3 John 1:13-14
13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to
face. Peace be to thee.
And before I start, I probably should have done it last week, but Happy Birthday Aspen, and Happy Birthday Dad! Dad, your birthday was my 2 year mark, which was made extra special because that was the day that R was baptized. Pretty neat, huh?
This week was… turbulent. We had the intensive language course, which was, you guessed it, intense. The schedule every day was this: Wake up at 6:30 (of course), take a 45 minute tram ride to O’s house, eat breakfast, plan the classes I was supposed to teach. At 10, classes started. After one 2 hour class, we had lunch, then 4 hours of class, then dinner, then another 2 hours of studying. I would say about 80% of the time I was teaching, but sometimes I was learning too.
It was fantastic seeing Elder Weber again. He is one of my favorite companions, and we are definitely going to be hanging out a lot at BYU since we both are studying German and another language. In the same classes. So we are together at least 2 hours every day.
I stayed at a hotel all week, which was terrible. I didn’t have enough clothes to last all week, and it was extremely hot. There was no iron, nor were there hangers, so my shirts were more wrinkled than an old missionary’s forehead.
We were in O’s apartment about 12 hours a day, and it just so happens to be just about the hottest, least ventilated apartment I’ve ever had to be in. Just miserable. And there were 7 missionaries there. And we were getting blasted in the face with a billion language things.
So there were a few spats.
One time, I was eating dinner, and I had just sat down and started it. I had been doing other things, preparing, etc., and there were the aforementioned 7 missionaries all in the kitchen all trying to find something to eat. The day before I had not eaten much lunch because I was too busy making lunch for everyone else, and they ate it all.
I skipped dinner that night too, because Elder Weber and I had to go grocery shopping for everyone (We felt like moms.
“Oh little Jimmy won’t like those vegetables. Better get a more safe flavor of mustard. Do you think the kids will eat this?”),
and then the next day it happened again that I didn’t get much food because everybody ate what I made before I could sit down. So I was starving, and was eating boiled potatoes and gravy, when we saw that time was up, and I was supposed to start the next class. I decided 5 more minutes to finish eating was a necessary sacrifice. Then a (actually really very nice missionary) – the group leader – kind of backhandedly cattily made a comment about how I was being irresponsible and disrespectful. Ooh, I was steamin’ mad. I dropped my fork with a clang and whipped around and stared him down and told him he’d better shape up, mister, and mind his own business.
Maybe a little loudly.
Everyone got real quiet after that.
Ah well, no one said you’d come home perfect from your mission, so I guess I’ll just have to work on that temper when I get home. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he totally deserved it, but I still shouldn’t have done it. Sometimes I think I’ve become a little too spunky . . .
But the rest of the time was really good. I made some really good friends with some missionaries I stayed with in the hotel. I stuffed them full of the language too. We covered in a week what took Elder Weber and I at least 3 months to do. They get a huge jump start in the language, which is really cool. Also, Elder Weber and I will probably be teaching classes later on with Skype.
After I got back, we had appointments with some new families they had found while I was gone. It didn’t work out, but an Albanian family did. I got to use my sweet knowledge of Albanian, which consists of three words: Hello, good, and very good.
But they are really neat, and I’m excited to meet with them in the upcoming week. We had some time to find, and it was awesome. Everybody wanted to talk.
One of my favorites weren’t even the ones that become new investigators. We started talking to two very elderly women on a bench. (Think 90.) Eventually, it was clear that they weren’t ready for the Gospel, but they were lonely. So we just sat down next to them and asked about their lives for the next 10 minutes or so.
We seemed to lift their spirits, and we just told them we thought it was amazing that they never gave up through all their trials (one of them had lived through WWII). We told them that God was waiting for them on the other side and when they got there, He’d give them a hug and tell them He was proud of them.
Like I said, they didn’t want to learn more, but I felt like we helped them. And I came away feeling a love for the German people I’ve tried my whole mission to develop. I’ve always loved them, but I feel like I know now how much I love them, which I didn’t know before.
There are very few cultures on the planet that have experienced so much heartache, so much trial, so much guilt and pain and fear. Very few peoples have had such a rocky, turbulent history and have still come out human afterward. I’m proud of them, and though they have a long way to go, I have met true Germans who aren’t bogged down with the fear of the past that so afflicts so many. They are amazing, caring, direct, and bold. They are truly agents unto themselves.
If there is a problem, they fix it.
A trial, they overcome it.
