You are the fellow that has to decide
Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside.
You are the fellow who makes up your mind
Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind
Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar
Or just be contented to stay where you are.
Take it or leave it. Here’s something to do!
Just think it over—It’s all up to you!
What do you wish? To be known as a shirk,
Known as a good man who’s willing to work,
Scorned for a loafer or praised by your chief,
Rich man or poor man or beggar or thief?
Eager or earnest or dull through the day,
Honest or crooked? It’s you who must say!
You must decide in the face of the test
Whether you’ll shirk it or give it your best.
Nobody here will compel you to rise;
No one will force you to open your eyes;
No one will answer for you yes or no,
Whether to stay there or whether to go.
Life is a game, but it’s you who must say,
Whether as cheat or as sportsman you’ll play.
Fate may betray you, but you settle first
Whether to live to your best or your worst.
So, whatever it is you are wanting to be,
Remember, to fashion the choice you are free.
Kindly or selfish, or gentle or strong,
Keeping the right way or taking the wrong,
Careless of honor or guarding your pride,
All these are questions which you must decide.
Yours the selection, whichever you do;
The thing men call character’s all up to you!
—Edgar A. Guest
I talked about dreams and goals in my article last week. Many of us have been thinking about our dreams as we set goals for the New Year. Some of us may have already abandoned or tossed aside a goal or two. As Edgar Guest says, it is all up to you to decide whether you are contented to stay where you are or continue to strive to be a better you.
One of my lifetime goals is never to shrink from the task of making myself a better person. It is easy to become discouraged and think you can’t overcome a problem or a character fault. Since when is life easy? Many of the best goals require hard work and a lifetime of practice. No musician ever played at Carnegie Hall without practice and hard work. Works of art at the Louvre were not thrown together by haphazard amateur attempts. Hundreds of hours of study and practice are required for greatness.
Each person on this earth has a gift. It is a great responsibility to decipher your particular gift and develop it. We are not all artists and musicians. Some of us are given gifts of a very different nature. For example, to some is given the gift of compassion; to others the gift of discernment between good and evil. Those gifts can be hidden away, or developed into something great. What if Florence Nightingale had not discovered and developed her gift of compassion? That would have been a tragedy. What if Abraham Lincoln had not practiced his gift of discernment between good and evil? Would slavery have continued in the United States for 50, 75, or even 100 years after his death?
We live on this earth for such a short while—only a tiny blip in time. It is our choice whether to use that time for good, or to waste it with trivial, earthly matters. If we are diligent in seeking out those gifts and talents we have been given—and then practice them daily—we can use them to benefit mankind and to further Christ’s work on the earth and glorify our Father in Heaven.
. . . seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me . . . .
I recently turned 60 years old, and it has been cause for reflection and self-evaluation. I’m not afraid of getting old. I’ve earned every grey hair and every wrinkle. I do wonder, however, if I have used those 60 years wisely. How many missed opportunities to do good have there been? Have I yet discovered all my gifts? Have I fully developed the gifts I have discovered? When I’m at the judgment bar, I hope I’m not asked why I didn’t discover a certain gift—or worse—shown who I could have helped if I had only developed and practiced a gift.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
As I work on my goals this year, I will be thinking a great deal about my spiritual gifts and how those gifts can be used for good. I want the Savior to be able to use me to further His work on the earth. I’ll never be a concert pianist or an acclaimed artist. I won’t be a Jonas Salk who saves millions of lives with a vaccine. My gifts are different from their gifts—but each gift has been given to me by a loving Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. Now I must decide whether to face the test, shirk, or give it my best. I must decide whether to try for the far away goal or be contented to stay where I am. I hope I never decide to be stagnant. I want to live to the best of my ability.
May our goals be those that will benefit mankind. May we find and practice our gifts from above. May we choose the kindly, unselfish, and honorable way. May we always be our best selves and live our best lives.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.