And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. -Mosiah 4:27
Wisdom and order. I've been thinking a lot over the past months about those words. Those of us familiar with this Book of Mormon scripture often define "wisdom and order" with the other well-known phrase, of simply not running faster than we have strength. But I've been turning it around my mind: That a key to not running faster than I have strength is perhaps found in those two words: wisdom and order. (And about being diligent in being wise and ordered.)
Here are some of the things I've been thinking about in that regard.
Wisdom = Not just having knowledge, but living it.
What knowledge can guide us in not running faster than having strength?
Order means many things, but my thoughts about it in this context, or perhaps in the context of my life and what I need to focus on, is deliberate, prioritized living.
At the Women in Business Conference I mentioned in my previous post, this was the focus of one of the talks given that has lingered with me. In fact, personally, it's about the only message that really lingered with me. (I am so grateful to have been able to be part of a conference where that kind of foundational, perspective-giving message was a kickoff keynote. Truly, I think these principles ARE the key to professional or any other success.)
I think this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell sums her thoughts up well (since I don't currently have a link to her talk -- that should change soon!)
Thus, the Lord has given us what might be called the “wisdom and order” and “strength and means” tests. Unwisely, we often write checks against our time accounts as we never would dare do, comparably, against our bank accounts. Sometimes we make so many commitments that they become like the vines in the allegory of Jacob, threatening to “overcome the roots,” including the “roots” of family relationships, friendships, and relationships with God.
How often do I run around frenetically, too busy, not spending enough time on the things of the most value? (That is something else that was discussed at the conference -- we know what we value, but we often don't put our time with those things we value most.)
More from Elder Maxwell:
After one of the Brethren made a report to President Brigham Young, he was anxious to leave so as not to impose. But President Young said, “Please sit a spell with me. I am weary of men and things.” How often do we “sit a spell” with spouse, children, colleagues, or friends? Unhurried time seems to be worth more than the same amount of time spent hectically....
[A]s far as I can see, Jesus was never hectically involved. This is all the more marvelous when we realize that so much of His mortal messiahship was crowded into only three very busy years....
We can all try to watch out for Martha-like anxiety, which is genderless. It can also deprive us of special experiences if we are too “cumbered about much serving.” Conscientiousness is not an automatic guarantee that we will choose the “good part” which will not be “taken away” from us (Luke 10:38–42).
And one more from Elder Maxwell:
The scriptural advice, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (D&C 10:4) suggests paced progress, much as God used seven creative periods in preparing man and this earth. There is a difference, therefore, between being “anxiously engaged” and being over-anxious and thus underengaged.
It's so easy in this world measured by time to be driven by the perceived lack of it, when perhaps the solution is simply to put into practice what the prophets talk about so often. Put first things first -- God and family. No success can compensate if we don't succeed in the home. Put another way, nothing else matters if priorities aren't in place.
For me, as a mom trying to figure out how to send fewer shallow shoots off in my life and dig my roots deeper, this piece really resonated with me. She, too, explores the notion of being "properly ordered."
For the wife and mother, no matter how talented and accomplished she is academically and professionally, her value in the world of work will never be as great as her value in the home. No one is indispensable in professional life — no matter how brilliant. Wives and mothers, like husbands and fathers, are irreplaceable when it comes to their children and family life. It also helps to recognize that our talents are properly ordered only when directed back to God.
Where I might disagree a bit with her is in her title -- I think the wisdom she shares goes beyond just being applicable to stay-at-home moms. It's possible for a SAHM to not be properly ordered, and it's possible for a mom who's also in the workplace to have her life in proper order. I think Sister Julie Beck sums it up well:
One of the questions that I get frequently is, “Is it okay if I work outside of my home or I don’t work outside of my home?” You have to know that as an international, global, Relief Society president, that question isn’t always appropriate in all of the world’s countries. There are many, many places where if our women don’t work, they don’t eat. So of course they have to work. The question of whether or not to work is the wrong question. The question is, “Am I aligned with the Lord’s vision of me and what He needs me to become, and the roles and responsibilities He gave me in heaven that are not negotiable? Am I aligned with that, or am I trying to escape my duties?” Those are the kinds of things we need to understand. Our Heavenly Father loves His daughters, and because He loves us and the reward at the end is so glorious, we do not get a pass from the responsibilities we were given. We cannot give them away. They are our sacred duties and we fulfill them under covenant.
But that really is the key. How often am I really letting myself be led by the Spirit -- even each day -- in my priorities and choices? How often do I let myself "escape" in my day-to-day when I should be more present?
Wisdom and order. These are principles I have felt the Spirit nudging me about a lot. The trick now is to live more consistently according to the knowledge I feel God is giving me. To live, diligently, consistently, with wisdom.