Situation #1 Waiting for the angel
The parents left the therapy appointment, disappointed. The only reason they came anyway was because the Bishop sent them. I had just spent an hour doing my best in reviewing resources including: books, support groups, etc etc that would likely help them in dealing with their “prodigal daughter.” They wanted nothing to do with temporal resources. They were determined to return home and continue in prayer and fasting. They would be faithful in waiting for “the still small voice” to tell them specifically how to intervene with their daughter’s several year long addiction problem.
Situation #2 Just Google it
In despair the gentleman pled, “Help. I’ve tried everything for over a year. I still can’t stop viewing porn….” In recent weeks there have been several phone calls between this guy and I. During these calls I’ve reviewed with him the stages of addiction and recovery. Every time I mentioned the need to do something to strengthen his “Spirit Body” (See Anatomy of the Soul) the conversation would end. He wanted nothing to do with spiritual resources. He was determined to do it on his own. During the last phone called he passionately acknowledged “I’ll keep reading books, going to therapy and I know I can find something on the Internet. I just know there is an answer out there…”
What do these situations have in common?
They are examples of people who
(If the truth were to be known, many visits to mental health professionals relate back to an individual’s inability in make a decision,)
GOD-RELIANCE vs SELF-RELIANCE
In making decisions in life balancing these two correct principles are most important.
Principle #1: Seek guidance from the Spirit
“No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration.” (Boyd K. Packer, Reverence Invites Inspiration, Ensign, Nov. 1991.)
Principle #2: Develop self-reliance including the ability to make a decision
“For behold, it is NOT meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D & C 58:26) “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of THEIR OWN free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them,. …” (D&C 58:27-28)
Learn more about self-reliance by reviewing the blog: Counselitis
Personal revelation (God-reliance) AND Personal decision making skills (self-reliance) are essential to our eternal progression and becoming Gods.
Can we become too “reliant on God?”
A Desire to Be Led in All Things. Closely related to this example is the person who has a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but who unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable….. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation. Revelation from God is a sacred reality, but like other sacred things, it must be cherished and used properly so that a great strength does not become a disabling weakness. (Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfalls, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1995)
And YES, we can become too reliant on ourselves leaving God out.
“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it IF WE RECEIVE IT. IF WE DO NOT receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment.” (Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfalls, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1995)
It has been my experience, that we are typically left to make decisions based on our understanding of gospel principles and personal life experience (sometimes referred to as common sense).
The angel rarely comes.
God wants us to prepare for Godhood. He is not looking to create spiritual “robots” doing only what we are commanded. Requiring a spiritual experience or a witness from the Spirit for every act of life is not what the Lord wants. God trusts us. Learning by faith and sometimes by trial and error seems to be His approach.
Check out these quotes:
“This is one of the more interesting stories in the scriptures because it tells of an instance in which the Lord provided help but then stepped aside and allowed one of his sons to exercise his own initiative. I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if Nephi had asked the Lord for tools instead of a place to find ore to make the tools. I doubt the Lord would have honored Nephi’s request. You see, the Lord knew that Nephi could make tools, and it is seldom that the Lord will do something for us that we can do for ourselves.” 1 Nephi 17:11, 16. (Living with Enthusiasm by L. Tom Perry Pgs 95-96)
“No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord. Thus, there are times when we can serve productively in two different fields of labor. Either answer is right. Similarly, the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in a testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every question to the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. I think that is improper. I believe the Lord expects us to make MOST of our decisions by using the intelligence and experience he has given us.” (Dallin H. Oaks, The Lord’s Way, pgs 37–38)
Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward. (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties by Ezra Taft Benson)
THEN HOW DO I MAKE A GOOD DECISION?
There are several different decision making models. Here are the steps presented in Principles of Decision Making @ LDS.org:
1. Defining the problem, its scope and significance.
2. Collecting facts and analyzing and using them.
3. Developing and weighing possible solutions to arrive at conclusions.
4. Carrying a decision into action with plans and controls.
5. Follow-up on the results of the decisions and action.
This article also provides tests that can be used to confirm if a decision is being made or not.
Could it harm any individual, family, or group? Could it retard or injure spiritual or moral progress? Is it contrary to the revealed will or commandments of God? etc etc
Brigham Young instructed the Saints, “Instead of searching after what the Lord is going to do for us, let us inquire what we can do for ourselves.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954), p. 293)
Consider a current life challenge.
Read the blogs Counselitis and Five to Survive with the intent to identify ONE action YOU CAN TAKE.
Prayerfully submit that action to the Lord.
With 100% of your energy pursue that action.
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