Teaching Individual Worth
The Difference Between Divine Nature & Individual Worth:
I think one thing that’s important is to explain the difference between Individual Worth and Divine Nature. That’s something we just had to do because the girls were so confused about it. I brought two sisters up and explained that they came from the same parents, therefore they both share the same genes and have some of the same characteristics of their parents. It’s nothing they have control over, they inherit those genes as they are born. They may have their mom’s nose, their dad’s funny big toe, or their mother’s sense of humor, etc. We talked about this for a minute and explained their Divine Nature.
For Individual Worth I talked about how these sisters shared the same genes, but each had their own individual talents and abilities. They were completely different from each other, in every sense of the word. That’s what our individual worth is about. We are all daughters of our Father in Heaven and have inherited His divine qualities, but we each have our own individual things that set us each apart.
INDIVIDUAL WORTH – Come in dressed like a bag lady or tramp. Introduce
yourself as Willma Wothless and that you are here to tell them how worthless they are!! Show them a game that you play on the streets with your friends. You take something you stole that is pretty like a glass bell and throw it around, be careful not to hit anyone!! Eventually it will break, if not tell them that it’s more fun when it breaks all over the place. Say, ‘that was fun huh?’ now lets play another fun game we play on the streets. Everyone give me your jewelry (Collect everyones jewelry in a paper bag telling them how fun this game is going to be the whole time you are gathering) Then when it’s
all gathered say thanks!! You girls are so generous and run out of the room, like you just got away with the biggest scam. Come back in and say, “let me start over, Introduce yourself with your real name, then say,”I am a child of God and I am of great worth, each and everyone of you are a child of God and are of great worth too. All the Wilma Worthless also have great worth!”
(Handout – Give each girl a penny to stick in their shoe. Tell them that even though this penny isn’t worth much, that you want them to deep this penny in their shoe this week to remind them that they are of much worth. They are not to take it out of their shoe until they have completed a new goal in their PP books.)
A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, who would like this $20 bill? Hands started going up. He said, I am going to give this to one of you, but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple the bill up. He then asked, who still wants it? Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, what if I do this? He dropped it on the ground, and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. Now, who still wants it? Still hands
went into the air. My friends, you all have learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it, because, it did not decrease in value. It was still worth 20 dollars. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel that we are worthless.
But, no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, or who we know, but by who we are. You are special. Don’t ever forget it!!
Another money analogy I heard a few years ago. A speaker held up a $100 bill and a $1 bill. He said, “If I threw both on the ground, which one would people try to grab?”. Of course, the $100 bill. He said that the essence of the two bills were the same – the ink was the same, the paper/cloth it was made on was the same. The decoration was a bit different, but the counterfeit protections were the same. The bills were the same height, length & width.
The only difference was the value that the government gave the bill.
My analogy – The Lord doesn’t make us exactly alike, but the essence of us is still the same. The difference usually is the value we put on each other. For example, if you ride horses in one town, you are a cool person and in another a “hick”. It’s important that we label each other as “Million” dollar people. You could even use the funny money as a handout – except don’t try to use it at WalMart.
One of my favorite easy activities on individual worth is to sit in a circle give everyone a cookie. You take your cookie and break it in half. Turn to the next person and say something nice about them (it should be sincere). Give the other person half of the cookie. In the end, everyone has a full cookie.
Take one cookie. Break off a small piece and say something about someone who bugged you today. Pass the cookie around, with each person doing the same. By the end, everyone has a crummy little piece that everyone has had their hands on.
Love gets larger as it goes around and everyone gets more when they share. Hate is ugly and destructive.
If you can get hold of a June 1995 Ensign check out the article “Our Divinely Based Worth” by Barbara Day Lockhart. It is a great article about worth being something that you have and don’t have to earn. I used it to teach the YW about individual worth.
I had a class at BYU with Dr. Lockhart where most of the class could not accept this concept. We spent the better part of a week discussing it and still most of the students felt that they had to “do” something to have worth.
She has also developed a “Worth Index” that allows a person to see where they feel their worth comes from. My YW enjoyed doing the index and learning more about themselves. I am working on getting a copy for others to use!
Our value for May was Individual Worth. I combined several ideas from the list plus a couple of my own for this activity.
First, we did the “Caring Cans” activity. This is where each girl and leader gets a #10 can to decorate for someone else. This took the most work. Our President’s husband works at a hospital and he had the food services at the hospital save cans for us. I washed the cans. Then I figured out a list of who each person would give to. This was the hardest part. I wanted the girls to each give to someone other than their best friends. On the
Sunday before our activity, I had the cans for each class in a large garbage bag. Each can had a letter of explanation and the name of the giver and the recipient attached to it. I gave the bags of cans to the class presidents and they handed them out at the end of YW. Also, I had a couple of sample cans made to give the girls some ideas. The Presidency took the cans around to the girls and leaders who were not there on Sunday.
