Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dieter F. Uchtdorf on finding our highest priorities

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (1940- ) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He has served as second counselor in the First Presidency since 2008.
"Some of us are so busy that we feel like a cart pulled by a dozen work animals—each straining in a different direction. A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn't go anywhere.
"Often we devote our best efforts in pursuit of a hobby, a sport, vocational interests, and community or political issues. All these things may be good and honorable, but are they leaving us time and energy for what should be our highest priorities?
"What is the remedy?
"Once again, it comes from the words of the Savior:
"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
"'This is the first and great commandment.
"'And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' (Matthew 22:37-39)
"Everything else in life should be secondary to these two great priorities.
"Even in Church service, it is easy to spend a lot of time just going through the motions without the heart or the substance of discipleship.
"[We] have committed to be a people who love God and our neighbor and who are willing to demonstrate that love through word and deed. That is the essence of who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?", Ensign, May 2014, pp. 58-62
Click here to read the full talk

One of the great challenges of our time is busy-ness. Many of us can relate to the analogy of a cart being pulled in various directions by strong animals. The pulls are real, based on our desires to do many good things; and the many directions are often all things that are "good and honorable." President Uchtdorf said of his cart analogy, "A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn't go anywhere." In my experience with the desire to be involved in many good things, we can go places, but only in spurts before one of the other demands distracts us; the net result is inconsistent and far less effective than more focused efforts.

So how to we ensure that we are reserving both time and energy for "what should be our highest priorities"? President Uchtdorf suggests it comes in a careful evaluation against the criteria of the Savior's admonition to love God first, wholly and completely; and then to love our neighbor. If we evaluate something that is competing for our time and find that it doesn't contribute strongly to these two "highest priorities," it should be a good indication that it's not worth our attention.

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