Elliott Smith: Cultivating a Fear-Free Worship Experience
Attending church for the first time. Coming back to church after a period of inactivity. Going through the temple for the first time. Seeking to develop a love for the temple. These are all experiences that can feel daunting or overwhelming. But years ago, a bishop who had been through a period of inactivity himself sought to create what he called “a fear-free worship experience” for everyone in his congregation—and Elliott Smith says it made all the difference in their ward. So wherever you are on your journey along the covenant path, we invite you to consider how we can best help one another along by also seeking to eliminate fear in our own congregations.
We won’t ever be perfected in Him until we are perfected through Him.
6:08- Fear Free Worship
12:17- Preparing For Baptism
17:10- First Impression of the Temple and Appropriate Expectations
33:58- 4 P's
41:48- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00
I've recently had this feeling that I needed to do an episode of this podcast about the temple. I've heard a lot of conversations about the temple of late and I guess maybe just because the temple has been a huge part of why I love this church, I reached out to my friend Elliott Smith, who I know shares my love for the temple and asked if he might be willing to join me. The interview ended up capturing what I'd hoped but we also talked about other aspects of helping others see the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If, after this interview, you'd like to join us this Sunday, August 28, for a special Sunday discussion, I'll be joined by special guest Melinda Wheelwright Brown, author of the book "Eve and Adam," and we will talk all about the temple. The discussion will begin at 6 pm Mountain Standard Time on our Instagram All In.Podcast. Again, that's this Sunday, August 28, at 6pm Mountain Standard Time on our All In.Podcast Instagram account. It is my hope that these two things combined will help you along your own covenant path. Elliott Smith is the managing partner for TerraForm, a real estate development firm in Utah. He has lectured for the University of Utah's Masters of Real Estate Development program and has an MBA from Utah State University. He is an avid mountain biker and snow skier. He and his wife Julie are the parents of three girls.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast, where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am so excited to have my friend Elliott Smith on the line with me today. Elliott, welcome.
Elliott Smith 1:53
Thank you, Morgan. It's a pleasure and honor to be here. I appreciate the invitation.
Morgan Jones Pearson 1:58
Well, I feel like I should give people a little background on how this episode came to be. So I first met Elliott because my sister lived with his family when he was a bishop and she lived in their home as a missionary. And I met them when they flew from Utah to Washington, DC for my sister's wedding a few years ago. And ever since then, I have had occasional run ins with Elliott and his wife. But we don't talk a whole lot. And I've had this thing on my mind of just talking about being a member of the Church and some of the things that I hear conversations happening around me and I want to address them but I want it to be a conversation with another normal member of the church. And so Elliott was kind enough to go along with my crazy idea. And it's funny because I had been thinking about this. And then Elliott's name popped into my mind kind of out of nowhere, which I took as a sign that he's the man for the job. So Elliott, thank you for being willing to do this.
Elliott Smith 3:04
Morgan, I appreciate that introduction. And again, for the invite. So to any of your listeners out there who wanted to hear an episode with just a normal dude, I'm your guy, because that's who I am. I'm still kind of in shock that I'm on this podcast. And I've been a huge follower and fan of the podcast for a lot of years now. And I learned a lot of things from you and the different guests. And so it really is a privilege. And I yeah, I hope that I can share some things that will help other people wherever they are on their gospel journey or the journey of life. And I owe a lot of gratitude to your sister, as you mentioned that we got to know her when she was serving her mission here in the Salt Lake City area and we have three daughters and two of our daughters have decided to serve missions, largely in part because of your sister in her example, and having her and her influence in our home. So a lot of gratitude to her and your family. And it's been interesting how we've had those, quote, random meetings here. And there are different restaurants in the Salt Lake Valley. But I don't think I think that things happen randomly. I think there's a purpose behind all of it.
