Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016-09-11 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Thank you for being such wonderful missionaries! Thank you for representing our Lord, Jesus Christ, every day as you serve Him. Your faith and dedication are inspiring to me. Thank you!

**Before I share the thoughts that follow, I want you to remember that I am talking about me and you--NOT about anyone else. As you read this email, you will be tempted to do a fist-pump and say: "He is talking about X! I hope X is reading this!" I'm not talking about someone else. I am talking about you and me--about our need to change and become more like Jesus Christ.**

For thousands of years, people thought that the universe revolved around the earth. They thought that the earth was the center of all of the planets. 500 years ago, a scientist names Copernicus publicized an amazing new discovery: The earth, and all of the other planets in our universe, revolve around the sun! In fact, the earth is one of the smaller planets in our solar system. As research continued, it became clear that the planets Jupiter and Saturn are 1000 times larger than earth and the Sun is 1.5 million times larger than the earth.

Some of us are too much like the people before Copernicus--we think that WE are the center of the universe!

One of my sons likes to joke about one of his imaginary first dates. After an hour of talking about himself, he decided it was time to let the girl talk as well. So he said: "Well, that's enough about me. What do YOU think about me?" :)

Selfishness is being "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, seeking or concentrating on ones own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Selfishness is at the root of sin

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that, "Selfishness is much more than an ordinary problem because it activates all the cardinal sins! It is the detonator in the breaking of the Ten Commandments.

By focusing on oneself, it is naturally easier to bear false witness if it serves ones purpose. It is easier to ignore ones parents instead of honoring them.  It is easier to steal, because what one wants prevails. It is easier to covet, since the selfish conclude that nothing should be denied them.

It is easier to commit sexual sins, because to please oneself is the name of that deadly game in which others are often cruelly used. The Sabbath day is easily neglected, since one day soon becomes just like another. If selfish, it is easier to lie, because the truth is conveniently subordinated." (General Conference, October 1990)

Selfishness is at the root of marriage problems.

"I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness." (Dallin H. Oaks, April 2007)

"...every divorce is a result of selfishness on the part of one or both." (David B. Haight, April 1984)

"A marriage may not always be even and incident-less, but it can be one of great peace. A couple may have poverty, illness, disappointment, failures, and even death in the family, but even these will not rob them of their peace. The marriage can be a successful one so long as selfishness does not enter in." (Spencer W. Kimball, March 1977)

Meekness, AKA selflessness, is the door to heaven.

It is enlightening to read Matthew chapter 25. When Christ returns to earth and divides the wicked from the righteous He will tell the righteous: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared fro you from the foundation of the world." And then he describes the life they have led: "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye have me drink: I was a stranger: and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matthew 25:34-36)

He is describing the life of a selfless person. He is describing someone who places the needs of others above his own desires.

The most surprising part of the chapter to me is the surprise of the righteous. They ask Him, in effect "When did we do these things?" They were not thinking of themselves. They were not thinking of "earning" a place in heaven. They lived their everyday lives in a giving, kind, selfless manner.

What does selfishness look like in us?

-Not opening your mouth to share the gospel with others.

-Telling others how good you are.

-Not praising a companion who is trying hard.

-Trying to be more popular than your companion (with members, investigators, other missionaries)

-Taking credit for things that you did not do, in order to make yourself look good.

-Being glad when other people have a hard time.

-Stubbornly insisting on doing things "my way"

-Resenting the success of others.

-Leaving your dishes for someone else to take care of.

-Laughing at the mistakes of others.

-Not truly listening to the concerns and thoughts of others.

-Going home early.

-Only going through the motions of missionary work instead of putting your heart into it.

-Criticizing or chastising others in public instead of talking with them privately

-Drawing attention to the mistakes or weaknesses of others.

-Making fun of the appearance, actions or habits of others.

-When getting ready in the morning, asking yourself "Am I handsome/beautiful?" Instead of "Am I ready to give everything today?"

-Doing things "to be seen of men" instead of doing things to selflessly serve others.

"Selfishness is really self-destruction in slow motion!" (Neal A Maxwell)

How can we become self-less instead of selfish?

The key is to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, the key is ALWAYS following Christ.

The fact that Christ was perfect, powerful and full of wisdom, while at the same time MEEK AND HUMBLE is remarkable.

He was meek before this life in the Council in Heaven: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:2) (Satan epitomizes selfishness: "I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor." (Moses 4:1))

He always submitted His will to the will of the Father.

He performed the great Atonement for all mankind. Even in the most excruciating pain every suffered by anyone, at a time when He would be justified in being just a little bit selfish, He meekly turned His will over to His Father and gave himself for us: "...nevertheless not my will but thine be done." (Luke 22:42)

He did this throughout His life on earth:  "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38)

Practicing meekness and humility will draw us closer to the Lord than anything else we can do. The Prophet Joseph Smith promised that when selfishness is eliminated, we "may comprehend all things, present , past and future."

Being meek and humble will open our eyes to seeing the wonderful gifts and qualities of others. It will open our hearts to be grateful to the Lord in ALL things. The world becomes a much bigger, more joyful place when we focus outward instead of inward.

Elders and Sisters, I invite all of us to open our eyes to our own selfishness and to meekly and humbly learn to love God and love others more than ourselves.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler