Today I’m going to study about “Focus and Priorities” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. I feel this is a fitting topic for a couple reasons:
- I always need a reminder about the importance of doing first things first
- I have a lot of important things to do today and need to make sure I do Heavenly Father’s will FIRST and not mine
- With Focus and appropriate priorities, all things seem to go a lot better in my life.
Here are highlights from Elder Oaks talk:
We are accountable and will be judged for how we use what we have received.
The principle of accountability also applies to the spiritual resources conferred in the teachings we have been given and to the precious hours and days allotted to each of us during our time in mortality.
I wish to examine how this principle of accountability applies to our use of the enlarged time and information we have been given in our day.
“Thou shalt not idle away thy time” (D&C 60:13), and “Cease to be idle” (D&C 88:124), the Lord commanded the early missionaries and members.
With greatly increased free time and vastly more alternatives for its use, it is prudent to review the fundamental principles that should guide us. Temporal circumstances change, but the eternal laws and principles that should guide our choices never change.
Because of modern technology, the contents of huge libraries and other data resources are at the fingertips of many of us. Some choose to spend countless hours in unfocused surfing the Internet, watching trivial television, or scanning other avalanches of information. But to what purpose?
I love this statement. Why? Why browse the internet? Am I doing so with a real purpose, or am I wasting my time away and putting myself in danger of the “fiery darts of the adversary”?
…we cannot make a profit from our efforts until we understand the true value of what is already within our grasp.
Faced with an excess of information in the marvelous resources we have been given, we must begin with focus or we are likely to become like those in the well-known prophecy about people in the last days—“ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). We also need quiet time and prayerful pondering as we seek to develop information into knowledge and mature knowledge into wisdom.
We also need focus to avoid what is harmful. The abundant information and images accessible on the Internet call for sharp focus and control to avoid accessing the pornography that is an increasing scourge in our society.
Nephi taught, “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:3). That is focus.
We also need priorities. Our priorities determine what we seek in life.
Jesus taught about priorities when He said, “Seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (JST, Matt. 6:38, in Matt. 6:33, footnote a)
As someone has said, if we do not choose the kingdom of God first, it will make little difference in the long run what we have chosen instead of it.
I really like that point too. What really matters most? I can spend all my time writing proposals, studying my industry, and “networking” but if I don’t study the words of the Prophets, I won’t have the Spirit. Without the Spirit, I’m basically on my own and I know that that can never be the most effective use of my time.
we should not lay up for ourselves “treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal” (Matt. 6:19). In other words, the treasures of our hearts—our priorities—should not be what the scriptures call “riches [and] the vain things of this world” (Alma 39:14). The “vain things of [the] world” include every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence, and power. As to all of these, the scriptures remind us that “you cannot carry them with you” (Alma 39:14). We should be seeking the kind of treasures the scriptures promise the faithful: “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).
The talk also talks about how we spend time with our families. I feel, and have felt multiple times, that it’s been a huge blessing to be able to be home more with my kids. As long as I’m not always on the computer but instead that I give them the personal time they need, I feel this is one of the best reasons to make the move I made.
“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).
The ultimate Latter-day Saint priorities are twofold: First, we seek to understand our relationship to God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and to secure that relationship by obtaining their saving ordinances and by keeping our personal covenants. Second, we seek to understand our relationship to our family members and to secure those relationships by the ordinances of the temple and by keeping the covenants we make in that holy place. These relationships, secured in the way I have explained, provide eternal blessings available in no other way. No combination of science, success, property, pride, prominence, or power can provide these eternal blessings!
What a fitting talk to study at this time in my life.
Here’s what I get from it:
- I need to really focus on using the Internet to strengthen my testimony and to study the words of the Prophets.
- I need to use the internet to record my family history (in a journal form).
- I need to really, really focus on not “browsing” or wasting time on things that have no true value to building my testimony or my business. I need to make sure I don’t “justify” idle behavior.
- I need to make sure that, when I am home working or even not working, that I give the special time to my kids – to play with them, to talk, to read together, but NOT to just “watch a show” or be in the same room but not really together.
- I need to be reminded of this talk every day, at the start of the day, so that my focus and priorities are based upon Gospel principles FIRST.
I’m grateful to have studied this topic.
Here are people I plan to reach out to today to make amends:
- Scott P. – letter
- Jimmy M. – email
- Natalie B. – email, then phone
- Jamie B. – email, then phone
To a good day!
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