Thursday, September 10, 2015

Boyd K. Packer on changing behavior through doctrine

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
"The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel....
"Secular doctrines have the advantage of convincing, tangible evidence. We seem to do better in gathering data on things that can be counted and measured.
"Doctrines which originate in the light, on the other hand, are more often supported by intangible impressions upon the spirit. We are left for the most part to rely on faith.
"But, in time, the consequences of following either will become visible enough."
- Boyd K. Packer, "Little Children," Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 16-18
Click here to read the full talk

This is one of President Packer's most interesting declarations to me — the concept that the best way to change behavior is to teach or learn proper doctrine:

This really rings true.  Notice the qualifiers:  "true doctrine, understood" — it must be solid and valid doctrine to make a difference, and it must be comprehended correctly by the learner. President Packer distinguishes between secular and spiritual doctrines, and the ways we identify them and learn to trust them. But the principle is very important; we should always seek for the underlying doctrine on which our programs or activities or based, make sure we understand them, and base our decisions and actions on them!

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