Sunday, August 21, 2016


Back in the days when the various units and organizations in the Church spent a lot of time discovering, planning, organizing and participating in fund raising projects for budgets, organization activities, program costs and, if you go far enough back, building funds; we might collectively have been spending more of our time doing these projects than any other function in the Church. Sadly, these fundraising ventures often led to the superseding of those functions of a spiritual nature.

Our Church had for some time been a handy and available resource for the local merchants’ annual floor inventories. So it was not unusual for our congregation to unite on several evenings each year at various locations to take stock of the merchandise on the shelves.

It was a great blessing when the leaders of the Church made the announcement we would no longer be spending these vast amounts of time raising funds, but the great majority of our activity would henceforth be spent doing those things the Lord’s example demonstrated we should be doing.

Anyway, back in the day when such money raising activities were in vogue I found myself periodically in this somewhat unaccustomed activity. Although Kathleen and I have always enjoyed being together and our lives have unfolded in such a way that we have been able to spend an abundance of time pretty much joined at the hip; this was a particular fund raiser that definitely stretched the limits of creative dating.

On one of these special evenings, we along with many of our local Ward members were in a large department store doing the pre-tax inventory of the store’s stock. Since this was long before barcodes and readers, with clipboard in hand, I was, as per instructions ‘accurately’ noting the ‘exact’ count of each item as Kathleen laboriously counted them.

Shoes and shirts were easy, socks and slippers weren't too bad; but buttons and bobbles were impossible. I am sure there were those who, when counting buttons, did the ‘how many jelly beans in the large jar at the fair’ routine and gave an ‘educated’ guess. I am pretty sure the bar codes and readers which have taken over this task have improved the ‘accuracy and exactness’ of the inventories.

Another old tradition which has had to be adjusted with the changes and growth in the Church, is the annual interview we once had with our Bishop and Stake President where we could be guided through a series of questions which helped us take stock of our performance and progression. I don't think that changing this interview to every two years is an indication that we are probably better or more righteous people, but just a necessity and realization that Bishops and Stake presidents and now, in these more latter days, their councilors, have pretty heavy demands on their time and they still need to have time to do their stewardships as husbands and fathers.

Just as we have been left on our own to find spiritual activities to fill the hours left by the void in our lives when fund raising activities were suspended, I think it would be a great idea if we were to continue on our own volition at least annually to take stock of our personal progress and performance. If any of you are blessed with the same nature I am, it would probably be a good idea to have these ‘personal’ inventory interviews on a much more regular basis. Maybe monthly, weekly and sometimes daily would be appropriate for some of us.

When Kathleen and I were being interviewed for our availability to serve as a full time Mission President and Companion, Elder Lee preceded his worthiness questions with the following. ‘If I were to ask your children the following questions what do you think would be their response?’ I guess the reason he didn't ask what my spouse’s response would be was because she was sitting beside me at the time.

I found this to be an interesting way of deepening the experience of taking stock of one’s progress. I feel this technique should be added to but not replace asking ourselves where we might be in our personal progress.

Additional ways Elder Lee’s question might be asked might be:

If I were to ask your Sunday School class members? (If you are a teacher in Sunday School or any organization)

If I were to ask the members of your ward? (If you are the Bishop or some other leadership position)

If I were to ask your fellow workers? (Whether you are a fellow worker or a boss on some level)

I suspect we could add an appropriate question which might be applicable to every interactive relationship we might presently have.

I will borrow from the rich young man who came to the Savior feeling very good about himself and having taken stock of his progress queried ‘What lack I yet?’ (Matthew 19:20) It has always been of interest to me that it only took one short comment from the Redeemer for the young rich man to realize how much he was still falling short.

I almost hesitate to make a list of some of the phases of our stewardships we should be taking stock of, less there might be some who, having gone through the list, find themselves not wanting in any of these areas. I suspect a corollary thought might happen when we are given our recommend after our interview with the Bishop - ‘I must be doing really great since I have been found worthy to enter the House of the Lord.’ It is almost too easy to become self-satisfied in our earthly progression.

Therefore, I write the following questions as suggestions, which might be used as a starting list on our inventory clipboard and which should continually be adjusted and added to during our increased sessions of taking stock.

What lack I yet in my stewardships as husband and father?

What lack I yet in the area of always having loving, caring relationships with my fellow beings?

What lack I yet in understanding about and how I am treating my body as a gifted temple?

What lack I yet in meaningfulness when I attempt to communicate with my Heavenly Father in prayer?

What lack I yet in filling my life with His counsel found in the Holy Scriptures?

What lack I yet in showing my gratefulness for living Apostles and Prophets through studying and attempting to apply their utterances?

Looking back on where we have been, just like an inventory in a store helps the management to be aware of their sales, an occasional review of our personal history can be a wonderful indicator of how far we have advanced or come up unprofitable.

Just like knowing what is on the shelves in each department lets ownership know what they need to do to be prepared for tomorrows opening, when we more accurately and with exactness can measure where we currently are in our progress we will be better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

The further out ownership can have vision of where they wish to be in the future the greater understanding they will have of the steps which are needed for today and tomorrow. Likewise, the more vision we have about the everlastingness of Heavenly Father’s plan the greater understanding we will have of the steps forward we need to be taking today and tomorrow.

It would be a wise and beneficial thing for each of us, the next time we have a few of those moments of time which were freed up when fund raising was removed from our schedules, to spend some of that time taking stock of our progress by using the formula of ‘what lack I yet.’ And, we ought not to forget the many relationship angles from which we can approach this stock taking practice.

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