Gifts, Privileges, and Power

By: Bonnie
May 2, 2012

A warm welcome to Bonnie, posting with us the first time.

Three years ago, at 6AM on a soon-to-be-scorching July day, I received a phone call from my oldest son’s priesthood leader. They were on a float trip, in Moab that morning, and my 15-year-old had been throwing up all night. It was the height of the H1N1 media campaign and his leaders were spooked that he had it because another boy who had just gotten over it had come on the trip.

I listened as he described the rigors of the trip that lay ahead, how awful it would be to be so sick in the blazing sun on the unforgiving water and how the entire trip could be jeopardized for everyone if they all caught what he had. There was a quietness in my soul as I listened. Within, a profound confidence grew, and I felt something knit together. He then asked me what I wanted to do.

“This is what I would do in your place,” I said in my resonant voice, the one I only use when I feel a profound confidence. “You hold the priesthood, and you are training young men to exercise that priesthood. You are more powerful than this virus. I would gather those men and boys together and teach them about the power to heal and be healed. I would pray for faith and strength to exercise your priesthood power and authority together with those men and boys, and pray that you will be one. Then I would stand in a circle and lay your hands on my son’s head and bless him to be healed. We have had experience with healings before, and he has the faith to be healed. Tell him his mother said that he would be healed and that she has a witness of the power and is praying. Then I would step away from him and expect him to be healed, and he will. I bear you my testimony of it.”

With doubt dripping from his voice, my son’s priesthood leader agreed. I prayed. Thirty minutes later I received a call from him again, saying that my son was wondering if I would drive to Moab to pick him up. Another priesthood leader would stay behind with him while the rest of the group went on.

As I drove the three hours I wondered what had happened. I know my son. Healing is an oft-discussed subject in our home. Just months previously he had developed a blood blister on his back that would break and bleed and sometimes took hours to stop. I took him to a doctor who did an ultrasound and found that he had an unusual condition in which his veins and arteries formed random pathways to the surface of his skin. This small blister was a random extension of an artery, could grow larger and multiply, and he could conceivably bleed to death someday. He recommended surgery, but admitted that if my son had this tendency, they could just as easily begin making pathways to his skin surface in almost any part of his body.

I sat quietly and listened, then felt strongly to decline the surgery. We drove home and as I prayed silently a confidence formed in my soul. When we arrived I turned to my son and I said, “Do you trust me?” He looked at me quietly and he said, “Yes.” I said, “We do not need surgery; we need the faith to be healed.” He looked back at me and he said, “How do we do it?”

I opened the scriptures and explained to him the gifts listed in D&C 46 and Moroni 10. I looked at him and said, “I have the gift of healing. People have said for years that I have healing hands, and my patriarchal blessing verifies that I have gifts to bless my family. It is a power from God and he chooses how and when it is applied. I feel that this is a time for that. Do you have the faith to be healed by God through me?” He looked silently into my eyes, we connected, and he nodded firmly.

We knelt together and prayed. I explained the problem he faced in that prayer and laid out our request: that the Lord would reverse the process his veins and arteries had begun and that he would be restored to his natural functioning, that his blood would move smoothly through his body and that he would never be troubled by his arteries and veins creating false pathways again. We said amen, and then I went around behind my son and I put my hands on his back and held them there until I felt to move them.

Within a month the blister was gone, and from the time of that prayer forward it never broke to bleed again, simply reabsorbing slowly into his body. No other blisters have ever developed.

Months later as I drove to Moab, I wondered. But also, I began to notice a terrible gnawing in my stomach. I didn’t recognize it because I’m not prone to the flu. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d even had indigestion, but within half an hour I nearly couldn’t drive. Every mile was a steering-wheel gripping experience and I prayed consistently. I had the flu, possibly the horrid, quick-onset, deeply ravaging H1N1. At times my eyesight blurred and once I pulled over to lie on the seat for a few moments and try to catch my breath. I realized that I had asked something profound of my son and his leaders, and I was to prove my own faith as well before I met them, and that in this instance, a healing was intended.

So I sat up and drove.  I prayed that by the time I reached Moab two and a half hours later I would be restored to my former health and be able to testify of the power of healing. It was miserable at first, but by the time I arrived, I felt no discomfort at all.

When my son climbed into the car, he looked bone tired and said he felt like he’d been hit by a truck. We turned around and headed home and I asked him what happened that morning.  He said that his leader had gathered them together and told them that they were going to give a blessing. He explained that blessings could heal, but that it was really important that they not be sick on this trip. Then they anointed and laid their hands on his head and pronounced a blessing. Afterward, his leader looked at him and told him that he needed to consider the others who were on that trip and their health, then he asked him if he wanted them to call me to pick him up.

I’ll admit that in that moment and for a long while afterward, I was genuinely disappointed. The whole interchange seemed such a profound lost opportunity. My son’s privilege to enjoy the last float trip our scouts would take now gone, I tried to imagine what could be gained from the experience. I asked him again if he had the faith to be healed. He was less confident after the morning’s strange activities, so I told him what had happened with me on the drive down. I explained that faith can’t survive in an atmosphere of doubt or fear and that there was none of that in our car right now. He looked at me and nodded. We prayed together, outlining the healing we requested and I felt was offered, and then I reached across and laid my right hand on his stomach for a time while we drove.

By the time we were home, he was right as rain, trying to figure out how to get hold of his priesthood leaders to see if someone else would be making the drive down to join the young men mid-trip. It didn’t happen, but my boy learned something about gifts, privileges, and power and I have learned something about working with others who may not feel as confident about certain principles as I might.