Morgan Jones Pearson 4:25
But I love that you mentioned that you felt like you're just a normal guy. We get messages from time to time on the show where people say I just want to hear from somebody that's a normal person. And I tend to respond and say, you know, anyone's story if told well, and if you ask people the right questions will seem extraordinary. And Elliott, I think that you are no exception. I think that you are an extraordinary person. But I love that you consider yourself a normal person and I am grateful for your willingness to do this. So to get us started, and I wanted to start out, you and I spoke beforehand and you told me something that your counselor in the bishopric told you about helping people have a good experience at church or in the temple. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Elliott Smith 5:13
Sure. Yeah. So it was actually a bishop that I served with as a counselor. This is, over a decade ago, one of my favorite people, a second father figure to me, coming up on the five year anniversary of his passing here in August, so kind of a tender time to remember him. But I've known him really my whole life for probably 30 years. But I learned a lot about him when I served with him in that bishopric. And one of the things that I learned about him is that he had a period in his life where he was away from the Church. I don't remember exactly how long but several years where he was not active in the Church. And he told me often that he regretted that time. And the reason he served 30 hours a week as a bishop, number one, he was retired at the time. And number two, he said he had to make up for that, that lost time that he was away from the Church. But he said, one of the things that was hard for him in coming back into activity in the Church was there's just a lot of fear, right on his part of feeling judged, not really feeling like he was in sync or in step with other members of the Church. And he felt afraid when he first went back. And thankfully, there were many kind, loving, accepting members of the Church that welcomed him. But he said, he felt that fear and uneasiness and not feeling like he was up to par with everybody else, because he had kind of slid back in his gospel journey. And so his mantra as we served together in the bishopric, was to create to make coming to church, a fear free worship experience. And I've always remembered that, because, you know, fear is something that keeps us from doing things that we would otherwise maybe want to do, right? Sometimes we are scared of things or nervous, we have apprehension for different things, or new events in our life or returning to old patterns. And if there's fear involved, it will keep us from progressing and jumping back in. We're talking about this in a church setting. But fear in general in life keeps us from having a full experience in life and especially in the gospel. And it doesn't take long to search the scriptures to look at how many times the Savior tells us not to be afraid, right? Perfect love casts out all fear, he does not want us to feel fear. And so I started to observe as a counselor and learn from Bishop Eyre, the ways that we can maybe help people who are returning members, when we see these wonderful individuals try to put ourselves in their shoes, right? What might they be thinking, and what I found is that many people who are returning to the church after periods of inactivity, were just terrified to show up and have a very well intentioned member in Elders Quorum or Relief Society or whatever organization, have them stand and introduce themselves. Or they had this paralyzing fear of, "oh no, if I go back, someone is going to ask me to pray or read a scripture, right?" And certain cases where that happened and then that member takes another year before they come back again, because they were terrified. And so whenever I would encounter members who were returning after a period of inactivity in the Church, I would say, "Come to church, and I'll protect you." And they would look at me a little weird and say, "What do you mean, you'll protect me?" I said, "I will make sure that I sit by you the entire time. And I'll make sure that nobody calls on you to pray out coordinate with the Elders Quorum President or Relief Society president and just have a conversation say, "Look, you're gonna have a lot of people that love you and haven't seen you in a while they're going to come up to you and it might be uncomfortable for your personal space. But they do this because they love you. And they're well intentioned. They're not trying to say anything offensive, but sometimes in our good intentions, we can come across a little bit strong, where really all people want to do is come, listen, sit quietly and feel the spirit." And so these are some of the things I learned from Bishop Eyre and watching him and how how he interacted with people, and just love them as perfectly as I've seen anybody love people.
Morgan Jones Pearson 9:46
Well, that just brought so many things to my mind. The first thing is when you're talking about scriptures, and I thought about you know, the scripture that says God hath not given us the spirit of fear. And I think if our goal is to become like God, we want to make sure that we aren't giving people the spirit of fear. And so I think that's so important. I also think when you're talking about different things that you all did to try to prepare people, one thing that a ward that I was recently in did that I really appreciated just as like a normal active member, is they would put the speakers and the program in the email before Sunday. So you totally knew going into church, what to expect. And I think that's good and a good practice. I don't know, that was the first ward I've ever been in that did that, but I really appreciated it. And then lastly, I love this idea of creating an expectation for people so that it's like, they're not doing it for the first time. And my dad is really big on visualization. You know, when I was playing basketball in high school, he'd say, imagine you're at the free throw line, there's 10 seconds left on the clock, and you step up to the line, visualize that. And I think because if we've done that, if we visualize it in advance, then it's not as scary in the moment. And so if you can walk people through the experience, then it is like they've been there before. You told me that just recently, somebody got baptized in your ward, and you kind of tried to prepare them for that experience. Can you tell listeners a little bit about what you did with that, Elliott?
