Saturday, January 19, 2019

Elder Dale G. Renlund on allowing for personalized rates of progress

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace. The Atonement will come into our lives in even greater measure. We will then recognize that regardless of perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement.
"Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.
"One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, 'You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.' Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way.
"My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites. As we try, persevere, and help others to do the same, we are true Latter-day Saints. As we change, we will find that God indeed cares a lot more about who we are and about who we are becoming than about who we once were."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying," General Conference April 2015
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's an important observation to realize that we each progress at different rates or paces in this life. Elder Renlund points out the benefits of allowing those around us to establish their own rate; not only does that allow each of us the freedom to do our best, based on our situation and circumstances, but as Elder Renlund suggests. each of us is blessed as we allow (and facilitate) the blessings of the Atonement of the Savior to enter the lives of those around us.

The missionary in the story learned the important lesson of allowing others to do the best they can. He recognized that even though he thought he was far ahead of his companion, given someone else's standards, he was not doing so well either. We all need to learn to keep that broader perspective!

This is a clever way of expressing the challenges we face as we continue to strive to move forward and upward in our lives.

Elder Renlund included this interesting footnote related to the word "hypocrite":
"Hypocrite as used in the New Testament may be translated from the Greek as “pretender”; “the Greek word means ‘a play actor,’ or ‘one who feigns, represents dramatically, or exaggerates a part’” (Matthew 6:2, footnote a). If we do not give others the opportunity to change at their own pace, we are simply pretending to be Latter-day Saints."
Surely we should all aspire to be "true Latter-day Saints" in every way.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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