When you say, “How humble are you?” That’s hard to evaluate. Do you really have faith? How do you evaluate that? I like visual tangible things that I can evaluate myself. For myself I like something that I can say ‘the quality of personal prayers’ that is something you can evaluate.
Service breeds gratitude, but gratitude breeds service.
Elder Joe Christensen April 1999 Conference “Greed, Selfishness, and Overindulgence"
That is what we attend to, which teaches our children to feel entitled and have expectations. We have the problem of thinking or to try to give them whatever they want. Have you had the experience of getting up and opening gifts. They open a gift and say, “Thanks. What’s next?” Even if they don’t say it you feel that attitude. Before Christmas have you seen your children lay by the Christmas tree and they start sorting packages. It’s not all wrong. You want them to be excited, but you don’t want that to be their focus.
As our desire to give them everything they want even if it’s just for Christmas or their birthdays we do them a disservice because we are raising youth with entitlement. They love to play the card, “Everyone else has a cell phone. Why can’t I have a cell phone.” Your kids tell you how badly they need that. How badly do you think you need that? We feel like we need that.
Brigham Young, “The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich and for get God and his people and kick themselves out of the church. My greater fear is that they cannot understand wealth.”
In Book of Mormon how many times have you read there were no –ites and then started wearing costly apparel. Money and material things are on the minds of almost everyone. The great question of the 20th century is ‘How can I make more money? How can I get more things?’
Elder Bednars talk on Tithing… blessings are subtle, significant, and substantial---improved health, being able to get by with less, capacity to work harder, your desire for things would decrease.
As we become less needy/wanting they we are not as focused on money and things. Our focus changes to others and blessings. I don’t need a new car I’m thankful for the one I have and that it still runs. When you stop lusting after things your mind goes to what they are thankful for. Frequently when you give your kids things they don’t even say thank you.
1. Do not confuse wants and needs.
If you child says, ‘I really, really want a cell phone.’ What do you need it for? So I can call you? When you are at an activity can you borrow someone’s phone to call me? They are confused between a want and a need. They need to know the difference before they get married. They think they need to have everything that Mom and Dad have in their home. When they have worked as hard as Mom & Dad have they earned the right to have those things. You need to teach them that in the beginning. “My mother taught me an important lesson along these lines. Traded for a new car every year. How much more did the new car cost than the other one. Well, the other car has always been able to get me where I needed to go. I think we ought to give the difference to someone that needs it more than we do.” If you are governed by your wants you live strapped out. Most of the time if you pay your tithing you are freed up to help others.
2. Avoid spoiling our children.
We give them many wants thinking that they are need. “In our day many children grow up…because parents indulge them. Provide with things they want. One of the most important things we can teach our children is to deny themselves.” Marshmallows and see how long they could wait to eat. A small percentage could wait. Those that held out did better through life and held out. They had less emotional problems. They stuck to and did hard things. They weren’t focused on instant gratification. You buy their good behavior, but they are learning that they can ask and get it. What are we teaching. It’s the principle. ‘A wise mother said I choose not to give our children what I can afford I hold back for their sake.’ If they really want it then help them wait and earn the money to buy it themselves. They treat it better when they get it.
3. Avoid debt.
In syllabus…ideas of things you can do to help your children learn to live in gratitude. All of those things do not involve giving them things. You need to teach them to notice the things they have. The attitude of gratitude is the basis for any other attribute…faith, charity, etc…You can’t have these other attributes and not be grateful.
EXAMPLE: Nathan came home from mission. He told us that he wanted to go to the temple on the way home from the airport. We went through a session. We waited outside for him. We waited and waited and waited. We were out there for almost an hour. I sent Mike back inside and see what happened to him. Nate was just coming out. He asked him what had just happened. He said, “I am so sorry. I lost track of time and I turned on the hot water and washed my hands. I couldn’t believe that it came out of the tap. Hot water came out of the tap.” He had not felt hot water come out of the tap in 2 years. It was astounding to him. It was such a lesson to me in gratitude. I took him to the grocery store. He said, “Mom look at all this food all in one place.” It was so wonderful to be able to go and shop looking through his grateful eyes. It was a wonderful experience in seeing gratitude in daily life.
