My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

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mackay11
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My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by mackay11 » 26 Jan 2014, 09:09

I had two outbursts in priesthood today. It's our branch conference so the stake leaders are here in force.

The lesson was on home teaching.

The high councillor who taught is a good man. He serves diligently, he has a generous and willing heart. He, like all of us, has a personally adapted view of the world that leads him to certain conclusions and perspectives. Knowing him fairly well means I know that his perspective drives him to serve his fellow-man in an admirable way.

Having said all that, I was reminded that what motivates one person can be a bitter pill for another.

While asking about what helps us be a better home teacher I shared a quote from Spencer W. Kimball. at a seminar for Regional Representatives in 1979:

"I do not worry about members of the Church being unresponsive when they learn of the needy as much as I worry about our being unaware of such needs. … Please, priesthood leaders, do not get so busy trying to manage Church programs that you forget about basic duties in what the Apostle James described as ‘pure religion, undefiled’ (James 1:27)."

I then made the point that there are many ways of serving others. That if you're not doing your home teaching it might not be because you're doing something bad, but because you're doing something equally good, better or best.

I then mentioned Elder Dube in the recent conference, who was quoting J Reuben Clark:

“...in the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how”

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2 ... e?lang=eng

I was trying to make the point that there are many ways to serve the Lord by serving our fellow-men. Some of us see Home Teaching as a good way of serving, but we might not see it as the better or best way.

I sat quiet for the lesson which focused more on doing our duty than the joy of service. Towards the end of the lesson the teacher said, "Love is the most important aspect of home teaching. Love should motivate us" (so far so good). He then started talking about our love for our wives and said: "when I first married I didn't love my wife enough because I wouldn't stop smoking and wouldn't go to the temple to be sealed. If we love our wife we will attend our meetings to bring blessings on our family. If we love our wife we will do our home teaching."

He finished and another stake leader started talking. I tried to ignore it my feelings and reaction to the implications of the previous.

I suddenly interrupted the lesson and bubbled out with: "I'm sorry, but I can't let the last message go without comment. I love my wife and she loves me. She doesn't come to church at all but her love for me is neither dependent on not manifested by that decision. I support home teaching as a principle but if my wife could choose I wouldn't do it all. Some might even say that if I really loved her I wouldn't go at all. But I love her independently of any choices I make to serve other people."

There was an awkward pause. Unfortunately I'd spoken passionately and probably confrontationally. I regret that. The tone of my voice will have meant that some people didn't listen to my choice of words.

The stake leader then went on to start talking about home teaching not being an assignment but a responsibility. Another stake leader then said: "If you really love Jesus Christ, you'd do your home teaching."

Something snapped. "This is ridiculous," I muttered. I stood up and stomped towards the door. As I got near the exit I turned back to the the silent room.

"I deeply disagree with the idea that we can't say we love Jesus Christ if we're not doing our home teaching. There are people in this town who are hungry, lonely, homeless and in prison. If we read Matthew 25 then these are the people we should be serving but we do nothing. We obsess about Home Teaching because it's measured and reported. We ignore those who are truly in need because there's no statistical recognition for it."

As I left the room I planned on gathering up my family and driving home. A councilor on the stake presidency, who had given me my temple recommend interview last month and was aware of some of my changed perspectives, followed me out and asked if he could speak briefly before I left.

I sat down in a side room and started sobbing. "I'm sorry, I feel like I've been hanging on at church by my fingertips for the last year or two. I shouldn't have spoken like that. There are so many people we could serve in so many different ways. No-one is motivated by accusations and guilt trips." He let me finish and then reassured me that he'd also been uncomfortable in the lesson and was sorry it had taken that tone. He appreciated the way I must be feeling. "I'm aware of your challenges. I support you. Keep doing what you're doing. It's important." There was no rebuke, only compassion.

When the priesthood lesson finished I went back and apologised for my outburst to the high councilor. He was bereft and in tears. He hadn't meant to point fingers, he simply meant to speak about his own motivation. That it was this was part of what drove him on to be of service, because he knew it made his wife happy and was expression of love. He hadn't meant to accuse me and was sorry if it sounded like it.

It's so easy to take offence at things people say. I know that I need to work harder at listening for subtext and remember that we are all imperfect communicators. Myself included. I'm sure that there are things I say in lessons that frustrate or bother people and they are generous enough to not call me out as a 'liberal' or 'heretic.' I need to work harder at hearing the intent, not just applying my own perspective.

As Brigham Young once said:
"There is one principle I wish to urge upon the Saints in a way that it may remain with them—that is, to understand men and women as they are, and not understand them as you are."
Later, the same stake councilor who spoke to me after the outburst also spoke in sacrament meeting. He told us that in his home odd socks got put in a box. Once a month the family would sit together and sort through all the odd socks and re-discover several pairs (or close enough to be pairs). We are all, he said, a bit like odd socks. We don't always feel like we fit, but if we are able to find ways of working together and complimenting each other.