Elliott Smith 11:26
Sure. Yeah, we had a great opportunity to participate in some of the missionary lessons for the family in our ward, a single mother with three beautiful children, and their background was from a different Christian religion. And, you know, as they accepted the invitation to be baptized, there's still a lot of questions, right. So as we visited with them in our home and in their home, and the full-time missionaries were there. We just asked questions, if they had any questions, concerns, fears. And you know, one of the daughters was a little bit afraid of the water, just being in water in general, especially going underwater with someone else pushing you underwater. I mean, we have to think outside our box, right for us baptism, and for anybody, it's a beautiful ordinance. But to someone who hasn't experienced that yet. It's like they're getting dunked underwater, and that can be in front of people in front of people, right, which is terrifying for a lot of people. And so what we did is we went over, my family and I went over this family and the full-time missionaries, and we opened up the font and actually did a dry run, right? We showed them "Hey, here's the baptism clothing, let's pick the ones that fit you. Now, here's what's gonna look like it's a jumpsuit, the zips up, make sure we get to the right size, so you feel comfortable, you can wear socks, don't wear socks, you know, make sure you wear the right color of underwear so it doesn't show through." I mean, just all of the things that you know, we sometimes see any experience that I can think of in my time of serving in different callings, that might have been an awkward or embarrassing moment for someone, we tried to point that out, right. So we'd actually walked down into the font, we didn't fill it up. And I would hold my arm to the square and we practice the baptism grip, I showed them where their nose plugger hand was so they know what to do with that hand. And we would explain "Here's how high the water is going to be. If the water heater works, it's going to be warm, but it might be cold, because the water heater broke once a few years." And so just to head off any surprises. And so it just took the fear out of it. And that's something that I explained to them as, "Look, let's remove any anxiety about this experience any of the unknowns and kind of give you the play by play so that when you are here on baptism day, in that moment, you can focus on one thing and one thing only feeling the spirit listening to the words of the ordinance." And I think as we explain those things to potential members or returning members, if it's with the sacrament so that they're not thinking, "Oh, this is different than how I did it in my church that I grew up in." We explained to them what the sacrament is all about. And we went through that with this family, as we were talking about baptism, and then we walked into the chapel. And we set a chair in the chapel, right where they were going to sit the following Sunday. And we invited them to sit on the front two rows, so it'd be really easy for them to stand up and be right there. We went through the order. We actually had six guys there. And so this is what's gonna feel like the weight of six hands on your head. This is what is going to be, here is the the ordinance itself and then the blessing that will give you after and it was really fun. And I think what that does for us too, as members of the Church is is it reinforces what we believe and what we know about these ordinances and it was a really sacred experience and then it just eliminated any of the guesswork, confusion or anxiety on their baptism and confirmation day. Again, I'll keep going back to it, you know, perfect love casteth out all fear, right? And that's what Jesus taught us time and time again, if we look at the examples of how he taught people, he always loved them first on their level, even getting down into the dirt and drawing things in the dirt, wherever they were, he loved them first. And then he taught doctrine, right? So I think love always needs to precede the teaching.
Morgan Jones Pearson 15:36
For sure, I love that the lengths to which you all went to prepare that family because I think that little things can be distracting. And they can throw people off and you want that day, obviously, there are always going to be things that could go wrong. But if you prepare, you shall not fear. So come back to fear again. Another thing that I feel like a lot of people have fear surrounding is the experience of going to the temple for the first time. I wondered for you, Elliott, have you always loved the temple? And why or why not? And have there been any specific experiences that have helped your love for the temple grow?
