Monday, May 9, 2016

N. Eldon Tanner on daily progress and preparation

President Nathan Eldon Tanner (1898-1982) was ordained an apostle in 1962.  A year later he was called as a counselor in the First Presidency, and continued in that role during the administration of four Church presidents until his death in 1982 at age 84.
"'Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Let me begin now to prepare for eternal life, that I may know a fullness of joy and happiness now and forever.' After all, this is really what each of us wants, and it is most important that we take time to find out how to get it and begin now to work at it day by day.
"To accomplish this we must study and learn and increase our knowledge and understanding of the gospel. Then by application of our learning day by day and every day we will have an increase of faith and testimony that is so necessary for our own salvation, as well as for our influence on the lives of those we love, those with whom we want to share our happiness and blessings....
"How do we keep ourselves headed in the right path for the achievement of our goals and eventual eternal life? Only by disciplining ourselves and by repenting each day of those old habits or weaknesses that will keep us from reaching our God-given potential and destiny. We know that we have to work constantly to attain anything worthwhile in life.
"Before entering a tournament a golfer will practice a single shot by the hour. Musicians, artists, public speakers—all must work and practice to become proficient. How much more important it is for us to make preparation to be about the work of our Heavenly Father who has placed us here for a wise and glorious purpose.
"As we reflect on the value of resolving to do better, let us determine to discipline ourselves to carefully select the resolutions we make, to consider the purpose for making them, and finally, to make commitments for keeping them and not letting any obstacle stop us. Let us remind ourselves at the beginning of each day that we can keep a resolution just for that day. As we do this it gets easier and easier until it becomes a habit."
- N. Eldon Tanner, "Just for Today," New Era, January 1975, pp. 4-5
Click here to read the full article

Every day begins a new year, and provides a new beginning: "today is the first day of the rest of my life." President Tanner encourages us to consider regularly and frequently how we are doing to prepare for the future and ensure we are making good progress. This is particularly crucial in spiritual maters, as we evaluate our progress towards our ultimate goals. It takes dedicated study and learning to help us grow in understanding and faith; and then continuing discipline and continuing repentance to put what we learn into practice.

I thought President Tanner's comparison was interesting, of the discipline required for athletes, musicians, and speakers to develop and maintain their skills. They can devote many hundreds of hours to prepare for a performance. How much more we should be willing to focus our efforts and show the dedication to improve behavior or understanding in spiritual matters!

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