As you read this, we at the Deseret News, which publishes the Church News, are settling into a new home, dedicated just this week. (See coverage on page 3.) It's an event of great import to us at least, one from which we have all re-learned valuable lessons.
Throughout the ages writers have been fond of likening the gospel to a building and of drawing analogies between constructing a new home and constructing a new life. In that spirit, here are a few of the parallels we encountered during the past two years.First, before starting, take a close look at where you are and what needs to change. Just as you can test whether the walls of your present building will stand up under stress, you can also assess your own current moral and spiritual strengths.
Based on what we find, we can decide whether to renovate or remodel what we have. But sometimes you have to start all over again, dismantling the old and making room for the new.
You need a plan. No one undertakes a major construction job without drawing up elaborate blueprints covering every angle of the structure. We can't leave important decisions to chance. It costs too much and it can be dangerous. Fortunately, the gospel offers such a plan for us to follow.
Having a plan isn't enough. You also have to follow it. You also have to be willing to commit the resources and energy to make the plan rise from the drawing boards. Similarly, although we can construct elaborate scenarios for improving our life, unless we're willing to make a beginning, they'll always remain daydreams.
No building will endure without a solid foundation. Just as we found our old home sinking slowly in one corner, a weak foundation in gospel principles will eventually expose flaws in the superstructure of our lives. Christ, who was Himself a carpenter, drew the analogy: "He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock." (Luke 6:48.)
We learned that you have to call in experts, honest people you can trust. You aren't expected to do everything yourself when people are available who have the skills you need. You need electricians, carpenters, glaziers, architects, welders, designers, sheet rock installers, excavators, engineers of many kinds and a whole host of others. Similarly, no one can grow in the gospel or in Church assignments without the help of many others, learning from them and accepting their counsel.
Another important lesson we learned is that you can't anticipate everything. You have to be willing to accept circumstances as they are and then make adjustments. Who knew that our old building shared a wall with its neighbor? Or that there was an old pioneer well in the basement? Those kinds of surprises show up all the time in life, but they shouldn't alter the long-range goals we set.
We learned that you can expect setbacks even in the most carefully laid plans. But that's all they are - temporary challenges. The important thing is that you already have committed to the larger goal. Indeed, life is a constant series of challenges, many of them out of our control.
A ny builder knows that inspections are part of the process. It's a way of checking up on our progress and making sure that the work is being done right. There are important reasons for that, reasons having to do with health and safety. Likewise, it's not a bad idea to evaluate our own progress toward meeting our spiritual goals. We benefit from periods of introspection, of asking others how we are doing, or discovering whether we are still on course.
It's important to have faith. You don't begin a project if you don't expect to succeed. Any important activity is vulnerable to discouragement, and that applies to our lives as well.
And we learned it's good to have a sense of humor to go along with your sense of purpose. It's actually fun to build something, to see a new structure emerge from your hopes, work and plans. There's a satisfaction in building a new life and creating something that is important to others.
No wonder the scriptures speak so often of this process of creation. The lexicon of building slips easily into the words of the gospel, where we talk of building character, of building up Zion, of being constructive.
Finally, it's good to have a sense of purpose for what you are doing. For us, that purpose was explained well by Willard Richards, the first editor, in his first edition. He said the newspaper would "hold ourselves responsible to the highest Court of truth for our intentions, and the highest Court of equity for our execution."
As we begin a new life in a new building, we can only hope to continue in his counsel.