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Monday, May 7, 2012

A Quote For The Flawed Man

It's sometimes challenging when we are faced with the unmitigated success of those around us. They seem to have the Midas touch where everything turns to gold. We are sometimes left feeling like an utter failure.

For most of these perfect people, things simply aren't as idyllic as they portray them--they just cover it well. Other's just need time for their trials to take root. There are weeds in every garden. I love this quote for the flawed man--championed by Marvin J Ashton.

"Don't burden the rest of us with your successes."

In a talk at BYU, Jack Marshall said, “In the Church, we almost persecute families right from the pulpit, with some of the testimonies: we have 12 children, all married in the temple, etc., etc.” He then quoted a story from The Teacher Within by a Dr. Clark: Elder Marvin J. Ashton was being introduced by a stake president, who managed in his introduction to include information about his own children and how well they were doing. Elder Ashton, as he got up to speak, turned to him and said, ‘President, you go home and kneel down in your closet and express thanks to your Heavenly Father, but don’t burden the rest of us with your successes.”

We all have trials and most of us some success. Hopefully our successes will never be burdensome to those down in the weeds all around us.

Sunset Cell-Phone View of Salt Lake Temple from Hotel Utah

3 comments:

  1. I have ben thinking about this today a bit. Do you think that sometimes we get caught in the trap of 'burdening others with our success' because we equate blessings with righteousness? You know - I must be doing lots of things right because I have all these blessings. And we want to be righteous, we try to be, and then pride creeps in and we want others to know just how righteous we are because, well, we are working at it and want some good feedback. So just in case they may have missed how well we are doing in the righteousness dept we tell them - or at least let them know how many blessings we have. It is not the same as being grateful or counting blessings (really better as a private activity anyway). I think we all know the difference. But the shades are there and sometimes it is easy to fall prey. Just a thought.

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  2. Blessing are often the result of righteousness. But don't forget "For whom the Lord loveth he achasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Hebrews 12:6)." Think of the life of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith Junior, John the Baptist, Paul, etc. Chastening doesn't alway equate with unrighteousness. Life can be a suck-fest for the very best among us.

    I suppose there is a whole spectrum of reasons why we can be burdensome. I've know some people that are malicious in the way they laud their successes over the rest of us. 'There can only be 1 winner and it's me.' It's not enough to be good, they have to highlight their goodness by systematically putting others down to magnify their position. If it's a gospel-centered success, any merit they claim is immediately disqualified by their malignant narcism (pride would work here too, but MALIGNANT NARCISM has a certain ring to it.

    There are certainly those that are without guile and have no ill-will. They tend to be much less burdensome because their successes are not so much braggadocio but are self-evident by the way they live. Often these folks have an attitude that is inclusive and encouraging of others, rather than alienating.

    We all have insecurities that make us crave positive feedback, love and affirmation. This creates a tendency to over-compensate when we have a success. It is a cry for attention and acknowledgment.

    When I give a lecture, I find myself often saying 'it's a good question'. One of the doctors here was commenting and said 'saying it is a good question doesn't make it a good question'. So true. I guess by extension when we say we are successful or happy or that our life is perfect doesn't actually make it so. Sometimes is just so much wishful thinking. Are we just trying to convince ourselves that 'all is well in Zion'?

    I think we are charged to be good and have successes in our life by living the gospel. As we do, it will be apparent to those around us. It will provide opportunities to feel happy and count our blessings. It should bless the lives of those around us if we are free of pride and have the pure love of Christ that motivates our actions.

    It's a bit scary wondering if I'm burdening other with my successes. I suppose you could do it and not know the extent to which you do. At what point does narcism become malignant and when it just a healthy sense of self-worth. When does worthy become self-righteous. It would be nice to create an app for that. Let me know when you figure it out and we'll do a joint venture.

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