I used to make fun of evangelical preachers on television. Yes, they want our money–they consider public donations to be a form of tithing. (Skeptical? I know. Yet others look at Mormonism’s tithing obligation with the same skepticism….) Regardless, I’ve come to value many of the spiritual insights of Evangelicals. Last year, while doing some late night channel surfing, I came across evangelist preacher Mike Murdock. His dyed jet black hair and oh so smooth delivery style brought three words to my mind: “sleazy snake oil.” (Okay, I’ve since repented of my harsh judgment with apologies to “Dr. Mike.”) Even though I’ll never fully embrace Dr. Murdoch’s ethos, he shares undeniable nuggets of wisdom in his Laws of Life series.
In this post, I’ll discuss one particular law that resonates with me: The Law of Difference. I can surely testify to its meaningfulness. We can apply this law to our spiritual, temporal, and emotional growth. It can also help us in finding/defining our life’s purpose. Finally, the Law of Difference can aid us in defining, applying, and asking for spiritual gifts to empower us as we help ourselves and others (See D&C 46, Moroni 7, and Corinthians 14). Listed below are the Law of Difference creeds:
- Sameness creates comfort.Your difference decides your rewards in life. Our desire to be accepted often suffocates the desire to achieve. Juxtaposed against our desire to conform is our desire for distinction. These two desires don’t have to clash with each other if we seek the Spirit to help us discern between righteous conformity and drawing unrighteous attention to our individual selves. If we can avoid comparing ourselves with others, we find and pursue our own difference. Wisdom is the ability to recognize difference.
- Your passion, pain, and purpose can work together to create your success. What do you love? What does your mind love to learn about? What does your mouth love to speak about? Where do you love to put your time? What do you hate? What makes you angry? What makes you cry? What causes you pain? Your answers are indicators of your difference. Anger and pain are the birthplaces for change (think Joseph Smith, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, etc.). Your assignment determines the suffering and attacks you have or have encountered. What grieves you is a clue to what you are assigned to heal and restore. What you love the most reveals the greatest gifts you contain. We can use our difference in helping to problem-solve and make a difference in the lives of others.
- “The Problem” decides your significance. Your difference decides your significance and who tries to pursue you. Difference produces opportunity. Everything in life hinges on a problem. Pharaoh (in the Old Testament) didn’t need Joseph until Pharaoh had a problem. God the Father and Jesus Christ did not appear to Joseph Smith until Joseph approached God with a problem. Everything God created is some sort of solution to a problem. Your eyes see. Your ears hear. Doctors solve health problems. Lawyers solve legal problems. Your purpose/assignment on Earth is to solve a problem. Your assignment involves solving a problem for somebody, somewhere and being rewarded for it. Dr. Murdock claims that our assignment is always to a person and/or a group of people. Thus, we need to recognize and honor our own difference. Everywhere there’s a problem, there’s our future.
- Your assignment/purpose may not be understood by your own family and those closest to you. And your assignment will always have an enemy and/or opposition. Your enemies/opposition are as necessary as your friends. David needed Goliath in order to come out of obscurity. Every single heroic historical figure we read about needed an enemy/opposition in order to achieve his or her greatness. Your friends provide comfort. Your enemy provides promotion. The only difference between obscurity and significance is the enemy you decide to conquer. Sometimes, your family and friends morph into enemies when they refuse to honor and/or try to undermine or crush your difference.
- Recognizing your difference and your assignment will dry your tears, unload your burdens, and restore joy to your countenance. Why? Because in fulfilling our divine purpose, we become something larger than ourselves. We become a conduit for the Spirit to help in problem-solving for others. And that brings us happiness and peace.
Again, I’m not promoting these ideas as the gospel truth. However, we can find great treasures of truth within these principles. For years I studied watercolor, I thought my purpose was to paint beautiful paintings. I saw the creative genius in other artists that I knew I could never attain for myself. Through prayer, I found my “genius” in teaching. Consequently, I feel much joy and satisfaction–not only in teaching my children but in my college teaching career. I’ll end this post with Dr. Murdock’s “fish story.” He lives on property containing a few fish ponds. At the completion of building these ponds, the workers were about to stock the pond with live fish. Lying at the pond’s edge, the fish sat there gasping for air. While observing the helplessness of the fishes, Dr. Murdoch decided that were stupid creatures: They couldn’t walk, talk, fly, or make any sounds. They just laid there. However, as soon as the fish entered the water, Dr. Murdoch watched their genius immediately appear. The fish swam, they glided, they schooled together, they moved and functioned efficiently and quickly. Thus, when the fish recognized their life’s purpose or “assignment,” their genius appeared.