Conference talk – living providently

So it’s conference talk time yet again! I find it interesting that, if you don’t count the auditing and statistical reports, and not counting the Sat. evening Priesthood session which I attended in person (well “in person”), there are exactly 26 talks! Just enough to read one every week till next conference.

This week’s talk was from Robert D. Hales (plays the piano) – called Becoming Provident Providers: Temporally and Spiritually. A subject near and dear to my heart. I found it very interesting, especially the examples that he gave about buying gifts for people (his wife in his examples).

The first lesson was learned when we were newly married and had very little money. I was in the air force, and we had missed Christmas together. I was on assignment overseas. When I got home, I saw a beautiful dress in a store window and suggested to my wife that if she liked it, we would buy it. Mary went into the dressing room of the store. After a moment the salesclerk came out, brushed by me, and returned the dress to its place in the store window. As we left the store, I asked, “What happened?” She replied, “It was a beautiful dress, but we can’t afford it!” Those words went straight to my heart. I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.”

Then she taught me an unforgettable lesson. She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” In other words, she was asking, “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?” I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.

It amazes me the insane amount of gifts and expensive birthday parties that people give for their kids. I mean, as I have stated before, I have a “unique” relationship with money, but I think that my son was very excited and happy with the $1 “Coin Grabber” that I got him for his birthday. Last night, he was very excited when I brought him home a map of Ohio and one of Cincinnati that I got for free from AAA and spent some time pointing out the various roads and our house, and the counties (start ‘em young! :) ). Kids, for the most part, do not want expensive toys. They want you to spend time with them

Some more quotes from the article:

Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually. We give away some of our precious, priceless agency and put ourselves in self-imposed servitude.

When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”

Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, “Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?” Truthfully answering these questions may help us avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.

Elder Hales made some interesting comments about how buying things we don’t need or can’t afford really goes against the commandment of “Thou shall not covet” and how it robs us spiritually as well as temporally.

All in all a very good read, especially in the crazy economic times we’re in!

General Conference talk – Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship

So in my continuing series of reading GC talks, I read one from Robert D. Hales (from Idaho!) – Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship

One of the things I liked about this talk was his talking about the perils in leaving “the high ground”. A lot of his talk focused on how to react when people attack you or the Church or your beliefs. One of his suggestions was

As the Savior demonstrated with Herod, sometimes true disciples must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all.

He compared it to Alma 47 and Nehemiah 6:2-3, where both times enemies tempt someone into leaving the high ground and meeting “in the valley”. In Alma, Lehonti is then killed by Amalickiah, whereas the prophet Nehemiah refuses, saying

“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?”

Anyways, just thought that it was interesting