If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are familiar with the premortal “War in Heaven”. It was all about choosing for ourselves.
If you’re unfamiliar with it or need a refresher, here it is in a nutshell:
Before this world was, each of us lived with God in heaven. He is the Father of our spirits; hence, why we refer to Him as our Heavenly Father.
Heavenly Father presented His plan that we, His children, would come to earth and receive a body. While on this earth, we would be tested through our experiences. Our choices would determine our eternal destiny. We would make mistakes and fail. A Savior would be provided to allow us to repent and return to the path of righteousness.
Jesus Christ volunteered to be the Savior—to Heavenly Father would be all glory.
Lucifer then stood and proposed another plan.
In Lucifer’s plan, everyone would make perfect choices; no one would be lost. However, he wanted all the glory for himself.
Then followed the “War in Heaven” … no, there were no bombs. No guns. Just words and ideas exchanged as each of us debated the pros and cons of each plan.
The outcome of this discussion was that Heavenly Father’s original plan was chosen. Lucifer was so upset about not being the winner that he decided to leave God’s presence. About a third of those in heaven chose to follow him.
(*Notice this point: God, our Heavenly Father, the great Alpha and Omega, did not stop Lucifer and those who chose to follow him. He allowed them to chose for themselves their own future.)
Lucifer became Satan. His followers follow him still.
Those of us who chose our Heavenly Father’s plan are here on earth. Got a body? Congratulations, you were on God’s team.
One of the problematic aspects of God’s plan is that we’ve forgotten everything that occurred prior to our arriving here on earth. We are here with our mortal bodies, being tested constantly to see if we will choose God … yet most of us are completely unaware that there is a test going on.
Thankfully, God will judge us based on our knowledge, understanding, and circumstance. God will judge you according to your unique situation. This is not a test that is designed to make us fail; rather, it is a testing ground, meant to teach us. Every moment of every day, we are being taught, through our mortal experiences, how to become more like God.
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our exemplar and our Savior.
Confused about how to handle a situation? Look to the Savior for an example of how to behave and treat others.
Make a mistake in handling a situation? Look to the Savior for forgiveness and grace to move forward.
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” ~Moses 1:39
Everything God does is to teach us and bring us back to be with Him eternally.
Our son is now over 15 months into his mission. Day in and day out, he is teaching people about God’s plan. Our missionary is helping others to understand that their life experiences are perfectly tailored to teach them.
However, his job as a missionary is not to make anyone do anything. His job isn’t to “make” them get baptized. (*Remember, even God didn’t make His children do something they did not want to do.)
Our missionary’s job is to help people see that they have the power to choose for themselves — that through their choices, they choose their own eternal destiny.
About a year ago, a colleague emailed me an article written by Colin Woodard. The article explored how Mormon principles were used within a government urban development and planning setting with much success.
As I read the article, a couple ideas resonated with me:
#1. People do not like to be forced into doing things—show us our choices and let us choose for ourselves.
“Our purpose is not to lead somewhere, our purpose is to let the public see their choices and let them lead,” Robert Grow, president, CEO and a co-founder of Envision Utah, … “They are going to choose the future, so we’re empowering them by letting them see what their choices are and helping them implement those choices.”
This article, although written about urban planning and development made me think, again, on how our ability to choose for ourselves is something deeply inherent to each of us. We intrinsically want to choose for ourselves.
We see this in our children’s struggles for independence—whether at three years old or sixteen years old! Each of us wants to choose our own path forward.
Our missionary isn’t going to force someone to accept the message he is teaching, but he can share the choices with each person. By seeing that there are options other than simply doing the same thing day in and day out, people are given the power to choose for themselves the direction in which they want to go forward.
#2. When given a choice, people will choose what most aligns with their core values — so you need to understand what someone’s values are.
[Alan Matheson said,] “Understanding people’s values was a really important way not just to understand what people want, but to motivate action to get there.”
As this planning committee worked with focus groups to plan for the future, they noticed that even word choice affected how supportive people were for certain projects. Using words like ‘nature’ and ‘outdoors’ motivated people to want to protect the environment more than using the word ‘environment’!
As we teach and share the gospel with others, we need to remember this lesson: What are the values of those we are teaching? As we tap into these values, people we are teaching will want to make the changes God asks of them. No cajoling required. The desire and motivation will come from deep within.
Although not a Utahan myself, I admire the way their committee listened to the values of their inhabitants and planned a future that everyone wanted to be a part of. Their vision and framework has inspired other counties and states to follow their example.
Each of us on Earth already agreed to God’s plan. Let’s help one another by working together and respecting the different viewpoints and values as we all work towards the same goal of returning to live with God again.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.