Monday, 27 June 2016

Sister Nelson's 3-Day Challenge

A few weeks ago, the wives of a few General Authorities visited our area to speak with the women of the LDS Church.  The meeting was broadcast to several other church buildings across Southern Alberta and some of British Columbia.

What a wonderful meeting!  I enjoyed the talks that were given, but especially that of Sister Wendy Nelson, wife of Elder Russell M. Nelson.  She is so funny!  I'd love the opportunity to listen to her speak again.

Elder Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson.
[Photo by Matthew Reier.]

The 3-Day Challenge

Sister Nelson told us of a challenge given to other women some time ago and challenged us to do the same, which is:
  1. Prayerfully study Elder Nelson's conference talk from October 2015, "A Plea To My Sisters."
  2. Choose an attribute you want to have.  Then complete the statement: "I want to be a woman who..."
  3. Develop that quality.  Analyze the way your life would be with that perfected quality.  Choose one activity a day in which you will exercise that quality.
  4. Try this for three days and keep a written log of your progress and experience.

My Attribute To Perfect

There were a few lines that rang true to me.
“'We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. … 
“'We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.' 
"Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. ... 
"Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who ... express their beliefs with confidence and charity."

I love doing those things in the first part of the quote, but I felt that they weren't things I needed to work hard to develop right now.  Instead, I decided to focus on the qualities related to having "the gift of discernment," learning "how to make important things happen by [my] faith," and courageously defending morality and families by expressing my beliefs "with confidence and charity."

I want to be a woman who can detect the shallow and dangerous trends in the world that reject morality and the sanctity of the family unit - anything that defies the doctrine of Christ. 
I want to be able to detect all forms of deception, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. 
I want to have the faith that I can make important things happen, especially in regards to expressing my beliefs not only with confidence -- like many do -- but also with charity and compassion.

How To Develop This Quality

Now, what would my life look like with the gift of discernment?  It is such a hard thing to imagine!  I got the idea that if I broke it down into the most basic concepts, maybe I could figure it out.

  • The most basic version of "the gift of discernment" is being able to distinguish good from evil.
  • The doctrine of Christ teaches what is good and what is evil.
  • Conclusion: I can study the doctrine of Christ.

  • The gift of discernment is a "gift of the Spirit."
  • The Spirit (or Holy Ghost) communicates God's will and knowledge to me when I need it and/or ask for it, according to my obedience to God's commandments and God's will and timing.
  • Conclusion: I can live worthy to have the Spirit with me at all times and pray for guidance.

  • Communicating the hazards of following "the shallow and dangerous trends in the world" requires me to open myself up to others.
  • Faith to be heard and not ridiculed is required to express my beliefs, especially because of how personal they are to me.
  • Conclusion: I can increase my faith to do hard things by taking the chance to express myself.

  • I can communicate my love by listening to others and being careful not to judge others based on their trials and weaknesses.
  • By expressing why and how living the commandments has made my life more wholesome, I show how it might improve others' lives if they did so as well.
  • My experience does not define all outcomes or the best solution for someone else's trials in life.
  • Conclusion: I can describe my experiences but then be sure to listen even more closely to others' experiences.

After breaking it down, wow, what a lot of work to be done!  But it's in small, simple steps. It's doable.  Of course, three days will never be enough to perfect this work.

Day 1

Today, after breaking down "the gift of discernment" into its most basic parts, I began exploring the connections between the above noted conclusions.

I studied 2 Peter 1:5-9 and found that if I build on my faith by adding virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity -- and strengthen these so that they are always abundant in my nature -- then I will always have a knowledge of Christ and be able to "see" (think: detect!).

Then Moroni 10:4-5 which relates to asking for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, which will "manifest the truth," that I can "know the truth of all things."  The Holy Ghost will help me detect truth from falsehood, good from evil!

Personal Assignment:  I will ask Heavenly Father for the gift of discernment and ask for an opportunity to use that gift. 

Day 2

Today I decided to study Elder Bednar's talk, "Quick to Observe," which describes the gift of discernment and other related gifts of the Spirit, especially under the header "The Importance of Being Quick to Observe."  This quote sums it up quite well:
"... We learn that the gift of discernment operates basically in four major ways. 
"First, as we 'read under the surface,' discernment helps us detect hidden error and evil in others
"Second, and more important, it helps us detect hidden errors and evil in ourselves. Thus the spiritual gift of discernment is not exclusively about discerning other people and situations, but ... it is also about discerning things as they really are within us. 
"Third, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in others
"And fourth, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in us."

While reading this talk, I discovered that I've already had moments in my life where I've used the gift of discernment or "the gift of being quick to observe."  More often it has been with a focus on seeing and bringing out the good in others (the third point).  I want to extend that influence by working to strengthen all aspects of the gift of discernment.  I want to see and understand the good and evil and errors in myself and others better.  (Now that part about "in myself" ... that's going to require some humility as well for full effectiveness.)

I liked this part as well: "Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong. It helps us distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is merely nice."  So often these issues seem to pop up!

Personal Assignment:  I will ask Heavenly Father to open up my mind to be able to make the above kinds of distinctions.

Day 3

Like I said before, three days is never enough time to perfect or experience one attribute to the fullest.  I haven't identified any specific incidences in the last few days that require my detection of good and evil, or of errors.  I believe that there probably were a few instances but that they are so commonplace that I don't even think about them.

What I've learned the most from this exercise is that the basics are so important.  Living God's commandments (ie. taking baby steps) makes it easier to attain other attributes over time.  I know that I've been lacking in those basic parts of the gift of discernment and that it is so important that I take the time now to strengthen those areas first.

Personal Assignment:  I will take the time each day to study the doctrine of Christ and pray to have the Spirit with me.  I will do my best to keep the commandments so that I can have the guidance of the Holy Ghost at all times.

Will you try this challenge too?  How did it go for you?


  1. This is awesome! Thank you for sharing.

  2. You have excellent analysis skills and you're so organized. I really enjoy reading Elder Nelson's talks over and over -- and Sister Nelson's talk from the World Wide Devotional five or six months ago. I enjoyed your thought processes and conclusions on your topic this week. It's so important to feast every day on the teachings of Christ and His servants. Strengthens us. Strengthens those we mingle with and those we serve when we've studied and we have the Spirit strongly with us.


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