Thursday, June 9, 2016

Neal A. Maxwell on developing proper self-concept

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Some of us who would not chastise a neighbor for his frailties have a field day with our own. Some of us stand before no more harsh a judge than ourselves, a judge who stubbornly refuses to admit much happy evidence and who cares nothing for due process. Fortunately, the Lord loves us more than we love ourselves. A constructive critic truly cares for that which he criticizes, including himself, whereas self-pity is the most condescending form of pity; it soon cannibalizes all other concerns....
"What can we do to manage these vexing feelings of inadequacy? ... We can make quiet but more honest inventories of our strengths, since, in this connection, most of us are dishonest bookkeepers and need confirming 'outside auditors.' He who was thrust down in the first estate delights to have us put ourselves down. Self-contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Notwithstanding My Weakness," Ensign, Nov. 1976, pp. 12-14
Click here to read the full talk

What do we think of ourselves? Our self-concept can greatly influence our personal happiness, as well as our ability to serve and bless others. I love this gentle coaching from Elder Maxwell:

"The Lord loves us more than we love ourselves." That is certainly often true; and I suppose, really, it is always true. He knows us eternally and intimately; He knows our past and our potential. And He loves us. He yearns for our happiness, and will do all He can to facilitate it, as long as we are willing to participate in the process.

It was also good to see Elder Maxwell's counsel about how to deal with "vexing feelings of inadequacy." He encouraged us to take honest inventory of our capabilities and gifts, trusting especially in the opinions expressed by others. And be wary of Satan's attempts to encourage self-contempt. We must always learn from the past, then leave it and move on; too much dwelling on the mistakes we have made can be so destructive.

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