Elder Paul V. Johnson: Embracing change
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"Our willingness to accept change in the kingdom helps the Lord hasten His work," Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education said during the Church Educational System's "Evening with a General Authority" held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Feb. 8. "Resistance to inspired change hinders progress of the kingdom."
Drawing from the last half of the New Testament as an example of a major challenge the early Church faced as the Gentile converts were being assimilated as Christians, Elder Johnson spoke of how teachers can better adapt.
"This was a major change for the Church, and many members struggled with it," he said. "The problem was, at least in part, a result of a faulty understanding of the doctrine. ... Their misunderstanding, confusion and hesitancy to accept and make needed change slowed the work and diverted tremendous amounts of effort from Church leaders to deal with this issue. We are better servants and better disciples when we respond appropriately to change. When we don't respond properly to change we hinder the Lord's work."
Adapting to change can be challenging, Elder Johnson taught, but just like Paul — who had been a strict Pharisee and was able to make the change and help the Church with the big challenge — individuals must learn to adapt.
"One of the reasons we struggle with change is that we, over time, can get things out of proper perspective or put a policy or practice in a more central position than it deserves," he said. "We can confuse means with ends. I hope when we face change in the kingdom we can be like Paul and help foster that change rather than reacting like those who fought the change and hindered the progress of the work."
Sometimes individuals can see the need for change, but don't realize that it still takes effort to actually do things differently, he said.
"We can respond appropriately to change by being prayerful, humble and teachable; by accepting new opportunities or assigments with a positive attitude, and by being willing to try new approaches or methods with a sincere desire to improve," he said.
It is also critical to listen carefully to the counsel given by the leaders of the Church, he said.