Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Esteem others as yourself

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.
25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. (D&C 38:24-25)
This little bit was given in the context of a commandment to teach one another, and my husband, who was studying the quality of virtue, asked me what I thought practicing virtue had to do with esteeming everyone as oneself and with teaching. In thinking about it, I decided that perhaps it had to do with that saying “it takes one to know one” in that a teacher who practices virtue will be able to see it in his students and believe his students have it too.

We tend to think that others feel the same way about things as we do, so if we are determined and practiced at being virtuous, we will assume others are determined that way too.

For the last few days I’ve been trying to esteem others as myself and I’ve noticed I’ve been more generous and helpful. Instead of seeing requests as interruptions, I’ve thought about those requests as equally worthy as my own concerns, and thought, “If I were them, I would want extra help too, so I will help.” In the last month, I’ve also been in some teaching situations in which I tried to esteem the students as myself and I witnessed that it created an environment of edification that invited the Spirit.

Have you ever heard or seen the saying, “I am third”? It would puzzle me and eventually I realized that it was meant to remind everyone to put God first, others second, and themselves third. I think it is meant to try to encourage the value of self-sacrifice, which is good, but it seems to me that if we esteem others as ourselves, that precludes putting them before ourselves just as much as it precludes putting ourselves before others. It suggests that all of us have needs and that there needs to be a whole lot more negotiating and turn-taking in our lives.

How has esteeming others as yourself blessed your life? Do you have any experiences that you can share?


Jettboy said...

I want you to know that I have enjoyed reading this blog and have included it in My personal list of Faithful blogs. Thank you.

Michaela Stephens said...

Kind of you to think of me, Jettboy! Thank you!

Clifford said...

Here's a trick that great parents and great schoolteachers know:

They crouch down and make direct eye contact with the children, on their level, as opposed to towering over them like giraffes peering at termites.

A secondary effect for the adult is being reminded of what the world looks like to a person who is two or three feet tall.

How important it is, yet how hard it is, to try to step into the shoes of another before making judgments.

When I was an LDS missionary, how I hated doorstep rejection. Now that I have a home of my own, I understand the discomfort of strangers at my door preaching a different religion.