What we need to do in our families is what Nathan was doing for me….calling attention to those little things that we should be grateful for. Avoid giving them to much, but create the opportunity to earn the things they want.
The things you can do at home…syllabus pg 93
1. Avoid magnification of small things.
The toilet gets stopped up. Life is terrible. What are we teaching them. Small things are unbearable. If life isn’t perfect it’s terrible. Rescue us. A glass breaks, a dish breaks, a window gets broken. Keep in perspective the things that are serious and the things that just need to be handled. You are teaching them that those things are not defeating.
Class member: My sisters car got broken into during the day in Arizona. I realized that I should feel so much worse for the other person that was desperate enough to break into the car. I told them that she was doing fine.
I hope everyone of you go home and thing I’m doing a lot of things right. I want you to go home and hope and feel good about yourself.
HOMEWORK: Tell someone in your life how much you appreciate them. Someone who has had an impact in your life. Write them a note or send them an email. Let them know the power they have had on you. Express your appreciation to someone in specifics for what they did to help you. Make it a FHE lesson. Have each of your children do the same thing. It could be one of their friends.
Story on pg 96 in syllabus.
Class member: My friend has always felt a little out of place in our ward. She got a letter in the mail and she brought it to my house and she was floored that someone would take the time to write the letter to her. This other person said she felt like she was valuable.
Frequently after I have spoken at a Relief Society people say ‘That was great.’ That praise doesn’t stick. I love to go do them, but I don’t always feel like I hit the mark. Occasionally someone will write me an email that will say, “This really helped me.” That’s when I feel like it’s all worth it. It doesn’t matter how put together you think someone is there isn’t anyone that doesn’t need to be appreciated for what they do. We don’t understand how powerful it is in the life of someone.
We start appreciating them more when we verbalize or do something about it.
Thanks-giving is 2 words. It’s Thanks and Giving. Giving is a verb meaning to do something. If I am thankful for the scriptures I will read them. If I am thankful for my home I will take care of it and not wish for more and teach my children to keep it neat. If I am thankful for food I might share, I will take care of it, I will serve at the food bank. If we are truly grateful for friends, express that appreciation. IF we are truly grateful for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ you will use the Atonement, that gift he has already paid for and use it in gratitude that he didn’t use it in vain.
Thanks involves doing something…not just a casual thought.
Class member: We have a little tradition for the whole month instead of just doing a thankful tree. We put thanks on the thankful tree and also a giving tree…what we can put on the giving tree about what we are thankful for.
Syllabus pg 92 “A grateful heart is the beginning of greatness…..”
Without gratitude you will have a hard time building these other things. Teaching them to have gratitude is how you will instill those other attributes into their lives.
This principle of teaching a grateful heart is fundamental in gaining a testimony. When you are grateful for you begin to have faith in it.
Class member: We were talking about getting our thankful trees ready. How do you teach the glossary version of that word to really little kids.
Class member: I have a little girl that understands love, but not grateful. She will tell you what she loves…those are the things she is grateful for. What she truly loves she is grateful for. They might make that connection.
Class member: What makes you happy? What makes you feel good?
Class member: Switching your prayers from grateful prayers to wanting prayers. Concentrate on what you are thankful for and what he has given you. It goes to the gratitude more than the wants.
When you are talking about a word and trying to define it to a small child their ability to conceptualize is limited. They are in the process of learning. It is easier to teach them through events. As I drive down the road and see these trees, “I love these trees. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father paints these trees in the fall.” “I am so thankful we have hot water.” As you kneel down before prayers to only do gratitude prayers. To make them longer than 2 ½ minutes is an interesting experience. Pick a time during the day, think about those things, you will run out of them. Just wait. Let the Holy Ghost help you feel more. Go at a time when you are willing to pay the price to have a spiritual experience…even fasting. Learn both gratitude and prayer. Have an intimate talk with Heavenly Father. We don’t take time to have them very often. Sometime between now and thanksgiving I invite you to do that. If you allow yourself to stay long enough to be taught by the Holy Ghost what else there is.
I am very visual. Sometimes the concepts in the church are not visual. Sometimes when I really want to know my standing before the Lord, “Am I headed in the right direction?” When I felt so crazy. I just wanted to know. I prayed that the Lord would give me understanding so I could evaluate myself and know where my soul and heart were on the road. It’s not always what we do, but how we do it. You want them to clean their room with a good attitude. Because I was seeking for that answer this lesson is what I was given as an answer to that prayer. It was given over a long period of time, but over yearning for what to do.
