Monday, October 9, 2017

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on realistic expectations for growth and progress

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"I believe in His perfection, and I know we are His spiritual sons and daughters with divine potential to become as He is. I also know that, as children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become. No! With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem. That is not what the Lord wants for Primary children or anyone else who honestly sings, 'I’m trying to be like Jesus.' (Children’s Songbook 78–79) ...
"How grateful I am that at least God can bless those who despitefully use Him because, without wanting or intending to do so, we all despitefully use Him sometimes. I am grateful that God is merciful and a peacemaker because I need mercy and the world needs peace. Of course, all we say of the Father’s virtues we also say of His Only Begotten Son, who lived and died unto the same perfection....
"Brothers and sisters, every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human. May we refuse to let our own mortal follies, and the inevitable shortcomings of even the best men and women around us, make us cynical about the truths of the gospel, the truthfulness of the Church, our hope for our future, or the possibility of godliness. If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete—which is the New Testament meaning of perfection."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually," General Conference October 2017
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Holland gave an address of hope and encouragement in the recent conference, reminding us that perfection takes time. He obviously has noted the challenge of Church members who are too critical of themselves, and struggle with the guilt of not living up to what they think they should be doing. Elder Holland's reminder of a divine perspective of the process of learning and improvement is one that will bless us all. It also emphasized our dependence on the Redeemer as the source of hope and growth.

I believe the key is to maintain "a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness" in all we do. That will help ensure that we are moving in the right direction, towards the eventual perfection we all seek.

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

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