As a kid, like just about every kid, I spent hours and hours chucking a basketball up at the hoop after drawing up an elaborate scenario in my head in which the team I was playing on (usually BYU or the Utah Jazz) was down a point or two with only four or five seconds to go in a championship game. If I made it, my teammates and the fans went wild and I went on to fame and forture. (If I missed, I was fouled or there was a problem with the clock or something else bizarre happened which allowed me to try again for that game-winning shot.) I mention fame and forture only because that is a common thread in most people’s dreams as a kid. I think that as people grow older and realize that they’d probably be happier with the fortune if it didn’t come with fame and even the forture part is not a necessary condition for happiness, those ideas fade a bit. On the other hand, it’s not just kids that look up to people they consider to be heroes, and good examples in famous people, thought hard to come by, can lead to a lot of good. I think of that in connection with Church leaders because some of them achieve a certain degree of celebrity status, especially in the Mormon Corridor. President Hinckley may be the best example of this, but there are certainly others.
Sheri Dew was one of the Church leaders who reached a rather high level of celebrity status in the Church, and maybe even a little out of it, largely because of her supposed novelty: a never-married member of the Relief Society presidency. She, like many other Church leaders who have become celebrities in their own right, used that increased ability to get a message out by writing a few books. God Wants a Powerful People (ISBN: 978-1-59038-813-6) is one of them. The premise of the book is simple. God is generous and is willing to make His children powerful people, people who can accomplish a lot, help a lot of other people, and in general make the world a better place. God wants to bless us. When we do certain things, like striving to be righteous, the blessings flow, and by taking advantage of them, we become powerful people, changing not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. The book includes examples from everyday life on how we can go about becoming on of these powerful people, scriptures, ideas from Church leaders, and some common sense thrown in, too. As with anything in the gospel, the biggest keys are probably putting words and ideas into action and relying on Jesus Christ in all of our efforts to improve and to help others.
As I have mentioned before, I am typically quite skeptical of these types of Church-related books. I love the Church’s manuals, other official publications, and, of course, the scriptures. Sometimes I think of these books as self-help lite, and the self-help genre is lite to begin with. The trouble is, the gospel message is true, really no matter how it’s delivered, so in the end, I can rarely come down on these books. They are not great literature, but there are often things that stand out to me and make me think about the way I live my life and about the things I can change to make myself better. Unlike the self-help books, which are rarely, if ever, based on eternal truths, the ideas in Sister Dew’s book were concrete and real. The discussion of the priesthood and the power that it holds if wielded by a righteous man was impressive. The requirements for being righteous aren’t complicated or arcane; they simply need doing. I was also impressed by the counsel to do things early — everything from getting up the morning to applying gospel principles to ourselves and our lives should be done early. Early adopters of all things gospel will be powerful earlier, too, thereby bringing about the greatest good in their own lives and the lives of other people.
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