Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Power or Influence

“It is the nature of men (and women) as soon as they get a little authority to immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39)  They cover their weakness by a false front of strength and authority.  But in ordering others around, they lose the Spirit of the Lord, and end up shooting past the mark.  The only real authority to direct sons and daughters of God is God’s authority.

God parents us based on “principles of righteousness.”  He has the power to control us but he cannot “exercise unrighteous dominion” as a perfect being.  His guiding hand we cannot always see but we can study the life of his Son to understand the principles by which he governs.

I’d like to discuss a few of the  principles of righteousness we should use as parents with our children, as managers with our employees, and as teachers with our students.  I will use this scripture as a reference:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained…only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge…reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love towards him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men…”  (D&C 121:41-45)

The fable of the sun which gently convinced the man to take off his coat when the wind couldn’t do anything with all his bluff and bluster is an example of these principles.

Most of us respond with gentleness and kindness.  Some of us respond to a sharp reproof and some of us don’t.  I have a brother that will only respond to a reproof if he accepts you as a legitimate authority and now that he’s an adult the only authority he accepts is God himself.  Me, all you have to do is give me a dirty look and I collapse in a puddle of tears.  One of my kids has to be able to try it himself and if that is dangerous than I have to redirect his energy.  He wants to see the physical manifestation of the consequences.  

This week, my son with all the energy needed some reproof.  I gave him five tasks instead of lecturing him.  I told him to wash the car and I went out and helped him.  He had to climb up on top of the car to wash the top and I let him even though it is slightly dangerous.  I told him to catch 100 spiders under my bed and I offered to pay him a penny for each one.  I helped him move the items under the bed and look for the spiders.  We caught five and he earned a nickel.  I kept him busy all day.  He loved it!  Unfortunately my good behavior is an anomaly.

Usually I just yell and tell my kids to stop fighting.  Often I assign them chores to do as a consequence but I don’t help them with them and I don’t show an increase of love so that they don’t think of me as the enemy.  I’ve got the compulsion method down — it’s the meek method that I’m working on developing.

God knows me.  He knows that I am emotional and fly off the handle occasionally.  It says in Hebrews 2, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”  He is long-suffering with me even as I am exercising unrighteous dominion and he persuades me to try his way instead.

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