I had just turned on the computer to check facebook to find at the top of my newsfeed page the above post. Earlier I was working on some other things and was interrupted by messages on my phone by the same person who though I've explained that I cannot be constantly answering or replying text after text on the phone when I am focused on doing something on the computer which demands my accuracy and time, the person still repeats the same habit. My immediate thought was about how I've always said I would rather share with others how to fish instead of giving them a fish so that they would never go hungry on their own. Relating 'how to fish' to a 'practical principle' to be learnt, my thinking was how shall I share this practical principle of 'staying focused' to another so that the person will not become hungry again and come back to me the next day repeating the same mistake again due to having not learnt the practical principle enough to apply it. Knowledge and practice is the key to change lives and social media can be the source of good knowledge and inspiration to keep practicing till we can become who we desire to be.
My thoughts went to facebook which caused me to open up the world's most popular social media and this was when I read Fei's post. A light bulb lights up in my mind to respond quickly with my initial thoughts shared in facebook to be followed by my deeper thoughts in my blog post and leave a reference which is how this post started as how some others in the past were initiated as well. I guess when we have feelings, like passion etc we can stay focused better in whatever we are doing and do it more perfectly. For the very same reason some individuals have turned to focus on chats after chats whether on facebook or messengers on the smart phone of today as they may be full of passion to share their thoughts with another and perhaps seek a closer connection. I may be guilty of a similar passion to connect to others but have reminded myself never be forceful nor use intrusive methods to force a connection and respect the need of privacy and peace of others. While I declare a principle that I will never torture another with a 'silent treatment', I also remind some that it doesn't mean they can habitually disturb or threaten the peaceful nature of my life that is possible with communication technology today!
The above photo depicts passengers in a train in Singapore who are either asleep or glued to their phones. Could this happen in Churches?
Maybe this post is really about our thoughts and to highlight perhaps some principles when learnt will not cause us to go hungry again to need external help to clear our negative emotions or thoughts in our mind. The principle behind this post is from the latest theory that psychologists and psychiatrists now believe, ie 'That Thinking has Systematic errors' (Reference) compared to what all used to believe that 'We are all rational people until emotions come to disturb us.' Perhaps both can co-exist and if so we need to deal with the emotional disturbance part. (Reference)
Now I will begin my more specific reference to Fei's observation on behaviors at Church meetings and the comments of several who shared their thoughts. Whenever I hear comments about less than perfect people in the Church, I would immediately turn to a fundamental thought of mine being that the Church is really a hospital for the sick, not one for anyone who is in perfectly good health! So being one myself who is seeking to be made whole at Church, I am often more forgiving to others than to be critical of them. I am also hoping others are also more forgiving of me when I can dose off in a meeting due to lack of sleep or listening to a not so motivating speaker. I admit that I tend to stretch time to do too much in a 24hr day that even trying to complete this post could eat into my sleeping hours. Also some blame can be attributed to my less than optimal blood sugar level control as our family from my mother's side may inherit the weak gene of diabetes where sleepiness is a symptom. Hence suggestions of making notes in a meeting are all very useful indeed to help one stay awake for long hour meetings as a mind over matter solution. Some like our oldest boy on his mission can take it to a higher level of perfection like drawing the faces of the speakers as pictured below!
On the system of long meeting schedules, for those active in leadership especially, we Mormons are known as a people who are always in a meeting, coming from or going to one! As a management consultant in the business world and an active participant in non-profit organizations, I am fully aware that meetings are a vital part of a successful business or organization. How well is the meeting conducted without a time over flow problem and it's effectiveness versus efficiency are important attributes of great meeting! I remember when I was in leadership positions in our branch and district in Kuala Lumpur, I would often remind everyone in our council meetings that all our discussions must always be centered on love and concern for individuals as opposed to purely on logistics alone though that is very important too. It is inevitable to meet together often to build a good team same as a family in a home needing to spend time together to build a happy family. Quality or effectiveness should always be an important consideration besides quantity or efficiency and managing this balance can equate to each human being striking a good balance of using their left and right brain!
Note the inner words of the logo of the Church University BYU Idaho on the far left
The Glory of God is intelligence and many of my useful skills and experience in my business career can be attributed to being trained well in a Church who believes in the statement. Besides spiritual men who taught me, many of them were intelligent men well qualified in fields of business, management and science. I have also learnt in the Church that all temporal commandments are also spiritual in nature and therefore I am motivated to follow as instructed. Instructions or policies do change over time like Sunday meetings used to be spread over time on a Sunday to finally be consolidated to reduce travel time, cost and increase efficiency, a great blessing I hear from the old timers who were members during those times. Now I read that the Church may have tried 2 hour block meetings and as they did experiment with facebook presence and received approval from the First Presidency, I simply have to wait for new official instructions or policy changes to be announced if the format of Sunday meetings have changed.