Elliott Smith 16:22
I'll do my best to answer them in the order that you asked. But the short answer is no. And yes. So no, I haven't always enjoyed going to the temple. If I'm being perfectly honest, the first time I went, was actually in the Washington DC temple. We were on a family vacation right before I left on my mission, we're gonna be back there on vacation anyway so let's receive my endowment at a different temple than one in the Salt Lake Valley area. So I was excited about that. But I was, in hindsight, I reflect back I was so ill prepared. I won't share on this podcast the question that I asked my dad when we walked in the temple, because it's really embarrassing, and it just shows how ill prepared I was, but I had never seen temple clothing before. I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I had read a little bit and my bishop had taught me a little bit about the temple and temple covenants. And obviously, I went through the temple recommend interview questions from a worthiness standpoint, but as far as what was about to happen in the temple, I had no idea. And you know, by me sharing this, I don't want anybody listening to this podcast to develop any kind of fear or apprehension about the temple because it's beautiful place. But very similar to what we've already talked about with coming to church and experiencing ordinances in the church. I think the more prepared we can be, and the more we can help other people be prepared, the less awkward it's going to feel. I've talked with many people over the years in different callings, you know, you mentioned earlier, I served as bishop for a time and I spoke with a lot of people who had similar first experiences in the temple, right? And first experiences leave a lasting impression, I think with anything in life. And that can be an inhibiting factor in different people's outlook on the temple in general, and especially with temple attendance and what it means to them. I think sometimes in the Church, we hear experiences about people going to the temple, and they have these amazing revelatory experiences, which is beautiful. It's great that some people do but all people don't, right? I know people very close to me who don't feel those things. And they feel kind of this pressure to go to the temple and have this amazing revelation or get an immediate answer to prayers and have angels appear to them. I think we need to remove that expectation, right? Because everybody goes to the temple for different reasons, and everybody experiences different things in the temple. For me, going to the temple, it's a peaceful place for me. But if I'm being honest, I don't have you know, these massive revelatory experiences every time I go, right? I go because it's Heavenly Father's house, right? And he's invited us to go and that's a pretty cool house to go to. So why wouldn't we? Right? I mean, just on a very simple terms, he's invited us to be there so go, but then when we go and if we feel comfortable being there, meaning that we're not caught off guard, we're not surprised. I've heard a lot of people tell me over the years they are going to the temple my first time was a little weird. My goal as bishop was to take the weird factor out of the temple experience, right? And so there's published information that's accessible to everyone on the Gospel Library app that we can read about. And those are wonderful sources to go to to learn about the temple, you know, the temple preparation instructors guide, "Endowed From On High" by Elder Boyd K. Packer, I mean, those are all wonderful resources where we learn about the sacred nature of temples. And I would certainly reference those in my temple preparation discussions with people. But where I really tried to focus is again is on the logistics, right, and I would whiteboard it out for them. And I would usually take about four to five different one hour sessions. I know it sounds like a lot. But I would get pretty granular and this is for people who are prepared and ready to go to the temple. I'm not talking just a general temple preparation discussion with you know, 30 people there. This is usually one on one or a couple getting ready to go to the temple or missionary getting ready to leave on their mission. These are people who are prepared ready, serious about it, ready to do it, right? And I would spend the time just drawing pictures, hey, here's what this area of the temple is going to look like, here's what's going to happen, here is how long you're going to be here, this is what you want to wear. And when you go to this next area of the temple, here's how long this is going to take, you're going to be in there for about 70 to 80 minutes. And we'd go through step by step of every part of that ordinance without disclosing the things that I've made a covenant not to disclose, which if you think about it is a very small portion of what we learned in the temple. Most of what we learned in the temple is in the scriptures already, right. But then we would talk openly about the covenants, you know, I haven't made a covenant not to disclose what covenants I'm taught in the temple, such as the law of the gospel, law of sacrifice, law of concentration, law of chastity. Those are all things we learned about irregular gospel discussion at church, right. But those are things that we learned about on maybe a little deeper level on the temple. So we would talk about those things, but really more of the details about the rooms that they would enter and what they would see so that when they're in that moment in the temple, they're not thinking to themselves, "Whoa, this is the first time I've seen this. Didn't see that coming." Rather, they can think "Oh, yeah, I remember we talked about that. And now I can just focus on the words and what those words mean." And then if we have that be the first experience for someone in the temple, I think the likelihood of individuals to want to go back again, because they didn't feel awkward or unprepared or too nervous about things. And that's another thing I would always say, "Look, don't be nervous, no reason to be nervous to go to the temple, there are so many, just like the nicest people in the world that serve the temple," I actually have that opportunity, now every Wednesday night, I get to serve in the Jordan River temple. And people are just nice, the temple workers and feel so blessed the patrons would take time out of their day to come to the temple. And you know, from the temple worker standpoint, that's our goal is to help them feel welcomed and loved and not feel any nervousness whatsoever so that it can be a beautiful, peaceful, joyful experience that is just completely void of any awkwardness or anxiety and certainly fear.
