Tuesday, June 13, 2017

President Boyd K. Packer on gradual personal spiritual growth

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"A testimony is not thrust upon you; a testimony grows. We become taller in testimony like we grow taller in physical stature; we hardly know it happens because it comes by growth.
"You cannot force spiritual things. Such words as compel, coerce, constrain, pressure, and demand do not describe our privileges with the Spirit. You can no more force the Spirit to respond than you can force a bean to sprout or an egg to hatch before its time. You can create a climate to foster growth, nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: you must await the growth.
"Do not be impatient to gain great spiritual knowledge. Let it grow, help it grow, but do not force it or you will open the way to be misled."
- Boyd K. Packer, "The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge," talk given at a seminar for new mission presidents on June 25, 1982; see New Era, Jan. 2007, 4
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We sometimes hope for dramatic manifestations or rapid overwhelming spiritual development—but President Packer teaches that normal events tend to be much more gradual and slow, taking place over time, "line upon line," as we add insights and experiences slowly but steadily.

The key for us is to "create a climate to foster growth" in our testimony and understanding, and then nourish and protect the growing faith and belief.

President Packer's caution about not trying to force growth too rapidly is interesting. Trying too hard in the wrong way can "open the way to be misled." I suppose when we are too eager to move forward, we are too easily distracted or misled on paths that might not be correct. But continuing to steadily move along in simple faith and obedience will bring the steady growth that lead to a strong and stable testimony

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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