I joined the Church in Geelong Australia in 1979 remembering the cold experience of attending Church in winter in a rented building where after sacrament we would break for Sunday school held in a kitchen area where the only heat we got was from the stove! I guess it was the spirit that kept us warm to keep us coming back to the small Bellarine branch of the Church. To build a chapel in those days required financial contribution via a building fund additional to tithing payments. Labor contribution by the members with construction skills was also expected when a new chapel would be built. On some Saturdays I remember waking up early in the morning to head to the welfare farm for our turn as a branch to contribute our time in planting pumpkins! I am grateful for the early experiences of sacrifice that became a foundation of my faith in the Savior and his Church today. I am grateful also to the saints in Australia for their continued dedication and sacrifice that allowed me to participate in temple ordinances in Melbourne during my visit as recorded in my recent jounal mentioned earlier. It was a joy to meet with the members I had known in the early days again, to see them faithfully continuing to attend Church in all its meetings.
Now last and not least, what if there are still short comings in the systems or policies of the Church or as some have described it as a problem of bureaucracy? Read the following account by John Taylor on The Organization of the Church :
John Taylor, the third President of the Church, reported: “Some years ago, in Nauvoo, a gentleman in my hearing, a member of the Legislature, asked Joseph Smith how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order; remarking at the same time that it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else. Mr. Smith remarked that it was very easy to do that. ‘How?’ responded the gentleman; ‘to us it is very difficult.’ Mr. Smith replied, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves. (John Taylor, “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339.)
Bureaucratic problems are inevitable in the running of any large organization but I can testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to establish this wonderful Church of ours with divine revelation. Even during my youth when I was called on a mission, the Church had become international and needed to administrate in large territories as well as to find ways to grow and expand missions. I am blessed to be an instrument in God's hand to know the Church is more than just a bureaucratic organization as I had personally experienced the Lord's hand in leading his work in my home country. This is a country that is majority Muslim with bureaucratic obstacles to establish and expand the work of the Church but through divine intervention involving the lives of different people at different times in timely moments, I have witnessed miracles that made it possible for the Church to be established in Malaysia and it will continue to steadily grow because of Him.
I have been taught correct principles and have always sought to better govern myself especially in this advancing and changing world of ours where truths and eternal principles are constantly being challenged. I have learnt and used technology to accomplish meaningful purposes without being held back by any bureaucracy to bless lives or to save souls. One example is that as I had cherished my missionary experience and know that the many missionaries who served in Malaysia or are Malaysians who had served overseas would like to keep the spirit of their experience. I therefore created a facebook group to unite as many such returned missionaries as possible for this very purpose. At the same time, it would also be a useful source to continue documenting the dynamic history of the Church in Malaysia that has yet been published.
In another area of vital importance that I have always felt, i.e. everyone needs attention, friendship or fellowship, I have all my life sought to find ways to be able to provide this in more effective ways. In a large organization like our Church with its system of home teachers, visiting teachers and missionary contacts, some people might actually still fall through the cracks and be forgotten or not given enough attention or love. So here is another area I felt that I could do something without bureaucratic obstacles which can be done by opening up my home to welcome those who may need my attention, friendship or fellowship. As I have been an active person travelling locally and internationally, I would also personally visit family members and friends too, whenever I can, to get a closer connection to them. Again leveraging on technology, I am able to stay connected to more people on social media such as facebook that I've integrated with my written blogs, photos and videos today which Google has reported in my profile that I have about over 700k viewers. With the news that 70% of the people viewing the internet today are using their mobile devices to access websites, I too had to upgrade my websites to be smart phone friendly as in my first attempt at www.familylane.info/photolinks.
Guess my thoughts on the topic of the weakness of Church meetings and the people who attend them has evolved to an understanding that we can always overcome any problem of bureaucracy in large organizations by personal efforts of more individuals to seal up the cracks that exist. We can depend on divine leaders to have the inspiration to continue to teach us correct and needy principles for our lives today. Technology can be leveraged to assist us to become more effective to achieve our meaningful purposes that we desire after we have been taught correct principles as the Prophet Joseph Smith had so declared.
Post-dated event :
Today's date is 6 May 2016. This date is rather special as it is the birthday of my mother that I'm somehow spiritually inspired, during these recent moments of my life, to think about her and make some references to her from my journals like this one. I will expand on what happened when I followed my inspiration to record the special experience in this new one which is a must read!
Meanwhile, enjoy the video below that came about because of my inspiration on this day that seems to link to my daughter, her grandmother and her grand mother's great grand daughter Leah, which encompasses a 4 generation Mormon time line in my family that will be shared in the 'new one' link above that I just started at this time of writing this post-dated event section!