Sunday, July 16, 2017

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on deepening our personal discipleship

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.
"These comments are for the essentially 'honorable' members who are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and who are casually engaged rather than 'anxiously engaged.' (D&C 76:75; D&C 58:27.) Though nominal in their participation, their reservations and hesitations inevitably show through. They may even pass through our holy temples, but, alas, they do not let the holy temples pass through them.
"Such members accept callings but not all of the accompanying responsibilities; hence, their Church chores must often be done by those already 'anxiously engaged.' Some regard themselves as merely 'resting' in between Church callings. But we are never in between as to this soaring call from Jesus: 'What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.' (3 Ne. 27:27; see Matt. 5:48; 3 Ne. 12:48.) It is never safe to rest regarding that calling! In fact, being 'valiant' in one’s testimony of Jesus includes striving to become more like Him in mind, heart, and attributes. (D&C 76:79.) Becoming this manner of men and women is the ultimate expression of orthodoxy!
"All are free to choose, of course, and we would not have it otherwise. Unfortunately, however, when some choose slackness, they are choosing not only for themselves, but for the next generation and the next. Small equivocations in parents can produce large deviations in their children! Earlier generations in a family may have reflected dedication, while some in the current generation evidence equivocation. Sadly, in the next, some may choose dissension as erosion takes its toll."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Settle This in Your Hearts,” General Conference October 1992
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's interesting to ponder the difference between being anxiously engaged and casually engaged. There is probably a continuum of options between two extremes, but we might each consider if there are areas in our life where our commitment is not as deep as it might be. The example Elder Maxwell gives of "passing through" the temple without having the temple really pass through us is particularly illustrative.

The Church needs members who are thoroughly converted and willing to serve with faithful devotion. As we strive to be more valiant in our testimony, our lives will show the difference:

It's also important to note that these choices never impact just the person making the choice. They also reach across generations and circles of influence. President John Taylor's classic statement comes to mind: "If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty." (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, 6 Aug. 1878, 1.) How important it is that we make those ongoing efforts to be valiant in our testimony of Jesus, "striving to become more like Him in mind, heart, and attributes."

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

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