Definitions make a huge difference. Those who have a strong hold on vocabulary tend to use specific words to generate exact concepts. Those who have a weak hold on vocabulary will typically generalize concepts and is more dependent on voice inflections, facial expressions, and body gestures to communicate the same amount of detail. The more we understand, the more difficult it is to be deceived. Satan’s plan is not to make everyone sons of perdition. N.Maxwell said that all he needs to do is get noble men to sit back and take a sophisticated neutral position. The process that Satan uses is manipulating definitions so that he lures saints into justification. He occupies us with rituals of busy-ness. He fills our time so that there is no time to think of the mind and will of God.
This blog will focus entirely upon the words “Inspiration” and “Motivation.” We love inspirational speakers because they seem to motivate us to do or be something we had a hard time doing or being. Steven R. Covey (Seven Habits to Highly Effective People), Bethany Hamilton (the one armed pro-surfer), Donald Trump, Dwayne Johnson (the Rock), and many others. Sometimes as saints we call our general, stake, and ward conferences “motivational.” Among saints we define the general authorities as super star motivational speakers. Many have autographs and pictures of hand shakes with them, that they claim “changed their life.” A good sacrament meeting that makes you laugh and cry and become riveted to your seats are considered inspirational and motivational. These two words are often considered interchangeable. In other words we can say, “…that speech motivated me”, or substitute the word inspiration, and the sentence would mean the same, “…that speech inspired me.” I hope that at the end of this blog you will become more conscious about the difference between the two words and that you will be able to see how it applies to learning by faith.
Inspiration is not the same as motivation. The main difference that I will address is that Inspiration is short lived and motivation is what our lives are built on. for me, the week after general conference is kind of a high. I remember the talks and the feelings and I want to be a better me. But the more distance I get between me and that conference, the more I seem to forget those concepts. Every once in a while you get a great talk in sacrament meeting, you’re lucky if that lasts past the Sunday dinner. Depending on how good that inspiration was will determine how long that will stay on the front of your mind. God knew this. That is why he commands that the saints meet together oft to fast and to pray. That is the reason why we partake of the sacrament every week. That is why he asks us to read the scriptures every day. These are all purposed to be inspirational.
Motivation, on the other hand, is what we build our entire lives around. Motivation is built upon multiple successes. Inspiration gets you to try something, but multiple successes is what motivates you to continue doing it. If I were to ask you, “how many of you proficiently play the xylophone?” Those who are unfamiliar with this instrument would first have to think about what a xylophone is, and then consider if you could play it proficiently. But those who play the xylophone would immediately respond positively. Look at your life and everything you do and continue to do. Why do you do it? Because that worked for you. You got what you wanted by doing the things you do. If you didn’t, then you wouldn’t do it.
I am not saying that motivation and success are the same. I am saying that multiple successes create a momentum, and that momentum of success is what I call motivation. God tries to teach us correct principles. Then, when we obey, the heavens pour out blessings such that we have not room to receive it. However, when we disobey, God doesn’t swallow you up into the core of the earth in rage (compulsory means). God withdraws from you, you cannot receive the same blessings. The only time God smites is when your choices now remove agency from others, and even then, he doesn’t respond immediately and emotionally. God provides each of us room to get along and serve one another.
Many parents wish that their children would somehow become motivated. Parents don’t realize that people cannot motivate, success motivates. Parents can create an environment of success in the home by living clean, using uplifting language, speaking the words of Christ, inviting the Holy Ghost and teaching correct principles. As families work toward Christ their successes will generate a motivation, whose momentum becomes unstoppable.
Sometimes parents try to short cut this process, and get caught faking their kids success. In athletics we call it “politics.” Success is like the oil in our lamps, it cannot be given. Manipulated success can only be viewed by others as success, but the truth rots the inside. When a kid is successful at cheating, they continue to cheat, for that is where the momentum is moving. Parents do a great disservice to their child by manipulating the results, instead of teaching them to fight through form and proper technique. This is what is meant by commanded in all things or compelled in all things.
“26. For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receieveth no reward.”
Yet people wonder why their child is such a sloth. What kind of parent would God be if he told us what to do all the time? Although that is what we, as children, wish he would use revelation for (just tell me what to do…). Notice the switch in words from “command in all things” to “compelled?” When parents try to manipulate our children’s choices, good or bad, we are using compulsory means, we short circuit learning by faith, and can cause our children to repulse the very thing that is best for them. Think about it, agency was so important that Satan was cast out for wanting to take it away. What do we think will happen to us if we do the same?
Learning by faith requires that we pray, study and ponder to know the mind of God. Then it requires us to trust in His mind and act as if he were us. Then we must wait for God’s timing to produce the results. Finally, each successful principle we learn, implement correctly, and patiently await success, will create a snowball effect. The result will be that we will obtain the mind and will of God. We will be one with God as Christ is one with God. Then a voice will tell us, as it did the prophet Nephi in the book of Helaman:
“4. Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5. And now, because thou has done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
Nephi, just as each of us can, learned by faith. He did not rely upon inspiration from other peoples experience. He depended on his own oil, he generated personal experiences with God to motivate him. He sought to know God, to live like God would live, to trust that God would provide. In the end, God came through for Nephi time and time again. This success in learning by faith produced a momentum such that he was trusted of God. It is our eternal life to know God and Jesus Christ. If we do not know them, we forfeit our eternal life because we have the scriptures before us and we choose to know “other things” instead. Let us resolve to begin our transition from trusting in the best books (D&C 88:118) to learning by faith, by the searching the scriptures to recreate God’s mind and will in our minds and hearts, acting on our knowledge of God and accumulating personal success from obedience, so we can develop sufficient motivation to endure to the end. Then we can hear God tell us, “…well done, though good and faithful servant.”