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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TFOT: What manner of men and women ought ye to be?

Last Sunday for the Teachings for Our Times lesson, I taught on the talk What manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be? by Elder Lynn G. Robbins. It was a great reminder of some things I need to be working on. Elder Robbins quotes are in italics, with my thoughts below.

"To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray, for example, and prayer in turn strengthens one’s faith.
The Savior often denounced those who did without being—calling them hypocrites: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender.
Conversely, to be without to do is void, as in “faith, if it hath not works,is dead, being alone” (James 2:17; emphasis added). Be without do really isn’t being—it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.
Do without be—hypocrisy—portrays a false image to others, while bewithout do portrays a false image to oneself."
Throughout this talk, Elder Robbins focuses on being and doing.  We see do without be when people act one way in front of their church friends, for example, but act a different way in front of others not of our faith. Be without do is harder to see- those are the people who are lying to themselves. The example that came to mind for me are the people who say they are religious or spiritual (be) so they don't need to go to church (do). When, in reality, if you really are religious/ spiritual you will act on that by doing- in this example, attending church.
"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s."
This part really hit home for me, because I love to make to do lists. As I was preparing for this lesson, I went through my planner to look at past checklists, so I could see: are my to do's helping me become who I want to be? Most of my to do's focused on the temporal, things like cleaning, cooking, buying, etc. It's an interesting thing to ponder: who do I want to be? and what things to I need to do to get there? In a sense, that's a simple question, right? We all know that if we want to be a doctor, we need to go to med school. But to focus on attributes that we want to attain, and then to make those 'do's' help us grow toward our 'be's'... it's not something I have spent as much time contemplating. If I want to be charitable, what am I doing each day to develop that attribute? 
"Because be begets do and is the motive behind do, teaching be will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on do will improve behavior."
That quote can be a little hard to understand on the first read-through. Boyd K. Packer said something similar when he said,"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." Elder Robbins uses this thought to help us understand how to be better parents. If we want our children's behavior (do) to change, we should focus on the attributes (be) that is causing that behavior. I tried this as an experiment with my two oldest kids, age 7 and 6. They are both home from school from the summer and spending lots of time together each day. They sometimes get annoyed and fight with each other and then come and tattle to me. Individually, I asked them each to work on an attribute. With my daughter, I talked about patience; with my son, I talked about being a peacemaker. When they weren't getting along, I reminded them about working on those things. The next morning, my kids were up early, and already having some disagreement. I was reading scriptures when my 6 year old came out and started telling me the problem. "What do you think you could do about it?" I asked him. "Well, I remember how you told me about being a peacemaker," he said, "And maybe I could do that, but I don't know how." I had my scriptures open in the New Testament to the part where the Savior is being mocked and ridiculed. I read him a couple verses and we talked about how Jesus was a peacemaker. He went back and worked things out with his sister. Wow! Focusing on 'be' is definitely something I will try to implement more in my own parenting. 

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