Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Power of One

We have all heard someone say, or we said it our selves, “I am just one person, what difference can I make?” History is full of one person that changed the lives of many people good and bad. Some even affected the entire human family. We never know what we can do when we get out of our normal circle of influence and serve others. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord said:

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;

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. (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27)

 There is no end to the good causes that we can be anxiously engaged in. The difficult task is to decide on the best things that we can be doing and then go do it. Some of us get caught up in trying to find the perfect thing for us to do and never get around to doing anything. I would like to suggest four things we can do to make a difference:

1.       Be the best person we can be
2.       Help our family be the best they can be
3.       Be the best employee or employer that we can be
4.       Serve in the church and community

I only have space to discuss the first step in the process, that of being the best person we can and then the last one, service in the church and community.

First – Before we can be an influence for good to others, we must develop in ourselves the desire to be the best we can be, to keep God’s commandments and love God above all else. Then we can focus on the second commandment “to love others as we love ourselves". Knowing that we are sons and daughters of God, and that he loves us and wants the best for us is important to reaching our potential. We are not here by chance; we are here for a purpose. That purpose is to gain a physical body and prove that we are worthy of eternal life with him.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the problem of living below our privileges:

There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.

He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.

On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges. (“Your Potential, Your Privilege”, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference Address, April 2011)

Understanding who we are and why we are here is the first step in the process of reaching our potential and then using that to help our family live up to their privileges as well. We then have the responsibility to be the best we can with those at work and in the community.

Beyond our families and work, we have many opportunities to serve in our church and community. King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon spoke to his people of the importance of service:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

As the Savior said there is no better way to find ourselves than serving others. We should always be willing to accept callings when the Lord’s representatives invite us to serve. Helping others find out who they are and what their potential is has great satisfaction and is a blessing to us.

Kevin Price in a BYU-Idaho devotional talked about one person who dedicated his life to helping his students succeed:

“I am reminded of one of my favorite movies. The movie is a story of a man that not only understood his place but understood the ability and potential of others.  The movie is titled “Stand and Deliver.” This movie is the story of Jaime Escalante who quit his job as a computer programmer to teach math at an inner city high school in Los Angeles.  All of the people around the students in his class, teachers, parents, other students, even the students themselves, had already concluded that Mr. Escalante’s students were going nowhere and did not have a chance in life—much less in school.  Mr. Escalante did not buy into this belief and worked with all his strength to teach the students math up to and including Calculus. He helped them, worked with them during the summer, came in early, stayed late, and in the end prepared them for the advance placement test.  Just before they were to take the test, one of the students asked him if he was worried that they would mess up on the test.  Mr. Escalante, having a greater understanding of what his students could become, told the student that he was not worried about the test tomorrow. He was worried about their whole lives.  Mr. Escalante understood the potential of those students even when they did not. He gave everything he had to work with them and help them achieve that potential.” (“The Power of One”, Kevin Price, BYU-Idaho Devotional, April 1, 2014)

President Uchtdorf in his April 2011 conference address spoke to the priesthood about living up to our potential through priesthood service:

“Too often we fail to experience the bliss that comes from daily, practical priesthood service. At times assignments can feel like burdens. Brethren, let us not pass through life immersed in the three Ws: wearied, worrying, and whining. We live beneath our privileges when we allow worldly anchors to keep us away from the abundant joy that comes from faithful and dedicated priesthood service, especially within the walls of our own homes. We live beneath our privileges when we fail to partake of the feast of happiness, peace, and joy that God grants so bountifully to faithful priesthood servants.” (“Your Potential, Your Privilege”, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference Address, April 2011)

The greatest example we have of one person making a difference is our Savior, Jesus Christ. His life and death not only has affected the entire human race, but his affect will last through all eternity. Brother Price in his BYU-Idaho devotional spoke of the Savior’s example:

Of course, the greatest example we have to follow is that of Jesus Christ.  Jesus spent his entire life serving and helping others.  Christ served both physically and spiritually, He began by teaching at the temple when he was but 12 years old and he continued to teach and help to develop those around him until he was crucified. He also taught us that it did not matter your background, or where you were from, all people have need of being served.  He shared that that service could come to you from anyone as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

“Brothers and sisters the example has been set. We are to look for opportunities to serve and then step up and serve.

“In Matthew chapter 25 the Savior provided us the following:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"

 (“The Power of One”, Kevin Price, BYU-Idaho Devotional, April 1, 2014)

Whenever you wonder if “you have done any good in the world today” remember who you are. You may only be one person but with God “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

You comments and questions are welcome.

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