"The difference between God and the Devil is that God creates and organizes, while the whole study of the Devil is to destroy"
(Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 69)
When we read the account that the Lord said to Joseph Smith that we should organize ourselves, we probably think that it refers only to Church matters. What if it goes beyond that? Remember that the Lord doesn’t give just temporal laws, they’re always spiritual. So maybe organization can be applied to our spiritual growth, not just to temporal matters.
David A. Whetten was a BYU professor of organizational behavior and served as director of the Center for the Study of Values in Organizations and of the BYU Faculty Center when he gave this devotional address, Enter to Learn: How to Organize According to God’s Laws, on 6 May 1997.
In 1835 Joseph Smith was giving instruction at his brother William’s home, when he taught something that William didn’t agree with. William became violent towards Joseph, who had to leave the house, and was hurting. After a few weeks, the whole Smith family go together to resolve this difference of opinion.
“This story illustrates what I believe to be three of God's core organizing processes--sanctification, edification, and unification--which work together to harmonize individual, interpersonal, and group spiritual development. None of these processes can operate independent of the others. We cannot become personally sanctified if we are not edifying others, and God's process of unification naturally emerges out of the edifying actions of sanctified individuals.
“It is clear that when Joseph and William were out of sorts with one another, they were out of touch with the Lord. Furthermore, as their rancor impaired their motivation and ability to serve each other, their usefulness as servants of the Lord was diminished. William's confession letter suggests that although he had been ordained an apostle, he was still struggling to subdue his violent temper--and this lack of self-control made it difficult for him to edify others. Fearing that his lack of personal sanctification would foster disharmony and disunity among Church leaders and members, he requested a release from his church leadership responsibilities. Joseph's journal entries reflect similar concerns about the adversary's use of adversity to create disharmony in the Smith family. He despaired that the darkness and gloom of persecution were causing his siblings to lose sight of their spiritual goals, which prevented them from 'seeing things as they really are.' He was also concerned that jealousies and bickerings among Church members were delaying plans for their receiving the endowment, which is an essential step in the process of becoming one with God. It is instructive that the Spirit returned, and Joseph's despair about the effect of this incident on the spiritual welfare of his family and the Church dissipated when he and his brother forgave each other and promised to reconcile their differences directly, to not listen to evil reports about each other, and to edify each other in all circumstances.
“I propose that we examine each of these three key organizing processes separately and then explore their critical interdependencies.
“To sanctify means to make sacred and holy through purification. It is an intensely personal development process.
“To edify means to build up, especially in regards to moral development. Edification is what we do for others that supports and enables their personal sanctification process.
“To unify means to bring together into one, to organize properly.
“I propose that we make a commitment to organize and govern ourselves according to the principles contained in the covenant entered into by Joseph and William Smith on New Year's Day, 1836. These include:
1. Build each other up in righteousness in all things.
2. Do not listen to evil reports concerning each other.
3. Go to each other with our grievances in the spirit of meekness and reconciliation."
Is that something that we can possibly do? I think we can, if we leave our egos behind.
We welcome your comments.
To see the Neighborhood News for Wednesday, 15 June, please click here.