Moderation is NOT the Key

Last Sunday, I was assigned to teach the lesson in Relief Society entitled "Work and Personal Responsibility."  I had over a month to prepare, and I went a little overboard in delving into the doctrine of work.  One of the fallouts of that fact is that I had waaaaaay too much material and had to pare down quite a bit.  Even then, I found myself only covering 2 of my 5 identified goals during the lesson due to lack of time.  FAIL.

One of the items I didn't get to introduce was the idea of balancing work and leisure.  Early in my preparatory readings, I recognized the tension between work/activity and idleness.  There was often a strong caveat though:  leisure is an essential part of personal progression.

But a caveat to the caveat:  "It is so easy for leisure to turn into laziness."*

So, what's a faithful Saint to do?  How does one find balance?

The riddle kept coming into my mind:  which weighs more a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?

Neither, they weigh one pound.  However, for the idea of how we balance our time engaging in various activities, it has interesting implications.

If work can be represented by feathers and leisure time by lead, we can start to catch on as to how we are to balance the two.

I found myself so intrigued by this thought that I began to test its application to other difficult balancing acts.  What would this model say about our call to "be in the world, but not of the world"?

On a not entirely unrelated note, I find myself often cringing when I hear someone repeat the maxim "Everything in moderation."  The simple fact is, we  Latter-day Saints are not a people of moderation.  We are extreme and unyielding in the things that matter most.

There is not moderation in our abstinence from the substances listed in the Word of Wisdom.  Moderation is not found in our zeal in spreading the Gospel.  And there certainly isn't any moderation in our worship of the Lord.

I would say, however, that there is more of an idea of balance in all things for the Saints, especially when we include the modifier "appropriate balance" in the discussion.  If we balance our many competing priorities and our many calls to be Latter-day Saint and human using the model above, I would be very much in favor of an adage exhorting us to have divinely mandated balance in all things.

*Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 362.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is the semantics of use of words but I would say moderation fits in our gospel. We are exhorted to "..not run faster than we have strength" which I think sides with moderation but I can see how balance can be used instead. I guess moderation denotes a one-sidedness at a moderate pace whereas balance denotes two sides in balance with each other.
With the Word of Wisdom it even states the word moderation but I could be wrong and am too lazy to look it up right now. Food is one area that can be debated as having one side and needing moderate tenancies in consumption of it or you could debate that it needs to be in balance in calories burned, input needs to be in balance with output. Like I said, semantics. When discussing gospel principles such as discipleship and consecration it is easy to assume balance fits the bill but it can also be argued that, as the apostle Paul suggests, life is a marathon where a slow steady push is what is needed. I have learned this as I have gotten into running.
I use to always have a sprinter mentality where I push really hard so that I can rest sooner. This is a dangerous view to have in the gospel because I have found that at the end of that push, the Lord has something else in store for you and it is all ready for you to start right away.
So balance can work here but I would use caution because one can use rest as a motive to push harder to get there faster when really it is the Lord that dictates our rest periods, not us, don't you think?
So, in closing, I don't think you are wrong, just throwing out a caution for those that may use the thought of rest to quickstep their way through a calling or whatever else and actually end up burning themselves out when their rest doesn't come when they think it should.
So perhaps there needs to be a balance between moderation and balance, as funny as that sounds. Just throwing it out there. Sam

Lauren Kay said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Sam! I think that we're thinking along similar lines, but just calling it different things.

I will say, however, that the Word of Wisdom does not mention anything about moderation. This is a HUGE misconception on the part of Latter-day Saints. When we talk about the commands contained therein, we so often say things like, "As long as we have moderation in all things, we're living by the WoW." But, in reality, the WoW is a radical document. It doesn't say use alcohol, tobacco and tea/coffee in moderation, it says don't do it AT ALL. If you strip your mind of what you think about moderation, and actually read the words on the page, you'll see that its language regarding our diet is also very radical. And this document is for the WEAKEST of the Saints (as stated in the revelation's introduction).

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