I don’t often get the chance to attend my own high priest group meeting. I am in my stake’s Sunday School presidency and most Sundays I am supposed to be visiting a Sunday School class in one of the wards that meets in my building. Yesterday, I had the chance to go to my own ward’s priesthood meeting and then right into the Gospel Doctrine class of another ward. In my ward, the lesson for the priesthood and Relief Society was from TEACHINGS OF THE PRESIDENTS OF THE CHURCH: LORENZO SNOW, Chapter 11, “I Seek Not Mine Own Will, but the Will of the Father.”
At one point, the instructor, who is also the high priest group leader and a very old friend of mine, asked the question, “Do we feel like we succeed or fail in our callings?”I thought it an odd question and waited for him to make the point he was trying to make before I commented. My first reaction, in my head, was that I always fail in my callings, because any success that happens I credit to the Lord. My second reaction, again in my head, was that I always succeed in my callings because I have always believed that regardless of what I may or may not do, the Lord always ends up getting his way.
By the time I had a comment in my head and raised my hand, he had already asked the question: “What is the reason we are here?”
I couldn’t think what else to do, since I was a little late answering the success/failure question, so I answered both. I said that I have never really thought about my performance in a calling as success of failure. It’s not in my nature to measure myself that way. I said that Joseph Smith wrote that happiness is the object and design of our existence and that God designs every commandment to bring about our happiness in this life. It is quoted here in this excellent talk by Elder Benjamín De Hoyos on True Happiness. So, my conclusion is that if I serve with joy and strive to do my duty, then I don’t really need to measure myself in any other way.
I was a little disappointed, because a lot of the answers were not just about serving in callings but life in general and success seemed to be defined by doing everything exactly right. Yes, there was the obligatory nod towards the atonement for those rare times we don’t do everything exactly right, but it was mostly an afterthought.
For me, it is not an afterthought. It is everything. I’ve had some success, if you want to even use that word, keeping the commandments and staying faithful to my wife and the Church. Yet, I know that every step of the way, the real motivating power behind my life has been the Savior. If anyone has succeeded where I am concerned, it is him.
I left the meeting in somewhat of a pensive mood. The Gospel Doctrine class in the other ward had Doctrine and Covenants Section as its text. What stuck out for me was the verse about those who were not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. In the same vain as not thinking of myself in terms of success or failure, I tend to not feel that I can always stamp my testimony with the word “Valiant”.
For me, my testimony of Jesus Christ is all about connection with him, about knowing not only who he is, but striving to simply know him. It’s a hard goal to say I’ve accomplished or succeeded at. It seems like the closer I get, the more I discover there is to know and feel.
This morning, as I pondered these things, standing alone in a cold pool, running in place, I felt tears well up in my eyes. I tried to identify their source and I can only call them tears of gratitude, not that I have arrived at the place I long to be, but that I feel my feet squarely on the path.
It calls to mind one of my favorite passages of scripture:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (1 Philippians 3:13-14)