Sunday, March 6, 2011

Be an Example of the Believers

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Be an Example of the Believers, by Mary N. Cook
First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

Last night my wife and I watched a documentary exploring the increasing prevalence of digital media in our lives, particularly the lives of students (from elementary school on up to college). Digital Nation was an interesting program that raised questions about the fallacy of multitasking with digital things (e.g. attending a college lecture while chatting on facebook and watching YouTube videos really doesn't help retain more information from any of the individual activities than doing them serially). Also in the program was the plight of youth who are addicted to video games, and the frustration that parents feel by it all.

(You can watch the full program, for free, here.)

I was reminded of the parents' feelings as I read Sister Cook's talk this morning. As I watched the show, and again this morning, I wondered why the parents allowed their young children to become addicted to gaming—which took hours out of their lives and negatively affected their grades and learning.

What could these parents do?

What can I do?

In her talk, Sister Cook quoted Brigham Young:

We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.

We may argue that we don't play video games, use Twitter, chat endlessly, or spend countless hours online, but we can still be good examples for our children. After relating examples from the life of Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's mother, Sister Cook remarked:

You may not be raising a prophet as Lucy was, but you are certainly raising tomorrow’s leaders, and your actions are just as tangibly linked to their faith.

In my response to a talk by President Monson from last conference (link), I shared a comparison between the For the Strength of Youth pamphlets of yesteryear and today. Similarly, Sister Cook extolled us to use the teachings of this pamphlet in our lives:

We must model that which is virtuous and lovely by our personal media choices. We must take care that the media we invite into our homes does not dull the sensitivity to the Spirit, harm relationships with our family and friends, or reveal personal priorities that are inconsistent with gospel principles. By example we can help our children understand that spending long periods of time using the Internet, social media, and cell phones; playing video games; or watching television keeps us from productive activities and valuable interactions with others.

The world and access to technologies that can bless our lives may change; however, there is comfort in knowing that we can be examples for our children as we look to the examples of others around us.

Regardless of what the future may hold, as we faithfully live our covenants, our lives will be blessed, as will the lives of those we love.

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