Friday, September 11, 2009

The Better Part

I'm on the committee for our stake women's conference in November and my assignment is to present two chapters of Emily Freeman's 21 Days Closer to Christ. Each chapter should take no more than five minutes. Now, if you've read the book, you'll agree that to do it justice, I'd need at least 15 minutes on each one. There's just SO much good stuff to digest!

I'm thinking about a dialogue between Mary and Martha that may go something like this:

Mary: "Martha, you have such a wonderful talent for entertaining guests. When they come to our home, they know they are going to be served a wonderful meal, and that you will meet their every need. It's obvious to everyone that you love doing it, and you are so diligent in each aspect of serving that way. I don't have that talent. I feel so helpless in the kitchen, really out of my element. I guess I'll always just be a teacher and nothing more."

Martha: "But Mary, you love teaching, and that is your talent. You're the best teacher I've ever heard, next to the Master Himself. There are times I wish I could just sit at His feet and listen to His wonderful stories, but I must admit, I feel more comfortable in the kitchen. I wouldn't know what to say if He asked me a question."

Mary put her arms around her sister and gave her a hug. "I'll try to come and help you more often so you won't have so much to do by yourself, but forgive me if I get lost in the Master's discourses. I just need to learn so much so I can teach it to others who can't be here. I guess we each have our talents - things that we love to do and that we do best. Serving is your better part. Teaching is mine."

Then I thought I'd have them turn to the audience and ask: (Quoting from the book) "how do we determine what qualities make us unique? How do we discover which gifts and abilities we have been blessed with that are individual to us?"

There are five questions we can ask ourselves that will help us find answer to these questions:

1. What motivates you spiritually?
2. What is one gospel subject that you enjoy studying?
3. What meaningful activities bring you the most joy?
4. Which of those activities help you feel closer to Christ?
5. What qualities do you have that can help others feel closer to Christ?

We don't all have the same gifts or talents, and at different times in our lives, our gifts might be different to benefit us or those we serve. Learning to utilize those gifts to the best of our ability is what constitutes giving the better part.

When we know who we are and have identified the qualities and gifts we have been given, the service we offer will be our very best.

President Hinckley said "...Do not nag yourself with a sense of failure. Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do. Then leave the matter in the hands of the Lord. You will discover that you have accomplished something beyond price....You may never know how much good you accomplish. Someone's life will be blessed by your effort." ("To the Women of the Church," Ensign, Nove 2003, 113-15.)

Mmmm. Needs some work. I'm not an analytical person. My daughter asked me the other day which life stage I enjoyed most with my children - when they were babies? When they were all in school? When they were mostly grown or when they were adults? I had to tell her I had never really thought about it. I just lived through and enjoyed each stage. There were blessings and advantages to each stage.

That's how I am with my spiritual development. I don't stop to analyze where I am or how I'm doing. I just try to do what I'm supposed to be doing (Prayers, scripture study, journal, visiting teaching and home teaching, serving, fulfilling my callings. etc.)

It's difficult for me to answer questions like those because they seem very abstract to me. What motivates me spiritually? Needing more information on a gospel subject? Needing blessings? Being grateful for blessings received?

And that last one is a hard one! What qualities do you have that can help others feel closer to Christ? Wow. None that come to mind right off!!!

Guess I need to do a lot of soul searching on this chapter. If you have any suggestions, please send them on! I can use all the help I can get!!


avagdro said...

Thanks Lynn Gardner for sharing.We all need to activate the divinity residing in all of us.

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Valerie said...

A good discussion, Lynn. It probably wouldn't hurt us to think about this every day, or at least every Sunday. I'll spend some time on this today and see what I learn.
Thanks for living the way you do so you can be alert to the importance of these things.

Cheri J. Crane said...

What an inspiring post, Lynn. It sounds like you'll do a wonderful job with your presentation. Wish I could be there to see it.