For the activity:
We used the Primary room. I made a paper for each girl with her name on it, the value statement for Individual Worth and a cute clip art. These were printed on bright paper. We taped them around the room. As the girls came in we handed each of them a pencil and had them autograph the papers of all the girls. We had a banquet table for all the cans to be placed on.
After everyone came, we started our activity with the story of the Carpenters Tools Conference. We had a “grandmother” who all the girls love do the story. She was so funny. She made up a different voice for each tool. The girls loved it.
Then I talked about how all of us are important and unique in Heavenly Father’s kingdom. We each have an important mission to fulfill. If we look for the good in others it will help us all to build up the kingdom. Then we all sat on the floor in a circle (leaders too). I had a big ball of yarn. I said that we were all going to think of something nice to say about someone else in the circle then throw the ball to them. The only rule was that
you had to pick someone who wasn’t your best friend. This was so nice. It seemed like the girls with more self-confidence were so good about picking some of the shy or troubled girls. The only problem with this activity was that someone had to be the last one picked. But luckily it was most of the leaders who were chosen last.
After all the girls were connected in a web of yarn, I talked to the girls about the destructiveness of evil speaking and gossip. We talked about how good we felt when someone said something nice about us. Then we talked about how hurtful gossip is and I started to cut strands of the yarn. I talked to them about how even one girl can ruin the unity of the entire ward by saying mean things.
Then we had our YW President read the book “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. If you haven’t seen this book look for it at your local bookstore. It is published by Crossway Books. It is not an LDS book, but has a very profound message about the labels that others give us. It’s message is that God does not give us labels and our only real sense of our worth comes as we develop a relationship with him. The book is a child’s picture book and takes under 10 minutes to read.
Then we let the girls hand out their cans. The cans were so cute. Each one was so different and this reinforced our idea of appreciating other’s differences. We only had 2 girls out of 50 who didn’t come through and bring a can. As a Presidency, we had made extras in case of an emergency. If I did this again, though, I would have someone checking off the cans as they come in so you would know ahead of time who won’t have one. Then you could get their name on the extra cans and they would never know that their person didn’t make one for them.
For refreshments, we had different kinds of popcorn. The girls finished autographing while they ate their popcorn. Each girl put their autographed list in their can and took them home. The cans will stay on their front porch for a month. Then we can all leave goodies for each other. Now I just hope they follow through and no one feels left out because they don’t get much in their can.
I had many girls tell me how much they liked this activity. It was a lot of work for me but I feel like every minute of the preparation was worth it.
We had a personal hygiene/beauty night at mutual this week. One of the speakers did a great job at stressing that beauty comes from within each one of us. That we glow on the outside because of the beauty of self confidence on the inside. She also based some of her
thoughts from Elder Fausts remarks in this last Young Womens Mtg. The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God. You could relate that to the fairy tale princesses and stress that beauty comes from within. We are all princesses born of royal birthright and a prophet of the Lord just gave us the below formula on how we can be irresistible.
“These are challenging times. I believe your spirits may have been reserved for these latter days; that you, like Esther, have come to earth “for such a time as this.” It may be that your most significant, everlasting achievements will be your righteous influence on others, that your divine feminine inner beauty and intuition will find expression in your quiet strength, gentleness, dignity, charm, graciousness, creativity, sensitivity, radiance, and
spirituality. Enhance these sublime feminine gifts. They will make you appealing and even irresistible as you serve others as the handmaidens of God.”
Who Do You Think You Are?
President James E. Faust
I salute you young people as chosen, special spirits who have been reserved to come forth in this generation. You are beginning the struggle to discover who you are and to find your place in life. You have new, strong feelings. You have great challenges. I hope you are beginning to achieve and excel in some special way. Perhaps it is your smile, your personality, or your ability to lift others. Perhaps you are discovering your talent as an athlete, scholar, computer specialist, musician, builder, artist, or in a hundred different areas. This might give you some personal recognition. These accomplishments may cause you to think about who you really are.
Dr. Fred Riley, a prominent social worker, has treated many athletes who identify themselves as athletes rather than as children of God. He relates: “What happens when they can’t play basketball? Their identity is shot” (Quoted in Sarah Jane Weaver, “Developing a Healthy Self-Regard,” Church News, 10 Feb. 1996, 2). Their self-worth is related to their physical skills rather than their character. Many who achieve world-class
recognition may not like themselves. Some of the rich and famous, even though they have great talent and ability, are insecure and succumb to drugs, alcohol, or immorality, and their lives become shattered. Instead of being happy with who they are, they become dissatisfied and discontent. They measure their self-worth solely in terms of their talent and accomplishments instead of who they really are inside. It is not always true that the more you achieve, the happier you will be or that you will like yourself more.
