Saturday, September 3, 2016

James E. Faust on overcoming selfishness as we follow the Savior

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley from 1995 until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"Taking up one's cross and following the Savior means overcoming selfishness; it is a commitment to serve others. Selfishness is one of the baser human traits, which must be subdued and overcome. We torture our souls when we focus on getting rather than giving. Often the first word that many little children learn to say is mine. They have to be taught the joy of sharing. Surely, one of the great schoolmasters for overcoming selfishness is parenthood. Mothers go into the valley of the shadow of death to bring forth children. Parents work hard and give up so much to shelter, feed, clothe, protect, and educate their children.
"I have learned that selfishness has more to do with how we feel about our possessions than how much we have. The poet Wordsworth said, 'The world is too much with us; late and soon, / Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.' A poor man can be selfish (see D&C 56:17) and a rich man generous, but a person obsessed only with getting will have a hard time finding peace in this life....
"For each of us unselfishness can mean being the right person at the right time in the right place to render service. Almost every day brings opportunities to perform unselfish acts for others. Such acts are unlimited and can be as simple as a kind word, a helping hand, or a gracious smile."
- James E. Faust, "What's in It for Me?", Ensign, Nov. 2002, pp. 19-22
Click here to read the full talk

I appreciate reminders of "the things that matter most"—in this case, the gospel message of the "commitment to serve others." Our world and our time seem to encourage selfishness, and President Faust counsels us to consciously counteract that influence as we follow the Savior's example. A significant part of that is developing the proper approach to "how we feel about our possessions." Are they an end in themselves, or a means to enable us to serve more effectively?

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