By Steve Dragon
I listened recently to a BYU Devotional talk by C. Terry Warner, a former professor of philosophy at BYU. The talk was entitled “Honest, Simple, Solid, True” [https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/c-terry-warner/honest-simple-solid-true]. He tells of being in a BYU classroom where the teacher was talking about Joseph Smith. Brother Warner remembers agonizing over questions to which he absolutely did not have answers: “Can I become like that man? … Can the being I am be transformed to that extent? Can I ever become so honest, simple, solid, and true as he?”
He talks about the façade some of us hide behind: the mask we wear so people around us won’t discover who we really are, and how lonely the maintenance of that mask makes us feel. (I ached deeply to know that he was describing me too well.) He discusses his personal quest to have “all [his] pretensions … collapse completely and leave standing only what was really [him].” He knew it had to do with his own selfishness. He wanted desperately to silence the voice that said inside, “You’re not honest, simple, solid, and true. You’re still in it for yourself. It’s your own agenda that you care most about.” But, as he says, “In a very subtle way my quest continued the preoccupation with myself I was trying to overcome.” As he continued to struggle with that paradox, he eventually came to understand that he was doing it all wrong. The answer, he realized, lies not in finding our own way through it, but in finding “Jesus’ way.” Again, in his words, “Perfect honesty and simplicity consists not in devoting attention to oneself, even when one’s aims are lofty, but in forgetting oneself and responding to others in love, according to their needs.”
After listening several times to this talk, I knew there was a major disconnect between the person I was and the person I needed to be for success in the Rare Faith Facilitator Track. I needed serious work on that same aspect of myself: the tendency to be in it more for myself than for others.
I had read a book several years before by this same Brother Warner called Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves [2001, The Arbinger Institute Inc]. I remembered it was a really good book, but after listening to Brother Warner’s talk and reading the books required for the Facilitator Track, it suddenly occurred to me that I probably did not get out of Bonds all that I needed. I resolved to reread it.
There was a quote early on in Bonds that struck me very deeply this time around. It’s from a novel called The Devils by Dostoyevsky, first published in 1871-72. A character named Stavrogin says something that, for me, tied together Brother Warner’s book and his talk, as well as everything I had learned in Mindset Mastery, Mentor Training, and Facilitator Training. This character says, “All my life I have been lying. Even when I told the truth. For I never told the truth for its own sake, but only for my own sake.”
There’s the façade.
There’s the being-in-it-only-for-myself.
There’s my own agenda.
For a week thereafter, I found myself sobbing deeply inside every time I thought about it. I don’t think I had ever read a more seething indictment of my life on this planet. My. Entire. Life. From my earliest memory to the very moment I read it. But how grateful I am now for that awareness!
Since rereading Bonds and getting back into the Facilitator Track reading, along with participating in discussions on the weekly Mindset Mastery Forum calls, everything is finally coming together. I can now see progress, small but sure, in my desire and ability to serve others “according to their needs.” I’m excited and confident about my ability to change and grow into what I have literally prayed very frequently for over the past decade and more: to be a profitable servant in building the kingdom of God on this earth.
Building relationships, serving others according to their needs, and otherwise seeking to become “honest, simple, solid, true” in “Jesus’ way,” are the things that will bring us the greatest rewards and the greatest joy in our lives. Because of our weakness as mortals, we may tend to back away from such challenges and continue to don our façades. I’m discovering that my willingness to lose my façade and embrace my weakness, accept it as my own, and press forward in spite of it, will keep me “good enough” for all the abundance God has in store for me. That’s something I feel and express gratitude for daily.
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