There is wisdom is doing EXACTLY what we are told to do

I have completed a great deal of formal schooling and I even worked as a professor for about ten years. It was enormously difficult to get the students to follow instructions on anything.

For example, when a class begins, the teacher generally asks students to introduce themselves, whether in person or online. Usually, the teacher would say something like, tell us where you are from, your major, why you are in this course, etc. The list is not long.

However, almost no student remembers to include answers to all the questions as instructed. It just goes downhill from there...

I was torn between making my syllabi too long and detailed, which the students might not read, versus too short where they would not get adequate instructions.

I could anticipate just about every stumbling block I knew the students would have. I tried to steer them away from them.

Most students ended up struggling because they ignored something I had warned them about. If they would just do what I told them, their student lives would have been so much easier.

When I went back for additional schooling I took these lessons with me. I discovered I could read instructions and accurately pinpoint what other students were likely to omit.

By doing everything I was instructed to do, and paying particular attention to other students projected omissions, I cruised through my work with near-perfect scores and many accolades.

Gee, what a novel idea for success – do exactly what you are told. I cannot help thinking that if we gave our spiritual work the same attention we could all excel there too.

Do EXACTLY what you are told with Exactness

There is a scriptural example that most of us overlook. It's Alma 57:21.

The 2,000 Stripling Warriors are the stuff of Book of Mormon legend. They were ultra-committed church members. They stood out.

Their commitment overshadowed the norm and made them special. They obeyed everything they were commanded with exactness.

Their commitment should be a model for all of us.

Unfortunate examples of non-implementation and non-adoption

The Church has good reasons for why it does what it does and for what changes it makes. We may not always understand them, but we should implement them.

Often, time confirms the wisdom of the changes. I implement them on the basis of faith but generally, the Church explains why changes are made.

I'm going to begin with examples from my own experience of things not being implemented or adopted,

1. Changing Relief Society Homemaking meetings to Enrichment meetings

When I was called to be Relief Society president, I was told by the out-going president that Enrichment was just the same as the old Homemaking program. When I looked into things, I discovered it was very different.

For some time, no changes had been made in our meetings to reflect the new guidelines. I immediately sought to change this and implement the new guidelines to the best of my ability. It was an uphill battle. I had particular difficulty in getting the “Topic Presentation” done properly.

I moved from that ward soon afterward. In my new ward, I was called to teach the “Topic Presentation” at Enrichment meetings and did so for several months.

I soon moved again and was astonished that I was called to teach the “Topic Presentation” at Enrichment meetings in my new ward.

The Bishopric shared my astonishment when I told them this when they extended the call. They had not known what my calling had been in my prior ward.

Coincidence? I do not think so.

2. Not implementing the Church’s guidelines on improving teaching.

In the June 2010 Ensign in the “News of the Church” section, there is the following under “Changes to Teacher Improvement Explained”:

In a letter dated November 17, 2006, the First Presidency announced changes as to how teacher improvement should be handled.

Here's what it said:
Changes to Teacher Improvement Explained
In a letter dated November 17, 2006, the First Presidency announced changes to how teacher improvement should be handled.
Some confusion persists. The following identifies what the policy discontinued and what it did not.
It then went on to describe exactly what was discontinued and what was changed.

This change took place over three and a half years before. Why was there confusion in 2010, unless people simply had not read and implemented the letter?

I can understand confusion may have persisted for three and a half months, but three and a half years?

Note: Teaching in the Savior's Way upends all of this now.

3. The Church’s local unit web Sites and broadcast email networks

* A June 4, 2020 letter to local church leaders changed the Ward Website Administrator title to "Communication Specialist". The calling DOES have email ability through Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR).

A momentous change that has had only sketchy implementation worldwide is using the Church’s official stake and unit web sites and broadcast email networks. This is baffling because the web sites and email networks, even in their imperfect state, are superior to anything we could put together ourselves. They are far superior to any paper system.

I thought perhaps it was just the rural nature of my living environment that explained their lack of use.

After visiting relatives in Silicon Valley, and seeing almost total ignorance of these tools, I had to ask, “If they aren’t using them there, where are they using them?”

I've moved around a lot. I first held the calling as Ward Website Administrator in 2007. However, I remember begging for it somewhere between 2002-2004.

Yes, I begged for the calling. I was doing the Sacrament bulletin so I was collecting all the information anyway. I told my bishop I didn't know if it was a priesthood responsibility or if a woman could occupy it but it made sense to combine them. It still does.

