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Spoke in Church & Fulfilled my Purpose

I was asked to speak in church the other day, and became very excited when I learned that the assigned topic was perfectly in allignment with my purpose. I hope you find it helpful!

In the Priesthood Session of this recent General Conference, the first 3 talks all discuss becoming better, working hard, and doing great things.

Our life's purpose is to become like our Father in heaven... right? I've always had a testimony of this, but I admit, that for a long time growing up, I had this concern about all of us becoming the same. When I thought about everyone becoming like God, there was this fear that would crop up, that we would all lose our uniqueness. I still have a lot to learn, but during the last decade, my understanding of this has changed, quite a bit, and the pursuit of becoming like my Heavenly Father has become quite exciting.

Let's think for a minute on what it means to become like our Father in Heaven? There are lots of angles we could have a discussion about, but the one I felt to talk about here, is becoming perfect. We know and believe that God is perfect. So there's a clue, we need to become perfect. For me, and I think all of us, perfection seems a little overwhelming, so if you don't mind, I'd like to change becoming "perfect," to becoming "the best." I certainly think that Heavenly Father is "the best," and becoming the best sounds easier to me, especially if I just take one thing at a time.

A simple example is: Let's say you are a child in a primary class, and the teacher announces that there will be a treat for the one who is the most reverent throughout the class. The person who does "the best" will get the treat. We can do our "best" in our role as a mother or father. We can be the best employee in the company. We can be the best salesman, the best programmer, or the best at drilling teeth.

I should clarify, that the goal of becoming the best, isn't a quest to become better than someone else, that's my definition of pride. If we get good at something, we need to give credit where credit is due, and not think ourselves better than those around us. Again, we're talking about becoming like our Father in Heaven here.

Knowing what your great at is good. It's a good thing to say "I'm an awesome mountain biker, I'm a great dad, I'm an amazing guitar player, I'm an influential leader." It's quite another thing to say, "I'm better than anyone else at playing the piano," or anything else that makes our greatness, depend on us being better than someone else.

In Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk, he bluntly declared that "we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained. We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about... making a real contribution in this world." He went on further, but I want to talk about that last one..."making a real contribution in the world," because that is something that resonates a lot with me.
If you don't mind, I'm going to share some quotes from someone I have a lot of respect for. He's not a member of the church, and like everyone he has some imperfections, but I think he speaks the gospel truth here, and I'll tell you who it is afterward.

He's said this: "I have a great time with my life, and I want to share it. I love living, I think that's infectious. It's something that you can't fake. Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, illusive, god like feature, that only the special among us will ever taste. It's something that truly exists in all of us. It's very simple. This is what I believe, and I'm willing to die for it. Period! It's that simple. We make the situation more complex than it has to be.

We didn't grow up, with the sense that, where we were, was where we were going to be. We grew up with the sense that where we were, almost didn't matter, because we were becoming something greater.

The separation of Talent and Skill, is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts, for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, (and who) want to do things. Talents you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of 'working' on your craft. I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy is sleeping, I'm working. While the other guy is eating, I'm working.

There is no easy way around it, no matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you are not skilled. If you don't study, if you don't work really hard, if you don't dedicate yourself to being better every single day, you'll never be... where you want.

The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me, is I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on a treadmill together, there's two things, you're getting off first, or I'm gonna die. It's really that simple.

You don't set out to build a wall. You don't say, "I'm going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall, that's ever been built." You don't start there. You say, "I'm gonna lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.

I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here. I want my life, I want my work, my family, I want it to mean something. I mean, if you are not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time. Your life will become better, by making others lives better.

I believe that I can create whatever I want to create. The first step before anyone else in the world believes it, is you have to believe it. There is no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A.

There is a redemptive power that making a choice has. Rather than feeling that you're at effect to all the things that are happening. Make a choice. You just decide, what it's gonna be, who you're gonna be, how you're gonna do it. Just decide.

Ok, I'm done with his quotes. For those of you wondering, those were all by Will Smith.

Back to Elder Christofferson's talk, he went on to say, "In whatever you choose, it is essential that you become proficient so that you can support a family and make a contribution for good in your community and your country."

Another area that I've learned is important in becoming like our Father in Heaven, is that it's critical that we each assume 100% responsibility for ourselves, our experiences, and our lives. The opposite to that, is to make an excuse and put blame on something, or someone, other than ourself.

A quote that's become a favorite of mine from Spencer W. Kimball says, "Any excuse for non-performance, no matter how valid, weakens character." If I relate that to our conversation today, then when we make excuses, we are becoming less like our Father in Heaven.

In Bishop Gary E. Stevenson's talk, he reminded us of the story of the 2000 stripling soldiers of Helaman. "They were exceedingly vailiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all--they were men who were true at all times." He went on to say "There will be times when you... will have to demonstrate your righteous courage in plain view of your peers, the consequence of which may be ridicule and embarrassment." end of quote.

I think in my life, one of satan's greatest tools has been the fear of what others will think of me. How many times will we do something that we shouldn't, because other are doing it. And how many times do we chicken out from doing something good and right, because we wonder what others will be thinking.

Quoting Bishop Stevenson again, he said, "I promise the Lord will empower you. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power. He will reward you for your courage and righteous behavior--with happiness and joy. Such courage will be a byproduct of your faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, your prayers, and your obedience to commandments.

President N. Eldon Tanner stated: "One young boy on the school ground can wield a mighty influence for good. One young man on the football team, or the campus, or among his fellow workers can, by living the gospel, honoring his priesthood, and taking a stand for the right, do untold good. Often you will experience much criticism and ridicule even by those who believe as you do, even though they may respect you for doing right... Do we want to be quitters, or do we want to be valiant servants in spite of all the opposition and evil in the world? Let us have the courage to stand up and be counted as true, devoted followers of Christ." end of quote.

With everything I've shared, I would feel regret if I didn't mention here, my feelings about the importance of goal setting. Studies have shown that you are 8 times more likely to achieve something you want, if you physically write your goals down, and do something to keep your focus on them.

We've probably all done that to some level, but it can be hard right? Well, you know what helps me? I've created an 18 minute audio recording of myself, stating my goals as if I've already achieved them. I mixed it with Mozart music, and I listen to it all the time. It makes it real easy to keep my goals in front of my mind.

Earlier I mentioned that I no longer feared that becoming like my Heavenly Father would take away my uniqueness. As I have listened to my heart when I pray, and as I've listened to my heart when I set goals, I have caught glimpses of the person my Father in Heaven wants me to become, and there is no one else like that on the entire planet, and that fires me up!

I have one last example I'd like to share, of another man I have a lot of respect for. Now, let me be clear, that some of his morals are not in line with mine whatsoever, but he has taken self mastery to a whole new level, and I feel the spirit telling me that God is pleased with many of the things he's doing. Many of you may have heard of Tim Ferriss. This guy believes and teaches, that you can become a master at 2 new huge things, every year. He decides he wants to learn something, or become something, and then does it. To give a few examples, he has become fluent in several foreign languages, he's competed in the top levels in international dance competitions, he's won martial arts tournaments, he's known as a master chef, he's a bestselling author, and many more things.

Whenever I see God's children do something great, who go above and beyond, I feel the spirit. I think that's why I love watching the gold medal performances in the olympics.
I want to bear you my testimony that I know deep in my soul, that this life is about growth, learning, and becoming our best self, and as we do, we become more like our Father in Heaven.