Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What you SEE is what you DO!

Great care is taken by our Heavenly Father and his leaders on earth to guide children of light to seek more light and avoid darkness.

Then President Marion G. Romney quoted this verse:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, 
As to be hated needs but to be seen; 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace. 

(Pope, Essay on Man, epistle ii, lines 217, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,
 London: Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 383).

This is more than an ANTI PORNOGRAPHY post.  My intent is to share a principle that works in our lives that can work in a positive way.   Avoiding violence, noise, confusion, doom, sadness and yes, images that promote sin is just part of it.  I hope you'll take away the idea that whatever you expose your eyes and brain to inspires wishes, desires and goals that unavoidably determine what you do.  What you SEE really is what you GET! 

I heard an eye opening interview on NPR recently about hoarders.  The point of the story (well done) was to explain how psychologists have discovered that people who hoard junk--and can't seem to throw anything away function visually.  A coffee table or sofa becomes the repository of things they need to pay attention to--dirty laundy, unfinished food, utility bills all get piled up, where these unfortunate souls can see them.  Sorting and chucking is far from their capability.

Years ago I heard about an elderly couple who disappeared.  Neighbors worried about them more than usual because they didn't see them for months.   When authorities were notified and broke into the home the stench was over whelming--not just because of the two dead souls who lived there.  Police had to call in cadaver dogs.  Every room was filled nearly chest high with garbage and keepsakes.  Even the front room had little trails like scouts build in deep snow.

The story clicked with me.  A dear sister was recently released to the sorrow of her counselors, advisors and especially her dear Young Women.  One of my assignments is to gather information for the Sacrament Meeting program including the name, picture and brief profile of each youth speaker.  Young Men have an opportunity every other week, except Fast Sunday, alternating with the Young Women.

To the Young Men Presidency's credit, they follow the process carefully and with enthusiasm.  Two weeks before a young man speaks, he is called, in private and, hopefully, inspiration and charged to pick a gospel topic he feels strongly about.  I am given the name, contact him, often at church a week before and help remind him by taking a nice picture in often shirt and tie, gathering the important details of his young junior high life, writing the profile and sending it to him for approval well before my printing deadline.  It all works like clockwork--like it should.

Not so with the Young Women in our ward.  After months of waiting for a call, sending gentle, loving reminders and a list of young sisters who have spoken this year, I get nothing.   We leave the spot in the program vacant.  The Bishop asks me, gently, what the problem is and we both shake our heads.

Trouble is, this good sister has been fabulous with the young women--mostly because she is one of them.   To be fair, she has a large family of her own who love her dearly, and while she's going through nursing school in her fifties, running a catering company out of her miraculous kitchen and working full time, our former YW President is never on time, frustrates up tight camp directors and folks who don't know and love her with a laugh and "I'll get to it"

As happens too late in these matters, I figured out "the method" that works with her--and the hoarding story on public radio turned the key for me.  For the last few weeks I show up at her opening exercises and sit in the back.   (One developmentally challenged young sister came back once and said, "Welcome to Young Womens......why are YOU here?   With a completely straight face I told her I was thinking of joining.)

The YW President, by our previous agreement, seeing me in back--and darting around in a jolly chaos, guiding one young woman to write the opening agenda, skiddywampus on the white board while another practiced leading the opening hymn stopped everything to meet my need.

"Brother Howe is here to get the next Youth Speaker---who spoke last time?"  (She has never been bound down by mere mortal tools like clip boards, records, watches etc.)  The Young Women know and call out the name.  "Oh, that's right--well," she laughs, "You get to pick the next youth speaker!"

Not the most conventional method--but on reflection it has a certain charm to it.  In this way all the Young Women at once know they'll have a turn. Often they call out names of those in their group who haven't spoken yet this year (We have nearly 30 young women, so most of them will get a chance, if they want to)

One downside is that several young women stay away because they know they might get chosen. That's why the private, inspired, encouraged model is important.   The friendly, tough call out method is for the valiant, the brave, the courageous.   Wall flowers and shy little sisters who want to fit in must submit to the process or, sadly, avoid it.

At the end of it, I invite the young sister chosen into the hall, snap her picture and jot down a few facts about her life and I'm ready to write it up, insert the picture and go forward with the rest of the program.

By showing up and being seen, I got what I needed and the now released YW President didn't have to worry about it.  Unconventional?  Yes, but the result is still pretty much the same.  As I write this I do not know who will replace her--that may happen in a few weeks, but she has helped me learn the truth again that What you SEE is what you DO!  The right kind of visibility is important for such kinetic leaders.

I coach a young man in our ward who has a marvelous set of "pipes"  Just in the ninth grade, moving on this fall to High School, he has a voice that any opera singer or radio announcer would envy.  As part of our process, I encourage him to write down his heros and analyze why they are heros to him.

It's part of our 100 goal exercise taught to me by a wise leader named Rodney Brady.  He is a Harvard Phd who helmed the largest conglomerate of radio and TV stations in the Intermountain West.  On a seat next to mine in a quick hop from LA to SLC he shared his secret to success.  His debate coach in high school challenged him to write down his 100 goals on 3x5 cards, organize them and set about achieving them.  As a result of effectively setting goals for his life in high school,  he now flys his own plane, serves on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, organized and served as President of a big pharmaceutical company and served as a college president.

In that hero exercise, the young man with the "pipes" listed the YW president as one of his heros.  When I asked him why he said, "Because she cares about me!"  At a youth conference at Lake Powell earlier this summer he tried and tried and tried again to ride a wave board behind a power boat.   He told me how the YW President sat in the back of the boat shouting encouragement and suggestions.  He never did get it--but came to appreciate and grow in admiration and love for this marvelous leader.

To some, her method is a bit scattered and a little screw ball--but it's just those qualities that make her loved.  One member of the Bishopric introduced her as a speaker in church by saying, "The Young Women love her because she is one of them!"  She gets it done right away, as long as she can see the problem before her.  She will be missed!


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