Morgan Jones Pearson 23:22
Absolutely. And I had a couple of friends that were helpful to me in changing a little bit of my perspective about the temple one, my best friend, right before I went for the first time, she said, just so you know, the temple session, the endowment session is the same every time you go so you don't need to stress about memorizing what's happening, what's being said the first time, I would just recommend paying attention to how you feel. And for me, that took a lot of the pressure off. And so I think that those things are super important. I love everything that you said, Elliot, I wondered for you, why do you think a love for and an understanding of the temple is important for members of the Church? Or why is that been important for you?
Elliott Smith 24:14
So, you know, it's not something that came overnight to me again, because I wasn't very prepared when I went through the temple. So it took me a while, but not a long while, right, because I had the chance to go to the temple every week when I was in the MTC before I left on my mission. And that's where I started to, I think, enjoy going to the temple. The first few times I went before I went on my mission. I didn't really enjoy it. To be honest, I went because I knew that I needed help preparing and getting more used to the temple. But I think being surrounded by other people that are in the same phase of life. To me, you know, relatively newly endowed missionaries. It was fun, right? It was going with my buddies in my MTC district. And that's when I gained a love for the temple. And then once something is taken away, I think we learn to love it more, I served my mission in Japan, and was in Okinawa, Japan for two years, no temple there, right. And so I didn't get a chance to even be near a temple. And so when I came back to Salt Lake City and surrounded by temples, I thought, what a blessing, [and] that I need to take advantage of this opportunity. But even starting going back to the temple, I didn't feel like I understood everything, right? There's so much to digest in all of the temple ordinances. But I told myself, and this is kind of something I've developed throughout my life with really anything new is first just, you know, and we could get into a discussion of why we obey and why we do what we do, right? The ultimate goal is to obey and do what we do in life and in the Church out of love, driven out of love, love for our Heavenly Father, and love for people around us. But, you know, I'm not that selfless of a guy, still working on a lot of things in my life. And so I thought, you know, alright, I've been commanded to do this, I don't really love it. But I'm going to do it to establish the pattern, right? And I kind of call this thing, my four P approach to life and the Gospel, right? If we establish the pattern, with anything in the Church, and in this case, to answer your question directly going to the temple, we start to learn more about the purpose, right, that's the second key. And as we learn more about the purpose of the temple, then we can start to realize the power of the temple. So start with a pattern, learn more about the purpose. And then we feel the power, which helps us realize our greater potential, right? So the pattern, the purpose, the power, and potential. And that's kind of what happened to me. And I think why the temple is so important in our lives and gaining a love for that we learn about all of those things, right? We learn about patterns in the Gospel, right. And I won't get into any specifics. But there's a lot of patterns that we see. And we can learn about that, right. And as we embrace those patterns, and if we try to implement those patterns in other aspects of our life, we see a greater purpose in the things that we do, right. And then as we see that purpose, we understand more the power that the things we learned in the temple can have in other aspects of our life. One of the greatest things that I get out of what I've learned in the temple, is how much Satan tries to interfere and get in between me and my Heavenly Father. But that Heavenly Father, always be there to help save us and send people to us in our times of need, when Satan's trying to distract us or just plain get in the way of us learning more about the gospel, right? And so when I kind of realized that purpose of what I've learned in the temple, that's powerful, right? Because then we can take that and look for areas in our life, all right, I can kind of have that