Self Development


I have received permission to share the following interchange. I share it with the hope that it might stir some thinking and sharing.


Dear Wally,

Here’s another notion we have in the Church that troubles me – Self Mastery. I suppose, like many things, it may be a matter of semantics. But I think that Self Mastery, like Self Esteem, is highly over-rated.

Week after week we have people show up at 12 Steps who want to get control of their lives. They seem to work on the premise that there are two choices; either get control of your life or lose control of it. The notion that what we really need and ultimately, what is required, is to give control of it to God. That third option is rarely addressed by anyone but me in these meetings. Even the missionaries called to provide the program repeatedly teach as though there were only the two options. I’ve approached them about it and by now, if you were to ask them, they’d say there were three options, but their words often betray the fact that they haven’t really internalized the third option.

I will not deny that taking control may be a precursor to giving control, just as attempting to keep the commandments is a precursor to surrendering our lives to God. Once we finally discover the impossibility of it, we must either surrender to Satan or surrender to God. It comes down to that every time in my opinion. Maybe, like you said the other day , this is just a concept that can’t be taught by anyone else but the Holy Ghost. Maybe it is just something a person must attain unto in the course of living and struggling. Maybe it’s like receiving your Calling and Election, something that just can’t be conveyed in a merit badge system that is explicable enough to
share from the pulpit.

We don’t seem to want to learn what Orson F. Whitney tried to teach us when he answered William Ernest Henly’s Invictus with a poem of his own. What do you think?



Dear Candleman,

Your note made me think about C.S. Lewis who described himself as the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. He felt that he was dragged kicking and fighting to Truth.

That is also like Alma or Paul or . . . .

So I am not sure I would concede that we must conquer ourselves so we can then turn ourselves over to God. That idea might be a concession to false doctrine–kinda like we must first get rich so we can really contribute to the kingdom. What must happen is for us to recognize our total dependence on God. Total. Dependence. What we turn over to Him will always be imperfect.The quality of our offering is not the question. The totality of our offering is the issue.

I love how Ammon said it: Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles
we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

I think that Satan always wants us to stir a little silliness into theTruth. I think that self-mastery–as commonly understood and taught–is a distraction. A better description is the Lord’s (He has a way with words!!)delivered through beloved Joseph:

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to seethe salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

We do the little that we can. But the hinge point is to stand still with the utmost assurance. Then and only then will we see the power of God manifest–in our lives and in the world around us.

Blessings to you,

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