Sunday, February 26, 2017

Elder Quentin L. Cook on defending family time as a priority

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"Some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others.
"How we preserve time for family is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures. At a time when I was the only member of the Church in our law firm, one woman lawyer explained to me how she always felt like a juggler trying to keep three balls in the air at the same time. One ball was her law practice, one was her marriage, and one was her children. She had almost given up on time for herself. She was greatly concerned that one of the balls was always on the ground. I suggested we meet as a group and discuss our priorities. We determined that the primary reason we were working was to support our families. We agreed that making more money wasn’t nearly as important as our families, but we recognized that serving our clients to the best of our abilities was essential. The discussion then moved to what we did at work that was not necessary and was inconsistent with leaving time for family. Was there pressure to spend time in the workplace that was not essential? We decided that our goal would be a family-friendly environment for both women and men. Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage," General Conference, October 2013
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In this interesting talk, Elder Cook discusses types of bondage we can fall into, particularly in modern times when various forms of addiction or distraction present themselves to us. In this excerpt, he warns of things that are not inherently bad, but to which an excessive focus could distract from things of greater value. His premise is that preserving time for family should be among the highest of our priorities, and things which distract from that goal must be appropriately controlled.

The specific example he shared was from a workplace setting, where a co-worker was struggling to balance her three divergent roles as employee, wife, and mother. In the midst of those unrelenting demands, she had sacrificed "time for herself" as a lesser priority but even so struggled to keep up with the other three. They were able to open discussions that enabled her (and others in the firm) to focus work efforts in ways that minimized unnecessary efforts and pressures. Elder Cook's implied encouragement to each of us is that we would likewise seek ways to "be at the forefront in protecting time for family" in every opportunity. Certainly that would begin with a personal evaluation of where we spend our time and what our priorities are!

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