Faith, Sacrifice and Making a Living


 

avjet_wwii_smallSeveral readers have asked me if I am still blogging. The answer is no, even though this is a new post. To me, blogging is writing often, like two or three times a week, and spending considerable thought and research on the subject. Active blogging also involves promotion in order to increase your readership. I did that for many years, but now I write just to share observations on occasion.

Something I have noticed over the past few years is how much sacrifice the Lord asks of us. He asks kindly, but can be rather insistent at times. Agency is honored, but if we think about what the Lord is trying to accomplish, He is more than willing to provide glimpses of what He has in mind. That’s a general rule I’ve noted. Sometimes, it’s a strong impression with no explanation.

May I share an example that may help? Even if everyone who reads this responds that what I have written is benign and obvious, I feel the need to share, to be sure I understand the trial through which I am passing. We all have trials, don’t we? I think I’ve shared in a previous post of the strong, very strong and unusual impression I received to resign from my employment early last year.

BTW, the picture above is where I have worked for the past twelve years. Obviously, the picture was taken during WWII. My office is in the front middle hangar. We have two server rooms, tied together with 10Gb fiber, with onsite and offsite redundant backup. It has been a wonderful place to work, but the daily commute is a killer.

The Cardinal Rule

servers1It’s been drilled into me all my life that the husband in a marriage has the responsibility to provide for his family, both temporarily and spiritually. I’ve had a good career, but to resign from a lucrative position after twelve years without any other prospect in sight is breaking a cardinal rule in the process. Men think mostly about their work. It’s always on our minds.

I enjoy my work. I’m a computer generalist, meaning I have a broad knowledge of a lot of things related to computers, networks and managing technical projects and people. But I’m also a bit of a specialist in many areas such as ensuring disaster recovery, removing viruses, blocking spam and administering networks, especially through VMWare and Microsoft Active Directory.

Enough of the boring stuff. The point of this post is you don’t break the cardinal rule when you feel the urge to change jobs. That is exactly what the Lord asked of me last year. My employer was bought out and I felt, through the process of prayer, that the Lord wanted me to leave that company, for reasons which I’ve explained in my last post. So I gave a good six month notice.

Assurance from the Lord

linkedin-timmalone1I hesitated several months after the company was sold before I gave my notice. I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I don’t have anything else lined up and I’m too young to retire.” But the Lord is insistent. The impression continued for months. Finally, to my wife’s dismay, I resigned and reported back to the Lord. His response? Wait. He asked me to wait until the end of the year.

Wait for what? I was to wait to begin my job search. Carol and I prayed every morning and night for the faith to be patient. We asked continually for the Lord to show us the path, prepare the way and open a door when the time came to begin the search in earnest. That day came just after Christmas last year. You can read about it in my last post. In the meantime I worked and prayed.

The day after I posted about Preserving the Fruit of the Restoration, which fruit I believe to be marriages, I received a text from a long-time reader indicating he felt impressed to contact me about an opportunity, which by the way, involved moving to a foreign country. At first I dismissed it, but each night in prayer the Lord asked if I had responded to this individual yet.

A Whirlwind Journey

passport1The Lord really is patient with us, but He can be very insistent. Finally I reached out to my reader and he began the process of sharing what he had in mind. I was very intrigued. I was invited to visit the company, which is not based in my home state of California, and spend some time in interviews and meetings. At the end of the week, I had an amazing offer in my hand.

I was invited back for a week of training, made travel arrangements, and waited. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the HR Manager five days before I was to begin my journey informing me the offer had been rescinded. The call came as Carol and I were in the car so she heard the entire conversation. Gratefully, she bit her tongue as I tried to salvage the deal.

Wow. What a shock. We had arrived at home and sat in the car numbed by what had just taken place. How could this happen? We had a written offer. I had given up a month of my search time in preparing for travel out of country – renewing my passport, starting the process of packing, and in general wrapping our heads around the idea of living in a completely foreign environment.

Consultation with the Lord

refinersfire1Our scripture reading and prayer that night were especially poignant. Tears flowed as we begged the Lord to help us deal with this turn of events. Truly, the Lord will wrench our very heart strings in testing us in the refiner’s fire. Yet, we know we are made perfect through sufferings. It has been a few days. I decided to take next week off to dedicate to connecting with my network.

I have one month of gainful employment remaining. Normally this close to the end of the job, I would have something new lined up. This is surely a test. I’ve been fired two or three times in my career, each time through no fault of my own, usually due to the completion of a project. The last time it took seven months to land a job. I think I’ve described that process in a blog post.

