Knowing at what level to compare your child
(written in 2011 for the prosperity tribe)
A few years ago my children were a part of a charter school that assists homeschoolers by providing them with elective options that are not easily taught at home. We met once a week and attend fun classes. The catch was they had to take a state exam. The school enforced the importance of having the children do well on this test and so they emailed the parents tips or “cheats” on how to increase your score on the test. I was shocked at some of the tips; they had nothing to do with how much the child knew or how well they wrote. The test was to be checked by a computer on the number of key words used and what key elements were used to create a paragraph. The youth are extremely busy satisfying the state and now the nation’s requirements and very little time on the Lord's.
There is a huge focus on "passing the test", worrying about the child being "at level"; and getting "good grades". When did we stop focusing on "laying hold of every good thing"? How much time are you devoting to teaching your children to increase their "spiritual level"? Do they know how to “pass" the Lord's test? Do you know the Lord's requirements?
There was a study conducted concerning the effectiveness of the mormon missionaries in the field. They wanted to know what the largest factor was in helping them become effective. The results were surprising! They had expected church and/or seminary attendance, family prayer and Family Home Evening to be the highest, but it was not. The highest result for helping them become the most effective was personal study (Russell Ballard, “Making of a Missionary”, Oct. 1976). Do we find quiet time and are we comfortable with being alone with God to receive individual inspiration and spiritual answers to physical problems?
Do your children know how to be quiet? Are they comfortable being alone with God? Do they know how the spirit speaks to them as an individual? If so, how much time do they spend quietly with the Lord? The scriptures tell us to "let ALL thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord." (Alma 37:36) What are your children spending the majority of time thinking about? What are you thinking about?
Satan’s main goal is to get us to stop thinking. He does this in many ways, first, by filling our time with distractions, busy work, addictions, entertainment, appointments, etc. Second, he decreases our desire to read, write, and communicate well. Third, he instills in us the belief that we do not need to increase our learning or continue our education (the brethren say we should be life long learners). Fourth, he introduces us to slang and keeps us away from the true meaning of words. And Fifth, he takes away symbolism. In the English language we use many words to describe something; in God's language he uses few words and teaches at many different levels. How is Satan working on your family? It is important to learn how to be mindful of your thinking so Satan can’t control it with negative, mindless thinking.
Here are five principles that will help you know where you are with the Lord's requirements or God’s level (D&C 130:21) and how to combat Satan's plan (Alma 12:17). They are called The 5 Key Spiral Principles:
1 - I am a son (daughter) of GodI AM: This principle is about knowing who you are and teaching your children who they are: children of God; divinity within. You are a complete whole within a complete whole. Teach this by teaching them the characteristics of the Godhead. You cannot understand your own character until you understand the character of God. (Joseph Smith) Tell stories, play games, spend time, act, and prompt them to do what is right. This step is taught between ages 0 and 8.
2 - I Listen and Follow the Holy GhostI LISTEN: This principle is about becoming spiritually fluent, knowing how the spirit speaks to you as an individual. Teach your children to listen to the spirit and follow its promptings. Teach this by letting them make decisions on their own and seeing the consequences. Talk about the experience. Be an example and share your own stories of triumph. This step is taught between ages 8-12, just after they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. You are teaching them how to use it.
3 - I Understand What I have LearnedI UNDERSTAND: This is the principle of learning, bringing what you have been taught in your minds (knowledge) and bringing it down into your hearts (understanding). This is when your learning becomes part of you. This step is taught by asking good questions, teaching etymology (the study of words) and symbolism (understanding God’s language) This is taught between the ages of 12 - 15. You are helping them learn how to combat Satan's plan.
4 - I Choose to Act in ChristI ACT: This is the application principle. Now that you know and understand, how will you make this part of my life? Teach this by teaching them how to use their faith and to know the difference between doctrines, principles and application. Give them opportunities to share, teach and serve. Encourage them to write down their plans and find ways to stay accountable to the things they want to improve on. This is taught between the ages of 14 - 18. Allow them to act for themselves.
5 - I become changed, increase in growth, when I follow steps 1 - 4I BECOME: This is the new level, the celebration principle. At this step you are able to share and help others succeed.
At this last step of achievement, you’ll often find “rest.” But not for long, because you’ll get bored and want to create again or find something that challenges you again. Therefore, the 5 Key Steps becomes a spiral and you’ll find yourself again at step one, remembering who you are, listening to the spirit telling you about your next adventure, project, person, or challenge. Then you’ll study, learn all you can about it and go to work, take action and once again arrive at a new level.
These principles allow you to find and follow the Lord's requirements. My oldest son, who said he would never like geometry, came to me a few days back and drew out a shape and began teaching me what he had learned about God through a few shapes. He testified of Christ and His role as the first- born son through a few simple shapes. He had taken simple principles and used them to think, and think deeply. We know this by the Principle Effect, how a simple principle stemmed from doctrine, affects our life when we learn its many meanings and it leads us to righteous action. When you teach your children true principles, allow them to think on their own and to create what comes naturally and from God, they will become the men and women God wants them to be. You will know that they are at the correct level.