This week, I've learned a ton. I found that if I focus my studies, the Lord seriously pours out his blessings, helping me understand so much more. I read almost half of 3 Nephi this week, and came across the Beatitudes; a perfect building block for how we can become more like the Savior, with a full purpose of heart. President Harold B. Lee taught that the Beatitudes embody the "constitution for a perfect life." The first thing the Lord says in these chapters is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." The poor in spirit, like you'd think, means those who are spiritually needy; who feel so impoverished spiritually that they reach out, yearning for help. Every one of us, if we would reach that goal of perfection, must at least one time ask ourselves this question.. .."What lack I yet?" ...I have found that I lack a lot. And that's what my focus was this week. What are the qualities I need to understand, and how can I become.. well, better? What is it that I really lack?
Something that always got me in the Beatitudes was that the "meek shall inherit the earth." I couldn't ever understand how that would be, thinking that being meek meant being timid and shy, quiet and actionless; almost a punching bag for life. But, I learned that it's almost the exact opposite. Spencer W. Kimball explained that meekness is not weakness. .."If the Lord was meek and lowly and humble, then to become humble one must do what He did in boldly denouncing evil, bravely advancing righteous works, courageously meeting every problem, become the master of himself and the situations about Him and being near oblivious to personal credit. Humility is not pretentious, presumptuous, nor proud. It is not weak, vacillating, nor servile.. 'Humble' and 'meek' properly suggest virtues, not weaknesses. They suggest a consistent mildness of temper and an absence of wrath and passion ... it is not servile submissiveness, it is not cowed nor frightened."
So how does one get humble? ..One must be constantly reminded of his dependence. Dependence on who? On the Lord. ..Just like it is with so many other Beatitudes as well. To 'Hunger and thirst after righteousness" we have to accept and understand that dependence. Our ability to hear spiritually is linked to our willingness to work at it. President Hinckley has often said that the only way he knows how to get anything done is to get on his knees and plead for help and then get on his feet and go to work. That combination of faith and hard work is the curriculum for learning the language of the spirit. Hungering and thirsting translate to sheer spiritual labor. ..So how can we labor better? How can we better be on the path to truly becoming more? ..We have to have the need to strive for perfection. We won't ever reach our destination, exaltation, unless we are perfect, and now is the best time in the world to start towards that goal. Spencer W. Kimball also said, "I have little patience with persons who say, 'Oh nobody is perfect', the implication being, 'So why try?' .. Of course no one is wholly perfect, but we find some who are a long way up with ladder."
Now, for me to aim towards perfection is pretty difficult; I'd beat myself up all day for not being able to ever truly be satisfied with my results that day. I'm far too imperfect, haha. However, in a training this week, Elder Clawson said something that really stood out to me. He said, "Every missionary has been set apart, but a consecrated missionary is the one who sets himself apart." ..So what is a consecrated missionary? And how can we become one? President Tad R. Callister wrote one of the most amazing talks I've ever read, entitled, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary". He explains that there is a difference between good, even great missionaries, and those who are consecrated - those who are willing to lay everything on the altar of Sacrifice. They hold nothing back. To be consecrated is to have a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion into this work - to submit our will to God's will whatever it may be. ..And whether or not you are a missionary, you can become consecrated. Tad R. Callister shares a lot of things that can help us to become consecrated, many of which require great sacrifice, and as he says "leaving it on the sacrificial altar."
The first is our fears. We can leave our fears on the altar and open our mouths to everyone. There are so many reasons we hold back, and why we are afraid to speak, and do everything we are capable of doing, but whatever the specific reason may be, he assures us it is never good enough. Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it; there is no magic pill that makes us courageous, no passage of time that strengthens us, no memorized approach that embraces us. Sometimes we have to be like Nephi and say, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." ..But sometimes, we have to do more than just tell the stories of the Book of Mormon. We have to live them.Later, he makes mention of putting our romantic passions on the table. A consecrated individual or missionary has a locked heart and a focused mind, whether the heart be locked to yourself or one back home. He is never flirtatious. He does not have an eye on the cute blonde laurel or the friendly single adult, nor is his prime focus the young women after sacrament meeting. He rises above all that. As hard as it may be, he disciplines his passions. His eye is riveted to the work. He does not allow his mind to focus on the past. ..Consecrated individuals must also sacrifice their pride, as they hunger and thirst to know how to become better. They must put negativity and sarcasm on the table. Whatever the world throws at them, they throw back a smile, because they know they have the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even more, we must be selfless and obedient, and strive to change our nature rather than just our behavior. I've learned that becoming consecrated is much more of a path, than a destination. I believe that God always recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be.At first consecration may seem like Mt. Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable. But every step we take forward, however minute it may seem furthers our ascent until one day we have reached the summit. May we not be content with being a good, even a great missionary or individual, when we have the capacity to be consecrated in all we do. May this be the burning and unquenchable quest of us all!