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RS lesson "Change your focus...setting priorities"

RS lesson "Change your focus...setting priorities"

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Published by Dede Bessey
This is my intellectual property. Feel free to read, share, or quote it, but please give me credit as the author.
This is my intellectual property. Feel free to read, share, or quote it, but please give me credit as the author.

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Published by: Dede Bessey on Jan 05, 2011
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03/01/2015

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I have some pictures displayed here that I took on my trip to Salt Lake this year. Each portrays the beautiful Salt Lake temple, but can you tell me what is missing from these pictures? (close up pictures of the temple, nothing in background.)(Put out other pictures) Here are some more pictures I took on that same trip. (wider shots, showing other building, construction equipment, trees, etc.) As youcan see, the temple is actually surrounded by many larger buildings, and at that time, construction equipment. It was actually quite difficult to get a pictureof just the temple. It required changing my perspective, changing the angle ofthe shot, and some editing afterwards. It struck me as I was taking pictures andtrying to figure out how to get a shot of just the temple with no other buildings that this could be an analogy for life. How many times have we overlooked themost important part of our “big picture” by only seeing those less important, but more conspicuous items?For this lesson, I drew from two talks by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. One is entitled “The Influence of Righteous Women” from the Sept 2009 Ensign, and the otheris “We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down” from the April 2009 Priesthood Session of General Conference.In the second talk, President Uchtdorf relates the following story;“On a dark December night 36 years ago, a Lockheed 1011 jumbo jet crashed into theFlorida Everglades, killing over 100 people. This terrible accident was one ofthe deadliest crashes in the history of the United States.A curious thing about this accident is that all vital parts and systems of the airplane were functioning perfectly—the plane could have easily landed safely at its destination in Miami, only 20 miles away. During the final approach, however,the crew noticed that one green light had failed to illuminate—a light that indicates whether or not the nose landing gear has extended successfully. The pilots discontinued the approach, set the aircraft into a circling holding pattern overthe pitch-black Everglades, and turned their attention toward investigating theproblem. They became so preoccupied with their search that they failed to realize the plane was gradually descending closer and closer toward the dark swamp below. By the time someone noticed what was happening, it was too late to avoid thedisaster. After the accident, investigators tried to determine the cause. The landing gear had indeed lowered properly. The plane was in perfect mechanical condition. Everything was working properly—all except one thing: a single burned-outlightbulb. That tiny bulb—worth about 20 cents—started the chain of events that ultimately led to the tragic death of over 100 people. Of course, the malfunctioninglightbulb didn’t cause the accident; it happened because the crew placed its focus on something that seemed to matter at the moment while losing sight of what mattered most.”The things that fill each of our lives are assigned value and importance by eachone of us individually. Where do our priorities lie? President Uchtdorf tells us that “The tendency to focus on the insignificant at the expense of the profoundhappens...to everyone. We know what matters most in life—the Light of Christ teaches this to everyone. We as faithful Latter-day Saints have the Holy Ghost as a “constant companion” to teach us the things of eternal value. I imagine that any {ofyou here today} if asked to prepare a talk on the subject “what matters most,” could and would do an excellent job. Our weakness is in failing to align our actionswith our conscience.”Where do you assign the most value? One indication would be the things you choose to do when you have a few quiet moments, or the first thing on your “to-do” list.What takes up the majority of your waking hours? Quite frequently, the things that occupy our time are not “bad” or “unrighteous;” often times, they are necessary, wholesome, and fulfilling. However, even righteous pursuits can become a pitfall, when taken to the excess. An example of this is a father who spends hours researching family history, creating impeccable charts and graphs of his genealogy, while avoiding any quality time with his children. Or a grandmother who spends hoursupon hours lovingly tending to a garden, pulling weeds and aerating soil, while
 