I’ve asked the Lord privately why this happened, what I should do and what lies before us. I can honestly say this is one of those times when I know we did everything the Lord asked of us and have every right to expect his blessings in answering our many months of prayer together. The only thing I hear from the Lord when I ask is,” Be faithful. Do your part. You are being tested.”

A Common Experience

georgewashington1Obviously we are not the only couple in the world to have gone through a challenge like this. The difference is that I would never quit a job without something else lined up. Yet, the Lord asked me to do so, to step out into the unknown, to see if I trusted Him enough to provide. In some ways, this is a double test, because I thought it was nailed down. Yet now we begin anew.

The last time I was let go at the end of a computer conversion project, I fasted and went to the temple every week. I intend to follow that same plan this time, only my temple will be on the mountain top each Saturday afternoon. I can’t think of any trial that can break up a marriage faster than unemployment. Yet our scripture reading and prayers remain sacred and sweet.

I am grateful. It is an opportunity to show the Lord I trust in Him no matter what. It is so easy to give in to fears and play “What are we going to do?” That’s exactly what Satan wants. That is not the Lord’s way to deal with a challenge like this. The Lord requires the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I feel both. I so appreciate having my sweetheart standing at my side.

One last note

christianreformation1I promised Denver I would mention the new website about the 500th anniversary of the history of the Christian Reformation. I have spent some time at the site, viewing the videos and reading the items under the tab entitled “Reformation.” It is well done, teaches truth, and makes some things so much clearer than the way I remember being taught growing up. It’s well worth your time.

www.christianreformation500years.info

…and…

www.youtube.com/channel/UC6cEtBt6U_A0oDKfQCGoCjA

God bless.

Being in the World, but not of the World


Actually . . . Don’t even be IN the world if you can help it

Minimize the first, so you can accomplish the latter. Things will transition and eventually we will not have to tolerate being IN the world. In the meantime, there is much we can do to lessen being IN the world. We have two things to accomplish before Zion is created, 1) Being prepared to receive Zion, God doing the gathering, gathering those who are prepared, and 2) Being patient.  I do not begrudge some who genuinely feel to quit their jobs, move to a place of refuge, and try to live the law of consecration, I fear that some of this may be “rushing the pass” just a bit, but I do not judge, only warn of being too eager. We ought to let the Lord do His work upon us first, so that we may be qualified . . . eager repentance comes to mind. When we are qualified it will come one of two ways 1) We will be called as a member of the 144,000 missionary force that will go first to be the vanguard. I believe that what is happening now as part of that process–it is part of the Lord’s strange work that will take place largely in a way that will not be noticed by the world, and 2) We are to be sufficiently prepared so that we can be rescued by the angels (144,000) to go to Zion after we have received our Baptism of Fire, which the 144,000 will likely provide, being anointed by the Lord personally (meaning under His hand). Either way will work. Either way requires us to come unto Him and become clean from the blood and sins of this generation. Some will break their hearts in the din of Babylon to prepare the way, others will have their hearts broken for them by the Lord and will come later. I’m kind of wanting to the do the first, but perhaps I’m called to do that, while others will be called to tarry a bit longer.

Even though this is what excites us about Zion, I want to focus on patience in this post, patience as a practical matter. There are things we can do to “break our own hearts” as we patiently wait for instruction from the Lord.

Work

We all have to work to put bread on the t63271889able. This is part of living in this dying Telestial world, and it will be so until the world is transfigured to her paradisaical state. What that means is that we need to continue to work, but we may not have to continue either working the same kind or work, or doing it in the same way. There are some challenges that can come from working, some of it in the nature of the work that we do, some of it in the interpersonal dynamics that we are forced to encounter, and some in how we are compensated. I will look at each one individually.

  1. Nature of the work – What kind of work are you doing? Aside from working in the Adult Entertainment industry, the nature of one’s work is rarely that blatantly Babylonian, but we ought to consider carefully what the fruits of our work are producing. Bad fruits can numb us as we rationalize it, and can actually damage us spiritually. It’s like working for the adversary by day but trying to become a Saint at night. Ask ourselves these questions? Does what we do for work make a customer’s life better at the end of the day? Is the business trade-off value fair? Does it “level” with the final customer or is there a level of dishonesty in it? Does our product largely benefit society or does it drag it down? Does it rely upon products and vendors who achieve through ill-gotten gains? Some of these questions we should ask ourselves, and whether the time is long or short, we ought to carefully pray to the Lord to change our work if we need to in order to remove ourselves from the stains of Babylon. it don’t think this is totally possible–we are way too entwined to do it, but we can minimize it as a personal project. I’d research and find a few ways. Then follow the Lord’s instruction and do it. It may require finding a new type of employment.
  2. Interpersonal dynamics in the workplace – When we work, we are usually forced to interact with people. We deal with difficult customers, difficult employers or subordinates, and difficult vendors. The stress from such interactions often cause people to sin by becoming angry or anxious, digging a pit, envying, jealousies, and strife, judging, and other such things that will make our necks more stiff, and our hearts hard. The good news with this type of problem is that these very same thing can exalt us if we go about it differently. Perhaps when we have the wrath of someone at work, we use that opportunity to “turn the other cheek” to “give them our cloak as well as our coat.” We pass the test of avoiding gossip. We use this as an opportunity to practice kindness. We do this by deciding that work is less about our own careers, and more about God’s crucible for our own salvation, in many ways, just as it is with the family and the dynamics that come into play there. We accept many of the burdens placed upon us with cheerfulness and willingness, and we cease to place burdens upon others, often taking them also upon ourselves.
  3. Compensation – Of all the difficult things to do, deciding how we are compensated is probably one of the most difficult. Most Latter-day Saints are taught to get an education insomuch that they are compensated well and can provide for their own needs and the needs of others. On the other hand, can you be compensatmbasaled TOO well? Do we continually move up for more money or do we ask where the Lord can best use us? Do we charge more than we need? I’m going to pick on the medical industry a bit here, because it’s a good example, but not the only. In a place where people are sick and dying we find the best compensated workers on the planet. Should this be so? We may feel we are providing something for someone that is a benefit to society–and we are. But are we doing it honestly or is there a smidgen of extortion that goes on? How many of us in this industry chose it because of it’s great paying compensation rather than the effect of helping the sick? Let’s go back and ask question one about how it may also drag down society by placing extraordinarily large burdens upon them by how we choose to charge people. A Zion-like attitude would indicate that at whatever level you are in this vast industry, you ought to attempt to minimize the financial burdens you place upon others. This may include taking a lower cut in pay, or charging less for something, even at the expense of what is considered fair-market value for salaries and services. Perhaps we need to lower our own standard of living so that we do not need this extra income to provide for our own excesses. That is one way we can patiently wait to be refined by the Lord to be prepared for Zion. In our so-called services sectors of banking, medical, law, accounting, etc. I believe there is much room for improvement in ceasing the iniquities that occur. The Book of Mormon has some very prescient warnings to these industries in 3 Nephi 6, as well as any who are involved in Priestcrafts. If I was a very-well high-paid minister in a church, or a highly-paid church employee or compensated General Authority, I would take pause and consider what I could do to not waste the “widow’s mite.”
  4. Work Tips – Here I want to give some tips that can help make your work productive in the Lord.
    1. Silent Times – Use commutes and work trips to pray and talk with the Lord. They can be very productive as long as we turn off the music, books, and talk radio.
    2. Bad boss or customer – Pray for them by name every day, learn to love them
    3. Use breaks wisely – Instead of water cooler talk, how about shutting the door to your office, turning off the lights, and communing with the Lord.
    4. Manual labor – Find times where you can exert yourself in your employment. Physical work brings us all down the the same level–we strain and notice the limitations of our bodies. Some of the best jobs in the world exalt us precisely because they have no hierarchy. Blue collar labor has some added benefits to finding the Lord that white collar jobs do not have. If you have a blue collar job, use that precious time in repetition with your own thoughts to pray, ponder, and meditate on the things of the Lord.

Leisure and Recreation

When we are not at work, our time is ours for the most part. We need to find the most worthy things to do. Leisure trips, cruises, vacations, camping, may be useful if done with the right spirit, recognizing that funds may be best spend on other more worthy projects such as helping others. Simple leisure vacations may work the best, as they are often less stressful, allow us for time to be close to the Lord, and if camping, allow us some inconveniences that can humble us. I find that staying in nice hotels often makes me feel more privileged and does not help with myfishing refinement. Anything from boating, fishing, cooking, camping, hiking, horse-back riding can be places of quiet contemplation, and if undertaken with the right spirit, CAN be temples dedicated to our God. I would avoid noisy recreation and crowded experiences–these tend to create avenues of comparison–even lust, or experiences that focus our attention on the world, such as rock concerts, motorized ATV trips that disturb your own peace and the peace of others. It’s not that these things are necessarily BAD in and of themselves, but there are better uses of leisure time. Include plenty of time for personal and family solitude.

Some of us have been “meeting oft” to partake of the Lord’s supper. There is no prohibition on how many times we can do this in scripture. This in and of itself can refine us as it focuses us on the Lord. Make them productive. Casual gospel discussions or complaining about other churches get us nowhere. We ought to start with prayer, song, and decided upon a topic of discussion in the scripture. This IS church. You may want to figure out the best days to worship, such as Sabbath days (according to Jewish and lunar calendars) It may not be necessary, but shows an added effort to meet on the Lord’s timetable. Other feast days should be observed as well, for they reflected the signs in the heavens and honor the covenants the Lord made with the Fathers. For a good resource on Israel feast and Sabbath days and how they correlate to our calendar, this is a good resource.

Service time is crucial. It is our charity that will refine us and bring us heaven’s blessings. I find that if I’m stuck in a spiritual rut, if I do charitable service, I’m blessed with the grace of heaven. I would look for efforts to serve in your own fellowship groups, your LDS wards and stakes (even if you’re not attending), praying to find someone who needs a hand up that day–perhaps a beggar you feel called to serve. Some followers have made it a practice to go to places where the homeless congregate and help them, not just give them money, but give them your time, attention, and love. You may be inspired to use the Gifts of the Spirit on their behalf. Do it! If you like to Blogging-Wordswrite, ask what He would have you write for the benefit of others. If undertaken with the right spirit, it could become a form of scripture, particularly if you are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Far from being crazy, we internet bloggers who spend all of our time staring at computers in our pajamas and not doing our home teaching or visiting teaching (which we SHOULD still do), blogging can be an incredible source of assistance to others. In days of old we would stand out on street-corners and cry repentance. These days, the lions’ share of that crying out comes through social media and blogging. Do it! Missionary work is different among the remnant. It’s less intrusive than LDS missionary work. It’s quiet, unassuming, and requires a level of discernment to know if someone is ready. Pray to find someone who is ready to hear more and whose heart is softened and will have faith to go past the boxes they have been placed in by their church leaders and the arms of flesh. Then Do it!

Time is Short

I really do believe time is short. I find no value in watching television or movies, or wasting time. I think that we are months away from critical tribulations that will try us all. Even if it’s not the big one, tribulations of this sort tend to happen every 70 years in America, and we are overdo. So whether it’s the natural business cycle of depression, collapse, and war, or whether it’s something larger, it WILL happen, and happen soon. There isn’t a moment left to waste. We can use the crisis to refine us or we can run and hide. Food storage and emergency preparation may be helpful, as it may keep us alive, but it will not refine us. Spiritual preparation is paramount!

Finding the Lord in Your Daily Work


JetCharterPersonal Journal Entry

I sat down about a half hour ago, waiting for the guys to finish putting the carpet down and put the new desks in. I’m at work today, but I have nothing pressing to do. It’s a Saturday. I came in about 1pm to help put the fifteen computers back together in our charter offices. We’re getting new carpet so they had to take everything apart. My associate / assistant / trainee offered to do that so I could stay at the temple for our chapel session last night, which I did. I am extremely grateful.

Being a Good Example to Others

I am greatly blessed. I have a trainee who is anxious, willing, able and excited about learning how to be a computer guy. He is the son of the president and has been working for me for about seven years. He’s still not up to speed on supporting servers but he’s the best help-desk technician you could ask for. He seems to love his work. His happiness is infectious. I reply on him a lot and have never been disappointed. Of course, I praise him every chance I get.

We can Influence Others for Good

He goes out of his way to make sure people are happy and satisfied with his work. I teach him every opportunity I get by delegating tasks and giving him direction. He takes it and goes with it. Great guy – can’t say it enough. I could not do my job without him, especially the part where I get to train on the latest technology – which will never be the latest – things always change. I just wish he would take more initiative in learning how to manage and maintain the servers.

A Few Thoughts From an Old Guy

I’ve spent about thirty, no, make that forty years in the computer industry. I started with punched cards on the IBM System 3 and the IBM System 360. Yep, I’m an old guy. It’s a Saturday afternoon, so nobody is demanding my time. Only the weekend charter crew is here. I’m waiting for the desks to be done so I can put the computers back together for the rest of the charter folks can get right to work on Monday morning. I’ve got a few minutes to think and write.

