See also: Sacrament Talk Helps
Topics: progress, well-being, industry, self-reliance, debt
Time: 5-6 minutes plus up to 10 mins worth of possible add-ons (in purple).
Prosper is an intriguing word. For most of my life, I misunderstood its meaning to point to one’s material and temporal wealth. How surprising to recently discover “prosper” is instead a deep word with layers of meaning and probably not about money. It shows up in Mosiah 1:7
Then it shows up again in the same chapter (verse 17) but doesn’t refer to finances at all. This is about Lehi, the Liahona and his family in the wilderness and the last thing they were worried about were paychecks or more possessions to cart around!
Mosiah 1:17 Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty.
Looking up the word online helped me transform my impression of the word. In fact, all of the following definitions do not specify financial wealth.
bloom, catch on, produce, progress, bear fruit, do wonders, get there
Optional (1-5 mins): Share an experience from your own life that illustrates how you bloomed, caught on, produced something greater, progressed, saw success (bore fruit), did wonders, or “got there.” Then clearly reinforce the idea that you “prospered.”
President Nelson explains this principle better than I ever could with his endearing, short story:
“That upward reach, drawn from a knowledge of divine doctrines, transforms souls! May I share an illustration with you? Once, Sister Nelson and I were invited to the humble home of Polynesian Saints who had relatively recently joined the Church. By walking carefully on wooden planks, we approached their house, built on wooden piles emerging from the floor of the sea. We climbed a ladder to enter their little one-room dwelling. As we were invited to be seated on freshly woven grass mats, we could peek through holes in the floor and view sea water below. That home was starkly devoid of furniture, except for a used sewing machine provided by sisters of the Relief Society. But the love and warmth of this special family were apparent as our visit continued.”
“We would like to sing for you,” the father said through an interpreter. He put one arm about his wife and the other about the children, as did his wife. Five little ones, dressed in newly sewn clothing, joined their parents in singing songs the father had composed.”
“Concluding, he said: “These songs express our feelings of deep gratitude. Before we joined the Church, we had so little. Now we have so much!”
“While wiping tears from our moistened cheeks, Sister Nelson and I looked at each other, comprehending that the gospel brings spiritual wealth which may bear little relation, at first, to tangible abundance. Conversely, people with plenty can be spiritually poor. Yet the Lord is concerned for them all!”
“Missionary work throughout the world is part of his plan. It brings the light of the gospel to those who embrace the truth. Then, as Saints learn and obey the commandments of God, they will prosper. This promise has been recorded by prophets throughout time and in diverse places.” (General Conference – April 1986)
Furthermore, prosperity in the world’s tangible, material sense is not always our best friend.
My husband Joel said something which resonated, so I wrote it down. He said, “most people in America spend money they don’t have to buy things they’re told they should have and then become indebted. And they end up more burdened and less happy. People think having things will increase happiness. It doesn’t. People think ‘not having’ is the problem. Instead, it’s ‘wanting’ which causes the problem.”
Optional (1-5 mins): A. share an experience about being in debt and/or getting out of debt and how it impacted your life. B. share your plans for getting out of debt. C. share some general principles about getting out of debt and staying out of debt.
During several difficult phases of my life, I have found that industry and resourcefulness bring joy and satisfaction. It’s not so much what happens to us as it is how we respond to what happens that determines our level of well-being and happiness.
With more clarity, I now understand “prosper” means to have upward movement, success, and increase, which can manifest in various ways, including spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, perspectives, goal-setting, understanding, gratitude, finding one’s way, and well-being. It’s an empowering word!
To you with all my heart…may you prosper.