Friday, August 7, 2015

Harold B. Lee on physical and spiritual development

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"We take great pains in the training of our physical. We take daily exercises, regular feeding (morning, noon, night, snack before we go to bed and sometimes in between). We avoid getting and falling prey to dangerous bodily poisons. We have periodic physical checkups, see our dentist so many times a year, eyes, teeth, general operations, and so on....
"We must train our spiritual selves with the same care, if we are to be fully developed, as we train our physical bodies. We must have daily exercise by our spirits by prayer, by doing daily good deeds, by sharing with others. We must feed our spirits daily by studying the scriptures every day, by [family home evening], by attendance at meetings, by the partaking of the sacrament. We must avoid harmful poisons which we have when we break one of God's commandments. It's just like poison to our spiritual bodies....
"Our spiritual checkups are when we are brought face to face with God's spiritual doctors—our bishops, our stake presidents, and occasionally with the General Authorities in interviews which are always done for the purpose of helping to prepare us for spiritual advancement."
- Harold B. Lee, "Learning the Gospel by Living It," address to 52nd annual Primary conference, 3 Apr. 1958, pp. 5-7; see Teachings of Harold B. Lee pp. 121-122

Today's society is far more concerned with health, physical appearance, and fitness than when President Lee spoke these words in 1958. We have frequent reminders of the ingredients in our foods, the opportunities to "develop fitness" in gyms and "fitness centers," supplements and aids to correct dietary imbalances or health conditions, and so on. If we paid equal attention to our spiritual fitness and needs, President Lee counsels, we would be far better off! These were timeless suggestions on how we might begin to do that:

And we should look forward to the "spiritual checkups" we have during worthiness interviews with Church leaders. That's a time when we should seek to identify areas that might be strengthened or corrected in our spiritual exercise programs.

Meanwhile, President Lee's counsel gives us a great opportunity to do a spiritual self-evaluation and make sure we are focusing our time and efforts in appropriate areas.

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