As sons and daughters of God, we are obligated to develop as many of our divinely given talents as we can. All of us should work to achieve worthwhile objectives. We should learn skills and get an education. You will be happier if you know who you are and feel good about yourself.
So who do you think you are? Who you think you are and who you really are can be two different versions of yourself. From an eternal perspective, these two versions need to come together. God knows you and what you can become because He has known you from the beginning when you were His spirit sons and daughters. What you become will depend in large measure upon how you follow righteous principles and do good works.
You may ask, “How do I learn to like myself?” I suggest five ideas that may be helpful.
1. Change bad behavior.
We need to change our bad behavior. We need to repent. As Alma said to his son Corianton, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41: 10). It’s hard to like ourselves if we are doing things that we know to be wrong. Most of you have been taught about good behavior by your parents and youth leaders. You also have the scriptures and the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth to guide you.
In your quest to define yourselves, do not get caught up in comparisons with role models or body types that may seem to be macho or chic but in reality are not becoming to you as sons and daughters of our loving Heavenly Father. One 17-year-old girl became so obsessed about her figure that she began to skip meals and ended up with an eating disorder. When it became apparent to her father, he insisted that she eat a substantial meal. This confrontation ultimately brought her to her senses, and she wrote:
“All my life I had done things for everyone else. The grades, the manners, the awards–everything for them, nothing for me. This eating thing, this losing weight had become mine. It represented me and my choices, and now my dad was trying to take that away from me, too!
“As I lay in bed that night crying and feeling fat, I knew I needed help. I knew I was hurting people I loved.
“After staying up all night, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my dad I hated. I hated ME! I realized that I wasn’t in control. For the first time in my life, I understood that this was my problem. I needed to take control of my life–not let the disease control it.
“Things didn’t change overnight. In fact, it was one long road to recovery. But slowly, with the help of friends and family, I began to heal. Now that I’m at my ideal weight, I have stopped weighing myself altogether. I no longer peruse fashion magazines, either–I may not be ‘in style,’ but I feel just right!” (Gabriella Tortes, ” ‘Gabby, You’re Sooo Skinny,’ ” in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love and Learning,
comp. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger , 234-35).
Feeling “just right” about ourselves contributes to our happiness and our sense of identity.
As we change our bad behavior and turn to the Lord, we qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which has a profound effect upon our well-being. This great gift comes through righteous living, obedience to the commandments of God, and service to others. Parley P. Pratt had this insight concerning the gift of the Holy Ghost:
“It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. . . . It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. . . . It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man” (Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. , 101).
2. Forgive ourselves and others.
Forgiveness is an important part of putting bad behavior behind us. As we make the necessary changes, we need to forgive ourselves. But we may also need to forgive others who have been traveling with us on the wrong path. Forgiveness will help us to let go of the bad behavior we are forsaking. The Book of Mormon tells us how we can know that we have made the turn from bad to good. After King Benjamin had delivered his masterful discourse about Christ, the Nephites all cried with one voice:
“The Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent . . . has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. . . .
“And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy” (Mosiah 5:2, 4).
Feeling joy and peace, we will know who we are and act accordingly.
3. Gain confidence by making good choices.
You are now beginning to make important choices. Choices have consequences. In some measure these choices will affect not only the rest of your life but all eternity. Remember, my young friends, fame and fortune do not necessarily mean happiness. It is far better to have confidence in yourself and to be comfortable in your own skin. This depends upon your ability to choose what is right. It is also important to be able to excel in some field.
Last summer, the Olympic Games were held in Sydney, Australia. Certain rules and disciplines were attached to the various Olympic events: runners and swimmers had to stay in their lanes, shot-putters had to stay within the circle marked on the playing field, wrestlers had to stay on the mat– or the athletes would be disqualified. In addition, the use of performance- enhancing drugs was forbidden.
One young man from Denver, Colorado, who won an Olympic silver medal later was awarded the gold because the gold-medalist in his event was disqualified for using a banned steroid. In his response, he referred to his unfortunate competitor’s loss of the medal:
“I do feel sorry for him. But we all have choices. . . . He made his choice, and I made my choice. . . .
“I believe God was watching out for me. I believe he watches out for all of us. I’ve learned so many lessons from how this has taken place. I experienced the agony of defeat before the thrill of victory. That made me so much more of a stronger person, mentally and spiritually” (Brandon Slay, quoted in “U.S. Wrestler Savors Gold, Even Though It Came Late,” Deseret News, 24 Oct. 2000, D3).
