Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on feelings of inadequacy

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.
"Now may I speak, not to the slackers in the Kingdom, but to those who carry their own load and more; not to those lulled into false security, but to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short.
"Earlier disciples who heard Jesus preach some exacting doctrines were also anxious and said, 'Who then can be saved?' (Mark 10:26.)
"The first thing to be said of this feeling of inadequacy is that it is normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. Following celestial road signs while in telestial traffic jams is not easy, especially when we are not just moving next door—or even across town....
"Thus the feelings of inadequacy are common. So are the feelings of fatigue; hence, the needed warning about our becoming weary of well-doing. (See D&C 64:33.)
"The scriptural advice, 'Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength' (D&C 10:4) suggests paced progress, much as God used seven creative periods in preparing man and this earth. There is a difference, therefore, between being 'anxiously engaged' and being over-anxious and thus underengaged....
"Yes, brothers and sisters, this is a gospel of grand expectations, but God's grace is sufficient for each of us. Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage, and our personal progress should be yet another way we witness to the wonder of it all!"
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Notwithstanding My Weakness," Ensign, Nov. 1976, pp. 12-14
Click here to read the full talk

It's a marvelous gift to understand and share "things as they really are" (Jacob 4:13); it's a gift Elder Maxwell possessed. He speaks of feelings that so many of us experience — "false insecurity", inadequacy, spiritual fatigue, weariness in well-doing. Life is hard, and it sometimes gets harder because of how we react in our discouragement.

Elder Maxwell warns us to keep perspective; to be "anxiously engaged" without becoming overwhelmed. We are able to do that with God's grace, as we stay aware of our own "paced progress."

It's hard to be in the world, but not of the world. We must remember where our ultimate focus should be. When the world makes us feel inadequate, a divine understanding of our nature and possibilities can make all the difference.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
October 5, 2015

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