Updated on September 11, 2023
Doug Tales 135: Friends, Part Five
Abraham “was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:23, see also 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8) How can each of us follow Abraham’s example and truly be a friend to God and to others in the way our Heavenly Parents desire of us? Doug Mendenhall explores the connections between choice, agency and true godly friendship in Possibilities: Lessons From the Spirit (2002), pp. 129-132:
How many of us, me included, tend to jump to conclusions about things we know nothing about? Some days my legs get real tired (from all the jumping I do). I also have stepped on many people’s agency and am trying to become cognizant of it and not do it anymore. We related in the first book [My Peace I Give Unto You] how I did try to abuse my daughter Denise’s agency by getting her to use her gifts for my benefit. I am as guilty as anyone.
I feel many of us believe our intent is pure and our hearts are pure, when in reality we are actually stepping on or abusing another person’s agency. I felt at the time the Lord had given my daughter these incredible gifts to bless our family, and how much more could these gifts bless us than to deliver us out of the heavy load debt that we were under. I felt my “intent” was pure and acted accordingly, as I am sure all of these individuals did.
The Lord has stated: “when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” (D&C 121:37)
Then He goes on to explain how we can exercise our “authority” or even “influence” in a righteous or godly manner:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.” (D&C 121:41-44)
I believe the words of the Lord apply to anyone. If we exercise control, dominion or compulsion on our family’s agency or anyone else’s for that matter, we are not doing as the Lord would have us do. Domination, control or compulsion are part of Lucifer’s plan to MAKE us obey him. When we do these things to others, we no longer act under God’s authority, for we then have chosen to follow Lucifer’s plan.
How much heartache, guilt, angst (dread or anguish), anger, etc. could have been avoided if my wife and I had been approached according to the Lord’s way of doing things? A lot.
It looks to me that the world in general is intent on keeping Lucifer’s plan going. If we truly want to follow our Savior and His plan, it might do us all good to study the Lord’s way of doing things. Maybe we ought to be more cognizant of not infringing on the agency of others, in our family or not. If we feel that maybe they are doing “wrong” in our eyes, maybe we ought to approach them the way the Lord has prescribed.
We have been taught in my church that Christ presented Heavenly Father’s plan. So it seems that this foundation of agency was determined anciently. If we didn’t have agency, there could be no progression.
When a man does good and serves his God and fellow man and in his agency he places God first, it fills his soul with light. But Satan or darkness would command that he does evil or seeks his own gratification by hurting the innocent by inflicting his will upon them. By doing so he serves darkness or Satan.
As we seek to inflict our will on others, we are taking away their agency. It seems to me that the war in heaven is still going on, we just have a different battle front. If it was agency that Satan sought in the pre-earth life and something he still seeks, does it give him power if we abuse another’s agency? I believe it does. After witnessing firsthand how negative emotions or influences allow darkness into us, I believe that unrighteous dominion allows some very negative forces or demons into the individual.
The Lord has stated that “the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved” when we exercise unrighteous dominion. If the heavens have withdrawn themselves from our lives then who might take up that place? I believe if we are doing the bidding of darkness, that is what will take up residency in our life. I also believe that if we place the will of God first in our lives, then it will be His spirit that takes up residency in our lives and darkness will not be able to enter in.
I believe that God our Father and all that is truth will never take away our agency. I also believe that Lucifer and his minions of evil will take every chance to abuse or feed upon our agency, for I know our disobedience gives them power.