We grow and develop by making good choices. Confidence comes as we decide to pray daily, attend sacrament meetings, keep the Word of Wisdom, obey our parents and priesthood leaders, read the scriptures, and control our bodily appetites.
4. Give service.
If we really want to feel better about ourselves, we should do deeds of kindness. Kindness shapes our character and makes us more like our Father in Heaven. The Savior taught us, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). As we demonstrate our love for others, in turn we will understand better the love our Savior has for each of us and that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. Occasionally we should look for
public service opportunities. Indeed, as a prominent psychiatrist once wrote: “We feel pleasure when we are involved with other people, and they are involved with us, but we feel pain when we are uninvolved and lonely. The path to an acceptable identity in any society is involvement” (Quoted in The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 477). Great satisfaction can come in helping the poor, the sick, the elderly, or others who have special needs. Look around you; there are all kinds of
5. Choose happiness.
The most fundamental of all human searches is for happiness. We each choose our own happiness. As President Harold B. Lee once said: “Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you but on what happens inside of you. It is measured by the spirit with which you meet the problems of life” (“A Sure Trumpet Sound: Quotations from President Lee,” Ensign, Feb. 1974, 78). It will often be necessary for all of us to choose between having a good time and leading a good life.
Each of us is born with natural “happiness” hormones. When stimulated, they secrete powerful chemical substances into our bodies. There are many kinds. Some are called endorphins. Generally when we are in pain or distress, endorphins give us a sense of well-being. Medical science has long known that our mental outlook and well-being affect our physical health. A sign in a large hospital says, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Smiling is good for the soul.
Smiling brings a glow to our countenances that radiates to others. Being friendly to our neighbors, to people at school, at church, or at work is a great way to show the Lord that we want to keep the covenant we made at baptism “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8). I recommend friendliness because so many people are shy or lonely and need a kind word or smile. Lifting others expands our inner selves. It
is also the way of the Master (See Luke 6:31). Like Anna in The King and I, I find whistling “a happy tune” and singing (especially when I am alone!) can also lighten my spirits.
Many years ago my father told us about going for a walk through the woods with an old friend, Judge Bringhurst. The judge sang so loudly along the way that he frightened all the wildlife. But my father said he enjoyed the judge’s singing so much that he didn’t mind not seeing any animals or birds. So when we laugh, smile, sing, whistle, or exercise, we seem to feel better. We either forget our concerns or they are put in better perspective. As we reach out to others, our happiness hormones are stimulated and we find our true selves.
I recall a study some years ago that was made to determine what influences keep young people moving on the straight and narrow track. Of course there were several critical influences. All were important. They included the influence of parents, priesthood advisers, Young Women advisers, Scoutmasters, and peer association. But I was surprised to find that one golden thread of singular importance ran through this study. It was the belief that one day each of us would have to account for our actions to the
Lord. Many believed that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name” (2 Ne. 9:41). Those who had an eternal perspective had an extra amount of spiritual strength and resolve. Feeling a personal accountability to the Savior for our actions and stewardships and responding to it provide a profound spiritual protection.
Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a yardstick by which to measure our personal success. He wrote:
What is success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded
(Quoted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, 248).
So who do you think you are? The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves” (History of the Church, 6:303). Knowing who you are–who you really are—is closely tied to knowing God, for you are His children. Following the simple suggestions I have outlined will help you know God and hence yourself. I believe in you, that you will be obedient and valiant and that you will receive the blessings of the Lord in your quest to establish your identity
as His choice sons and daughters.
(James E. Faust, From the New Era, Mar. 2001, 4-9)
“His Image in your Countenance” (Slide Presentation)
With no apparent beauty that man should Him desire, picture of Christ He was the promised Savior to purify with fire. (Picture of Christ coming in clouds)
The world despised His plainness, but those who followed Him Found love and light and purity; a beauty from within. (picture of disciples with Christ)
Have you received His image in your countenance? (closeup of His eyes)
Does the Light of Christ shine in your eyes? (closeup of YW eyes)
Will He know you when He comes again
Because you will be like Him? (closeup of YW eyes)
When He sees you will the Father know His child? (closeup of YW eyes)
We seek for light and learning as followers of Christ (picture of YW studying scriptures)
That all may see His goodness reflected in our lives. (picture of YW doing service)
When we receive His fullness and lose desire for sin, (picture of YW in front of temple)
We radiate His perfect love, a beauty from within. (picture of Christ)
The ways of man may tempt us and some will be deceived, (picture of bright lights like Vegas)
Preferring worldly beauty, forgetting truth received. (picture of inappropriate clothing)
But whisp’rings of the Spirit remind us once again, (picture of YW in prayer)
That lasting beauty, pure and clear, must come from deep within. (picture of YW)
By His everlasting image in your eyes? (picture of YW by statue of Christ)