parallel to what I've learned in the temple, and apply that in my my daily life and try to do things that will keep space between me and Satan and narrow the gap between my Heavenly Father and me, right. And then we can realize our full potential, our eternal potential. And then that just changes the outlook, I guess, putting on a new lens or a new pair of glasses where we see a little bit more clearly because Satan is all about looking at things on a proximate level, right, and kind of paraphrasing from an Elder Maxwell talk that he gave many years ago. I know you're a big Maxwell fan, too. You probably probably know the talk I'm referring to I don't, I'm not that smart. But Satan wants us to focus on the proximate things right. The Savior and our Heavenly Father want us to focus on ultimate things right. He talks in that talk about proximate and ultimate joy. And Satan is the master of temporary things. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior are the master of eternal lasting things. And I think as we go to the temple, even if we don't like it, even if it we had an awkward first experience, and it's not enjoyable, and we just go and remove, like you talked about earlier, remove all expectations from ourselves. And certainly, we shouldn't ever put expectations on other people that we're talking to about the temple or if we're in an ecclesiastical position where we are helping someone learn about the temple or go through temple prep, we should never place expectations based on our experience, if someone goes to the temple and has amazing experiences every time, we shouldn't share that with someone, "Oh, whenever I go, I have this amazing experience, you're gonna have the same thing" and they're like, "Oh, I better have that moment or I'm not doing something right or I'm not worthy." It's like, "No, you're worthy, you're good to be there, right? You're just fine, like, take the pressure off of ourselves." And certainly don't put any pressure on anybody else to have a certain type of experience. It's a very personal, intimate thing between that person, and whatever level they're on. And everybody feels the spirit in such a different way, who are we to judge and kind of prescribe how someone should have spiritual experiences, it's not our place, right?
Morgan Jones Pearson 30:47
I love those four Ps, I'm going to be thinking about that for a while. And I don't know what Elder Maxwell talk you're talking about. But I will find it and we will link it in the show notes. I think that you're spot on, in that we develop a love for something that we've repeatedly do. And I think that that's true, you know, you think about serving people initially, like it might be awkward, or it might be different, or we might not look forward to it. But then the more that we do it, the more that we love that thing. And it comes to mean something deeper to us. And I feel like for me, I, like you, didn't have the most amazing first temple experience. And this is maybe a note to like temple workers. But my session was like very rushed. And I didn't know what I was doing. And so the whole time, it felt like I couldn't keep up. And anyway, I just remember thinking like, that wasn't really what I was expecting. And somebody encouraged me also, I think it was the same friend that I mentioned earlier to go back within two weeks. And so I did and then little by little, I think my love for the temple became deeper and deeper, including a period in which I was a temple worker in the Salt Lake Temple. And that was like transformative, just having that amount of time in the temple. And something that I would recommend to anybody that has the time to put into it is it is a time commitment. But spending long chunks of time I think makes a difference. Or just you know, have a concrete appointment like "I will not miss this. This is my top priority." There's a couple in our ward in California, that when they go to the temple one month, they set an appointment for the following month. And I just thought that was awesome. I was like good for you guys. Because it can be hard, things come in, and you'll think we're going to do this this day. But then something comes up. And so if you've made an appointment, it makes that a little bit higher priority. Elliott, I wondered, how would you say that we can remain devoted to our covenants and strive to help those around us do the same or catch the vision of of how beautiful covenants can be in our lives, while also avoiding judgment?