However, most wards and branches still don't have any understanding of the Ward Website Administrator calling or anyone called to that position.

The same goes for stakes. The Stake Website Administrator position(s) often go unfilled. Back in 2007, my stake had five Stake Website Administrators at one time, some of them women.

COVID-19 has forced local units to use the broadcast email tool, but it only reaches a handful of possible members. It could do so much more.

Modern examples of neglected and overlooked instructions and initiatives

It's common knowledge that the Church's website contains extensive resources. Some of them are neglected and unfollowed.

However, in this section, I'm going to confine myself to just major efforts and initiatives, many with a secular bent.

Gospel Topics essays

The Church started publishing Gospel Topics essays in 2013. In September 2014, it sent a memo to local church leaders instructing them to use these essays and to encourage their use.

The Introduction on the website explains the essays' purpose and use:
Each Gospel Topic includes a brief overview sharing what Latter-day Saints believe about the topic, links to resources that will help you learn more about the topic, and ideas to help you teach it to others.
Recognizing that today so much information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be obtained from questionable and often inaccurate sources, officials of the Church began in 2013 to publish straightforward, in-depth essays on a number of topics.
There is some familiarity with these essays among local leaders and members, but not much.

These essays are badly neglected resources.


JustServe* was created in 2014. How many leaders and members even know of this resource? From a news article:
The Church created in 2014 to connect volunteers with the needs of their community, as well as encourage collaboration with other service-minded people.
It added the JustServe app in 2015, which identifies volunteer opportunities on the go and links into your phone’s location services, calendar, and map apps.
So, why aren't members and leaders using and publicizing these resources? There are a couple of tentative answers:
  • They've never bothered to find out about them.
  • They've ignored information about them.
  • They aren't doing service.
I guess there are other possibilities, but I don't like any of these answers.

*Note: If you can't bring up the JustServe website, try another browser. Google Chrome can be problematic.

Self-Reliance Program

When I first learned about the Church's Self-Reliance program, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The Church comes out with some pretty marvelous stuff, but this program is really the ultimate.

It's been in operation for several years now and you can't argue with results like this:

Using a survey to track the progress of graduates six months after they completed a course between January 2016 and June 2018, the Church learned:
41 percent improved their ability to provide for the necessities of life for themselves and their families.
61 percent improved their ability to work directly with the Lord to solve their own problems.
40 percent increased their income.
38 percent increased their savings.
59 percent decreased their outstanding consumer debt.
In tracking group-specific results six months after the end of a course between January 2016 and June 2018, the Church found:
61 percent started or grew their own business.
47 percent got a new or better job.
52 percent started a new school or education program.
58 percent of those that didn’t have a budget before attending the course now have and use one.
Gee, how many problems could local church leaders dispense with if they encouraged and promoted this program?

Pathway Connect

What can you say about the greatest educational program in the world ever conceived?

According to the website:
PathwayConnect is a reduced-cost online program that prepares students to start or finish a degree by building spiritual confidence and teaching foundational academic skills. And all course credits count toward a bachelor's degree.
Everybody is screaming about outrageous educational costs, but the Church is the only one doing anything about it.

It even calibrates the cost to the particular country's economy that it is located in. For example, in the United States, it costs $75 per credit hour.

In Eswatini, it costs only $6.50 per credit hour. (Eswatini used to be called Swaziland.) It's only $4.50 per credit hour in Haiti. I think that's the lowest.

The Church is making higher education both affordable and available to everyone in the world. Why isn't that more newsworthy inside the Church?

It's both academic and religious education. Surely local leaders and members would want to take advantage of these marvelous opportunities. Surely they would want to publicize and encourage members to make use of these opportunities.

Consider this marvelous quote as a takeaway of this program:
I’ve never seen anything this powerful in bringing into activity young adults who have wandered away. Stanford Demars, Former Stake President | Providence, Rhode Island
BYU-Pathway Worldwide

This new school was created in 2017:
The First Presidency and the Church Board of Education announces today the creation of a new Church-wide higher education online organization to be called BYU-Pathway Worldwide. This organization will have responsibility for all online certificates and degree programs offered within the Church Educational System. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, CES Press Conference, February 2017.
On this same website it says:
Now more than 500 PathwayConnect locations dot the globe, which are currently supported by a force of more than 2,600 service missionaries and 400 online adjunct instructors.
Why aren't local church leaders promoting and pushing this marvelous school? It's mystifying.

The Point is Simple

If local church leaders don't value and promote the Church's new programs and initiatives then the members probably won't either. Members take their cues from leaders.

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