December 30


Discover Principles

By Tresta Neil

Called to Learn, Language, Principles

Certainly we all want to instill in our children correct principles that will be anchors and guides for them throughout their lives and help them govern themselves. Understanding more about principles will help us to better teach them.

Principles are discovered NOT created or invented.

Do you know how to discover them?

There are two types of principles, causal and sequential. Causal principles are principles that cause change. They usually have multiple causes and/or multiple effects. Sequential principles follow a sequence of natural events.

Causal principles are discovered by looking for cause-and-effect relationships between two or more changes. You do this by analyzing the actions, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals or groups, and identifying the blessings or consequences that came as a result. Here is how:

Discover Causal Principles by: 

  1. Choose a whole concept from an inspiring story, poem, talk, piece of art, music, etc. something filled with light and truth and touches the heart. Research the context around the concept.
  2. Discover the FACTS by asking questions like, 
    • “What is the moral or point of the story?” 
    • “Why do you think the writer included these events or passages?” 
    • “What did the author intend for us to learn?” 
    • “What are some of the fundamental truths taught?” 
    • “What does God want me to understand about this?”
    • “Is there any consequences/blessing to an action or behavior?” “If so, what?”
  3. Write a clear, believable, simple, "if-then" or cause and effect statement of principle. For example, "If I keep the commandments of the Lord, he will prosper me in the land." This helps us UNDERSTAND the message the Lord desires us to discover. In the introduction of "Eternal Marriage Student Manual" we read, "In a religious principle the if part is a statement of general counsel from the Lord. The then part is the promised results of obeying or disobeying that counsel. God determines the then part according to His wisdom."
    For example: 
    • “If we choose to obey the Lord, He will be with us” (Shadrach , Meshach  & Abednego  in the furnace)
    • “When we make and keep covenants with the Lord, He permits us to enter His Holy house.” 

Sequential principles follow a sequence of natural events. It is a relationship between two or more changes in which one change does not cause the next, it just naturally precedes it. Don't get confused with a procedure which is a sequence of actions performed by a person. The growth of a plant follows sequential principles. Following a recipe is a procedure.

Sequential principles may be linear (with a beginning and an end) or cyclical (with no beginning or end).

Cyclical principles are sequential principle of natural events that repeat the same pattern, they have no beginning or end. An example is a seed grows into a plant, into a flower into more seeds and continues the cycle or the life cycle of a frog or our circulatory system.

Other cycles are the Agency Cycle or the Pride Cycle, these are cycles you can change, stop or “jump off” by the choices you make.

Linear principles are sequential principle of natural events that do not repeat, they have a beginning and an end. An example would be the history of the earth or the Plan of Salvation. One event does not “cause” the other, it naturally occurs.

Discover Sequential Principles by: 

  1. Looking for natural patterns, things that happen one after another naturally. Things that make a logical progression, that are natural links.
  2. Looking for patterns that come after or before each other 
  3. Write out their order in a cycle or a line.
  4. Ask yourself, "How does this principle APPLY to my life?" Make connections between this principle and your life. If this principle speaks to your SPIRIT, choose an action and commit to do it. 

Teaching with principles is far more effective than teaching with procedure or concepts. For more see, The Principle Effect at

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