Class taught by James McArthur at BYU Education Week. At the end of his talk he said, “I was finally able to turn my life over to the Lord so he could use me to run His errands.”
How do you get there? How do you know if you are close? The first thing that came to my mind was before you can turn your life over to the Lord you have to own your life. I sell a portion of my heart to impatience. I sell a portion of my heart to criticism. I sell a portion of my heart to selfishness. In order to give my life to the Lord you have to pull those portions back. You can’t have given them somewhere else. I think that sounds good, but how do you do that.
The service continuum…pg 84….this was given to me to know how I was doing on taking the pieces of my heart back. I need to know if I’m still missing pieces. I am hoping you will study it.
When we think about service or the heart of service then we have to realize that service is not related to time management. It has nothing to do with time management. The first thing we think of is do I have time.
That’s like saying tithing has something to do with money. It has to do with your testimony of tithing.
We have talked about changing in percentages. You don’t go from “They are calling me again” to “YEAH!!! They are calling me again.” You don’t go from the bottom to the top. You go to the next level. You will get there, but you can only go one step at a time.
You are probably in a different place in your different roles. As a wife, daughter, sibling, community worker, mother, sister, etc. You are probably in a lot of them. In all of your relationships it will be to be at the top level. It’s a difficult journey.
Level 1: I Won’t….
I will not work in the nursery.
I will not be the primary chorister.
Example: I was in Relief Society…making profound additions to the lesson.
Good reasons. Excuses.
Sometimes you are there. Different times different places. There is a difference between your heart being right, but you really can’t. One is the humility of I would if I could, but I can’t. This one is digging your heels in a bit of resentment.
Level 2: I Have To…
Laman & Lemuel were here. They did it.
Visiting teaching tends to fall into this category. Your focus is on your and your personal cost. Things for our children…“Mom will you go get me posterboard”. Then you give the lecture series and you will go get it. Some of us in marriage, “I don’t want to have to do that.” You do it, but you kick and scream and lecture and give the silent treatment to spouses. I’ll do it, but I won’t speak to you for 3 days.
Level 3: I’ll Try….
There is a willingness in here now. I will be the den mother. I will do it. I’ll do the best I can do. I’ll come prepared every week. You do a good job. You are dependable. You are even nice. Your heart is ‘I will be glad when I am released from this call.’ Some of you parent that way. There is no where to ship these kids off. I will do it. Some of you go through seasons of feeling that way with children. Some of you are there in your marriage. I don’t want a divorce. I love you. I don’t not love you. This isn’t fun any more. I will do it. I covenanted. Aren’t you a joy to live with.
Level 4: I Want To…
When you hit “I want to” there is power and energy in your life. I want to serve, I want to be a good wife, I want to be a good parent. Most of you are there.
Level 5: May I….
This is the hardest step to make. All the good humanitarian services in the world fit this. They are suffering and we want to help them. Why do you do it? Because we love the Lord and these are his children. This is gratitude to the Lord. Because I have been given so much may I serve. May I do something to show how grateful I am. The last column is based on love of the atonement and knowing our dependency on the Lord because we love Him. In serving the Lord and being his servant is the motivating reason.
There are only occasions when I wish I could live in this column. I have had more and more frequent experiences that make me want to live there. If you haven’t had an experience there, seek for one. Work to have those occasionally.
You have to grow line upon line. It will become a powerful experience. I invite you to seek to have one of those opportunities. The way you get there in your scripture time…study the Atonement. As you do that your heart becomes qualified to serve on that level. It works. I bear testimony it does from experience.
Story….Gifts of Galilee
My challenge to you is…pick a service project that you can give with your family as a gift to someone. Are you like this mother that is worrying about the rush of the season. I want it to hurt. I want you to sacrifice. It can be doing a family for Christmas, but it could be anything….working at the shelter. I want you to be able to feel the joy and the gratitude the comes when you live beyond yourself. Your children and you need to earn the money.
CS Lewis…I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. There ought to be things we like to do but can’t because our charitable expenditures are more.
Pray about it. Talk to your family about it. Find someway to give a ‘Gift of Galilee’.