Taking a Stand: 9 Steps to Speaking Up and “Doing Something”

20130625-082127.jpgI shy away from conflict. I often hesitate to share my opinions – especially those considered extreme – because I don’t want to offend anybody. I don’t really get involved in “causes” very much – for the reasons above, but also because it’s time-consuming and nothing seems to improve anyway. Despite my documented interest in helping those less fortunate (my Master’s Degree specialization was “Economic Development and Nonprofit Management”), actively doing something about the injustices of this world is fairly far down on my daily To-Do list.

In other words, this post is perfect for me.

Let me tell you how I came to write this post in the first place. Recently, I read about Nephi (the son of Helaman) in the Book of Mormon, and one of his experiences told me I need to reevaluate my reluctance to “do something.”

Nephi and his brother Lehi were great missionaries and saw wondrous miracles in their day. But many of the people they taught were less than receptive to their teachings. At the point we join in, Nephi has just returned home after being rejected by the people in the land northward, only to find that the wicked band of Gadianton Robbers has gotten a hold of his home town.

In other words, things were looking pretty bleak in the righteousness department. And Nephi was fed up with all the wickedness.

In Helaman 7:10-11, we learn Nephi’s next step:

“And behold, now it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi, which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway.

And it came to pass that there were certain men passing by and saw Nephi as he was pouring out his soul unto God upon the tower; and they ran and told the people what they had seen, and the people came together in multitudes that they might know the cause of so great mourning for the wickedness of the people.”

When Nephi noticed the large gathering of people, he “opened his mouth” (v.17), and called the people to repentance. Oh, and a LOT of drama followed (which you can read about in chapter 7 and the ensuing chapters)

Now, Nephi could have avoided some major trouble by praying in secret inside the comfort of his home. And he’d no doubt heard about the wayward Zoramites, who prayed on a platform to be heard of men. (Alma 31, 38:13)

Nephi still chose to pray on his tower by the highway, for all to see. Why?

Because he knew he needed to “open his mouth.” He knew he needed to speak up.

And chances are, you and I know we need to as well.

Granted, sometimes it’s best to just let things run their course, to be quietly patient and all that. But in this time of information superhighways, plenty of Nephi’s on towers are needed to speak up against evil and ignorance and all their cousins. I hesitate to point out specific causes and issues, but you get the idea. Causes are grown in the dirt associated with such things as poverty, abuse, and disregard for human life.

Ok, so we need to get involved. You pick what to get involved in.

But how do we proceed?

Enter my handy list.

9 Steps to Speaking Up and “Doing Something”

1. Make sure your cause is just. And don’t expect God to align with your opinion – align yourself with His. You’d think this goes without saying, but you definitely don’t want to miss this step! How to find out what is right? Use your head and heart (see D&C 9:8-9), and follow the next point:

2. Pray for guidance every step of the way. If only because without the Lord’s help, you can do much more harm than good.

3. Get informed. In this thing at least, ignorance isn’t bliss. It just gets you into a lot of trouble.

4. Identify goals and figure out what to do. Because “doing something” is very unspecific and easily becomes “doing nothing.” Note: must be combined with point #2.

5. Join or create a network of peers. Because together, we are stronger.

6. Dedicate your resources. Put your money where your mouth is. Spend time and effort to do what needs to be done.

7. Expect opposition and rejection. Nephi certainly got plenty of both. Hopefully you won’t be accused of conspiracy to murder, like he was.

8. Testify, like Nephi did. (Helaman 7:29) Actions often speak louder than words, but truth spoken with conviction can be mightier than the sword. (See Alma 31:5, D&C 11:2)

9. Love and respect your fellow men. Perhaps especially those who snap at you like rabid animals – they probably need it the most.

Note number 1: This list is especially geared toward getting involved in “big” causes, like fighting poverty or violence against women. You may find that your “cause” is to send a check to a needy neighbor or confront a friend about her frequent black eyes and bruises.

Note number 2: At times, you need to get in people’s faces (in an appropriate way). But sometimes, all you have to do is wait for people gather under your tower, wondering what you’re up to.

It’s so tempting to simply sit back and wait for Christ to return to the earth and fix everything that’s wrong with the world.

But, as our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, so eloquently expressed, “the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of…service.”

People need you. Now. There’s no telling how many lives you’ll bless by moving from spectator to active participant on the world stage.

The question is, will you – like Nephi – get up on that tower?

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