Monday, November 23, 2015

We Can Serve Anyone ...

I do a good bit of studying about time management techniques.  Time is one of those things that we have an unknown, fixed allotment of.  We either use it wisely, or watch it slip through our fingers and wonder where it all disappeared to.

One of my favorite books on the subject is "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.  He brings up some pretty interesting points about the concept of "managing time".  First and foremost, there is no such thing.  Doesn't exist.  You can't really "manage time".  No matter how hard you try, "You don't manage five minutes and wind up with six".

What you can manage is actions.  Choices on where to spend your time.

That makes a lot of sense.  It's all about priorities, and wisely choosing how to spend the allotment of time we do have on the things that matter most.

Another gem of wisdom goes like this:
"You can do anything, but not everything."
There is a lot of anxiety and "beyond-the-mark"-ers that could be curbed by those words.

This got me thinking of how this can apply to things besides just your to-do list.

As Christians we are to serve our fellow man in need, including being "willing to mourn with those that mourn", and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" - but ...

that doesn't mean _everyone_ who is in need of service, mourning or comfort. As Neal A. Maxwell has said, "our impact must be selective". Selectivity in who to serve must follow the guidelines and warnings the Lord has set.

Elder Maxwell has further counseled:
"The Lord has given us what might be called the 'wisdom and order' and 'strength and means' tests. Unwisely, we often write checks against our time accounts as we never would dare do, comparably, against our bank accounts. Sometimes we make so many commitments that they become like the vines in the allegory of Jacob, threatening to 'overcome the roots,' including the 'roots' of family relationships, friendships, and relationships with God." ("Wisdom and Order", Ensign, June 1996)
"When we run faster than we are able, we get both inefficient and tired. ... I have on my office wall a wise and useful reminder by Anne Morrow Lindbergh concerning one of the realities of life. She wrote, 'My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.' That's good counsel for us all, not as an excuse to forgo duty, but as a sage point about pace and the need for quality in relationships." ("Deposition of a Disciple", 1976, Deseret Book)
Dallin H Oaks adds further clarification and warning with:
"We are commanded to give to the poor. Could the fulfillment of that fundamental Christian obligation be carried to excess? I believe it can. I have seen cases in which persons fulfilled that duty to such an extent that they impoverished their own families by expending resources of property or time that were needed for family members.
"... Some persons have a finely developed social conscience. They respond to social injustice and suffering with great concern, commitment, and generosity. This is surely a spiritual strength, something many of us need in greater measure. Yet persons who have this great quality need to be cautious that it not impel them to overstep other ultimate values. My social conscience should not cause me to coerce others to use their time or means to fulfill my objectives. We are not blessed for magnifying our calling with someone else’s time or resources." ("Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall", Ensign, Oct. 1994).
Barbara B. Smith laid out the proper order for service in general, (which applies equally to both the women and men, no matter their current "temperament"):
"Women’s first responsibility for service is to their families, for this is the fundamental priority established by the Lord. It must he their first consideration, and that of all those who call them to positions or seek their assistance in any endeavor; for the building of strong families is fundamental to a strong society.
"Service in the Church most often should be a woman’s next priority, with service in the community being a third consideration.
... "Another area of service within the general context of Church service is that of individual compassionate service on a spontaneous, personal basis. It is the kind of watchful care that each woman is expected to give to a neighbor in need.
... "Only when a woman understands the importance and the enrichment of service and evaluates her opportunities—neither making excuses to avoid service nor overextending herself unwisely—can she enjoy the promised blessings of service."
We can serve just about anyone we come in contact, but we can't serve everyone, so we have to be wise.  Just like how the Nephites had to be wise with how they fortified their cities during time of war - they had to pick the ones that were to most important.  They had to choose the best way to use the resources available to them, just like we have to make sure that the time we spend lifting up the hands that hang down are the ones that are in the proper order, and realize we can't hold every hand by ourselves.  This has to be a concerted effort on the part of all, and we ourselves can make up for other shirking their duties if it's not within our power.

Like Uchtdorf said - "Lift where you stand".  The best place to start with is according to the proximity and importance of your stewardship; those who are in your own home, your own ward, states, communities, etc.  There is a lot of suffering in this world, and as much as we'd like to help all that we can, we just don't have the time or resources.  If we don't take care of ourselves and our families, we may end up as Elder Maxwell puts it:
The [person], ... who deserts the [home] in order to help defend civilization against the barbarians may well later meet, among the barbarians, [their] own neglected child.” ("Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward")

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