Essentialism II: Through A Gospel Lense

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Greg Mceown is a Mormon! There were clues in his book—he included the Book of Mormon as part of the religious canon that he reads every morning. Craig and I were so excited when we read that, like, “Wow, a shout out to the Book of Mormon!” When he started quoting prominent LDS people like Clayton Christensen and Henry B. Eyring, I was like, “W-a-i-t-a-m-i-n-u-t-e!”

It was meaningful for me because we share a common template of beliefs. I like seeing people of my faith having an impact on the world. His writing has certainly had an impact on me.

Knowing Greg Mceown was a Mormon made me curious. A little research later I found quite a lot of good stuff. Here is a Deseret News article that I am including the link for because I feel it was so well written.  It is worth your time to read the whole thing. This is from  June 12, 2017:

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900000047/mormon-bishop-new-york-times-best-selling-author-explains-essentialism-from-a-gospel-perspective.html

What resonated with me are his ideas on what is essential for us as we focus on our  lives. One example he gives is our belief of the three degrees of glory in heaven.

“You’ve got to start saying ‘yes’ when other people are saying ‘no,'” he said. “You have to start saying ‘no’ when other people are saying ‘yes.'”

“One way McKeown has recently tried to implement essentialism in his own life is by bringing at least one of his children, who are homeschooled, on business trips with him.’

“Not only are my children having these special memories, but their presence changes my experiences,” he said. “…These are things I wouldn’t even think to do, I wouldn’t even think to ask about.”

“Still, McKeown says it’s important that we don’t misunderstand the ultimate priority.’

“The priority isn’t family and it isn’t church,” he said. “The priority is to figure out what God wants us to do and to do it.

“Christ didn’t say to be attached to your family and your church. He said, ‘I am the way.’ ‘I am the vine and ye are the branches.’”

“He cites as an example President Monson’s experience of sitting in a church meeting as a young bishop and feeling prompted to visit an elderly member of his ward in the hospital. Members of the LDS Church recognize the story. President Monson stayed in the meeting and immediately went to the hospital, only to be told by a nurse that “the patient was calling your name just before he passed.” That night, President Monson vowed that he would never delay acting on a prompting.

McKeown calls these “divine trade-offs” and says the work of making the right choice in these instances is “the work of life.”

“The nature of the plan is that we cannot do it all. … If there were no trade-offs, there would be no need for agency,” he said. “I just have to figure out from the Lord what he wants me to do, what my errand from the Lord is.

“He explains that God doesn’t leave his children alone in discerning these priorities but has provided tools for discovering them. The key lies in one’s having “a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” in admitting that you are lost and being willing to ask for directions with an intent to act.’

“As we admit we’re lost, and we ask the more beautiful question, as we ask better questions, as we wrestle with Him, ‘What do you want? Where do you want me to be? When do you want me to be there? I’ll go tomorrow or I’ll stay where I am tomorrow. I’ll stay where I am for 10 years if that’s what you want me to do.

“So if you can get in that second category, then you know what to do. You just have to face it, admit it and then you’re going to be on your knees. And then you’re going to be in the temple and then you’re going to be reading scriptures and writing in a journal and then you’re going to be asking that question because it’s so painful not to have an answer. …That takes courage. That takes humility. And that’s what to do, go to Him.”

This Deseret News article was so powerful for me. I have been wrestling this week on how I am spending my time. This idea of God, and His desires for me, even over family and church, which are essential priorities for me, has helped me clarify SO MUCH what God wants me to do. Not what I want to do, or what I think I should do.

What does God want me to do?

It is a beautiful question. As I have continued to ponder the mindsets Greg Mceown laid out above, it is so hard to choose the essential all the time. I like how he says, “It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.”  It is a systematic discipline, meaning it is a continual process that takes focus. And it is “the work of life”.

Last week I dinked around on nonessential stuff one morning, and wasted my quiet reading and thinking time.  Argghhh! However— the next day— I asked myself, “What is the most essential thing I can do today?” and I realized it was meeting my oldest daughter for lunch. But wait—that prompting wasn’t even on my list! The all-important list of what I thought was important to do that day.  We can be helped with aligning our priorities as I was, by being nudged by the Spirit. As I keep trying on the essentialist glasses, I get it, then I get distracted. But– I am patient with myself because I am learning a new language. Honestly, when I finally figure out what is the most important—like that lunch yesterday—it resonates with me, like a picture becoming more and more clear as you use the right lens. I felt the Spirit’s approval, which is so validating, then the second reward was  I got to connect in a deep way with my daughter–feeling so happy and grateful I was her mother. Those are the long-term, eternal, and essential pursuits that I want to spend my time and energy on.

What essential things have you done today?

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