Count Your many Blessings

I turned off the lights, closed the door, put in my earplugs (I work at the Burbank Airport) and kicked back to relax. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how blessed I am. Don’t get me wrong. I still suffer. The migraines have not gone away. Seven months is a long time to suffer, but I guess the drugs make it easier. What would I do without drugs? What if we couldn’t get the drugs we need to prolong life or make it easier? I shudder to think.

The Blog Goes On

I wanted to write about what’s been happening. Last week I decided I’d had enough. I wrote what I thought was going to be my last post. I said adieu and signed off. I was overwhelmed at the response. I still haven’t had time to read or respond to the comments from people who said they enjoyed my blog and hoped I would reconsider. I had dozens of private emails saying the same and offering private help. I have Facebook notes from people offering individualized help.

Generosity From My Readers

One user sent me a book, free of charge, from Amazon and recommended I read it. I had already read it but just the thought and the idea of taking the trouble not to mention the expense to send it to me overwhelmed me. My uncle passed away last week, the last of six brothers. I cried and cried as I realized the reunion going on in heaven. I am the last and only active male Mormon in my family. I suddenly felt very old. I am old. I’m going to be 57 next February. Is there something I am supposed to accomplish before my days are completed? I’ll be lucky to get another 20 to 25 years. For some reason I feel like Jacob and Moroni – strangers in a strange land, all alone.

Blogs Can Be An Influence for Good

My point is I am overwhelmed at the number of people who said my writing over the last six years has made a difference in their lives. I have expressed my testimony as I have shared my struggles. I have written about finding new books. I have reviewed dozens of books. I have tried to always write about the belief I continue to hold that the Lord has something special in mind he wants me to do. But then, I feel the same way about you too – we live in the last days. Surely the saying is true – he reserved his most valiant servants for the very last days.

I’ve Met a Few Evil Spirits

I’ve shared before but just to review, I met some spirits held captive in spirit prison a few months ago. I went looking for the blog post thinking it was in February of this years but was unable to find it. For those who are seriously interested and want to know how I know I met spirits in spirit prison, I’m happy to send the document. Just send me a private email to tmalonemcse @ gmail.com. I would not have believed it if it had not happened to me. I still find it hard to believe.

Suffering is a Part of This Life

The encounter did not leave me unscathed. The migraines and the anxiety – trust me it is very real and not imagined – have caused me untold sleepless nights and prayers filled with tears and pleadings for relief. But after seven months I am beginning to come to a realization. Suffering, and for me, this is real suffering like I have never suffered before, is simply part of why we came to this earth life. I had one kind individual write to tell me the Lord did not intend for me to suffer, and tried to teach me how to overcome through faith. I didn’t get it or don’t have enough faith. The migraines continue.

Seeing a Professional Mental Health Counselor

My insurance company insists I see a psychiatrist or psychologist as part or the treatment. I am more than willing to do so. In fact, I look forward to the opportunity to talk about my travail if there is any way it can be with a trained priesthood holder. Yet I worry about some of the things I have read that the things I want to talk about are not acceptable in the profession. From what I gather, I could be considered delusional or psychotic. A religious person today who believes in the influence of evil spirits? Why, that’s simply unheard of!

Migraines – Physical Only or Can Be Spiritual

No, I’m sure the pain can be attributed to fungus in whole wheat of some other food allergy. There are a thousand and one things that have been suggested to me as the reason for migraines. But I have yet to find a legitimate explanation for the very real and very powerful experience which I describe in my paper on my encounter with the evil spirits back in February. That’s why I wish I could find someone who believes as I do – that such things exist – and that they do and can have an influence upon us. Read Doug Mendenhall’s or Edith Fiore’s books if you would like to understand a little more about the reality of the spirit world and evil / unclean spirits.

Scrupulosity – Too Much Religious Guilt

This is simply a journal entry as I wait for the time to go put the computers back together. My religion is a big part of my life, perhaps too big, meaning some could accuse me of the very real symptom of scrupulosity- the psychological disorder characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. I’m not saying I suffer from too much guilt. I mean, what have I got to feel guilty about? I suppose that’s one for the psychologist to discover when I meet with them. But will they rely on their professional training ONLY or are there some who are legitimate and effective who also practice alternative medicine techniques?

