I am Important as an Individual…

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You cannot be passive in life, or in time the natural man will undermine your efforts to live worthily. You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.

– Richard G. Scott “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

I am important as an individual because of those things of which I am a part; marriage, family, congregation, community, nation, etc.  I am a son of God and the greatest value in that connection is found in service to others.  No matter how I choose to live my life it has value; be it to me or to those that care about me.  It has significantly greater value when I choose to make sacrifices for the benefit of others be they family, friends or strangers. When we choose to live our lives in emulation of the Savior all the goodness we hold is magnified and we grow beyond that which we could on our own.

The true power in the agency we’ve been granted as children of our Father in Heaven is in overcoming inertia.  Too easily we sit where we are in life and make either no or half-hearted attempts at growing beyond the creature that looks back at us in the mirror.  We simply need to stand up, take action, and follow the divine guidance we’ve already been given.  We will grow as we act on the light and knowledge we already hold.  As we choose to do so and act definitively on those choices we will receive greater light and knowledge and grow to our full potential.

Normally Good Americans

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I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I do not think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care—when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men. . . . If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the National Anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers—normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free. . . . Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil but erosion of the national morality.

– Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1968

Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

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I must be doing something wrong…

Last year, I accepted a position working for the Department of Defense. I had to move to a much higher cost-of-living location, accepted a position for essentially lower pay (once you account for differences in cost of living), have to commute 3 hours everyday just to get to & from work, and have to work harder each day while I’m at work just to keep up than I did in my previous position with a private contractor. Truth be told, the benefits package between the two positions was essentially the same.

Where is this windfall of heavenly pay and benefits I’m supposed to be receiving?  Where are those hours I’m supposed to get to leisurely surf the Internet each day? I’m certainly not going to say that every single day is maximum stress but there are never days where I have the time to just sit & surf for my own entertainment on the government’s dime.

I understand that federal employment crosses into a wide range of private sector fields of work but, for me and many of the professionals I work with, this “fed-bashing” tends to be rather demoralizing. Most of us are doing the best we can to serve those whom we’ve taken an oath to support. We work everyday to provide the best product we can at the lowest possible cost just as we would do if we were working for a private contractor. Work ethic is tied to character and isn’t dependent upon wear you work.

I know that in government service, just as in any other large company, there are people who are overpaid and under-worked. I’ve personally seen them both inside and outside of government service.  The biggest problem I see is that we lump all the different sectors of government service into one big whole and make generalizations that just aren’t true. The different governmental agencies operate differently so, if you want to know the truth, compare the agencies against the public sectors they support.  This will give a better snapshot of how pay and benefits compare between private and public employment.

To my friends who feel that I work too little and get paid too much, I politely say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel I get too many benefits, I also (politely) say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel sequestration is a good idea, I vehemently say you’re wrong. Changes need to be made but this is not the right way to do it. Of all the things our government is sworn to provide its citizens, defense is one that was specifically called out by our founding fathers. Weakening our nation’s defense when the world is so unstable is simply wrong. I pray that (soon) wiser heads will prevail.

Source: Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

The Eternal Plan

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Long ago, before the world was, we met with our Father in Heaven to discuss a plan.  The plan would send us to earth, allow us to live mortal lives, and prepare us to live for the eternities with our Heavenly Father once this mortal life was complete.

We all agreed to this plan despite the knowledge that this life would be difficult.  There would be trials, pain, sadness and grief but there would also be joy, happiness, and love.  We knew the plan as a plan of happiness and knew that our time on earth would be limited.

Our Father saw that this plan was right and we fought for the opportunity to come to this earth regardless of the risk.  We knew the conditions in which we would live but we made the conscious choice to come here knowing more importantly what awaited us afterwards.

Though times can be tough, pain severe, and sadness, loss and grief extreme, the joy we will know in the life to come, and can taste even in this life, makes the journey worth any cost.

We come here to learn to live a perfect life, a celestial life.  While it’s not possible to actually succeed in living the celestial standard at all times while in this life we should continually work as though it is.  We need to be prepared such that, when our time is up here, we’re ready to continue our journey beyond the bounds of mortal life.

We come to this earth in families.  Family bonds can and do continue throughout the eternities and this too is part of the Lord’s plan.  Mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters go on and the relationships continue.  The Lord’s plan is for us to build family connections that will extend throughout the eternities.

Though sadness and challenges, small and great, confront us regularly, the ultimate victory goes to happiness and joy.  The endgame has already been written.