We Must Not Confuse Means And Ends!


My brother tells the story of how he was driving one of his sons to work one afternoon. At the time this teenage son worked at a fast food establishment. As they were driving along my brother thought he might take the opportunity to speak to his son about goals. As his son was a member of the Boy Scouts my brother took the time to tell him of the advantages of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting. After telling his son that earning such a rank would be helpful in getting him a job, his son, while tipping his Arby’s hat, uttered this immortal line, “Dad, I already have a job!”

Well, it’s not too unusual for a teenager to not have much vision toward the future but sometimes we, as adults, find ourselves wearing similar blinders. As with most things in life, hard work and preparation pay off in the long haul.It is important to have a long-term “vision” of where we want to be, ten years, twenty years and ultimately, where we want to be in the eternities.

Many years ago Dallin H. Oaks gave a devotional fireside where he said:

“In speaking of weightier matters, I seek to contrast our ultimate goals in eternity with the mortal methods or short-term objectives we use to pursue them. The Apostle Paul described the difference between earthly perspectives and eternal ones in these words: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

If we concentrate too intently on our obvious earthly methods or objectives, we can lose sight of our eternal goals, which the Apostle called “things … not seen.” If we do this, we can forget where we should be headed and in eternal terms go nowhere. We do not improve our position in eternity just by flying farther and faster in mortality, but only by moving knowledgeably in the right direction. As the Lord told us in modern revelation, “That which the Spirit testifies unto you … ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation” (D&C 46:7 emphasis added).

We must not confuse means and ends. The vehicle is not the destination. If we lose sight of our eternal goals, we might think that the most important thing is how fast we are moving and that any road will get us to our destination…the weightier matter of the eternal goal must not be displaced by the mortal method, however excellent in itself” (“Weightier Matters,” Liahona, March, 2000)

The “weightier matters,” as described by Dallin Oaks, entail the ability to look past earthly goals to the higher goals of the eternities. It requires an understanding that rewards from today’s efforts might not be realized in this life. It is the understanding that choosing to love God over all else, will bring long-term happiness and the blessings promised by the Lord. It is having the foresight to see that the big house you have today, will be somebody else’s tomorrow and that the nice car you paid so dearly for will eventually end up as scrap metal. All things physical eventually turn to dust.

The door to getting a job at Arby’s is open to most anyone, and the pay is commensurate. But if we want to earn something of lasting eternal value we must have the vision, set the goal, then do all we can to achieve it. Hopefully, for all of us, our goal is to return to our Heavenly Father. In earning that place, we will be well fed and well paid for our efforts.

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