The Lord Helps Us Through Life

I know the atonement is real. I know repentance is real. I am grateful for the scriptures. Carol and I read them every night just before our family prayer. I enjoy my service in the church. I know the Lord loves me. He helps me all the time, if not personally, then through his angels, perhaps family members he sends who know my situation best. Maybe these migraines are just a part of the normal suffering of life. I know I’m not the only one who has migraines, but a constant migraine for more than seven months now? And why did they start in February? Is there something the Lord is trying to teach me? Is there something deep in my subconscious that is trying to get my attention and wants to be resolved?

Cast Out Evil Spirits

What good is a religion if those who practice it do not believe or do not have real evidence of healing that can and does take place? Why do we hear more about healings in the early days of the church than we do today? Why do we not hear ANYTHING about the idea if casting out the influence of evil spirits in our modern church? Why is it embarrassing for high priests to talk about such things? Why are they not found in our curriculum, taught, practiced and emphasized?

Beliefs in This Church Have Changed

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I’ve asked these questions before. Why are there not men who have real power in the priesthood that the devils recognize and flee at when such men exercise that power? And why are men embarrassed to talk about it, how they learned about it, how they practiced casting them out, and how they taught this technique to others? Is it possibly because we no longer believe in such things? Migraines can’t possibly be caused by evil spirits, can they?

How to Fight Against Witchcraft

Who do so few of the apostles and prophets, if any, teach us these things? Do they not know? Have we lost this knowledge? Was it much more common knowledge years ago, but then became something that we no longer believe? When was the last time you had a priesthood lesson where the instructor went over the proper procedure to remove the influence of an evil spirit from a home that has been infected by the presence of those who practiced witchcraft?

LDS Professionals in Mental Health Field

What psychologist is going to want to talk to me about these things that I take seriously? I can just see their notes now – “this patient is highly delusional and psychotic about the reality of a spirit world around him. He believes in the reality of evil spirits trying to influence him and keep him from doing some sort of work he imagines he has been foreordained to do – whatever that means.” Look, I’m not looking for a miracle here, just a believing Latter-day Saint professional who knows there is more than what he has learned in graduate school about how to help people.

Patriarchal Blessings – So Very Unique to LDS

Why do we get patriarchal blessings if we do not believe they are meant to come to pass? Why are we promised gifts of healing, prophecy, revelation and other sacred endowments from God if they are not meant to be developed? What about the poor saint like me who believes in the promises of the Lord, has believed all his life and simply wants to do whatever the Lord requires to bring these blessings into a condition of reality, where we can and do see into the spirit world?

Gift of Prophecy and Revelation

Perhaps this is too sacred to share – so we are taught – but my patriarchal blessing states that I will have the gift of prophecy and revelation. What does that mean? It also says I will preside in many high and holy callings. I suppose I can consider serving in bishoprics, on the high council and in the stake presidency as a high and holy calling, but it certainly is not presiding. Can we lose our right to preside? Absolutely – besides, I do not want or seek such callings. I am very happy to serve as a stake clerk, although who would have ever seen me as a financial clerk?

A personal Blog Entry about Work

I know this is a very personal post but I have marked it as a journal entry. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just trying to understand a few of the things I am going through. I love this Church and think it should have answers for me. Better yet, the Holy Ghost should have those answers for me. Why do we (I) not talk to my associates here a work about things that are “Churchy?” I hear stories from General Authorities all the time in Conference how it just came up in natural conversation. You try to talk about anything religious here in California and somebody will complain to HR. You can’t put a book of Mormon on your desk or a religious picture in your office. Thank you, California for taking God out of the workplace.

Life Goes On – We Influence Others

Well, hopefully by now it’s getting close to time to go put fifteen computers back together in the Jet Charter offices. Sure hope the carpet layers didn’t mess up any network wiring with their knives. This is not really all that spiritual. I’m just a regular Mormon guy. I try to live my religion. I try to be nice to people. I try to be honest. I try to serve with a good attitude, although my boss told me the other day I could do better. He didn’t bother to ask if there was anything wrong but that’s OK. He pays me well and his wife is a Mormon. I’m trying to be a good influence on him. Thank you good people for wading through my personal thoughts – God bless.

Setting and acheiving goals


In bishopric meeting this morning, our new bishop shared the spiritual thought.  He chose the subject of goals and quoted from page 146 of Preach My Gospel on how to set them.  Here are some excerpts of the goal setting advice offered on that page:

“Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish.  Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.”  What we reach for in goals reflects what we desire in our hearts.  Our goals reveal our true selves.

