Diligence: The Key to Balance

April 20-26

Mosiah 4:27 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. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

In my mind, this is one of the most comforting verses in all of scripture. Any time I start to overwhelm myself, I swear God leads me right back to this verse. And yet, for some reason, this verse isn’t usually one of the highlights when we’re talking about King Benjamin’s sermon. 

Today, I write to those who are striving to become better everyday. I write to those who are working hard to please God and may feel a little discouraged. I write to those who feel like the work is unending.

Background on this verse

As I mentioned previously, Mosiah 4:27 is not usually one of the principles highlighted in King Benjamin’s sermon. It’s really easy to get lost in the long list of things that King Benjamin advises us to do. Even constantly monitoring our own thoughts (v 30) is enough to make me feel tired. 

When we look at the sequence of King Benjamin’s sermon, this verse comes in right after his preaching about giving to the poor. We are asked to administer to the poor not only spiritually, but temporally according to their needs and wants (v 26). That can potentially become a long list that helps no one. 

The advice to do things in wisdom and order comes right after. We are likewise advised to be diligent.

Diligence: The Key to Balance in Sacrifice

So let’s look at some of our to-do’s in the church.

Family history, temple attendance, teaching our children, quality family time, participating in callings, Come Follow Me lessons in the home, fasting, tithing, Word of Wisdom and keeping our bodies healthy, scripture study, fervent prayer, two hour church every Sunday, youth activities, Relief Society activities, Elder’s Quorum moving “activities,” service, cleaning the church, missionary work, General Conference, praying for spiritual gifts, praying to avoid temptations, marital upkeep, intimacy upkeep, being grateful, developing our talents, food storage, emergency preparedness, being active in our communities, constantly learning, listening intently for the Spirit, cleanliness, making casseroles, and if that’s not enough, make sure you take some time to “slow down” as well. 

This list could honestly keep going. I could think of even more things that are specific to me as I’m sure you can think of things that are specific to you.

So how do we do it without killing ourselves? How do we simultaneously accept our weaknesses and rate of progress while still striving to be more than we currently are?

Neal A. Maxwell states, “It is left to each of us to balance contentment with what God has allotted to us in life with some divine discontent as to what we are in comparison with what we have the power to become.”

Diligence, my friends. Diligence is how we truly accomplish this. Take a look at the following quotes:

D. Todd Christofferson taught, “Thus, what is required of us in order to obtain mercy in the day of judgement is simple diligence.”

Heber C. Kimball taught that Joseph Smith “could have revealed a great many things to us if we had been ready; but he said there were many things that we could not receive because we lacked that diligence…necessary to entitle us to those choice things of the kingdom.”

And last, but not least…

Neal A. Maxwell also taught, “For the serious disciple the resulting urgency means there can be few extended reveries and recesses and certainly no sabbaticals—all this in order to hasten God’s relentless remodeling of each of us! Parenthetically, I don’t know how it is for you, but though the reveries, the special moments come, they are not extended. Soon the drumroll of events, even difficulties, resumes. There is so much to get done in the brief time we have in this mortal classroom.”

I’d like to personally bear testimony of what Neal A. Maxwell taught; we don’t get many breaks. 

Diligence means buying a few extra bottles of salsa at the store on one trip and then buying extra flour until you’ve built up a three month supply. Diligence means reading your scriptures today if you didn’t do it yesterday. Diligence means doing family history this week if you didn’t do it last week. Diligence means accepting those casseroles after you have a baby and then making those casseroles someday when your kids are grown. Diligence means attending your child’s soccer game on a Saturday morning and then cleaning the church in the future when your kids no longer have Saturday soccer games. 

One of my favorite talks from this last General Conference came from Joy D. Jones. She spoke of how many hats we are expected to wear, but she also taught that we are incapable (and not required!) to wear them all at once. I don’t know about you, but it can be really difficult for me to know which hat I should be wearing from moment to moment. 

However, I’ve pondered that quote again and again, and I’ve found help.

I’ve found that if I actually listen carefully, the Spirit will tell me that Evelyn is throwing a tantrum because she needs me to stop reading my scriptures in that moment and spend a little bit of time with her. I’ve found that if I listen carefully and if I reeeeeeeeeeally stretch myself, I can put down that rag and cleaning brush and go spend some time with my husband. 

The Spirit can guide us on our paths when we’re diligent. When I’m choosing to do many good things of my own free will and choice, I’ve found that the Spirit course corrects me sometimes. And it’s not that I’m doing the “wrong” thing. I wasn’t doing the wrong thing when I was reading my scriptures. What it truly means is that I was doing the right thing so that the Spirit could whisper to me that my daughter needed me. Though scripture study is immensely important, Evelyn is also immensely important. We have to do both. 

Elder Bednar once spoke at a local event in which he gave the following example. He was playing with his son when he looked down at his watch and saw that he needed to leave immediately in order to be on time to a meeting. Elder Bednar then asked something along the lines of, “So which choice should I make? Should I teach my son that he was the most important thing in my life by choosing him over being on time to my activity? Or should I teach my son how important it was to participate fully in meetings and fulfill our callings?”

His answer to his own question was profound and has never left me. 

Elder Bednar taught that the right choice is to do all of the things, some of the time.

I’ve heard President Monson give an apology to a group of mission presidents for being late because he was helping his wife. I’ve heard a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley about manners (like being on time!) being a form of charity.

Diligence is the key to balance. Do all of the things, some of the time. 

Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 “33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

Do all things in wisdom and order.

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