The Elusive Balance

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Glenn L. Pace

On one side of the spectrum is the person within or without the Church who sees very little need to call upon the Lord because this person is a scholar. . . . The other end of the spectrum is just as dangerous and is probably a greater threat to the majority of this audience. A person on this end of the spectrum thinks like this: "I know the Church is true and I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am a worthy member of the Church and, therefore, have access to the Spirit." When faced with a problem he will pray for an answer, and the first thought that comes to mind is canonized. I would propose that an idea or solution that comes without appropriate reasoning is nothing better than a hunch. There are times of instant inspiration, but they are rare and usually involve an emergency.

There is a sentence used in Church circles that sends a chill up my spine. It's a perfectly good sentence that packs a spiritual wallop when used by someone who has been acted upon by the Spirit, but unfortunately is too often used by those who have wandered off-center in the spectrum. I've heard it said in my ward, at Church headquarters, and I have said it myself. The sentence that turns me cold is this: "I feel real good about it." Every time I hear it, I see a red flag go up. It's a perfectly good way of expressing a feeling of the Spirit, but far too often the literal translation is "I haven't done my homework." Some very bad decisions have been made by people who "feel really good" about something they have failed to reason out in their minds.

With those two extremes in mind, I would now like to give some examples that might help us inch our way into the center of the spectrum or toward that elusive balance.

Approximately five years ago I learned a great lesson while laboring as the new managing director of the Welfare Services Department of the Church. We were at a critical stage in the history of welfare. It was time to go through an agonizing reappraisal of the program in light of current world conditions. The specifics are irrelevant to this discussion except to say I was beside myself with worry and concern.

After praying for a solution, I had a terrific thought: "Glenn, you have access to the Quorum of the Twelve and to a member of the First Presidency." What a resource! I called for appointments and met one-on-one with these great men. I poured out my concerns and added my feelings that we were at a stage where further revelation on the subject was necessary. Then I sat back with my yellow notepad and Cross pen and waited for pearls of wisdom.

I received a total of one pearl from all of those interviews: "Brother Pace, I commend you for your concern and conscientiousness in finding solutions to these weighty matters. I, too, have some deep concerns and anxieties, and you are absolutely right, we do need revelation. Now, go get it!"

Who, me? I was an employee of the Church, not a General Authority, but I had the responsibility to bring forth well thought-out recommendations to the Brethren that could be confirmed, modified, or rejected in the appropriate forums. It was my obligation and right to receive inspiration, but it came with intense, agonizing study, research, and meditation.

Excerpt from:  Pace, Glenn L. "The Elusive Balance." BYU Dev. March 25, 1986