Goals, faith and agency

“Goal setting and planning are acts of faith.  Do everything in your power to achieve your goals while respecting the agency of others.”  I believe the best goals are the ones that we can control.  It does little good to set goals dependant on the actions of others.

Think about it.  You can set a goal to have another person do some specific thing that is desirable, but you have no control over what they actually do.  You can ask, invite, persuade and demonstrate why they should, but you can’t make them do it.

Service improves progress

“The ultimate measure of success is not in achieving goals alone but in the service you render and the progress of others.  Goals are a means of helping you bring about much good…”  I like the idea of setting goals in areas that benefit not just our own lives.

I believe that the progress of others is directly influenced by the service we render to them.  I have seen this over in over in my own life.  Those whom I love and serve seem to respond better when I ask them to do something that I believe will help them.

Goals, plans and activities

“Carefully considered goals will give you clear direction and will help you fill your days with activities that help people…”  The achievement of goals requires that we make plans and then act to carry out those plans.  Goals are not achieved by magic.

“Challenging goals will help you work effectively and lead you to stretch and grow.”  Nothing good happens without work.  If you want to achieve something worthwhile in life, there must be effort put forth to bring about the achievement of good goals.

Goals and the big picture

Like me, I’ll bet you’ve had the experience of someone else setting a goal for you that was not achieved.  Perhaps you’ve even gone to the trouble of setting goals for others and then wonder why they don’t get reached.  The goals were worthy.

I’ve discovered over the years that unless I have a clear vision of how a goal benefits and blesses my life or my loved ones, then I am less than enthusiastic in putting forth the effort to achieve it.  I don’t think that’s selfish.  I think that it’s just human nature.

Shared vision motivates

So anytime we start talking about goals in church, I always look for the leader to help me understand their vision.  Unless I can see for myself what they hope will happen, I have a hard time connecting my energy and focus into carrying out assignments.

Again, I don’t think I’m expressing any fundamental character flaws here.  I look for the same thing in working with people in my career.  A great leader is one who inspires by sharing vision.  When vision is shared and understood it is highly motivational.

Where there is no vision…

How do you feel when someone asks you to do something that is hard to do without sharing with you the vision of what they hope will be accomplished when the task is completed?  If you’re like me, sometimes other things take priority over the assignment.

Don’t get me wrong.  Most of us fulfill the basics of what we are asked to do.  It’s not hard.  We have instruction manuals and if you have been in the church for a while, you can pretty much figure out how to do any calling successfully with enough time.

Vision based on true principles

But I suspect that we can be much more effective in our callings and in our lives when we have a vision of ourselves achieving the righteous desires of our hearts.  I also suspect that we don’t spend enough time creating and enlarging those future visions.

I am convinced that the best leaders motivate by sharing vision in a compelling way.  Hopefully the ability to inspire and help people see themselves in different or better circumstances is based on true principles of honesty, integrity and hard work.

Summary and conclusion

So I have come to the conclusion that the best way to set goals, at least for me, is to concentrate on discovering the desires of our hearts.  Activities that create a vision of each other enjoying those righteous desires are motivating and encouraging to me.

Once you know what you really want, find a way to visualize it and share it with others.  The more people that share your vision, the more likely it is that it will be achieved.  The goals and plans we make then become the stepping stones to fulfill our visions.

In search of the undefined dream


Disclaimer and warning: This essay is very different from my usual theological discourse. It describes a somewhat personal and difficult problem for me. It is written from a male ‘blue’ point of view. I suspect that it is not something with which my readers of the fairer sex will sympathize. I post this essay in much fear and trepidation as I am revealing a problem without a solution, at least not one that I have been able to discover.

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When I was a young man, I used to dream about being the best computer tech support person in the world. I knew what I wanted and knew the path to get it. I was confident in what I was seeking. I had a plan and I could see myself in the position that I wanted. It was my goal to have the kind of job where I knew all the answers and could be paid to dispense knowledge.

I knew I wanted to study and work in computers. I was passionate about them. I knew that I would be using them all my life and wanted to be an expert. So I became one. I kept moving up the ladder until I now have a dream job as an IT Manager, a technical support guru. I am well paid to be the answer man for all technical problems at a very profitable company.

I achieved the dream. I accomplished what I set out to do. Now what? In earlier days I would seek for a better job, which invariably would include a better salary. I would find it, negotiate for it and land the job. But I can’t do that now because I already have the ultimate job for a techie like me. What do you do when you have accomplished and realized your dream?

