Thunker’s Weblog


Light Or Dark or Medium Well

Robert Wheadon-126x150

When I was in junior high school, I loved doing theater.  Specifically, musical theater.  I believe this predilection for the stage and grease paint comes from my dear mother.  She loves Broadway musicals and would watch, “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma,” or “Annie Get Your Gun,” at every opportunity.  It was a great way for a kid to learn and love this type of music and performance.

So, it wasn’t much a stretch for me to get involved in my junior high productions of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “Oklahoma.”  They were a blast!  I got to shine on stage, sing, act and clumsily dance.

 

Being in the spotlight reminded me of some of the words in the beautiful Sermon on the Mount.  The Savior taught:

“14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:14-16.)

Part of the reason I enjoyed theater so much was the attention I received.  I was in junior high, trying to make sense of life, and the positive accolades from parents, family and friends were wonderful affirmation.  Who doesn’t like an occasional high-five every now and again?  At 14, I know I did.

Receiving compliments does have an addictive quality, though.  Any performer will say one of the joys of performing is receiving the acknowledgements of an appreciative audience.  However, one of the things I learned over time is the difference between receiving compliments and seeking compliments.  It’s one thing to be praised for a job well done.  The intent changes, however, if I start asking, “So, did I do good?”

That mentality demonstrates a search for praise, a desire for attention and a longing to fulfill an emotional need through the words of others.  It’s a flimsy foundation on which to build one’s self-estimation.

And when we do that, we are facing the wrong direction.

What I mean is when our focus, our efforts, our attention are directed towards obtaining praise or recognition,  our hearts are not in the right place.  We are only gazing in a mirror rather than directing our attention outwards, searching for those in need.

The Savior put this perspective into a divine perspective.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:1-6, he counseled:

“1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

¶And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

On the surface, the examples cited above, both from the same sermon, seem to give contradictory counsel.  The first admonishes us to shine, let our good examples show for all the world to see.

The second seems to advise the exact and total opposite.  The Savior counsels to not display our giving to the poor, (the alms,) or in living our religion in public.

Although seemingly contradictory,  they are clear when we examine the verses through the lens of intent.  The direction given by the Savior helps us identify and define our intent.  We should not be looking around waiting for someone to notice our nice act.  We shouldn’t be pummeling the first person we can find over the head with our good deed and asking, “Did I do good?”

The motivation should all be from love for Heavenly Father and for His children.  Our actions then arise and flow from that love and desire to be like our heavenly parent.  Reward is not even part of the equation.  Trying to emulate the Son of God in our daily lives brings so much more joy.

Helping those in need, comforting those who mourn, lifting those in despair, loving and assisting the poor are all acts of a follower of the Savior.  Those properly motivated actions convey in humble ways how we follow the Savior’s admonition to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” (Matthew 11:29.)

It is how we shine and glow on our mortal trek on knowing and becoming like the Savior.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments so far
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I love this. I love Facebook as much as the next person and I especially love the stories of those who are hero’s. The man who helps the homeless guy, the girl who buys a cake for someone without. I love them all. However, while loving them I also sometimes wonder what happened to those private tender mercies. When did it become something to publicize. Most of the time it is not posted by the person who was kind, but, I still hold dear to my heart those tender acts of kindness that do not go praised. Thanks Robert for the reminder.

Comment by Jenny

This could be titled Undoing Attention Whorism 101. The emotional praise can become an idol, and can seriously distort who we perceive ourselves to be, aside from derailing us on our purpose. Great post!

Comment by Not So Random Chick

Yes. I believe our gifts are from God and we should recognized them that way. 😀

Comment by thunker




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