One of the pearls of wisdom I’ve learned as a mother is when your four year old resists learning his numbers, use chocolate chips as counters. After counting successfully, he can eat the chocolate. Although it works great, no evidence will remain that a one-on-one teaching moment happened. Except, since he is such a sweetie, he always shares one with me. =)
I am a Montessori teacher and love the principles of education that guide this method of teaching children. One of the fundamental principles of Montessori can help me focus on what matters most to my Heavenly Father. Would you like to hear about it?
In Montessori, a lot of the ‘work’ the youngest child does involves pouring, sorting, and transferring as well as an emphasis on putting the work back to the state in which the child found it thus insuring what the child puts back on the shelf is ready for us by the next child.
A side effect of this learning through experience is that a child who attends a real Montessori classroom brings home very little paperwork. Their work has no physical ‘evidence’.
The first time one of my children was enrolled in a learn-through-play preschool, I couldn’t believe how many papers and handouts he was bringing home each day. The papers seemed to be more for me, proving his time at school was equal to the tuition I was paying.
Why do we work? Do we work to be seen of man? Do we go about our responsibilities trying to prove to those around us that our contributions are worth something?
My mission president taught me a lot. But one of the lasting things he taught me was how avoiding the pretense of being busy can help us focus on doing the Lord’s work in His way. To act busy, he declared, was worse than not actually being busy, since the intent is to deceive and the focus is on projecting ourselves a certain way. His teachings in this regard helped me to stop doing things because people were watching and instead focus more on doing things because I knew God wanted them to be done.
Our hearts change when we are not so worried about how people perceive us.
The scriptures teach how our souls can be “enlarg[ed]….without guile.” (D&C 121:42) It is through pure knowledge. We want to be better people, we want to do the Lord’s work better, but how can we accomplish these goals without the side effect of pride? The next verse teaches one way, ‘pure knowledge.”
As soon as we remember the true relationship between Heavenly Father and ourselves- namely, He is our Father and Creator and we are His children- then self deception melts away. The other half of understanding that divine relationship is remembering that we are redeemed only by our Savior Jesus Christ. Thus anything we can accomplish on our own towards the work of the Father reflects the glory of His precious gift on our behalf.
At one point in my life, I was a teacher at a rather pompous Montessori school in an extremely expensive area in California. The administrators were constantly reminding the teachers that we must find ways to prove to the parents that the tuition monies required were equal to the education the child received. A worthy endeavor, until it becomes the main focus. I noticed a few teachers who would finish a child’s work, push a child to complete the Van Gogh art project a certain way, or even at the end of the day, tell the parents a half truth about a child’s accomplishment at school. It felt dishonest and ultimately crippled the school’s ability to make progress with each child’s real education. (Unrelated note: The week I stopped teaching there, Tom Cruise’s daughter started at the school. I hope he liked her Van Gogh art work)
In multiple places in scripture, we are reminded to do our alms in secret. (Matthew 6:4) Jesus says to His disciples to not let the right hand know what the left hand was doing. (Matthew 6:3) In a time when a little positive publicity could go a long way for the cause of Christianity, it is a testament to this true principle that Jesus still taught His followers to be discrete about the good they do.
He promises that “thy Father…shall reward thee openly.’ The natural man might quickly assume this reward that He promises is accolades among men, recognition from those around us or even a ‘better’ calling in our ward. But I believe that the true reward is feeling that simple but powerful feeling from Heaven that we have done the will of the Father. President Eyring puts it this way “no better feeling than we did the Lord’s work.”
My mission president was wise to counsel us to focus on the Lord’s work rather than the pretense of the Lord’s work. Our souls can enlarge if we only put an eye single to the glory of God– rather than looking around to see who is watching.
And just like with counting chocolate chips, great good can be done with no physical evidence left behind. =)
S: (Prayer/Ask) For whom am I doing the good I am doing?
- Read the story of the widow and the scribes twice. The first time put yourself in the scribe’s shoes. The second time put yourself in the widow’s shoes. (or, you can watch it here)
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:38-44)
Elder Wirthlin: To me, integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but, more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant.
- In this last General Conference, Elder Eyring shared this beautiful scripture:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy” (D&C 121:41–43)
- Right in the middle of speaking of our time, Isaiah writes, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people adraw near me with their bmouth, and with their lips do chonour me, but have dremoved their eheart far from me, and their ffear toward me is taught by the gprecept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13)
- “Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right.” (D&C 124:15.)
- One example of a prayer that was not meant to be overheard is in Helaman. You remember– Nephi is praying on his garden tower when the people passing by gather together to hear his sincere and intense prayer. Helaman 7:1-15
1 Behold, now it came to pass in the sixty and ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of the Nephites, that Nephi, the son of Helaman, returned to the land of Zarahemla from the land northward.
4 And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men;
5 Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked gounpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—
6 Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years; and when Nephi saw it, his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast; and he did exclaim in the agony of his soul:
7 Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord—
10 And behold, now it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi, which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway.
11 And it came to pass that there were certain men passing by and saw Nephi as he was pouring out his soul unto God upon the tower; and they ran and told the people what they had seen, and the people came together in multitudes that they might know the cause of so great mourning for the wickedness of the people.
15 And because of my mourning and lamentation ye have gathered yourselves together, and do marvel; yea, and ye have great need to marvel; yea, ye ought to marvel because ye are given away that the devil has got so great hold upon your hearts.
- Have you ever walked in when someone was praying alone? What feels different about when you know someone wasn’t expecting themselves to be observed verses a prayer offered in a meeting, for instance? Think about the account you read from Nephi praying in his garden.
- Consider this scenario. You are working on a project alone in a room. During a lull, you pull out your phone and loose track of time. You hear someone walking in and — what next? Scramble to get back to work and look busy? Maybe this has never happened to you, but it has to me. What do you do to catch yourself before pretending?
- Think back to Isaiah’s prophesy of the people of today (Isaiah 29:13). Why would a child of God whose lips honor God but not his heart be less useful in the Master’s hand?
- So is it bad to do good just because you are doing it to impress someone else? What is better?
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: For whom am I doing the good I am doing??)
- Write down three places or situations that you maybe find yourself doing things because of who is watching. Examples might include church, family gatherings or work.
- Think about what motivates a good person to do things just to be seen of men. Write down what you come up with. Often thinking about the deeper why of our behavior helps us gain clarity.
- Find and copy down your favorite scripture or quote about being true to yourself.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: Next time nobody is around during a task given to you, work hard on it the whole time. Why? Because you know the angels are watching. =)
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