They do what must be done, never grimly, never frustratedly, only determinedly. I love that about them. I’ve become more like them. By living among them, talking with them, and significantly, by starting to speak and think and even feel in their language (which is so descriptive of their culture), I have changed for the better. I hope, and I believe, that I’ve changed others here for the better as well.
I believe that very few things in this life can bring as much joy as giving 2 years of your life for a people, and really just falling in love with them as you do it. I’m am so grateful for these last 2 years.
I have a lot to do with this week and a half.
A quote I like (and will paraphrase) from Dieter F. Uchtdorf goes something like this:
“When serving your mission, you are in the middle of your mission until you’re home.”
I’m really enjoying this part of the middle of my mission. I’m pumped to hit the ground running, lift some hands that hang down, and leave it all on the court. I feel like I’m just hitting my prime, so it’s going to be good. 🙂
I love you guys! Have a great week!
Hey guys! How are you? This week has been pretty great. The majority of our time was taken preparing ourselves, R and everything else for the baptism. There are just a ton of details that you don’t even think about. It so interesting with new converts, because you’re like a proud mother hen whenever they do anything right. So if R ever answers a question at church or in a lesson, I just end up beaming because his answers are so great.
Have I mentioned how awesome it is, being with the BYU students? I love it, because they help us so much. So Saturday R was baptized, and it was awesome. Afterwards we played ping pong, and I held my own. This weekend was just great. After the baptism, we taught M from China too. I shared my personal story, and we had a fantastic lesson. She was really pumped to pray on her own.
On Sunday we met with Sis. S. After 90 minutes, she finally agreed to give up smoking!!! I promised to give up bad posture at the same time, which is just about the best thing I ever could have said to an older German lady. 🙂 I also got to confirm R on Sunday, which was super awesome and spiritual. And now I’m in Frankfurt Oder. It’s great! I am missing normal missionary work a lot, and by the end
of the week I’ll be going nuts, but it’s great. Sorry I don’t have more time…. I have to go study the other language!
This week was also pretty good. I can’t complain.
First off, R is still doing awesome. We taught him the Word of Wisdom, and we were slightly nervous, since tea is such a big thing in China, but he is probably the only Chinese person ever that thinks tea is gross. So he was already living the Word of Wisdom. Now he can do it on purpose! 🙂
Probably the biggest news, besides R of course, is what I’ll be doing next week. I’ve been asked to help teach at an intensive language learning week in Frankfurt Oder. Since Elder Weber and I are going home, only one other missionary is left that knows the language really at all. So we need to train up the next generation. I was pretty shocked when President told me about it because it is one of the last weeks of my mission. I really didn’t want to go. There are a lot of positives about it, but some negatives too. I prayed a lot this week that I could know what I needed to do. Of course, part of me was excited to go back to Frankfurt Oder, but sacrificing one whole week at this point is a lot to ask.
So I wanted to make sure this was right for me, and that this was the way I could help the most people. After pondering and praying, I came to the conclusion that I should do it, as long as I was still able to help out my area, as in, another missionary will replace me for that week, and I stay in good contact with the zone. I’m a little sad, honestly. I think it will be an amazing experience, and I really feel like I’m supposed to do it, but it’s not how I wanted to end my mission. We’ll be teaching or being taught the language from 9 in the morning to 8:30 at night, so it will definitely be intense. Anyway. More on that next week.
We had Zone Training Meeting this week, which was suuuper hectic. We were planning it still the night before. Since it was my last one, I really wanted to give it everything I had, and it was quite the little brainchild.
Just about everything we did was a “new thing”. Which I always enjoy. We had some members come and help out. One half of the PowerCouple, as we call them, named K, was apparently an awesome missionary in Hong Kong, so we asked her to give a training on finding. I came, a super awesome member, and shared his conversion story, which is very impressive. He is a great storyteller too. That was to help the missionaries, but also to help these to members (sneaky sneaky). We mixed things up by having a testimony meeting at the beginning of the meeting, and we started off by splitting into halves. Then a DL and I gave Training to one half, and the Elder Wiesrdorf gave one with the other DL. That was also to help the district leaders out, show ’em how it’s done, etc. 🙂
Our subject was: Christ.
Pretty powerful stuff. I was with Elder Halbleib, who is one of my favorite missionaries ever. Rock solid testimony, cares about others, just all around really great. And if I may say, we absolutely killed it. We wrote a story about a personal encounter of Christ, to make it all seem real, and I think it got the missionaries pretty fired up. We also did a round robin type deal. So one big problem is, you teach missionaries something and then they don’t apply it. And missionaries get bored, so moving elements are useful. Some ZL’s before have done this thing where you have three trainings being taught at once, and three groups, and they rotate, so they get all three trainings. The downside of this is the missionaries that have to teach everything 3 times are then pooped, and they didn’t get to hear the rest of the trainings. And the missionaries ignore things.
So, we made a system where Companionship A teaches Companionship B about using members or something, and then Comp A leaves to go the next station, and Comp B takes over as teachers and teach the same subject to Comp C. Then you learn about and teach every topic. It was really interesting, and I think it will make the ideas stick more. We also gave a hardcore pump up presentation. The idea was based on a story Elder Groburg (author of The Other Side of Heaven) shared in GC. The story is really long, but if you are interested, the talk is called “The Lord’s Wind”. Anyway, I wrote a poem about it and shared it with the missionaries (with the very strict rule that if my companion told anyone I wrote it, I would string him up by his pinky toes). Here it is below:
(Inspired by the conference talk entitled “the Lord’s wind” by John H. Groberg)
I sail on a boat.
Yahoo! I shout, with the sun in my face and the wind tousling my hair
It’s good to be free and it’s good to be young and it’s good to be on my way there
Forward, onward and outward I gaze
Thoughts of success and glory ablaze
I glance proud at those sails, full, taut and strong
When God is with you what could ever go wrong?
And then –
a stumbling thudding shudder.
It began on the deck, then the soles of my feet,
Moved up my back, but wasn’t complete
And the sails
A shaky laugh, a little shrug,
I give a sail a tiny tug –
An angry puff escapes my lips
“Where’s the wind?” With hands on my hips
“I need a good strong gusty gale
“Without Your help I’m just gonna fail
“How will I get where I need to be
“If You do nothing and refuse to help me?
And then in my heart, like a voice from on high
I hear “Don’t you ever forget that for you I did die.
“There is nothing, no nothing, I would not do for you.”
The words lit up my soul and I knew they were true
Humbled, timid, a little ashamed
My next question I more carefully framed
“My Lord and my God, I’ll do what You ask – I’m now prepared”
And I knew that He’d answer, because I knew that He cared
I thought and mulled about getting to shore –
When my eye fell upon that little old oar.
Hours pass, my boat slides up onto the sand
Success at last! I’ve finally reached land.
My back truly ached and my arms really burned
But I’ll always remember this lesson I learned
Sometimes in life we wait and wait
And and all is still and we blame fate
And when winds don’t come our sails to fill
It may not be against God’s will
It’s not because God isn’t there
Nor because He doesn’t care
It’s just a chance – now don’t get mad
It’s just the strongest feeling I had
As on the boat my oars I pinned –
sometimes you get to be God’s wind!
And when you really want to go
Well – you’ve got to row and row.
And then we talked about how in missionary work, if we just wait for success to come, we’ll be waiting a long time. And when there are no “winds”, we may start to wonder if God is powerful enough, or if he cares, or whatever excuse we can think of. But I truly think that sometimes, God lets us sit long enough to figure out that we control our fate. If success isn’t coming in missionary work, all I can tell you is grab your area with two hands and squeeze every last ounce of success stored up in there. Go out and actively take what you want, and if your desires are pure, God will bless you for it.
If success isn’t coming in other spiritual aspects of your life, remember the old adage “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” If you are struggling, good! It’s better than surrendering. If you feel like your testimony is weak, pray hard, study seriously, and try different things to make coming to church a revelatory experience. Remember the words of King Limhi to his people after having their bids for freedom rebuffed three times.
“O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.” Mosiah 7:33
I trust, and give testimony, that there always remains an effectual struggle to be made. We can always improve our situation with the help of the Lord.
I love you guys!
Have a great week!
Life has been pretty good this last week.
We continue to meet with our Chinese philosopher named L. He is handful. We have to be pretty quick on the draw in explaining doctrine, because he has his own philosophical system and he does his best to fit what we are saying into that. So really have to get fundamental with him. He agrees that the Book of Mormon comes from God, Joseph Smith was a prophet, different from normal religious reformers like Martin Luther, and that a sincere heart is completely necessary to receive revelation.
But he doesn’t believe God is real.
He is something that exists outside of reality, lives in our hearts, and would cease to exist if we stopped believing in him. He is the sum total of all the ideologies of the world, but is 100% good, powerful, etc.
