12 O be wise; what can I say more?
At the end of a five-chapter sermon, Jacob gives his people this succinct and practical advice: be wise.
We generally know what is right and what is wrong. We might build layers and layers of justifications, distractions, and rationalizations, but if we can peel all of that away and connect with our conscience, we know what we should do and how we should do it. I wrote yesterday about looking beyond the mark, which I interpret as the tendency to search for distractions when we’re trying to avoid doing what we know we should be doing. In this passage, Jacob seems to be saying, “I’ve taught you and called you to repentance. I can’t do any more for you. It’s up to you to do what you know you need to do.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard shared one of the ways we can behave unwisely: by becoming so focused on a goal or an assignment that we neglect our other responsibilities.
Occasionally we find some who become so energetic in their Church service that their lives become unbalanced. They start believing that the programs they administer are more important than the people they serve. They complicate their service with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. They refuse to delegate or to allow others to grow in their respective responsibilities.
As a result of their focusing too much time and energy on their Church service, eternal family relationships can deteriorate. Employment performance can suffer. This is not healthy, spiritually or otherwise. While there may be times when our Church callings require more intense effort and unusual focus, we need to strive to keep things in proper balance. We should never allow our service to replace the attention needed by other important priorities in our lives. Remember King Benjamin’s counsel: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27) (“O Be Wise,” General Conference, October 2006).
Elder Ballard gave the following advice to help us to “be wise” in our church responsibilities:
- “Focus on people and principles—not on programs.”
- “Be innovative.”
- “Divide the work and delegate responsibility.”
- “Eliminate guilt…. Catch others doing something right.”
- “Thoughtfully allocate our resources of time, income, and energy.”
- Make sure that the assignments we give to others anchor them without overwhelming them.
Today, I will follow Jacob’s advice and be wise. I will strive to keep the responsibilities in my life in proper balance. I will avoid “[complicating] my service with needless frills and embellishments,” and will focus on the task at hand. I will “do all things in wisdom and order.”