Value beyond Measure by President Joy D. Jones Lesson Plan
In her 2017 talk, Value beyond Measure, General Primary President Joy D. Jones explains the concept of individual worth. This is a value that LDS girls study in detail during the Young Women program, but which applies just as well to Primary children, young men and adults. Jones’ talk built on many of the principles described by her predecessor, President Rosemary M. Wixom, in her 2015 talk about another related Young Women value: divine nature. I will bring in insights from both Jones’ talk and Wixom’s talk: Discovering the Divinity Within.
Differentiating between Worth and Worthiness
As you discuss these quotes and scriptures, keep a running list on the whiteboard of clarifications between worth and worthiness.
Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.” (D. Todd Christofferson, 2016)
On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact. As President Brigham Young taught: “The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth … is worth worlds.” (Brigham Young, 1861) No matter what, we always have worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. -President Joy D. Jones
Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity. –President Rosemary M Wixom
The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God. -an LDS Elders Quorum President, as quoted by Thomas S. Monson
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-11
After the discussion, your list may look like this:
Why do we need to distinguish between worth and worthiness? How does failing to differentiate affect the way we think about ourselves and others? How does it affect how we treat ourselves and others?
Applying Our Understanding to Daily Life
Invite class members to silently read this excerpt from Value beyond Measure by General Primary President Joy D. Jones, looking for things they should do and should not do to apply their understanding of their divine worth to their daily lives. After time for silent reading, invite class members to help you make a list of do’s and don’ts on the board.
Despite this marvelous truth, how many of us struggle, from time to time, with negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves? I do. It’s an easy trap. Satan is the father of all lies, especially when it comes to misrepresentations about our own divine nature and purpose. Thinking small about ourselves does not serve us well. Instead it holds us back. As we’ve often been taught, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) We can stop comparing our worst to someone else’s best. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
The Lord revealed this additional truth to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive.” Doctrine and Covenants 50:34 When we feel the Spirit, as this verse explains, we recognize that what we feel comes from our Heavenly Father. We acknowledge Him and praise Him for blessing us. We then rejoice that we are counted worthy to receive.
Imagine that you are reading the scriptures one morning and the Spirit softly whispers to you that what you are reading is true. Can you recognize the Spirit and be happy that you felt His love and were worthy to receive?
Mothers, you might be kneeling next to your four-year-old as he says his bedtime prayer. A feeling flows over you as you listen. You feel warmth and peace. The feeling is brief, but you recognize that you, at that moment, are counted worthy to receive. We may seldom, if ever, receive huge spiritual manifestations in our lives; but we can frequently savor the sweet whisperings of the Holy Ghost verifying the truth of our spiritual worth.
In contrast, the Lord assures us that when we have virtuous thoughts, He will bless us with confidence, even the confidence to know who we really are. There’s never been a more crucial time to heed His words. “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly,” He said. “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.” D&C 121:45-46
Sisters, because of what He did for us, “we are bound to him by loving ties.” (Edward L. Hart, Our Savior’s Love, Hymn 113) He said, “My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me.” 3 Nephi 27:14
King Benjamin also explained this binding connection with our Savior: “And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.” Mosiah 3:7 That suffering and the results of that suffering fill our hearts with love and gratitude. Elder Paul E. Koelliker taught, “As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him.” (Paul E. Koelliker, 2012) If the love we feel for the Savior and what He did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives. He saves us from ourselves.
Let me reemphasize: if the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time. If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubt our worth instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel the impressions of the Holy Ghost.
Sisters, let’s not be confused about who we are! While it is often easier to be spiritually passive than it is to put forth the spiritual effort to remember and embrace our divine identity, we cannot afford that indulgence in these latter days. May we, as sisters, “be faithful in Christ; … may Christ lift [us] up, and may his sufferings and death, … and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in [our minds] forever.” Moroni 9:25 As the Savior lifts us to higher ground, we can see more clearly not only who we are but also that we are closer to Him than we ever imagined. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President Jones reminds us to let virtue garnish our thoughts. Often, when we talk about virtuous thoughts, we are referring to chaste thoughts, but President Jones uses the term differently. How does she describe virtuous thoughts? How can we work toward having more virtuous thoughts about ourselves?
Share and discuss these quotes from President Rosemary M. Wixom. Look for additional ideas to add your list of do’s and don’ts:
Looking out through a window, not just into a mirror, allows us to see ourselves as His. We naturally turn to Him in prayer, and we are eager to read His words and to do His will. We are able to take our validation vertically from Him, not horizontally from the world around us or from those on Facebook or Instagram.-President Rosemary M Wixom
What does it mean to look “out through a window” instead of “into a mirror”? To take validation “vertically” instead of “horizontally”? How can we apply this counsel in our lives?
Because you are His child, He knows who you can become. He knows your fears and your dreams. He relishes your potential. He waits for you to come to Him in prayer. Because you are His child, you not only need Him, but He also needs you. Those sitting around you right now in this meeting need you. The world needs you, and your divine nature allows you to be His trusted disciple to all His children. Once we begin to see the divinity in ourselves, we can see it in others.-President Rosemary M Wixom
Why would God need us? How is “relishing” your potential different than simply “knowing” your potential?
In addition to the do’s and don’ts class members have gathered by reading Jones’ and Wixom’s words, invite class members to provide additional ideas based on their personal experiences. After your class discussion, your list might look like this: