Our LDS stake president stood up to start the discussion.
Then he delegated to three others to help with these steps:
1. Brainstorm what challenges people in our ward are struggling with.
2. Brainstorm solutions for some of these.
Some of these solutions were common sense. Some were advice a person was given years before. Most were based on stored up gospel knowledge from scriptures or prophets. Some were clearly inspired by the Spirit.
My friend who had served as a Relief Society president while mothering several young children told of an inspired solution her bishop gave her. The challenge was how to balance her time. The bishop told her it's not really balancing in the sense of "three hours here and three hours there." Rather, there are times when you'll need to devote a lot of time to your church calling. Other times you'll need to devote a lot of time to your children. The key is to be prayerful and then trust the Spirit to help you know where God wants you to spend your time at that given time.
When it really comes down to it, I keep coming back to that powerful answer about EVERY challenge. Don't you?
3. After the large audience brainstormed our challenges and possible solutions, our beloved stake president stood back up to finish the discussion.
He did something beautiful. He had chosen several from our list of challenges to address, and then had used his scriptures and notes from the recent General Conference to offer divine solutions.
Of course because our class was inspired and well taught the gospel, our previous solutions already contained truth. But it was awesome to combine our divinely called priesthood leader's thoughts along with scriptures and words from modern prophets and apostles, as a stamp of approval, or as an additional insight we hadn't thought of before.
We were told that this is the pattern the recent visiting general authorities used when they came for stake conference. Ahead of their visit they poled leaders of the stake and wards to ask what our challenges were. Then they geared their talks to address those concerns.
I've seen this pattern when Julie Beck (former general Relief Society president) and Elder Michael Teh (a general authority) visited our stake. They asked that each person in the audience think of a challenge or question he or she had, and that if they felt inspired to, they could come up to the microphone to ask it. Then Sister Beck used her stored up knowledge of scriptures, teachings of modern Church leaders, and the Spirit to come up with some beautiful and inspiring answers. Even though that was years ago, I loved that meeting and still remember feeling excited that my inner question got answered through someone else's.
Mike and I both loved this model our stake leaders used yesterday.
So we decided to use it for family home evening last night. Mike asked each family member to name a personal or family challenge. I wrote them down. Then we decided on the two that we felt will make a huge impact on our everyday lives: improving at bedtime and our morning routine.
We've been over this many times. God gives us weaknesses that we'll be humble, turn to Him, and see His power as He turns things into strengths that we never could on our own (see Ether 12:27). Notice God didn't say He gives only bad people weaknesses, or only once in a while He helps people overcome them.
We are not giving up!
We are persevering with this bedtime challenge that we've struggled with for decades, maybe eons. But that's okay. Because...
Notice the Bible didn't say, "With God most things are possible, but not overcoming the weaknesses you've had for a very long time."
Maybe you'd like to use this pattern in your family home evening or leadership meeting too. Let me know how it goes.