Pattern for Success
In June 1968, I had just turned 19 years old and began serving a 2 ½ year assignment in the Netherlands Mission. That was a tough and long time to be away from home as a missionary. There were no phone calls, no Skype two times per year, no email and no Facebook. I communicated with my family and friends by writing a letter once a week by hand, placing a stamp on it and sending it “Air Mail”; a skill few people know or understand now days. Each letter was written on a piece of light blue paper that folded into an envelope. My mother would typically not hear a thing from me for several weeks, then miraculously the US Post Office would deliver several weekly letters from me to her, all neatly tied together with a string. What made it so ironic, I received the same excellent service from Nederland Post. I guess this proves the post office does need to raise the cost of stamps – to pay for storage. My mother states she eventually wondered if she really had a son and if her dimmed memories were only a dream.
I returned home just before Christmas 1970. The home coming started with the excitement of meeting my family at the airport. That is a feeling one never forgets, a feeling of satisfaction, having done something difficult, love and reunion with family members. I felt confident and optimistic. I was eager to start my regular life. My home seemed huge and plush. The towns had not changed which was somehow comforting. The streets were wider than I remembered. People over 30 years old looked the same. Those who were younger than 12 years old when I left had completely changed. I did not recognize them. About a month later at Utah State University, the newness of being home wore off and I really fell into home sickness for the little country on the shores of the North Sea that I loved so dearly and I realized I was not going back. Full time missionary life was over.
We have a large surge of missionaries going home in the next few months and eventually everyone will go home. Each of you will have your own experience of that homecoming and getting on with your normal life. I want to outline the pattern for success that the Lord has given, as you now pick your way through the mine fields of regular life. It is a road map for success. This pattern is found in the book of Moses and comes with the backdrop of Father in Heaven’s expectation for each of you to be an agent not an object and to act and not be acted upon in this life. (2 Nephi 2:14, 26)
1 - Dress and keep the earth. “And I, the Lord God, took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it.” (Moses 3:15) You are given dominion over the whole earth and commanded to subdue it. I believe we have a responsibility to care for the earth and prohibit pollutions and waste, but still develop and use its resources as we strive to raise our standard of living. Remember before you join some radical environmental campaign dedicate to destroying our economic system, there is enough to spare. The Lord said:
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (DC 104:17)
2 – Get Married. “And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Moses 3:22) Marriage and family are central to God’s plan for your eternal destiny. Do it when you know you have found the one. Do not over engineer your life and intentionally delay marriage after you have found the one. Single life is intended in most cases to be short term.
3 – Cleave unto your spouse. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” (Moses 3:24) To the unmarried this may seem automatic to accomplish. But, cleaving to one another is to always adore one another and let it be seen. Also, infidelity does not suddenly happen out of the clear blue sky. It comes as a scheduled airline. Early signs of weakening such as flirtation, looking elsewhere with fondness, viewing pornography in any form, etc. are the early signs of weakening and eventually will result in a scheduled disaster.
22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.
23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her…[and]
24 …he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. (DC 42: 22-24)
4 – Use your God given agency and make choices. What this really means is you are accountable in your life. Our Father in Heaven paid a huge price to give you your agency; 1/3 of his spirit children were cast out of heaven so you could come to earth and experience accountability. “…because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him… I caused that he should be cast down;” (Moses 4:3) Remember your world of opportunity is wide open as you exercise your agency:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. (DC 58:26-28)
5 – Work to earn your bread. This includes receiving as much education as possible. “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…” (Moses 4:25) You must make choices and experience accountability for the consequences of your choices concerning education and career. Be loyal for whom you work. Cowboys say, “When you work for the man, you ride for his brand.” Adam was told it was for his sake, it was a blessing, that the earth was cursed to cause him to sweat to earn his bread. A productive and responsible citizen is a self-reliant citizen through the labor of his own hands.
6 – Have children. “And Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth. (Moses 5:2) Most couples have difficulties of one sort or another with child birth. It is not always automatic. The Lord said, multiply and did not qualify it with, “after your education,” or “when you can afford to give the child a better life.” Modern prophets have repeatedly counseled to not delay raising a family, but to experience the difficulties of raising a young family before you have made it in life. It will be a blessing to you.
7 – Offer sacrifices to the Lord. “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 6:6) We offer a broken heart and contrite spirit to Christ each sacrament meeting. This is called repentance and enduring to the end. You are also required to sacrifice to serve your fellow men. This is always expected and is almost never convenient.
8 – Be grateful. “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” (Moses 5:12) Their degree of gratefulness moved them to teach their children. Gratefulness is also closely tied to obedience and the Christ-like attribute of humility. “[Humility] includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgement of your constant need for His divine help.” (PMG p. 120) And, the Lord said,
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments. (DC 59:21)
So there you have it, a pattern for success. Follow this pattern while personally doing daily prayer and scripture study, weekly partaking of the sacrament and regular temple attendance and you will greatly improve your chances to enjoy fulfillment in your life.