Sunday, December 7, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #116

Shalls and Shoulds
The story is told of a door to door salesman who came to a house with the front door partially open and piano music coming from inside.  On the other side of the street in a vacant lot several boys about 10 years old were busy playing a wild game of soccer.  He looked inside and saw a boy about 10 years old, obviously dirty from playing soccer sitting at the piano and pounding the key board.  A pair of soccer shoes laid on the floor by him.  From the sound, it was evident he was practicing. The salesman knocked on the open door and asked, “Little boy, is your mother home?”  The boy looked up and said, “What do you think?”

I have observed that there are a number of “shalls.” in life and in the gospel.  The little boy was obviously busy with a “shall.”  “Shalls” are inflexible and have a somewhat unhappy connotation of force, but, still are neccessary.

In the gospel, “shalls” revolve around the principles and ordinances of the gospel.  For example (and this may be an over simplification), the “shalls” in the gospel are:  faith in Jesus Christ, continued repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end doing your best to live all the commandments.  Also, partaking of the weekly sacrament and receiving your temple ordinances and covenants are “shalls.”  Add to that a special focus on the commandments of: sharing your substance with the poor and needy, love your fellowmen and forgiving others and you pretty well have covered the “shalls.”

There are an infinite number of “shoulds” in life and in the gospel.  “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;” (DC 58:27)  You may not fully realize the eternal importance of the “shoulds” but you are promised:

 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.  (DC 130:19)

For projects we designed At Sunrise Engineering, we wrote specifications and prepared drawings for work to be performed by contractors.  I found that giving the Contractor flexibility to perform work would unleashed his ingenuity and efficiency.  That almost always resulted in a better final constructed project for the Owner than if I tied the contractor’s construction efforts down to everything as a “shall”.  For example, for a pipeline construction project in a town, the town wants the least amount of disruption to the citizens as possible during construction.  To accomplish this, if I write, “There shall not be more that 500 lineal feet of open trench during pipeline construction in a city at any one time.”  Then the Contractor will limit his trenching and clean-up operations to 500 feet.  If I write the same sentence with a “should”,  then the contractor might find a way to keep the town dug up for less time resulting in less disruption but with longer open trenches at any one time or other betterment to the project.  We learned to write performance specifications using a “shall” regarding the final product and method specifications using a “should” for the manner of accomplishing it.  This generally resulted in surprising initiative and ingenuity.

A good example of “shalls” and “shoulds” from the scriptures is Lehi receiving a shall, “…go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 3: 4)  This is a performance specification.  Nephi and his brothers then planned the step by step execution of the commandment.  Interesting, they failed twice before the Lord provided a way after Nephi went on faith with no plan, “...And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (1 Nephi 4: 6)

Christ commanded us to do missionary work, “…go and teach all nations…”  (Matt 28: 19)  this is a performance specification, a “shall.” The step by step activities to accomplish this “shall” is missionary work.  It consists mostly of things and tasks we “should” do.  I am amazed over what can result from personal ingenuity as we work out the step by step activities to accomplish the commandment.  We can do great things as we bring to pass much righteous on our own free will. The members and the full-time missionaries work together “to labor in the vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.”  This responsibility is full of “shoulds.” 

To assist in working together, I have asked the full-time missionaries attending Ward Council or the Missionary Coordination meeting with the ward mission leader that they must:

·      be on time,
·      be prepared with a neatly written Progress Report,
·      Talk about something new and insightful about investigators.

Missionary work in Ward Council must be in unity with those present.  The Lord defined unity when he said:

2 Hearken, O ye elders of my church whom I have called, behold I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall assemble yourselves together to agree upon my word;
3 And by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church and have all things right before me.  (DC 41: 2-3)

You are there to agree on his word, you are not there until you agree with each other or to champion a cause.  The Bishop who presides, determines what the final decision will be and those present walk out of the meeting in unity.   

The missionaries are involved in the Hastening of the work of Salvation as are also the members and Ward Leaders.  Full-time missionaries are available for use by smart ward leaders to assist in all aspects of this work. This work is full of “shoulds” and consists of:

·      Member Missionary Work
·      Convert Retention
·      Activation
·      Temple and Family History Work
·      Teaching the gospel

Paul understood the value of personal ingenuity and initiative for people trying to do what should be done as he wrote to Philemon:

21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.  (Philemon 21)

And after Eli said to Samuel a third time to go lie down and, if the Lord speaks, state that your servant heareth.

19 ¶And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and [he] did let none of his words fall to the ground.  (1 Sam. 3:9-19)

Missionaries will realize better success with members by effectively doing all you should do to bring to pass much righteousness.
President Robinson

The following is a short test of information from the handbook, PMG and satements from Elder Ballard and Elder Hallstrom last September 2014 in Zoetermeer and Frankfurt.

  • (True or false)  The ward council meets regularly but is recommended by Elder Ballard and Elder Hallstrom to meet weekly.

  • (True or false)  The Bishop may invite the full time missionaries to attend a segment of Ward Council.

  • (True or false)  At Frankfurt during the lunch break, Elder Ballard sent for me. I entered the room, he sat me down and told me to get my missionaries to the Ward Council meetings, and while there talk about the investigators and enroll members support.

  • (True or false)  Under the direction of the bishop, the ward council develops a ward mission plan.  It should be brief and simple.

  • (Who said)  “We are here to find more, commit more and baptize more”
  • “Teach the doctrine of the restoration (lesson 1) to everyone.”
  • “You become powerful teachers not by, studying, but by teaching.  Teach every night to members if you have to.  Conversion always starts with what you feel.” Elder Ballard

  • (Who said)  The years will teach you more than your days ever knew.  Elder Dyches

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