Craig uses this principle to highlight the importance for each of us to make time and space for that voice.
We often think about making that time and space for revelation related to our lives in general or for a particular pressing problem. But what about counsel regarding our personal ministry — the errands the Lord would have us perform for Him? Sister Craig declared,
The more you act on your promptings, the more familiar His voice becomes. And that means you can more readily discern how to proceed with your own personal ministry.
Of course, that means not delaying in following those promptings. Delay too long or too frequently, and you’ll find it harder to hear His voice.
Sister Craig provides such encouragement in her address. The prayer God seems most willing to answer, she teaches, is one asking for how others can be helped. Of course, asking what you can do to help others is the essence of a personal ministry.
Sister Craig then provides an example from her family history. Her grandfather Brother Fritz ministered to many less active Church members, one of whom was Brother Simonis. Sister Craig shares
What revelation are you receiving to help others? If you partnered with the Lord and sought revelation concerning your personal ministry, what light would you bring into the world?
Defy your expectations
The Lord has given us talents and gifts with the express purpose of helping others along our way in mortality. Using those talents and gifts to bless others is the essence of a personal ministry.
And here’s the best part: The same Spirit can give each of us personalized counsel, direction, and guidance in the performance of that personal ministry. I love how Sister Craig teaches that principle:
That’s an outstanding question. Of course, we should be open to “another way” of pursuing our personal ministry. But we should be just as open in our search for an eternal companion.
Far too many of us limit our probability of success in that search by eliminating possibilities that present a seemingly undesirable path. We want someone with specific characteristics. But that special someone who can help us experience the most happiness may not conform to any of those expectations.
As justified as you might feel in adopting them, self-imposed limitations serve only to keep you single, because they reduce the number of candidates you’ll consider. It doesn’t take a math genius to understand that decreasing your sample size means a decreased probability that the person you seek is in that sample. And that means a lower likelihood of success.
Open your mind to unexpected pathways to success. When do you do, you’ll experience the blessings Sister Craig declared.
And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Go for the goal
How did the Church plan to replace its “right arm”? The thrust of the answer came from a special presentation hosted by Elder M. Russell Ballard and other General Authorities and Church officers. And what I saw greatly impressed me.
Now children and youth will focus on completing goals they establish in each of four general areas: spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical. Consistent with the home-centered church model the Church has recently adopted, children youth make their own goals in the home with guidance and support from their parents. They choose the goals, and they plan activities and other efforts to help one another achieve their goals.
I can see the inspiration behind the new effort. And it inspires me to adopt the effort within Joy in the Journey Radio as another way to help LDS singles deal with the challenges of LDS singles life when they go for the goal.
Get a goal
Goals provide direction. Without goals, we’re like a sail-less ship at sea tossed around aimlessly by the waves of life. And it doesn’t really matter what goal we have, at least initially. The important thing is to get moving in some direction. We can always course correct along the way.
For goals in my personal life, I’ve long used the four-part model (which I adopted from Steven Covey’s books) as a template. It’s also worked quite well as a framework for organizing my self-improvement efforts.
But now seeing the Church adopt that same model for its new program for children and youth has opened my eyes to another vision, one encouraging me to adopt it within the toolbox Joy in the Journey Radio offers to LDS singles everywhere. You see, I see the model helping LDS singles be less single.
Learn the plan
If you’re wondering how that works, run with me a moment. Singles become less single when they get married. Some might argue they become less single when they’re engaged, because at that point, to use hunting parlance, “the buck is tagged.” Either way, we can say singles become less single when they have progressed sufficiently in their dating journey.
How do singles progress in their dating journey? They go through the different stages. How do they progress from one stage to the next? They make the requisite agreement. How do they make agreements? By being agreeable enough or by offering sufficient value.
Singles who aren’t agreeable enough or who aren’t offering sufficient value don’t secure the agreement they need to progress. How can they fix that? They make changes in themselves to become more agreeable and offer better value.
And that’s where setting goals with the four-part life model comes in. This excellent vehicle can deliver those self-improvement efforts that can help singles become less single.
Prepare to evolve
I’m not entirely certain yet how Joy in the Journey Radio will evolve to incorporate this idea. But I feel strongly that the Lord supports this effort because He planted the idea in my head. And so, probably in the coming year, you will see this idea drive some changes to Joy in the Journey Radio.
For starters, I can tell you the evolution will involve changes in the topics for the radio show and the blog where radio show monologues become posts. I’ve written a great deal (and in many cases I might also say sufficiently) about many of the challenges confronting LDS singles and the solutions they can implement to overcome those challenges. Expanding the menu to include topics related to growth in each of the four main areas in the life model will broaden the horizons for both host and audience.
Beyond that, I don’t really know much right now. I do see the role Joy in the Journey Radio plays to help LDS singles changing from focusing on challenges directly related to LDS singles life towards a more holistic effort aimed at helping LDS singles find more joy by creating their best life.
So get ready to go for the goal. When you do, you’ll move yourself towards you best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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