As someone feeling like a very odd sock in church, I appreciated his support and message.

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DarkJedi
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Re: My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by DarkJedi » 26 Jan 2014, 09:35

Sounds like that counselor in the SP is an exceptional man who gets it. I think if the same thing had happened in my ward under the same circumstances you would have continued on your way out the door without interruption. That's sad but true. I agree with you that there are so many other ways, and perhaps better ways, to serve than home teaching. I used to be amazed sometimes in the bishopric by what we didn't know about member needs, even though those members were active and home taught. The message just never seemed to get transmitted to the quorum/group leader and/or to the bishop. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it did, but it mostly didn't. If I had needs I would go straight to the bishop. Home teaching, then, was essentially worthless in that respect, except to put on a report that it was done. The church seems to want to be too business like sometimes, valuing quantitative data over qualitative data all too much. Our members are people with feelings and needs and unless a home teacher is ware of those and working with those he may as well not be there. Likewise, it is very possible for a non home teacher to much more in tune and much more likely to be of true loving assistance to the individuals and families. That's how I've always taken that Kimball quote - it's our responsibility to know and report. I've not found the church to be unresponsive to needs (although sometimes they don't know how to respond and sometimes the response may be insufficient).

I'm glad your outburst had a fairly positive outcome my friend.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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opentofreedom
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Re: My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by opentofreedom » 26 Jan 2014, 10:01

I loved your comments in class, obviously you weren't the only one thinking that. I wish I were half as courageous. I hope the codependency in the church teachings will be brought to light in more instances. I am so glad you have such a caring person in your stake and that you were courageous enough to apologize and see the teachers side as well. Beautiful story about communication.... That i I love that quite from BY, thanks for sharing.
Namaste: the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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On Own Now
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Re: My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by On Own Now » 26 Jan 2014, 10:24

mackay11,

Thanks so much for sharing this.
mackay11 wrote:The tone of my voice will have meant that some people didn't listen to my choice of words.
These are poignant words. I have never wanted to have a tattoo, but I might get this tattooed around my biceps. It's not just the Church, either; this is an important observation for all venues of communication.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

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Daeruin
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Re: My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by Daeruin » 26 Jan 2014, 10:37

You definitely have a higher level of both caring and courage than I. Your story has given me reason to try to be better, and that quote from Brigham Young is going in my permanent file (do you know the source?). Thanks so much for sharing.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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nibbler
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Re: My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by nibbler » 26 Jan 2014, 10:44

Thanks for sharing... sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to stand up for what I believe in like you did.

We had a similar lesson today except it was HtW instead of HT. Nearly the same comments were made about being motivated by love and not guilt but there was a palpable undercurrent suggesting that that our love is insufficient if we aren't HtW. I.e. the comments on not being motivated by guilt were only that, comments, then it was right back to motivating by guilt.

I simply walked out, but people jump out of a meeting to handle things all the time so it didn't raise any eyebrows.

Again, thanks for sharing. Dare I say that it sounds like he that preached and he that received, understood one another, and both were edified and rejoiced together afterwards? Sure beats the dry, dull, guilt ridden class that it would have been without your comments.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

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cwald
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Post by cwald » 26 Jan 2014, 11:53

This is the kind of pain, frustration and sadness that finally drove me to walk away and seek apathy.



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  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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mackay11
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My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by mackay11 » 26 Jan 2014, 15:02

cwald wrote:This is the kind of pain, frustration and sadness that finally drove me to walk away and seek apathy.
I can completely understand reaching that point. I'm very fortunate that I have several branch leaders and at least one stake leader who is very supportive and empathetic.

They want to help me be part of making it work, they don't see me as the enemy.

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mackay11
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My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by mackay11 » 26 Jan 2014, 15:21

Daeruin wrote:You definitely have a higher level of both caring and courage than I. Your story has given me reason to try to be better, and that quote from Brigham Young is going in my permanent file (do you know the source?). Thanks so much for sharing.
It was in the Journal of Discourse.

The link is on here:
http://ldsthoughtfulquotes.blogspot.co. ... e.html?m=0

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mackay11
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My outburst in the branch conference priesthood meeting

Post by mackay11 » 26 Jan 2014, 15:37

Thanks all for your words of support. I'm sorry to hear that for some of you there isn't the leadership empathy in your areas.

Don't think of me as too brave. Rash, brash and emotional is more accurate. The difference for me is there are different stakes. Firstly, I don't have to "keep the (LDS) peace" at home. My wife's not active so I don't have to tow the LDS line for her sake. If I did, it would be different.

I was also very uplifted by the immediate support local church members. All of the branch presidency have contacted me and said they support me. I'm very fortunate.

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