There are two basic principles that helped these young men become like the sons of Helaman. Even though the boys’ mothers were not members of the Church and did not understand the words of the Lord, priesthood leaders became like their fathers, and leaders’ wives became like their mothers.
These nine boys—I call them the “Boys of the Lord”—learned that they would be blessed when they listened to the Church leaders, even though they didn’t always understand why. They became like Adam, our first father, who when he made an offering to the Lord was asked by an angel, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” They became anxious to be obedient and to serve the Lord with their whole hearts.
They also learned that attending their Church meetings was very important. President Ezra Taft Benson said in his speech entitled “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright’ ”: “May I now direct your attention to the importance of attending all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way.” As they attended their Church meetings regularly, the boys felt the great love of the Lord and learned how to apply the doctrines and principles of the Church in their own daily lives. They also learned how to participate in meetings with great joy and happiness.
Such communication begins by your encouraging each one you teach to participate rather than be a passive listener. In this way you can assess their understanding of what is taught, create a feeling of ownership, and also learn from them. More important, their decision to participate is an exercise in agency that permits the Holy Ghost to communicate a personalized message suited to their individual needs. Creating an atmosphere of participation enhances the probability that the Spirit will teach more important lessons than you can communicate.
That participation will bring into their lives the direction of the Spirit. When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, while they may not realize it, they signify to the Holy Ghost their willingness to learn. That use of moral agency will allow that Spirit to motivate them and give them more powerful guidance during your time together. Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the other five senses.
I believe that days one and two (to use the analogy of the six days of creation) for most of us involve getting more control over the body - such as getting to bed early, arising early, exercising regularly, eating in moderation, staying at our work when necessary even though tired, etc. Too many are trying to conquer other higher weaknesses (day four, five or six), such as procrastination, impatience, or pride, while still a slave to their appetites. If we can't control our tongue (a part of the body) or overcome emotions of anger, envy, jealousy, or hatred. Can I truly love and gossip also? Algebra precedes calculus.
Many pray for the blessings of days five and six (love, spirituality, wisdom, specific guidance in decision-making), and are unwilling to obey the laws of days one, two, three, and four (mastering appetites and passions). One may give lip service to the principle of consecration and yet not participate in the quorum projects or magnify his home teaching calling.
Within three seconds of beginning my talk, I could tell. I could tell who had learned the skill of being in the audience and who hadn't. And I'm worried that it might be permanent.
The good audiences were all the same. They leaned forward. They made eye contact. They mirrored my energy right back to me. When the talk (five minutes) was over they were filled with questions.
The audience members that hadn't learned the skill were all different. Some made no eye contact. Some found distractions to keep them busy. Some were focused on filling out the form that proved that they had been paying attention.
What I discovered: that the good audience members got most of my attention. The great audience members got even more... attention plus extra effort. And, despite my best efforts, the non-great audience members just sort of fell off the radar.
This isn't a post about me and my talk. It's about the audience members and the choices each make. It's a choice your employees and your customers make too.
It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that information is just delivered to you. That rock stars and violinists and speakers and preachers and teachers and tour guides get paid to perform and the product is the product. But it's not true. Great audiences get more.
Great audiences not only get more energy and more insight and more focused answers to their questions, they also get better jobs and find better relationships. Because the skills and the attitude are exactly the same.
I am too much of an optimist to believe that the lousy audience members in today's program are stuck that way for life. But I know that the longer they wait, the harder it is going to be to change.
The next time someone says, "any questions," ask one. Just ask.
The next time you see a play that is truly outstanding, lead the standing ovation at the end.
The next time you have an itch to send an email to a political blogger or post a comment or do a trackback, do it. Make it a habit.
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