The highest need in a man

Emerson Eggerichs identified the problem well for me when he postulated that the highest need in a man is the need for conquest. He identifies conquest as the desire to work and to achieve. He also teaches that men desire respect and honor more than anything else. I fully identify with that. In my experience, such thinking has been totally foreign to the women in my life.

The first time men meet each other in a social setting, invariably one will say to the other, “So, what do you do?” That implies of course, what the other man does for a living. It’s how men identify themselves – by their work. It’s as if they are saying to one another, “So, what have you accomplished with your life?” Most men want others to respond with respect.

I’m at that age where I want to be able to say that I’ve done more with my life than that I became an alpha geek. Sure, there are others who are geekier than me and many who are paid more than I am for the same kind of work, but it’s not about the money. Frankly, the technology is boring. I’m more excited by the challenge of helping others feel comfortable with technology.

Men do what they do for admiration

Before I was married, the formation of my dreams and aspirations were motivated by the love of one woman – my mother. I wanted to please her. I wanted her to admire and respect what I had become. A big part of my early success in my life and career I attribute to my mother. I could tell that she was proud of me and my chosen line of work. She told me so many times.

I used to change jobs very often when I was single. I used my jobs as stepping stones to get experience for better jobs. I wasn’t interested in longevity or long-term commitments. I sought the jobs that were a little bit of a stretch for me, won them and then discarded them after I had conquered them. My need for conquest was being met big time early in my career.

Once I married, I could no longer manage my life in this selfish manner. I had to learn to think for two instead of one. The first time I quit a job after we were married, I quickly realized that things were different. Health insurance had never been a concern. As we were expecting our first child, it became evident that I had made a very costly and a very selfish mistake.

Responsibility requires sacrifice

I still quit jobs in search of new challenges. But over time, I have stayed with jobs longer and longer, mainly to provide a sense of stability for my family. I think I have become responsible and reliable. I hope I provide my wife some foundation of security. I know that’s important to her. I don’t have that need. I have very little attachment to the material things of this life.

In order to provide security and stability I have had to suppress my need for conquest. I usually can master a new job within the first few months. It doesn’t take long to accomplish most of the objectives outlined in the job interview. Once that is done, the job becomes maintenance work and that’s not something I enjoy. I need the thrill of mastering something difficult.

About six months into every new job, I experience a crisis as the urge to move on comes upon me once again. But being the responsible man that I have become, I stick it out and keep trying to come up with new ideas to make the job interesting and exciting. It is a sacrifice to stick with the unfulfilling job in order to provide something better – the security that our family needs.

Defining the undefined dream

I have reached the pinnacle of my career. I have a cushy job that most men envy. I get to work from home most of the time and can set my own hours. In a sense I am self-employed yet I have the security of a steady paycheck, great health insurance as well as a regular bonus and a raise each year. What more could a man ask? I should be very happy and contented, right? Wrong.

There is something nagging at me. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I call it the undefined dream. There is this deep sense that there is something I am supposed to do with my life and that I am not yet doing it. I sense that it is waiting there for me, just out of reach, beckoning me and making its presence known. I haven’t yet been able to identify it or discover what it is.

I ponder about it. I pray about it. I go to the temple and ask the Lord to reveal it to me. I think about it constantly. I dream about it. I write about it. I wonder what it is. I ask myself why I can’t define it. I think about connecting the dots of all the things that have brought me to this place in my life. Surely the Lord had a hand in all this. I am not where I am just by chance.

Summary and conclusion

If you have been a regular reader of my essays you know that I am very formulaic. I like to write in sections of three paragraphs each. I like my sentences short. I like my paragraphs to be only four of five sentences. And I always have a summary and conclusion. Today, I can summarize but I have not come to a conclusion. I am stuck and am in need of wisdom from others.

Am I the only man who has experienced this kind of mid-life crisis? Carol calls it my mid-year crisis. Do you see the problem? Have I identified it clearly? I know I am blessed beyond measure compared to most people in this world. Yet I struggle to find fulfillment. Am I just being selfish? Do I just need to forget about me and lose myself in the service of others?

Lest you get the wrong impression, let me clarify that this is not about my service in the kingdom or my testimony. That is very rewarding and fulfilling. It is about my day-to-day work, which is where I spend the majority of my time. Perhaps I should look elsewhere for fulfillment and see the job for what it is – just a way to pay the bills. What would you do in my situation?

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