And the body is the source of all evil.
And meat is bad.
And so forth. So there is a lot to do there, but it is certainly interesting.
Contrast that with another Chinese investigator, R, the one that will be baptized. He asks us what the commandments are because he is so anxious to live them. He prays every night, and tells us he feels himself changing. He prayed at the end of our last lesson, and he thanked God for sending angels to him, meaning us. That was a little tearjerker. It reminds me of a story from LeGrand Richards:
“Now I like a little story that President Grant used to tell about the love that converts have for their missionaries. He told about a couple who came here from one of the Scandinavian countries. They hadn’t been taught much about the gospel. All they knew was that it was true. And so the bishop went to this couple and taught them the law of tithing. They paid their tithing. Then later the bishop went to them and taught them about the fast offering. They paid their fast offering. And then the bishop went to them again to get a donation to help build a ward meetinghouse. They thought that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop got through with them, they paid their donation on the meetinghouse.
Then the bishop went to the father to get his son to go on a mission. Now I can hear President Grant standing here, saying, “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The man said, “He’s our only child. His mother will miss him. We can’t let him go.” Then the bishop countered, “Brother So-and-So, who do you love in this world more than anyone else outside of your own relatives?” And he thought for a few minutes. He said, “I guess I love that young man who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Then the bishop countered, “Brother So-and-So, how would you like someone to love your boy just like that?” The man said, “Bishop, you win again; take him. I’ll pay for his mission.”
This week we are doing a zone training meeting. I’m really excited. I think it’s gonna be good. Our very first thing we are doing is splitting off and and each taking a district leader and their district and bearing testimony of Christ until they cry. 🙂 I’m getting fired up just thinking about it. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
This week we had MLC. It was Elder Germann’s last one. He was in my Distrikt when I was in Bernburg. We’ve stayed pretty good friends on the mission. He got to give a finisher’s testimony – which is when a missionary who is going home gives his final hoorah, which is usually pretty powerful. He killed it. It was super spiritual. What a way to go out!
I love you guys, and I love my mission too. I’m really excited for the next few weeks. I think they are going to be good.
You have a great week!
This week was really pretty good.
We found a cool investigator, so Elder Weber helps us out on Skype teaching him since he speaks a different language. I got to go on exchange with Elder Oliphant one last time, which was fun. That exchange though, I was just pooped. I went to bed at 8. I could barely keep my eyes open. Exhaustion is coming more and more frequently, which is great! That means I’m still workin’!
We had Zone Conference with Elder Adler, an area seventy, which was great. I really liked it.
I’ve been trying to make a new plan of consecration for before and after the mission, so I’ve been studying that a lot. And that was roughly the topic of ZoCo as well.
Also, a missionary had been really struggling with feelings of worthiness about things he had already repented off and as far as I know, weren’t actually that big of a deal anyway, but he was just really beating himself up about it. We had been trying to help him. And then Elder Adler started his talk by saying “I hadn’t planned to say this, but I feel I need to tell you all that..” and then went on to explain that we just need to move on when we’ve made a mistake, and not dwell on it anymore, and the only one that wants us to do that is the adversary. It was crazy how fitting what he said was. That missionary really needed to hear that. I thought that was really neat, and I want to be that in tune with the Spirit in the future so that I can help people more.
Probably the most exciting news of the week is that we put R on baptismal date! He is this Chinese guy that came to church with some BYU students a few weeks ago. I haven’t talked much about him, because we always taught him when I was on exchanges, so I didn’t really know him that well. But we had a fantastic lesson with him, and he is just the nicest guy. He doesn’t have much of a Christian background, which means we have to clarify everything. We set the date for June 19, which is really soon. We decided to do it that soon because we have to do a tough balancing act. He is going back to China in 4-5 months. You are not allowed to get baptized in China. So his only chance to be a member is here. They have wards there, you just can’t join them unless you come back to China a member. So, that means that we want to give him as much experience being a member here as possible, so he is as strong as possible when he goes back. So of course, we want to make sure he understands his covenants as well, but we are going a little faster than usual. Hopefully it works out. He already is socially converted, because he loves the BYU students, who are really awesome. They all live in the same building, and they pray with him and read the scriptures with him, and have him over for dinner and everything, so he’s really solid that way.
Sorry, I have no more time… 😦
Love you guys!
