First off a bit of background. A long time ago I came across something in a church manual that stated that we should avoid "gospel hobbies." I think it may have been an old gospel principles manual, I no longer recall. Anyway, I was young and uncultured (even more than I am now) so when I came across that I tepidly pressed for clarification. Does this mean I can't play guitar? No Brother Nibbler, you can still play guitar and put together model airplanes. So what does avoid gospel hobbies mean? I'm not very articulate, so I'll let someone else define it:
Recently Quentin L. Cook had an article in the Ensign, Looking beyond the Mark, where he mentions the dangers of gospel hobbies. BTW, the article also has some interesting and poignant things to say with respect to many topics currently being discussed on this site. It's worth a read.
https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/03/look ... k?lang=eng
For the sake of focusing on the discussion I'll ignore that bit about taking positions contrary to the teachings of the brethren.Another sign of spiritual immaturity and sometimes apostasy is when one focuses on certain gospel principles or pursues “gospel hobbies” with excess zeal. Almost any virtue taken to excess can become a vice.
We are looking beyond the mark when we elevate any one principle, no matter how worthwhile it may be, to a prominence that lessens our commitment to other equally important principles or when we take a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Brethren.
Here lately it feels like Hastening the Work™ ( ) has become a gospel hobby. A church sanctioned gospel hobby. Over the last 6 weeks hastening the work, specifically missionary work, has been the sole topic of the majority of our meetings. When I say majority I really mean it. Some weeks we've abandoned the manuals during SS in favor of talking about this new direction and if it's not a 2nd or 3rd Sunday hastening the work will be the subject at hand. It's been the subject of two of the last three sacrament meetings. I wonder how much spiritual nutrition people that aren't in tune with missionary work are receiving from week to week. Is this a fairly common experience or is this more limited to my local unit?
I'll go ahead and mention some other connotations that I've associated with the phrase "Hastening the work"
- If I'm in a hurry to do something at work I'm more apt to make mistakes.
- I think of the scripture "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." Or problems that arise when the branches outgrow the root.
- This year's theme appears to be hasten the work, missionary work. I anticipate a glut of retention work among people that don't want to be retained in the near future.
- It really feels like the love is being stripped out of missionary work. Hasten is being translated into metrics like doubling the number of lessons taught, doubling the number of baptisms, etc.
I've only heard hastening the work in the context of missionary work, but the scripture immediately after the one that is cited every Sunday now implies that we should first seek to cleanse the inner vessel. When the subject of hastening missionary work comes up I take every opportunity to state that all of our efforts won't do any good if we aren't ministering to the flock we already have. This goes back to the comment of not running faster than we are able.And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
As I type this I am reminded that as WML I have a stake level meeting coming up on how I specifically can hasten the work. It's an intimate meeting, I will be called on and I'll have to find a way to be true to myself and toe the line at the same time. I hope I'm having a good day the day of the meeting, otherwise I might let one fly. Still I think I will politely voice my concerns with love and let the consequences follow.
Truth be told I think I'm already sick of hearing (and typing) the phrase "Hasten the Work." It feels more like a phrase that was plucked out of a random scripture to serve as a neat sounding corporate buzzword to motivate the sales force. My stage 4 is taking over gotta resist, regroup and find the love buried within the vision. Feel free to lace into me BTW.