Elliott Smith 33:07
Ooh, that's a that's a great question. I'm going to refer to another Elder Maxwell talk if that's okay? To paraphrase again, I haven't come with exact references for all this, but and it's been a while since I've listened to this talk. But Elder Maxwell talks about discipleship, right. And to paraphrase him, he said, we should learn to be holy without being holier than now and righteous without being self righteous. And then I've kind of added on there just tried to be good without being goody two shoes, right. And we don't let the cultural aspects sometimes or different traditions or people at church that we may not like to be around him, we look at those as opportunities to learn to be more like the Savior, to learn to be loving, to be patient, to be kind. I certainly need all of those things from other people in my life, because I'm far from perfect, right. And one of the things that I've really tried to focus on and, and, you know, teach our daughters throughout the years is because, you know, some of our daughters have this perfectionism complex, right? And I think there's a lot of that in life that creates anxiety and mental health issues. And when you come into this church, and you start looking at all of the commandments and covenants and rules, it's very easy for people who struggle with self esteem issues, mental health issues to feel like I'm not enough. I certainly can't measure up. I hope that we as members of the Church and children of a loving Heavenly Father will never ever say or do anything that would help, that would make [or] cause anyone to feel like they don't measure up. Because they do. They do. And rather than, yeah, we have the scripture that says be therefore perfect even as I, your Father in Heaven, is perfect, right. So that's the ultimate quest. But that ain't gonna happen in this life. Perfection is not going to happen here. And I think we just need to get right with that. Heavenly Father has asked for our hearts, where's our heart? Where is it? Is it directed to Him and loving Him and loving other people. And don't worry about the rest, just love him love other people and the rest kind of handles itself. And then it takes the focus off of I've got to be perfect right now. I like to think of it you know, in English language, the same word perfect, spelled the same way can be pronounced in two different ways. And I always like to put the emphasis on a different syllable, and say, perfect rather than be perfect, just try to perfect because that, to me, helps me feel like hey, it's more of a process and a journey than it is this one thing that we're trying to achieve in this life, perfection won't happen until the next life and with our finite mortal comprehension. That's hard, right? But that is where I think we need to really express gratitude and focus on Christ's Atonement and what that really means, that Heavenly Father just wants us to do our best. But we won't ever be perfected in Him until we are perfected through Him at some point in life, but we can feel that joy and that comfort and that peace and that forgiveness in our moments of weakness throughout our lives throughout this journey of life and the Gospel. And that's the beauty in the reality of Christ's Atonement in the here and now. And too often, I think we think of Christ's Atonement as a then and there type of a thing like I'll feel the full benefit of it in the next life. And that's really hard for us to wrap our brain around. But if we think about how it can help us right now, in this very moment, and it's hard, because sometimes we just have to surrender, right? I've been through some challenging times in my life, some of the hardest, most challenging trying soul stretching times in my life was when I was serving as a bishop, seeing other people suffer in silence, there's a lot of suffering that is visible, whether it's a chronic disease or something like that. But I would say there's a lot more private suffering that goes on in this world and in this church than public suffering, right? And our Savior, my Savior is the master of private suffering. And He doesn't want us to, because He's already done that, right. And I think if we can latch on to that, and let Him take that from us, that's such a liberating place to find. And do we just get to a point sometimes where we can't do anything more, it's out of our power, right? There's so many things that we can't control in this life. And those things that we can't control all of the unfairness, the bad and sad things that happen to people. We can't control that. And we don't have to. But if we can learn how to let go and turn that over to the Savior, who has suffered everything that we have, or ever possibly could suffer, then I think that helps get through this perfectionism complex and say, "Look, God, I love you. I am really trying my best. But I'm at the end of my rope, and I need you. And I need your Son. And thank you for that. I'm going to turn it over to you now." And then we don't have to feel like we've got to fix everything and and then we can just live a more free flowing, natural, joyful gospel life rather than feel like it's so regimented. And I have to do this, and I have sure there are covenants and commandments, and I don't want to diminish that right? And in those covenants and commandments come peace and joy, and happiness. But I think if we get too regimented in obedience, it becomes a little bit of a pharisaical approach rather than a natural, flowing approach that the Savior teaches. And, like, I don't know, when I think of my Savior, one of the greatest changes they made in the temple recommend interview questions is, do you have faith in the testimony of the Savior, in Jesus Christ as it used to be our Savior and Redeemer and they changed it to your Savior and Redeemer about three years ago? He's your Redeemer Morgan, He's mine. And we are His and He's ours. And if we can develop that intimate relationship with Him, that just helps so much to offload a lot of the inadequacies that we might feel. And I think it helps us develop a greater desire and ability to live the gospel with love as the motive not as I'm a robot and I have to do this, right. But if we start there, again, getting back to the four P's start with pattern, right? Start with the pattern, and that will evolve into the purpose, the power and then realizing our potential.
