See also: Sacrament Talk Helps
Topics: listening to the Spirit, negativity, self-improvement, mindset, conquering thoughts
Choose the sections you want and put them in any order.
Time: 8 minutes plus up to 10 minutes worth of possible add-ons (in purple).
Section 1 – Divine Discontent
Neal A. Maxwell (an apostle and incredible wordsmith) coined the phrase “divine discontent.” Recently, Michelle D. Craig shared it again in General Conference (Oct 2018) and explained, “Divine discontent comes when we compare ‘what we are [to] what we have the power to become.‘ Each of us, if we are honest, feels a gap between where and who we are, and where and who we want to become. We yearn for greater personal capacity.”
Some days, I regret not making better choices with my thoughts, energy, and time.
Optional (1-3 mins): The most effective thing you can add to your talk is an experience from your own life that illustrates a moment when you experienced divine discontent. Since this talk focuses on thoughts and inner voices – try to relate it to that topic. Simple stories about simple everyday choices work well because most people can relate to them and apply the advice to themselves. However, share whatever story you feel inspired to share. When straightforward and forthcoming, you liberate others, to be honest with themselves and absorb this helpful topic. (Note: Don’t share how you resolved your personal example just yet.)
Section 2 -A Verse to Ponder
Sister Craig next quoted Ether 12:27 (my comments in black brackets are for emphasis only).
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness [I’ve got a list]. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble [well, that worked]; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make [those specific] weak things become strong unto them. [How on earth, right?]
Sister Craig went on to clarify that “weaknesses can be a blessing” and “discontent becomes divine when we humbly approach Jesus Christ with our want rather than hold back [our shortcomings] in self-pity.”
[Or hold back because of denial, blaming others, making excuses, self-doubt, and self-loathing].
Some of our best prayer experiences happen when we are honest and forthcoming about ourselves. We open up space inside our heart and soul which gives the Heavens something to inspire and work with.
Section 3 – Understanding
The prophet Ether, Neal A. Maxwell, and Sister Craig all contribute to a higher perspective and understanding:
Our greatest weaknesses and frequent sins are bridges to our best selves and a compass that points to our greatest strengths.Shawnie Cannon ~ Divine Code
This quote may sound hard to believe at first, and you may find yourself saying, “oh no, not MY sins.”
Let me share my own story as an example. Please note: your story will be the most influential and effective with your group of people. Preferably substitute your own story or add it before or after the following account.
“I vigorously argued with this piece of enlightenment [the quote above] as it pierced through my heart and couldn’t comprehend it at all. Finally, I decided to test Sister Craig’s advice and lay my current, biggest guilt at the feet of the Savior. My prayer (more or less), “Okay Lord…how can my sins which beset me frequently, my greatest shortcomings possibly have ANYTHING to do with some better, stronger place I’m supposed to arrive at”?
My then-current battles were thoughts of negativity and other misguided, inappropriate thoughts of others.
The answer came in force and is now a meaningful, memorable ah-hah experience. Basically, I am to steel up my mind, be in charge of my thought processes, and willfully direct them and redirect them when necessary. (Directing thoughts is an intentional habit and an acquired skill – it takes practice, but the capacity does increase with effort).
The Spirit also let me know I spent too much time and thought space on the opinions and disapproval of others. For example, if someone attempted to critique or shut my heaven-inspired paths down – I would follow up with trying to justify my actions or ideas to them. Self-doubt and discouragement would follow those attempts. In a way, I let disapproval be my guide rather than the Spirit (to be fair – ignoring others is much easier said than done).
Eternal Truth: I don’t have to run around and make everyone okay with me. I only need to be right with the Savior.Shawnie Cannon
Since that experience, I have vastly improved on intentionally directing my thoughts and not bowing to others’ opinions. Opportunities to study the concepts of mindset and self-talk literally dropped in my lap. Heaven’s guidance and help proved liberating. It was definitely worth the discomfort of humbling myself, calling out my dragons, and seeking the Savior’s help. When I look at my struggles back then and compare them to now – I can see substantial growth and a notable increase of peace and inner confidence.
Optional (1-5 mins): Share the resolution or inspiration about your experience with divine discontent and where counseling with the Lord in prayer led you next. Highlight your growth, your new strength, and insights. Tell your story by itself or before/after mine, whatever flow feels best to you.
Section 4 – Come Follow Me
Another guidance for thought processes and choices comes from Alma, chapter 3:
26 And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.
27 For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth* to obey...
*listeth; to please or to choose
Section 5 – Wages
Our mind is a 24/7 theater for the competing enticements of Light and Dark. However, the two do work differently. Light whispers and involves the finer reflexes of our hearts. On the other hand, Dark is loud and works by jamming our channels with doubt, immorality, and resentment. In short, the enticements we adopt and spotlight on our mind stage become our choices of whom we “list to obey.”
Have you ever noticed how your thinking affects your attitude, productivity, and happiness? I’ve also noticed whatever thoughts I entertain on my mind’s stage influence how I perceive, treat, and interact with others. Whatmore, thoughts transform our relationships for love or contention.
Thoughts are powerful and can lead to actions which steady and upgrade our lives. They can set fantastic ideas into motion. Or they can squander and neutralize our whole day with poor choices, inferior moods, second-guessing ourselves, and undesirable outcomes.
Section 6 – Wrap It Up
My good friend and former bishop, Tom Howell shared, “In order to have agency and choice, we have to be enticed by both temptation and whisperings of the Spirit. Each time we choose good…we glorify God.”
Upgrading our thinking processes is essential for our soul’s development and success. We must deliberately keep thoughts in check and direct them. How do we cold-shoulder the devil’s loudness so we can dial into the Spirit’s finer influence? Adjusting our environment and friends whenever we can, is undoubtedly a significant help. For sure, recommitting ourselves to prayer, inspirational music, scriptures, good conversations, quality relationships, kind deeds, and sacred ordinances also tip the scales mainly in our favor.
Optional Prep: Quick 80 second video about Alma 3:26-27