Relief Society Lesson 11: “I Seek Not Mine Own Will, but the Will of the Father”
This lesson addresses our spiritual goal of joining our own will (agency) willingly to the will of our Father. The questions we address to the class and to ourselves are deeply introspective and complex. For example: how do I maintain individuality and join my will to the Father’s? How do I hear and understand the spirit? How do I know when I’m being guided?
Because of the thoughtful nature of this lesson, the “Teaching Help” at the end of the lesson is particularly applicable: “Do not be afraid of silence. People often need time to think about and reply to questions or to express what they are feeling.”
The use of words/ideas like “success” and “failure” are common in this lesson and that can be tricky because success and failure can have negative connotations (and are highly personal). Suggesting failure to individuals in the room because of your own ideas of failure could be offensive and/or unproductive.
The opening story about Lorenzo Snow’s Birthday celebration at BYU seems an awkward fit for this less, but I do like the quote at the end of the story and think it could be a good lead-in to the lesson: “ It is the lord that you honor when you honor me and my counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve. We have discovered that a long time since everyone of us, that o ourselves we could do nothing. Only as far as we followed that principle which Jesus followed when He was in he world has success followed our efforts; and it will be so with you.”
Section 1: When we seek God’s will, we follow a course in which there will be no failure.
I would recommend talking about some definitions of failure, so you don’t discourage the class. Many sisters may have life experiences that they view as failures – such as miscarriages, broken relationships, failed marriages, lost jobs, etc. It would set a difficult tone if the sisters felt that their set backs and disappoints were related to their inability to connect with God and follow His guidance. It’s important to separate life’s set back from failure. Giving an eternal perspective would be a good approach here.
The scriptures in this section are great – and I feel they help emphasize that God is ever with us, wants to be near us, and help us.
Section 2: As we obey God’s will, He gives us power to succeed in His work.
As this section points out, it is important to believe and realize that God can do great things in our lives. And we can do great things with His help. I think personal stories of guidance and miracles could be valuable here, but take a broad view.
For example: a single sister might share how God has guided her and blessed her career so she can financially sustain herself, even if her desire to be married is not fulfilled. Or a mother could share how she has been guided to know what do for her children even though her children have special needs.
Remind the sisters that God’s love is unconditional. Encourage sisters to find the work God has for them personally. Share testimony that God will strengthen and give power.
Section 3: Act in God’s name and acknowledge His hand.
This is the part of the lesson where we really talk about “being with God”. In a large circle: we submit our will, are guided, act in ways He would want, and acknowledge Him.
The final paragraph in the lesson is a fairly good summary statement – and wrap up.