Morgan Jones Pearson 40:23
That was wonderful. Those are great thoughts. And I am so appreciative to you, Eliot, first of all for, for being willing to do this. But secondly, for the example that you are, and you really are a light to everybody that meets you. And so thank you for being who you are. My last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Elliott Smith 40:47
Well, before I answer that, Morgan, you're very kind, again, to invite just a regular dude, like me, like, people who try to look me up, you won't find me, I have, , I think I have like 10 followers on Instagram or something like that, and six posts over a seven year period. So I'm certainly not an influencer in the social media realm. And, again, I haven't written the book, or really done anything super incredible in my life, just a guy trying to, well I'm a guy, here's what I do share with the different guests that you have on your podcast. I think everybody that you talk with loves the gospel. They're passionate about the gospel. And I am certainly that I love the gospel. It's meant everything to me in my life, it's given a perspective that I otherwise would not have in this life to view challenges. And so to directly answer your question, because I've listened to your podcast for awhile, I've had a chance to really think about this about a year ago, I listened to another podcast, and I don't remember what podcast it was. But they were talking about mission statements, right? Companies have mission statements, we had a mission statement when I was bishop on our ward council. And our mission statement statement was to love each one to the Savior. And we always wanted everything to start with love. And I'd really never developed a formal personal mission statement in my life. But I did a year ago after I listened to this podcast, and I kind of combined their advice with your question, because I've thought a lot about this, what does it mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ, right? What does it mean to be all in with anything, it means that no matter what we stay committed, right? If we're all in an exercise program, because for whatever reason it is, if we're all in, we stick with it, no matter what. And so, the personal mission statement, this is really the first time I've vocalized this to anybody except my, my wife and a couple of my daughters so I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but but my mission statement, which really encapsulates what it means to me to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ is to (and it's in this order by design) is to love deeply. bless others, show grit, and I'll get back to tht, that's an acronym, I'll get back to that in a second, and then control what I can and let go of what I can't. And where that comes from is loving deeply. That should be the core of everything we do in our life, love our Heavenly Father and love other people. When I think of love deeply, I think of my, my wife and daughters, first of all, just a reminder to me that that's where I need to love the deepest and the hardest is there. Bless others. That's a shortened phrase from some guidance I've received in my patriarchal blessing. That's an instruction from my Heavenly Father to remind me to think about other people first before myself, still working on that one every day. Show grit. Grit, to me stands for gratitude, respect, integrity, and tenacity. So I tried to implement those things in different aspects of my life. I'm certainly not perfect at any of that. But I have this on my phone, actually so I see it every day and just remind me and then the last part of it is control what I can let go what I can't. That's a little bit of stoic philosophy in there, right? I've read quite a bit recently on stoicism and stoic philosophy. And if you think about it, Jesus was the best stoic of all times. He was the goat for stoic philosophy, right? Because he had all the power to change things and to make the outcome different. But he didn't exercise that power. He just let control be in the hands of this Heavenly Father and did his will. And so I think, , for me, that's what living being all in the Gospel is, is just loving others trying to bless others serve others, to gratitude, respect, integrity, tenacity in everything we do and then I just try to let go of the things that we can't control people that offend us just let go be more like our Savior and try to live the way that He lived and love the way that he loved and that is what it means to me to be all in the gospel, Morgan.
Morgan Jones Pearson 45:17
Elliott, thank you so much. It's been such a treat to talk with you and to learn from you. So thank you very, very much.
Elliott Smith 45:23
Truly. My pleasure. Thank you Morgan.
Morgan Jones Pearson 45:28
We are so grateful to Elliott Smith for joining us on today's episode. A reminder that this Sunday August 28th, we will be hosting a special Sunday discussion on temples with author Melinda Wheelwright Brown on Instagram Live. Please join us at 6pm by looking up Allin.Podcast on Instagram. We'll see you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai