I’ve been thinking recently about application of prophetic counsel and scripture. For one of my classes we read this talk by Elder Oaks, “The Dedication of a Lifetime.” It had a number of really incredible principles that have recently guided my study, thoughts, and desire for more converted discipleship. I’ll share a few I found particularly instructive.
1. Becoming converted is not convenient nor comfortable.
“…a message given by a General Authority at a general conference—a message prepared under the influence of the Spirit to further the work of the Lord—is not given to be enjoyed. It is given to inspire, to edify, to challenge, or to correct. It is given to be heard under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, with the intended result that the listener learns from the talk and from the Spirit what he or she should do about it.” (See Mosiah 2:9, 4:10)
I’ve often heard the spirit comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. As Elder Holland and much of prophetic counsel indicates, living the gospel and becoming converted is difficult, and rarely comfortable. It requires us to forsake, forgive, and change. But that’s the thing about mortality, as Sheri Dew says – our work never stops, as long as we’re serious about immortality. Those moments that push out of our comfort zones are the times when are able to truly feel the Savior’s guiding hand and the Spirit’s influence.
2. 100%
“Some people live the gospel with “short, frenzied outbursts of emotion,” followed by long periods of lapse or by performance that is intermittent or sputtering. What we need in living the gospel is “the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”So what does it mean to obey the commandments, to keep our covenants, and to serve the Lord with “the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime”? It means to be a 100 percent Latter-day Saint, 100 percent of the time. In scriptural terms, it means to follow the direction King Benjamin gave to his people: “I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his” (Mosiah 5:15). […] That is our standard and our goal. This steadfast standard requires us to avoid extremes. Our performance should be the steady 100 percent of a committed servant, not the frenzied and occasional 120 percent of the fanatic. […] I need to issue a caution. The principle I have espoused, that we should pursue steady dedication and avoid frenzied excesses, could be understood as implying that we should have “moderation in all things.” Not so. The Savior has commanded us to serve with all our “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2), to “seek . . . earnestly the riches of eternity” (D&C 68:31), and to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79). He has also told us that if we are lukewarm, He will spue us out of His mouth (see Revelation 3:16). The thrust of my examples is that we should be steadfast and consistent in our dedication, our commitment, and our efforts.”
“Moderation in all things” does not apply in the case of living a dedicated gospel lifestyle. It requires steady, consistent efforts, rather than overzealous outbursts of religiosity.  I want to work on being more consistent, more diligent. 100 % Latter-day Saint 100% of the time.
3. Don’t Subsidize Freeloaders (a.k.a Dating, The Proper Way)
“Men, if you have returned from your mission and you are still following the boy-girl patterns you were counseled to follow when you were 15, it is time for you to grow up. Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. It’s marriage time. That is what the Lord intends for His young adult sons and daughters. Men have the initiative, and you men should get on with it. If you don’t know what a date is, perhaps this definition will help. I heard it from my 18-year-old granddaughter. A “date” must pass the test of three p’s: (1) planned ahead, (2) paid for, and (3) paired off. Young women, resist too much hanging out, and encourage dates that are simple, inexpensive, and frequent. Don’t make it easy for young men to hang out in a setting where you women provide the food. Don’t subsidize freeloaders. An occasional group activity is okay, but when you see men who make hanging out their primary interaction with the opposite sex, I think you should lock the pantry and bolt the front door. If you do this, you should also hang out a sign, “Will open for individual dates,” or something like that.”
This is just…wonderful.

4. Consecrate times of adversity

Sister Oaks: “I think about the painful times in our lives. They will happen whether you are single or whether you are married. You may have a child that is very ill or the death of someone close to you or a period of life that is very lonely. You might lose a child or have a situation you have no control over, such as a lingering disease. I would ask you to consecrate that to Heavenly Father. In Helaman 3:35 we read that if we yield our hearts unto God, all our actions serve to sanctify us, and so any time becomes a blessed time.”

Rather than letting my trials overwhelm or debilitate me, I am going to consecrate that time to the Lord by drawing nearer to him and letting him mold my life more wholly.

“The Dedication of a Lifetime”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
CES Fireside for Young Adults
May 1, 2005
Oakland, California

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