There is a misunderstanding in our church about priesthood. The assumption is that in order to heal or lead or function with power, one must have been ordained to an office in the priesthood. Clearly, however, gifts are given to all that all may be profited thereby (D&C 46). Power is obtained (D&C 121) on principles of righteousness and based in covenant-keeping (sacred liturgy).  The function of the ordained priesthood is to make those covenants available to all, not to function as a barrier to the power that derives therefrom.

If men and women desire greater power, it has been made freely available, and it’s not dependent on an ordination. It’s a matter of faith, obedience, sacrifice, and humility. I learn more about that power daily as I try and err and repent and try again. It’s a partnership between us and God and us and each other.

Old Testament women asserted their authority to name their children, and there is no reason to assume that that needs to change, whether or not a holder of priesthood authority is the one who seals that name. I felt an extremely strong knowledge about the children I grew bodies for, hand in hand with God in my womb, and their names were not just an embellishment – they were crucial. I was adamant about their names and have had many opportunities to see why that was important to me, but I didn’t seal those names on them. It is a partnership with the priesthood.

Women have no need to withhold the prophetic counsel they feel inspired to pronounce upon the heads of their children or those over whom they have responsibility, and there is nothing untoward about blessings that they give in righteousness power. I stood recently at the front of my class and made a promise to those listening in the power of the spirit that I know was given by revelation and the spirit of prophecy. Nobody developed leprosy or was struck by lightning. My priesthood leaders are available at any time to give counsel about my fulfilling that calling. It is a partnership with the priesthood.

That the Relief Society is “in its ascendancy” is a truth propounded repeatedly by former Pres. Beck. That the structure of an organization of women, paralleling the organization of men in the earthly priesthood and working with it, exists for specific goals and purposes has been a cornerstone of her presidency (and we have women presiding at the local and general level because there is a purpose for which someone needs to account.) That this organization is not fully formed seems utterly obvious. That both organizations function in the power and authority of the priesthood (the power of God that grows in righteous covenant-keepers) has been equally expounded.

Why it is not fully formed is a matter of some considerable conjecture.

When it will be fully formed is likewise.

That RS is headed for full formation, however, seems quite clear.

That the day is coming when men and women will work side by side with equal authority and responsibility and power in the salvation of the souls of all God’s children is inherent in everything I hear in leadership training, and the message grows more intense. That women with authority at all levels of the church, derived from their calling by prophets and those to whom the keys are given as well as derived from their personal righteousness and covenants kept (just as men derive power), will lead forward in a mighty work seems obvious.

I believe this will happen as the women of the church embrace the spiritual gifts that are freely at their disposal, increase in personal righteousness, grow mighty in faith, and step forward ready to serve. In an environment absent doubt or fear, in partnership with the priesthood, this would seem to occur faster (“stand where you are, lift where you stand” and all.) In an environment of increased expectation (as many women do not presently want greater authority or responsibility) I believe women will eventually embrace what many women have clamored for in an ordination: stewardship and perfecting through priestesshood service – in partnership with the priesthood.

Anyone who knows me well could catalog my faults and obvious imperfections in a heartbeat and would laugh heartily at the idea that I am in any way some sort of female ideal of righteousness. Just as any ordinary priesthood holder, I’m just doing the best I can. But in that best that we have comes grace, a growing partnership with Jesus Christ, and it’s saturated with power. That is the reason I shared my experience, even with my flaws in working the partnership.

I wish that experience with my son’s priesthood leaders had been about partnership. These men are my friends and I love them and we have a mutually-respectful relationship. I’m realizing that I bear an equal responsibility in making that partnership work, and my failures to gauge that partnership prior to making a request of priesthood leaders inhibited our ability to work together in a high-trust situation. The gifts of the spirit flow on trust.

Relief Society has the mission to train women in a priestesshood that stands in partnership with the priesthood held by men. It is not the same, nor does the priesthood need dismantled and altered to fit women. But we are going to have to learn to work together to make a priesthood and a priestesshood work uniformly together – standing where we are and lifting where we stand.

Where do you see Relief Society going? What does a priestesshood look like to you?

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58 Responses to Gifts, Privileges, and Power

  1. hawkgrrrl on May 2, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    It’s an interesting idea. If this is where Relief Society was headed, it certainly took a left turn in Albuquerque (to quote Bugs Bunny). But you may be right about its ultimate purpose. I do think that the subordination of women to an all-male priesthood has caused women to doubt, to shirk our own spiritual gifts, and to divest ourselves of power. Perhaps that’s not necessary, just a manifestation of human weakness. I too have often felt I have the power to be healed and to heal, so I really appreciated your experiences.

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  2. Jendoop on May 2, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    I appreciate your clear closing statement, at the same time appreciating your prodding to look at the bigger picture of Relief Society and what it means to be a priestess one day. Ultimately what you saw in your son’s priesthood leader is what you also noted with this parenthetical statement, “as many women do not presently want greater authority or responsibility.”

    There’s the rub. If we as a whole don’t want it, why should God give us increased power with it’s attendant responsibilities/obligations? We can’t even do our visiting teaching for heaven’s sake! Maybe there will be increased opportunities and blessings if we can ever give a sacrament meeting talk without a comment about how “the bishop made me do it,” or happily accept a calling in nursery or cub scouts. I look forward to the day that we stand and claim our blessings as we stand and claim our responsibilities to lead and serve.

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  3. Becca on May 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Yes, yes, and yes. This is what I have believed about Relief Society as soon as I had the understanding to believe it (which was only recently). Sister Beck made this whole thing very clear to me, as well as the book Daughters in My Kingdom. Perhaps the most important helper in my understanding has been personal revelation through the (priesthood) power of the Holy Ghost.

    I vehemently agree with what you said about an environment of fear and doubt. We cannot obtain any kind of revelation or power if we allow doubt and fear in our hearts. The beautiful thing about that is the father’s request to the Savior in the New Testament when he said, “Lord, help thou my unbelief.” We can even ask for our doubt and fear to be removed.

    Women in the gospel can posses all the power of the priesthood through their faithfulness. Maybe the General Authorities have not stood up and said directly “Women, you have just as much priesthood power as men.” But I have heard that principle taught again and again from prophets, from Relief Society presidents, and from women around the world who live without doubt and fear in their lives (like Bonnie) who truly understand the purpose of a woman. When Christ spoke in parables, many did not understand. I think the same can be said for women’s roles in the priesthood – our power as women is taught to us in parables of sorts, in symbolism in the temple, in indirect messages in General Conference, and in not-so-indirect messages in Church history and the Daughters in My Kingdom book.

    I am reminded of something Eliza R Snow said, “Let [us] seek for wisdom instead of power and [we] will have all the power [we] have wisdom to exercise.”

    I do not think Relief Society has taken any turn for the wrong. I think the sisters of Relief Society are confused and have too much doubt and fear in their hearts to really understand their position. I think perhaps the men of the Church have not done a very good job (in the past) of teaching women about their positions, but that has changed recently.

    I see Relief Society (as an organization) staying just about the way it is. I think the women of the Relief Society are the ones who need to change, not the organization. I think the organization is pretty well fully formed. The women (as a whole) do not possess the power that they need, or are entitled to, and as we come to study and learn of our power, we will grow in it, and the women of this Church will rise up and lead the world.

    And priestesshood? Looks just like you, Bonnie. You get it. You are an amazing example to us all. Thank you for your faith and for sharing these experiences with us. I hope I can have as much faith as you have. I understand the principles, but it’s hard to live it. Thank you again.

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  4. hawkgrrrl on May 2, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    “If we as a whole don’t want it, why should God give us increased power with it’s attendant responsibilities/obligations? We can’t even do our visiting teaching for heaven’s sake!” Well, those things certainly didn’t stop the men from getting the PH. Srsly, their HT stats are consistently worse than our VT stats!

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  5. Howard on May 2, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Brave article Bonnie, very well said. This IS the power of God! Ordination is just a nudge to the hesitant or insecure.

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  6. Liz C on May 2, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    You’ve managed to distill and encapsulate some thoughts that have been meandering around in my head for quite some time. EXCELLENT article. Thank you!!

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  7. Naismith on May 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    This was wonderful, and I totally concur. I think that women already have more power than they claim, kinda like Dorothy and the ruby slippers.

    I think one of the most empowering things that helps women today is the PotF. It assigns women the primary responsibility over the children, so of course she gets the “final say” (if one is ever needed), on issues such as naming a child, how many children to have, and various child-rearing decisions. Since so many of the issues during many decades of most LDS marriages are centered around the children, this empowers women and ensures their equality in the marriage partnership.

    I think even before that, wise husbands realized that sometimes the wife and not them receives revelation on such issues, but that document formalized the stewardship.

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  8. DB on May 2, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Let’s not confuse the gifts of the spirit with the priesthood. Oh, too late, most members already have.

    All gifts of the spirit, including the gift of healing, are separate from the priesthood. One does not need the priesthood to posses any gift of the spirit and having the priesthood does not give one any gift of the spirit.

    I have given many priesthood blessing in my life to people who were sick. Not one of them has ever recovered immediately or unusually quickly. Why? Because I don’t have the gift of healing. I suspect very few priesthood holders do. I also suspect that just as many women as men in the church have the gift of healing but never use it because we’re taught that it’s a priesthood function. It’s actually a gift of the spirit that few people actually have.

    In the church, we accept the gifts of the spirit but usually deny the power thereof. They are not taught, explained, or accepted very well in our church. It’s a travesty in my opinion. To me, this is not a Priesthood vs. Relief Society or a men vs. women issue because the gifts of the spirit are given individually irrespective of priesthood or gender but rarely sought out, accepted, or utilized because we aren’t taught to do that despite what the scriptures teach.

    Bonnie may have the gift of healing but there was no reason to believe that the priesthood leader with her son did and therefore no reason to believe that the priesthood blessing would have immediately healed her son.

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  9. Mike S on May 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    This is a great post. I would absolutely love to see more discussions like this in the Church. To me, this is MUCH more important topic to discuss than things like whether someone’s shoulders are covered.

    Thank you for the post.

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  10. Brian on May 2, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    DB–”Bonnie may have the gift of healing but there was no reason to believe that the priesthood leader with her son did and therefore no reason to believe that the priesthood blessing would have immediately healed her son.”

    Or no reason, speaking honestly, to believe the priesthood actually helps heal anyone. I read a story (poorly re-worded here) about people putting their crutches that they previously needed on a public wall after they were “healed” by prayer. One passerby said he would be impressed when a wooden leg was placed there.

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  11. Mormon Heretic on May 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Bonnie, wonderful post, and VERY inspiring! I don’t know if you were aware, but Mormon women used to lay hands on the sick.

    In reference to DB’s remark about conflating priesthood with spiritual gifts, we had quite a discussion with Jonathan Stapley last year on that very topic. It seems that Stapley and Michael Quinn have different perspectives on whether women held the priesthood to perform the gift of healing.

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  12. Michelle on May 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    “I see Relief Society (as an organization) staying just about the way it is. I think the women of the Relief Society are the ones who need to change, not the organization.”

    This is how I view it as well. I also agree with DB that I think sometimes gifts of the Spirit and priesthood can be confused a bit, even as I imagine the full power of gifts of the Spirit are given through the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is given through a priesthood ordinance, so in that way, I see a connection.

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  13. Bonnie on May 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I hadn’t expected to have time today to check in with comments, but the sun is cooking my head and so I’m taking a break. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

    #8DB and #10Brian, I appreciated your thoughts on healing. I don’t believe, however, that priesthood holders should step away from the power inherent in blessings because they wonder if they have the gift of healing. In my experience, the spirit whispers to us what we should say and how much, and sometimes things heal over time instead of in miraculous instants. That’s healing too, and sometimes our spirits need to heal before our bodies can. I would encourage priesthood brethren to continue to administer and bless people, and where their gifts may be lacking, grace will make up the difference.

    To answer your question about whether the brethren could have healed my son, I will state emphatically, they could have. I knew it. In some cases perhaps not, but I had a witness that with faith it would have occurred, for a great many reasons.

    Now I have a question. If someone has the gift of healing, do they have to be present to implement it? Is there something about touching someone that conveys some tangible force from one person to another? Since the power isn’t in the person but is God’s, how can it be directed? Could I have, from a 3-hour distance, drawn upon my gift of healing?

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  14. Bonnie on May 2, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    MH, yes I was aware, though perhaps for only a decade, of the history of women healing. I went through a predictable process (for such a conservative person) of denying it, assuming they were potential apostates, studying it, and growing in a testimony of the principle. I don’t necessarily agree with all its incarnations, but I do find that God is quite patient with our learning processes. Thanks for the link on the JStapley discussion – I’ll check that out this evening.

    For those who see the RS staying pretty much the way it is, would you see a connection develop between the general leadership and the local leadership, perhaps another tier of leadership? What about consolidating the YW and Primary leadership within the RS?

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  15. Michelle on May 2, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    “I don’t believe, however, that priesthood holders should step away from the power inherent in blessings because they wonder if they have the gift of healing. ”

    Yes. This.

    ” If someone has the gift of healing, do they have to be present to implement it?”

    I think in order to consider this question, it’d be good to define what healing really means. Is healing always physical? As someone with chronic illness who is in the process of some major healing in my life, I would say, emphatically, that no, healing is not always physical. As such, there are people in my life who are helping channel God’s healing power for me, and it’s done with words, love, and helping truth distill for me. I think that the laying on of hands is important for priesthood ordinances but not the exclusive way to channel God’s power.

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  16. Michelle on May 2, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    p.s The healing I feel is happening in my life is NOT physical, although I hope someday that physical healing will follow.

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  17. prometheus on May 2, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    “The function of the ordained priesthood is to make those covenants available to all, not to function as a barrier to the power that derives therefrom.”

    Could not agree more – we have conflated the priesthood with both the offices and the ordinances, when they are merely appendages of the priesthood. Not only that, but there are a number of things, such as healing blessings and whatnot, that have been incorporated into the administrative structure of the priesthood, which in my opinion, was a mistake.

    “That the day is coming when men and women will work side by side with equal authority and responsibility and power in the salvation of the souls of all God’s children is inherent in everything I hear in leadership training, and the message grows more intense.”

    This has become more and more apparent as well.

    “I believe this will happen as the women of the church embrace the spiritual gifts that are freely at their disposal, increase in personal righteousness, grow mighty in faith, and step forward ready to serve.”

    Amen to this!

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  18. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 2, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Ah, the lesson of Hebrews, which talks of blessings obtained by women through faith.

    Thank you for reminding us of that.

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  19. Howard on May 2, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Now I have a question. If someone has the gift of healing, do they have to be present to implement it? No, I know people who can heal others over long distances. They imagine bridging the distance in some creative way, the ways are as varied as the healers.

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  20. Bonnie on May 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I’m sorry I wasn’t around to engage them more, but I do appreciate hearing your thoughts.

    Michelle, I understand where you’re coming from. We spend our lives being healed by the atonement, and some other things are long-distance marathons too. God bless.

    Prometheus, there is hope to deconflate in the future.

    Stephen, I LOVE Hebrews.

    Howard, exactly, sometimes.

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  21. Mormon Heretic on May 2, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    yes I was aware, though perhaps for only a decade, of the history of women healing.

    Bonnie, I’m not sure if you were aware for a decade, or if you thought women healed for only a decade. Either way, the laying on of hands by women was no officially discouraged until the 1940s. So if Sister Beck is taking women to a new place, it still isn’t as far as the place women were in the 1940s. Check out the link in the previous comment about women blessing the sick.

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  22. Bob on May 3, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    Bonnie,
    I don’t think there will be a renewal in the Church of the Gifts of the Spirit. Most of these things have been disappearing for sometime.
    I do think, rather than healings, more efforts shold be put into the comforting of the ill or dying.

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  23. DB on May 3, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    “I don’t believe, however, that priesthood holders should step away from the power inherent in blessings because they wonder if they have the gift of healing.”

    I agree with this as well. My point was that we shouldn’t confuse the power of the gifts of the spirit with the priesthood and we should realize that the power to heal does not come by virtue of receiving the priesthood. Just because someone has the priesthood doesn’t mean that person has any more power than the next person to heal someone.

    “If someone has the gift of healing, do they have to be present to implement it?”

    Those of us without that gift certainly cannot answer your question. Those of you with it will have to answer it for the rest of us.

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  24. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Bob wrote: I don’t think there will be a renewal in the Church of the Gifts of the Spirit. Most of these things have been disappearing for sometime.  Gifts of the Spirit have not been disappearing for sometime, they have just been disappearing within the church due to non use, partial use and greatly lowered expectations.  In increasing numbers many outside the church have learned to use these gifts to enjoy what many inside the church would call miracles without fear that the Spirit will flee because of being easily offended as is so often incorrectly stated within the church.  The reason Mormons believe this is that they have a weak connection to the Spirit commonly their experience interacting with him comes mostly from tame scripture study and their paranoia that the Spirit will flee becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.  The truth is the church has no monopoly on the Spirit despite the so called “gift of the Holy Ghost” and the spin apologists attempt to attach to that phrase to appear to give Mormons a leg up.  The Spirit is currently being poured out upon the world.  This opportunity is obviously available to Mormons as well should they choose to do the work required to learn how (sorry but the dos and don’ts list has nothing to do with it) but at this point it appears that the church is being bypassed by the current spiritual renaissance much like the parable of the ten virgins.

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  25. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    MH- ah, imprecise communication often occurs after 10PM in my brain. I should have said that I have only been aware of the history of women’s enjoyment of gifts in the church for the past decade or so. I meant to choose the gift of healing as only one example of the gifts available to all members by virtue of the powers of the priesthood with which they are endued. It’s a chicken and egg question: does God gift us (as a church) with a spiritual renewal when we have manifested our worthiness through our devotion, or does he strengthen our devotion by gifting us? My personal belief is: both. The church needs a spiritual renewal to prepare the way for his second coming. Many people are waiting for him to return and clean things up, but perhaps we need to clean things up to prepare for his return. “Make straight his paths” seems to indicate a pattern of forerunners sent to enliven and prepare the earth.

    I am not convinced that the church is floundering in its growth simply because it has gone through a corporate phase. There are a great many ways to “flood the earth.” If the gifts of the spirit represent vertical growth, horizontal growth, represented by a wide base of people who accept the basic doctrines, is just as valid. To use one of my perennial (ha ha) gardening analogies: when I plant I prepare the soil (no fruit yet), plant the bush (no fruit yet), and trim back 1/3 of the top (yipes, fruit much later), and let the roots grow. Then, when the top grows, it has a solid foundation and won’t go through destructive growth spurts. The fruit is ultimately better.

    I have no problem seeing the growth of the church as having been “pruned” over the past 100 years. I see a much expanded root network. It’s just time for the top to grow, fill out, and prepare to bear fruit. To me, God has never ceased being very aware of what he was doing here (not to imply that that is your contention.)

    What power does a corporate entity have when it blossoms suddenly with the gifts of the spirit? It’s an invigorating thought.

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  26. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Oops. Apparently my unclear communication occurred much earlier than 10PM. I blame baked brains now.

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  27. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    DB – I would not be so sure of what gifts one has or does not have. The counsel I received was to search for gifts, and the counsel Joseph gave was to ask for gifts. Seems it’s an open-ended endowment.

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  28. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Bob – Moroni states that if the gifts are disappearing it’s because faith is. We are preparing for the second coming and we already know what is going to happen. The church will grow stronger, the people in the church will grow stronger, and the earth will have every opportunity to prepare before the abomination of destruction. That’s our job! It’s a great job! We need to increase in faith that the fruits of the spirit will multiply, and many will. We aren’t here to hold up a white flag and go down peacefully with the ship. That’s not our calling.

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  29. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Howard – loved your comments, but I think the dos and don’ts list has everything to do with it. Not in a Pharisaical way, but in a genuine, obedience increases faith, obedience sanctifies way. We are to be humble, and the first humility is to accept that God knows what he’s doing and to do as he asks. It’s the child’s step, and none of our other steps following mean anything until we’ve mastered that one.

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  30. ajax on May 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    President Joseph Fielding Smith, in his book Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3 wrote:

    “If a man and his wife were alone with a sick person, could he anoint with the oil and then seal the anointing with his wife assisting using the priesthood she holds jointly with her husband? President Joseph F. Smith answered this question as follows: “Does a wife hold the priesthood with her husband, and may she lay hands on the sick with him, with authority? A wife does not hold the priesthood with her husband, but she enjoys the benefits thereof with him; and if she is requested to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety. It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer to their children , and the husband being mouth, he may properly say out of courtesy, “By authority of the holy priesthood in us vested.”

    “When this is done the wife is adding her faith to the administration of her husband. The wife would lay on hands just as would a member of the Aaronic Priesthood, or a faithful brother without the priesthood, she in this manner giving support by faith to the ordinance performed by her husband. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick, . . . there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration.” Such an administration would not be by virtue of the priesthood, but a manifestation of faith. ”

    This is very interesting. Do any of you sisters assist your husbands in giving blessings to your children? Every year before school I give “fathers” blessings to my children. I have never considered asking my wife to assist. Maybe I should. I love the wording, “By authority of the holy priesthood in us vested.”

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  31. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Awesome addition to the conversation, ajax!!

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  32. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    MH – the link to JStapley’s conversation last year isn’t working. Can you resubmit it?

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  33. MH on May 3, 2012 at 11:52 AM
  34. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Bonnie wrote: I think the dos and don’ts list has everything to do with it. Not in a Pharisaical way, but in a genuine, obedience increases faith, obedience sanctifies way. This is well considered and well stated, apparently it works for you and maybe others too! But those who enjoy bountiful spiritual gifts outside the church have little or no knowledge of a Mormon “dos and don’ts list” so it obviously isn’t a requirement. Our worthiness as defined by the church isn’t a requirement either, I know many who use alcohol in moderation and some who are “living in sin” and this has no influence what so ever on their divine connection. Did Christ turn away from the sinner on the cross or the adulteress in the temple? Aren’t we all sinners? Why would the Spirit turn away? I believe he will attempt to communicate with anyone who can hear him and is willing to listen. Those with bountiful spiritual gifts have much in common they generally eat healthy, I’ve never met one who abused people, animals, alcohol, drugs or food and generally they take few or no prescription drugs. They seek to become a conduit by minimizing their psychological and spiritual dissonance aligning themselves as closely as they can with God and they approach him in meditation or meditative prayer. They are authentic and ego-less giving credit for the ample fruits of these gifts to a power greater than themselves generally humbly describing their role as that of a conduit. None that I have met were referred to or called themselves by a title such as Prophet, Seer and Revelator although perhaps that was appropriate for Joseph who apparently filled all of those roles.

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  35. Bob on May 3, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    We seem to be talking on two different levels. “Gifts of the Spirit” are a very defined class of personal powers some individuals claim to have that others don’t.
    IMO, today’s Church has backed away from this old part of Mormonism because they see it as either folklore or magic.
    Sidney Rigdon claimed a “Gift” that he could find water with his divining rod.

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  36. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 3, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety

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  37. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Bob,
    I’m not sure how we’re talking on two different levels. Please take a look at this talk titled “Gifts of the Spirit” by Elder Robert D. Hales and let me know where we differ.

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  38. pondering on May 3, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Howard @ 34
    I wish I could give you several hundred “Likes” for your comment. You said many things that I believe, and that we as a “Church” are afraid to talk about.

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  39. Bob on May 3, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    @37: Howard,
    I read it. IMO he just redefined the term to his liking. Now I suggest you read #33, and tell me what you think.
    People came to JS before he founded the Church as he claimed “gifts”. He did not claim the gifts came from God.

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  40. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Thank you pondering!

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  41. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Bob,
    If Elder Hales redefined “Gifts of the Spirit” by quoting from 1 Corinthians please provide a link to the definition you believe is correct because that’s what I’ve been talking about. I read the article linked in #33 and I do not see it’s relevance here. Please explain.

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  42. Rigel Hawthorne on May 3, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    As a health care provider who sat in several state and county meetings discussing the public safety of communities and steps to prevent H1N1 from killing anymore people, my worldly experience keeps me from appreciating fully the spiritual message of the OP. I do appreciate it, but I fall back to analyzing. My experience of working in a shelter in the aftermath of a hurricane and keeping health and sanitation of evacuees that had been thrown together in the oonfined living space makes me fall back to analyzing. My current monitoring of the pertussis epidemic in Washington state and the impact on unimmunized children makes me fall back to analyzing. Perhaps an education that has trained one to be analytical on health issues takes its toll on being able to have faith in spiritual healing. On the other hand, there is always the perspective of medical discoveries being good and praiseworthy and the education of such as being a spiritual instrument through opportunities to serve.

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  43. Bob on May 3, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    #41: Howard,
    This is how I am using the term:
    “The term charisma( Gifts of the Spirt ) is “a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person.”

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  44. Howard on May 3, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Bob,
    Sure one of the meanings of charisma is a divinely conferred power or talent. But who and how many does this apply to? 1 Corinthians 12:7 says …the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. and then goes on to say how some get one gift and others different gifts. It’s up to us to determine which gift(s) we were given and develop them.

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  45. Bonnie on May 3, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    Rigel, I could sympathize with your difficulty. Certainly, we are encouraged to use all at our disposal to assist our faith rather than running around twinkling our noses to do our magic tricks, life being life after all. In Joseph’s time they used mild herbs to assist healing, and in our time we have a variety of therapies at our disposal. None of those are outside the realm of faith. The question is where we place our ultimate faith.

    In many ways, I’m your worst nightmare. I don’t have my children immunized. We pursue natural therapies for immune strengthening. My children have a natural immunity to pertussis – because they’ve had it, caught straight from children who had been immunized. They were over it long before the children who gave it to them were. My faith in man is limited, and my experience has validated that fact.

    That doesn’t mean I think medicine is all hogwash. A healthy balance with a perception that is hopefully guided by the spirit enables one to be “in the world but not of it” – taking the best and remaining unaffected by the rest. I think that’s a gift too.

    But, I do appreciate the difficulty of being overeducated in the world’s ideas. I’m constantly trying to unlearn what I learn out there: profit and loss balancing, sunk costs, investment theory …

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  46. Rigel Hawthorne on May 4, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    Does the doubt dripping from the voice come from spiritual immaturity and lack of faith or was it a from the disconnection in communicating with a steward who was prompted to do all things in wisdom and order? Was the looking into the eyes and advising consideration of the well-being of the other boys on the trip a manifestation of lack of faith in the blessing given or the vocalization of the spiritual instruction communicated to the leader by the spirit during the administration of the blessing? Does the fact that a healing took place on the way home invalidate the actions of the priesthood leaders? Perhaps, then again perhaps not.

    I agree that if our children are not getting the proper message from their leaders, it is our duty to correct them. When one ward member is (grin) another’s ‘worst nightmare’, and they have different schools of thought, it can make for an interesting challenge in reconciling two different pathways which can both yield fruits of the spirit. I feel for the ward Bishop, who often becomes the point where the proverbial “buck” stops. I think of one poor bishop who’s day was interrupted by a call from out of town relatives of one of his ward members who was that day being sent home early from a mission. They called to insist to him with lengthy explanations that the missionary in question should, rather than being released, be transferred as soon as they arrived back home to another mission to finish their call.

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  47. Bonnie on May 4, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Rigel, you bring up a very interesting and useful aspect of this discussion. I honestly wondered if someone might make these points. Reason and faith must live together in tension and I’m a proponent of exploring both sides of necessary tensions because I think all things truly are a compound in one.

    My first reaction is to say, no, I don’t think the priesthood leader was acting on inspiration received during the blessing because it felt much more like doubt and fear than a witness, and he was unwilling to peacefully entertain another possibility besides the one he had settled on. In my experience, revelation/inspiration is so settling that one can look quite objectively at situations. I felt objective as I drove (at least until I got sick), wondering what I hadn’t known and willing to find out when I got there. I did not feel that from him; I felt fear.

    That said, I must confess that I am an advocate for increasing faith because I feel that our membership are imbalanced by reason, so I’m not objective. I also sense in your response a concern that’s quite valid and that I’ve noticed before: that when we have a different opinion on a matter, we can simply ascribe it to inspiration and bully someone else with that. That’s a problem, true.

    I suppose it boils down to living in peace with one another, which is probably more important (and learning to do that is certainly useful education) than whether or not someone was healed.

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  48. Mike S on May 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    #45 Bonnie: My faith in man is limited, and my experience has validated that fact.

    I think we all approach life with expectations based on our past. I envy your faith in many ways.

    Perhaps it is because I am a surgeon trained to be “logical”, or perhaps it is my inherent nature that led me to this profession, but I have a harder time with healing. It’s likely for a couple of reasons:

    1) I lean more toward the “after all you can do” camp of looking at priesthood blessings. For me, it’s almost a last resort. If someone has an infection, my first thought isn’t a blessing, but antibiotics, with a blessing if it’s particularly severe and that’s not working. If someone has a worn out knee and has tried everything else, I think knee replacement. I do think there can be blinders with this way of thinking, just as there are blinders with the “all vaccines are bad” way of thinking, but it is what it is. But, in general, a blessing of healing generally isn’t the first thing that pops in my mind.

    2) Additionally, I even approach blessings a bit more “logically” than you. I have seen people recover from things with what I can only think of as “miraculous” – sometimes after a priesthood blessing and sometimes not. But I have also seen patients dead the day after a priesthood blessing that promised them a full recovery after a major trauma.

    These past experiences have obviously affected my expectations for the future, where sometimes blessings “work” and sometimes they “don’t”. We can pass it off as everything happens, good or bad, according to “God’s will”, but if God’s will is ultimately going to happen anyway, where does a blessing fit in that?

    Thus my issue. My past experiences have obviously been different from your past experiences. My expectations are therefore different from your expectations. As I said, I do envy your faith. We teach that faith can move mountains and cause the lame to walk and so forth. I do struggle with the balance between that level of faith and the necessity to approach medicine with a certain level of rationality in order to perform as a surgeon.

    I don’t have a great answer, but posts like this do help me in my efforts to strike a balance between the two. So thank you.

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  49. Howard on May 4, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    We know little about the mind body connection except that it exists and there appears to be power in positive thinking. Healing is at least as powerful as placebo (belief) and when one considers the swing from nocebo (unbelief) it is very powerful medicine. What is spontaneous remission? Can science tell us? No, not yet. I live a healthy lifestyle without prescription drugs. I use spiritual gifts first for continued wellness, failing that I use spiritual gifts and a few well known herbs for remission or cure and failing that I would be off to the doctor in plenty of time for western medicine to do it’s thing, but so far that has not happened.

    Vaccines are probably one the of the greatest gifts western medicine has to offer the world. But I would like to see studies that determine if vaccines lower immunity and reports that quantify side effect damage. The vaccine industry did itself no PR favors by dragging it’s feet in removing thimerosal after the public became alarmed, now we live with the remains of that public backlash. I vaccinated my children but I’m cautious preferring to spread them out using individual vaccines when available.

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  50. Bonnie on May 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Mike: last year my sister gave birth to twins, her 10th and 11th children, one with HLHS (I’m assuming you’re familiar, but for others, that means that his heart had only partially formed due to a value issue early in his development.)I felt moved to send her a book, To Him That Believeth and to encourage her to journey a path of faith and see where it led, as the condition was discovered in an early ultrasound. She devoured the book, prayed deeply in faith, and explored all the surgical options available. Babies used to die within a week, going from apparent perfect health at birth to emaciated death seemingly inexplicably. Now the survival rate is around 75%.

    When the first surgery was performed, the aorta was also discovered to be insufficient, and the prognosis turned bleak. Still, my sister held on, believing that she must do all in her power to preserve his life. Every surgery was performed. Even Elder Nelson, visiting for a local conference, stopped by the hospital and gave him a blessing. His blessing, however, was for the parents, and little Logan died a few days later.

    Did anyone do anything “wrong”? I don’t think so at all. We have a failed belief that the end justifies means, when life is a process. I’ve often thought that my son’s experience was much more an opportunity to testify of faith and partnership than a crossroads test. I edited my own version of the post at my blog shortly after I wrote it but was unable to edit it after it was posted here to say that I wish that that experience had been about partnership with the earthly priesthood. That’s, to me, the great lesson.

    I appreciate the continuing dialogue regarding “studying it out” and “acting in faith.” You might appreciate the John Cleese on Creativity presentation, as he discusses this need to alternate between and open and closed mentality, not to merge them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VShmtsLhkQg

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  51. Bonnie on May 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Howard, I concur that vaccines have in many cases been a boon to world health. I simply have reservations about using them indiscriminately or with fragile immune systems. I do, however, plan to fully vaccinate my outgoing missionaries (not just because I have to!) and am not opposed to my older children getting shots that we’ve carefully considered (in single doses, as you note.) And for poor, long-suffering Mike’s benefit, I should also say that immunity is taken VERY seriously around here; I am not a do-nothing non-vaccinator. I wish you success and ultimate healing in your own health concerns.

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  52. FireTag on May 4, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    In the Community of Christ, we have come to believe that it is NORMAL for BOTH sexes to hold the same priesthood power, gifts, and office according to God’s will for them as individuals. (It is probably better to say that priesthood holds people than that people hold priesthood — but that’s another comment thread.) At the same time, we’ve historically believed that priesthood is a specialty ministry, and it is not the purpose of God that ALL worthy individuals of either sex assume that role. Rather, the calls are given according to individual aptitudes and desires.

    I will be fascinated if RS should develop as anything approaching a female “order of priesthood”. It would seem to be a way to reach toward gender equality in a theology in which gender plays such a fundamental role in eternity as it does in the LDS, but not in the CofChrist.

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  53. FireTag on May 4, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I also think that the discussion about “distance healing” :D relates directly to the discussion about the relationship between medicine and laying on of hands.

    If in 1950 God inspires some chemist to develop a compound that has healing properties, and then in 2012 some doctor uses it to stop an infection, isn’t that using a gift of God (rational intelligence) to heal without the healer directly touching the “healee”?

    I admire those who have the gift of healing regularly. Our priesthood are taught that the PRIMARY purpose of the blessing is the forgiveness of sins in preparation for whatever result God wants to bring about. Only once have I felt a direct command during an administration for the sick to pray directly for healing. On the other hand, there have been some occasions where I felt the direct command to strengthen people to prepare to deal with an adverse spiritual outcome.

    But the gift of rational intelligence is something I have always desired.

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  54. Howard on May 4, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    I love the time shifted chemist distance healer concept!

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  55. Rigel Hawthorne on May 5, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    “I suppose it boils down to living in peace with one another”

    I agree with you. We all have, in this church of lay service, the necessity of working with those who you so adeptly described as our “worst nightmare”. We have the challenge to serve them, to serve with them, and to receive service from them. I have a stewardship to serve one high priest in my calling right now who I would describe in those terms. It is not easy for me. I also see that challenge when I give people home teaching assignments and get the response, “I can’t home teach them because of what happened between us a few years ago.” I try not to judge them because I wasn’t in their shoes, but some of the reason I get seem like things they should have forgiven and forgotten.

    I asked the questions I did in 46 because I was thinking about them, not to press you to justify your own thought process, but your description of how you re-evaluated your spiritual promptings and actions is the type of reflection I think is necessary to live in peace with others in our ward family. As the Relief Society ascends, the male priesthood will need to be able to do the same type of reflection to enable the two priesthood groups to coordinate efficiently. The recent worldwide leadership trainings that roleplay the function of a ward council demonstrate some steps to move that direction.

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  56. Bonnie on May 5, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Exactly, Rigel.

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  57. ji on May 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Bonnie, You wrote,

    “I suppose it boils down to living in peace with one another, which is probably more important (and learning to do that is certainly useful education) than whether or not someone was healed.”

    There is truth here. That man was a volunteer and was kindly taking all those boys in the wilderness — for whatever reason, he felt uncomfortable with your son’s condition — he’s a volunteer (I already said that), a neighbor, a friend; not someone hired and paid to provide a service to those boys. May God bless him in his continued service with those boys, and may God bless you with your family, and may everyone live in peace.

    I have been a long-time Aaronic Priestood quorum adviser, and sometimes I have felt pressure from parents to take their son on a far-away trip when that son wasn’t ready or wasn’t respectful — sometimes I have taken him and sometimes I haven’t — but that is my call as a volunteer leader, not a parent’s call. It isn’t right to pressure fellow ward members, friends and neighbors, into doing things that cause them discomfort or fear.

    We err when we subconsciously view our church relationship with a consumerist mindset, or a service-provider (Church) and client (member) mindset — that’s all wrong — a ward’s Scoutmaster is a friend and neighbor, and his taking a kid along on a trip is a kindness. And so on for Primary teachers and everyone else.

    No member of the Church can demand any level of service from any other member of the Church.

    You made no hints about a consumerist mindset, but my thoughts took me there.

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  58. Bonnie on May 5, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    ji – that was really nice. I had never thought about our reactions as a consumerist mindset, but I can see that in myself. I appreciate the pushback, and I will be more aware. I don’t know that I always think as a consumer, but I do tend to be more intolerant of others’ commitment to the kingdom than is kind, fair, or defensible. Thank you.

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