Most of what I’m writing today is a spiritual thought, but real quick, the story of those medals. So there was a flea market here in Jena on Saturday. We decided to use a little bit of lunch time to look around for cool German stuff. Right towards the end, I noticed this black crosses that I thought were WW1 badges, but I wasn’t sure. Anyway, I asked how much one cost, and the man kinda looked at me for a few seconds, than told me to come to the other side of the table. He then pulled this cloth off of this box with a bunch of cool badges in it, all the same stuff, the black crosses from ww1 and the gold ones from ww2. Well, the gold ones had swords, so I was sold. He turned it over, and just to show me it wasn’t damaged, pulled off this little orange sticker to reveal a swastika. I thought “Oh, how sweet. They are so embarrassed about swastikas that they cover it up just so no one get’s offended.” So I was telling a member about it, and he was all sketched out, so I asked what was wrong. Turns out, it’s TOTALLY illegal to buy that sort of thing! Any Nazi paraphernalia is super against the law. I already knew you can’t have Mein Kampf or anything like that of course, but some cool war medals? Yeah, super illegal. The best way to describe their attitude towards Hitler is like Voldemort. They literally won’t even say his name. Once, Brd. S from Bernburg made the Hitler salute thing, and everyone gasped. He is actually pretty similar to Dumbledore in a lot of ways, but that definitely helped that symbolism. So yeah. No big deal.
So the spiritual thought:
An executive synopsis of this really long thought I had about agency:
* Agency is accountability
* We try to avoid pure decision making by allowing external sources to make the decisions for us
* That is exactly what we are doing when we seek for a sign
* We try to force God to force us to do it, rather than just deciding ourselves
* This way, we try to avoid accountability – we can then blame the sign or God for not sending us one
* We can face those baldfaced bold decisions proudly, refuse to let external circumstances control and do what we feel is right no matter the circumstances.
* Implications of leadership by example: we have to let others decide themselves.
The full version:
It was always astounding to me that anyone, anyone at all, could be so dumb as to want their Agency, their literal god-given right to decision making and accountability taken away, let alone 1/3 of all human Spirits in the Spirit world. I’ve never understood either, why it was that it was so important to God that we have it. As I started thinking and studying about this, I started getting partial answers here and there.
– Agency is an eternal principle, which God could not ignore and remain God.
– Agency is not just the ability to make choices, but an accountability for the outcome, according to an article sent by my dad.
– Brd. S, Institute teacher, gave a wonderful extemporaneous lesson on faith vs. knowledge. He pointed out that although knowledge is something we all desire, a knowledge of the verity of the Gospel, for example, knowledge is not connected to movement. For example, most everyone has the knowledge that smoking, alcohol, and drugs are terrible for them, but that doesn’t stop very many from doing it. But the faith that there was land on the other side got Columbus to sail across the world.
But it wasn’t until I watched 2 investigators, both receiving new light and knowledge, both enjoying this experience, both start to ask God tentatively to let them know the truth – it wasn’t until I saw both of them blame outside circumstances for choosing to not follow this path, and then not until I discussed it with one of my best friends, a member from Frankfurt Oder, that I really understood the stark beauty of agency.
It occurred to me how often we actually do everything we can to destroy our own agency. This can be as innocent as a girl unendingly claiming she “doesn’t care” where you go for dinner on a date (p.s. That is super annoying. Please stop doing that) to someone succumbing to the allure of the comatose, blind, out of control numbness of drugs and alcohol, just to not have to think anymore about tomorrow.
When it comes to religion, we’ve heard over and over that the reason God doesn’t send us constant manifestations and visions and angels, is he doesn’t want to take away our agency. I’ve always thought “Hmm, well that’s sure nice of the Him, but now that I want it, now that I’ve followed the path, and have a testimony, what about just sending that angel now? That’d be great.”
Why is it that General Authorities consistently insist on the fact that inspiration from the Holy Ghost is even better than seeing things with our eyes? And why is it, then when they are done talking, I still want something like that to happen? This has always been a point of confusion for me, because I was looking at it from the wrong point of view. If God were to give us a sign, and then we weren’t ready to follow it, of course, we would be acting contrary to the knowledge that we have, and that would be pretty condemnable. That’s the reason I’ve heard most often, or at least how I’ve always understood it. But
that’s the very reason why I want a sign! It would be so much easier to do everything with faith if I were to see a vision or something! This seemed to me to be a contradiction. Why, if it wouldn’t help us, is there almost a universal desire for such a thing to happen?
