I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Don't Let Creeping Change Creep Up On You, Especially in a New Calling!

Called to the Work,

Accessed August 15, 2016 from the LDS Media Library.

I've addressed creeping change before. It's a theme that needs to be revisited constantly. So, here it is again; but with a new twist.

Creeping change is change that comes incrementally, without people intending to make changes. It is insidious change; because people usually aren't aware of how much change has occurred or what the standards really should be.

Most people happily go along with the status quo, because it is what they are used to. You have to go back and revisit the basics before you continue with past practices or change them.

Getting a new calling gives you the ability to avoid creeping change by encouraging you to go back to the basics and essentials of what you should be doing.

Let's assume you have just received a new calling. What is the first thing to do?

Here are my guidelines:

1. Read up in Handbook 2 on the Computer or Other Digital Device!

Okay, why on the computer? Simple. Only the digital copy of the Handbook is accurate. There have been additions and changes. You need to know what they are. You cannot rely on the printed copy of the Handbook to be accurate.

You should read the following at the very least:

For example, you need to know the Church's new policies on social media. You will only find it online. Access 21.2.22 and look for the link to internet.lds.org for specific guidelines on using social media in your church callings.

Remember, President Monson said there is safety in the handbooks:

You may think you know how to handle situation, but in fact, you may be on the wrong track. There's safety in the handbooks.

2. Find Out What Your Calling Should Entail.

Go to LDS.org and look at the navigation items. Working from the left to the right, click on Serve and Teach. From the drop down menu, look at the middle column and go all the way to the bottom. Click on All Callings.

There are 20 different categories. Identify where your new calling resides on click on it. This isn't rocket science. If you will be working in the Primary, then click on Primary.

There will be links directing you to Handbook 2 guidance, as well as other guidelines. Make note of these emphases.

3. View Videos on the Leadership Library

If you are unfamiliar with the Leadership Training Library, you must access it promptly and review all its guidance that relates to your calling. Some is general guidance and some is specific to callings.

Examples of general guidance include the resources on the right under Leadership Principles:
Everybody needs this general guidance. Look at the top of the screen to find specific guidance, like Bishopric, Relief Society, Primary, etc. View all the listed videos.

4. Connect With the Person Most Recently Released From This Calling

This is such a no-brainer, I almost hesitate to mention. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? Not so.  Outside of the Mormon Corridor, this is not as common as it should be.

Whoever preceded you in the calling can give you valuable advice, help you avoid landmines and help you refrain from rediscovering the wheel.

5. Meet With Your Current Leaders And Get Their Guidance

This includes members of the Bishopric, Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders. Every calling has a chain of command. Make certain you've connected with yours before you start doing anything.

6. Teaching Calling? You've Got A Lot to Do!

The Church just rolled out a bundle of new teaching resources. If you are a teacher anywhere in the Church, you've got a lot to do. Access the new teaching resources at teaching.lds.org and get to work!

Keep going back to these resources, especially 1, 2 and 3. They will help you from getting off track. If you are already on track, they will help you stay on it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stop Trying to Apply Secular Tools to Spiritual Things

A young woman writing a note on paper.
Accessed August 5, 2016 from the LDS Media Library.
We occasionally hear of well-intentioned efforts by individual Mormons and LDS leaders to address some particular problem in the Church.

Consider this recent example of a, "Goal Planning and Personal Performance Contract" supposedly issued by an Arizona stake.

Contracts of any sort are generally a secular legal tool used to enforce some sort of secular agreement. Contracts can be litigated in court, if necessary, to ensure all parties abide by the contents or punish them if they do not.

There is no spiritual supreme court wherein to enforce spiritual contracts so what use are they in a spiritual setting? To me it seems like a misguided attempt to use a reasonably popular secular tool to address a spiritual problem before the spiritual problem has been correctly identified.

I suspect there are multiple reasons for returned missionaries struggling, going inactive or leaving the church entirely. I think this is best diagnosed by considering the individual in question and attempting to understand what is going on with him or her.

What is more, you only need a paper relationship where there is no trust. Consider that all the covenants/ordinances we receive or perform do not involve a written contract with Heavenly Father. Records are kept of these covenants/ordinances, but these records are not structured like secular contracts.

Another variation on this idea is parenting contracts or behavior contracts. This is a thinly disguised attempt to manage families like we do our businesses. If you, as a parent, try to utilize them, don't be surprised if your children start exploiting legalistic loopholes in the language.

For example, a mother told her daughter she must be home by 1 a.m. The daughter came home at 2 a.m. justifying herself with the rationale that it was daylight savings time and clocks were moved back one hour. Therefore, she was on time. What could the mother say?

One also wonders why the creators of this R.M. contract didn't pay more attention to what the Church provides. In July, 2015, the Church notified us all that a new tool called, "My Plan" would soon be rolled out and available on the missionary portal.

Announced by the First Presidency, the tool is intended "to help returning missionaries use their mission experiences to plan for continued, lifelong discipleship." This collection of eight interactive lessons seems intended to address what the Arizona contract is trying to address.

All of this is actually symptomatic of a general problem infecting the Church: Ignorance or laxness in exploring church instruction and tools that already address the issue we are dealing with.

However, I feel like a broken record on this topic. The most obvious example is one I've written on extensively -- the LDS.org tools the Church provides for wards and stakes. In fact, people spend more time trying to duplicate or get around these tools than it would take to master them. The Church has made them straightforward and intuitive but simple instruction does exist.

I think Satan enjoys when members and leaders continue going around in unproductive circles.