ignoring “the spiritual weeds that threaten to choke her soul.” President Uchtdorfsays; “There is a saying that big gates move on small hinges. Sisters, your example in seemingly small things will make a big difference in the lives of {those around you.} The way you dress and groom yourselves, the way you talk, the way youpray, the way you testify, the way you live every day will make the difference.This includes which TV shows you watch, which music you prefer, and how you usethe Internet. If you love to go to the temple, the young people who value yourexample will also love to go. If you adapt your wardrobe to the temple garment and not the other way around, your friends will know what you consider important,and they will learn from you.” If the temple in these pictures represent becomingmore like Christ, what buildings are we putting up in front of the temple? WhatI mean is what are we assigning importance to in our lives? Housework, blogging, television, etc. I am not saying that these things are bad, or even unnecessary in each of our lives, however consider this; if your children, grandchildren,neighbors, or friends were asked “What does Sis. So and So stand for? What are herpriorities?” What answer would they give? When my husband asked our son what Mommy does all day, ....’s answer was “watch TV.” Now, I assure you, that is not the case,but from a 3 year old perspective, he imagined that being allowed to watch tv was a priority in my life, because it tends to be a priority in his. I realized that I tend to do all the housework while ... is at school or napping, so the onehour he sees me watching television seems to him to be what Mommy does. But itmade me more aware of what I was unknowingly teaching my children about priorities, and about what is important. My husband brought up in interesting point whenwe were talking about this “buildings in front of the temple” analogy. When you arestanding inside of the temple, all you see is the beauty and spirituality within. You don’t realize that those standing outside have a different view. So, whilewe are busy taking care of the day to day priorities we’ve assigned in our lives,we might not realize that the beauty of the light of Christ might not be radiating so brightly on the outside as it could be.President Uchtdorf continues; “Even some programs of the Church can become a distraction if we take them to extremes and allow them to dominate our time and our attention at the expense of things that matter most. We need balance in life. Welive in the latter days. The gospel of Jesus Christ is restored to the earth. The keys of the priesthood of God are given again to man. We live in an era of anticipation and preparation, entrusted by God to prepare ourselves, our families,our world for the approaching dawn—the day when the Son of God will “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” and usher in His millennial reign.These are the things that matter most. These arethe things of eternal value that deserve our attention. We cannot and we must not allow ourselves to get distracted from our sacred duty. We cannot and we mustnot lose focus on the things that matter most.”In the early days of the Restoration, the Lord spoke to Emma Smith through her husband, the Prophet Joseph Smith, giving her instructions and blessings: “[Be] faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me. … Thou needest not fear. … Thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better. … Liftup thy heart and rejoice. … And a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive” (D&C 25:2, 9, 10, 13, 15).Of this revelation, the Lord declared, “This is my voice untoall” (verse 16). Later, the Prophet Joseph Smith told the sisters, “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”Thinking about the importance of keeping your focus on the things that matter most, and not being distracted; I came up with a parable regarding a three ring circus. Imagine you are sitting in the stands and suddenly the tigers are in the center ring. You hear the ringmaster announce “Ladies and gentlemen, please directyour eyes to the center ring. While you watch with wonder, I will tell you all that you need to know!” You are captivated as the tigers begin jumping through fiery hoops and balancing on teeter totters. Right in the middle of the performance,you look to the ring on the right and see the trapeze artists being to swing and perform aerial feats with out a net. It’s amazing, it’s death defying! You can’t tear your eyes away as they swing through the air (with the greatest of ease!) Butthe tigers are now making a pyramid! It’s beautiful and incredible...wait now the
 
tightrope walker is carrying a baby across! With no net! You don’t know where to look. The ringmaster is announcing something, but you are too amazed by the performances to listen. Out of the corner of your eye you see clowns in the left ring. They are funny, they are silly, and they are pulling pranks on the audience, better give them your full attention! The ringmaster keeps saying something....what is it? Oh, who cares? The lady sitting next you gasps and you whip back around to the center ring to see a beautiful lady with her head fully inside one of the tiger’s mouths. The tightrope walker is juggling chainsaws! The clowns are requesting volunteers from the audience! Look at the tigers dancing on two paws! Theclowns are riding elephants! Oh why can’t that ring master stop jabbering? The trapeze artists are swinging by their ears! Suddenly it goes completely dark. A hush falls across the crowd. No one knows what to do, when a spotlight shines directly down on you. The ringmaster speaks just two words. “Tell Them.” You are panicked. Tell them? Tell who? Tell what? The ringmaster says again “Tell them.” You clearyour throat and yell out “Tell them what?” The ringmaster says “tell them what they are supposed to do. Tell them what is important. Tell them what I said during theshow.” You look around anxiously, did anyone hear him? Still, the tent remains silent. You announce “I couldn’t hear you, I was too busy watching the shows.” The ringmaster hangs his head sadly and asks “Was anyone listening?” The tent lights up againand this time the ringmaster seems to be gone. The performers pick up right where they left off. The show is amazing, there is so much going on, the audience isso excited. But you can’t stop thinking about the ringmaster. “Tell them.” Have you missed something important? Have you missed something vital? Amidst the amazing stunts, incredible performances, and awe inspiring feats... Did you loose focus on the point? What did the ringmaster tell you? You look down to your hands in despair, and find your fingers wrapped around a pamphlet. You have it there! You have all of the ringmaster’s information written down for you! You start to shout, “Iknow! I can tell you what the ringmaster said! Look here, listen!” Ignore the clowns! Forget the tigers! I can tell you what was most important!” I’m sure some wouldlisten, some would look down and realize they too had the pamphlet. Some wouldscan over it. Some would tuck it into their pockets for after the performances.Some would just drop it to the floor, figuring there is always time to read after the show. But, some would take it immediately outside the tent where they could sit down and study it. Most would finish reading, shrug, and go back in to seethe elephants. Some would stay outside, keep reading, but complain about what they were missing inside. But a few, just a few, would start looking for the ringmaster, thanking him for the information, marveling in the goodness of his words, begging him for more, thanking him and giving him praise. Where are you? Are you inside enjoying the show but ignoring that which is most important? Are you studying the information but wishing you were back in the middle of the excitement? Or are you kneeling at the ringmaster’s feet listening intently to the messagehe is delivering, choosing to ignore the distractions all around?Continuing with President Uchtdorf’s talk, he says; “My dear sisters, as you live your daily life with all its blessings and challenges, let me assure you that theLord loves you. He knows you. He listens to your prayers, and He answers those prayers, wherever on this world you may be. He wants you to succeed in this lifeand in eternity. May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. Butdon’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve.Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. The virtue of your own life will be a light to those who sit in darkness, because you are a living witness of the fulness of the gospel (see D&C 45:28). Wherever you have been planted on this beautiful but often troubled earthof ours, you can be the one to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). “I think most of us tend to have days were we think we can do nothing right. We say to ourselves that it doesn’t matter what we do, because today is an “off” day. We don’t imagine that one day of many can be so very important. To that, President David O. McKay said that the principal reason the Church was organized is “to make li

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