I honestly don’t think the main reason that we have these types of manifestations more often is not because God doesn’t want us to fall away afterwards, but rather, we have to learn to make spiritual decisions based purely on what we and God want.
When we get to the point where there is nothing left to do but to decide, when we stand in a great flat expanse, with no hint of what any direction holds, and we just have to decide – those moments are agony. In books, when 2 doors are put before a hero, often he will throw some dice, or close his eyes and point, etc. The purely internal decision is something that man does his best to avoid. Of course, leaving decision up to chance doesn’t actually help in any way. You cannot be more likely wrong, than when we do that. We can’t have worse chances!
So why do we do it?
The weight of accountability for a decision, that’s why. We can’t stand that mountainous burden, that responsibility. So when there is nothing left but us, we’ll try to at least call in luck to blame a path wrongly taken on a coin flip or a lost rock paper scissors game.
That’s the longing for a sign. If we get a sign, we no longer have to choose and choose and choose, we can just follow. We and our conscience are no longer responsible for what we do – no more decisions, just blind action. What could actually be more humiliating? What could be more emasculating? What could rob us more of our godly, divine abilities to learn righteousness?
It appears that to God, doing the right is not even close to being as important as choosing the right.
Which brings us back to my investigators. How were they feeling? Both of them were positively suffering. They had gospel truths, but following them meant leaving the path they were on, the path they had traveled with everyone else they knew – for them, the path of least resistance. To join our church, you have to abandon culture, family, politics, hobbies, and essential opinions you’ve always thought were
“you”. We, as the missionaries, showed them the other path. Indecision gripped them. Anxiety about the future and problems with change loomed around them. One of them attempted to walk both paths, only to feel them pulling away, farther and farther apart from each other.
Dad can attest that one of the absolutes you can count on in waste water management is that water always follows the path of least resistance. Water will never ever under any circumstances just spontaneously start flowing uphill. This principle can be used to control water. The Romans were able to make aqueducts to transport this water. At it’s most rudimentary, water would flow downhill. When they wanted to take it left or right, they would throw up a wall or bank in front of the water. The obedient water wasn’t about to leap over the wall shouting viva la revolucion and do it’s own thing. It followed the bank and went in the direction it was supposed to.
Watered-down disciples wish God would throw up a bank so they could both follow God’s plan and follow the path of least resistance. A sign from heaven is exactly that. Of course, if we are already following God’s plan, we wouldn’t stop because we saw a sign. But we would stop choosing , and that defeats our purpose every bit as much.
I think this has interesting implications as well when it comes to leadership. Leading by example is one style, whereas the other style is telling. Telling does not necessarily imply hypocrisy. We can tell people to do things and still do them ourselves. But according to this idea of agency, and from God’s example, leading by example is not only effective, not only more effective, it is the only effective way to lead others to do what is right.
This truth is easily seen in missionary work. A leader can either tell missionaries to start doing things, stop doing things, etc. Or they can just start doing it. The problem with most missionaries is, they are pretty polite. If someone tells them to go to bed on time, they will do it, begrudgingly, but they’ll do it. If you just go to bed on time and they see that, you may be going to bed alone. But more often than not, missionaries will also go get ready for bed with you. What’s the difference? When we lead by example, we allow those who look up to us to actively choose what they do. Instead of unwillingly being forced to do what is right one time, they feel the power of choosing the right, and they more likely to do it again. If they don’t follow you, forcing them to do it wouldn’t help them in the future anyway. Instead, we are worsening the situation. Now, in order to do what is right in the future, they have to admit to themselves that they were wrong in the first place, and we, whom they inwardly grumbled at, were right. This takes humility on our part, because we get no recognition. We get no points. Sometimes, people won’t even know why they are doing what we are doing. But it’s the example. There’s real power in agency.
So when it comes to spiritual decision-making, I’m going to try in the future to remember one very important principle. External happenings, pressures, or opinions literally have no bearing whatsoever on what I do. It’s not a question of balancing pros and cons. There is no scale. We do what is right. Period. I don’t worry about outcomes of that, because I can’t choose them and I can’t choose differently. As for signs, I reserve the right to follow my conscience. I don’t want to be watered-down disciple, who wavereth like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and is tossed. I no longer desire the easy way out, and I don’t want the choice taken away from me. Not because I would do anything different, but because it’s an honor to pick which team I’m playing on, and to choose Christ.
Have a great week!