Greg McKeown: Essentialism—A Disciple’s Path

Wed Feb 20 10:00:54 EST 2019
Episode 19

Greg McKeown has taught the principles of his book, “Essentialism,” to some of the most reputable companies in the world. On this week’s episode, McKeown explains why the way of the essentialist is really an effort to follow the example of Jesus Christ.


MORGAN JONES: "Essentialism is not about how to get more things done. It's about how to get the right things done. It doesn't mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential."

This is a statement made by Greg McKeown and his New York Times bestselling book Essentialism. But what does essentialism look like in our efforts to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, for starters, Greg says Jesus Christ was a master of discerning the priority in every situation. Originally from London, England, Greg McKeown has taught the principles of essentialism to millions of people around the world. He has instructed companies about these principles, including Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, and Twitter. McKeown graduated with his MBA from Stanford University. He and his wife, Anna, are the parents of four children and currently reside in the Los Angeles, California area.

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 your host, Morgan Jones. And I'm honored to have Greg McKeown on the line with me today. Greg, thanks so much for joining me.

GREG MCKEOWN: Oh, it's my pleasure to be with you, Morgan. Thank you.

MJ: Well, we previously did a story together, Greg, where I was able to interview you. And that interview, I think lasted close to two hours. So today, in an effort to kind of cut to the chase, I'm just going to kind of dive right in if that's okay with you?

GM: It's marvelous.

MJ: Well, let's maybe start with this. You had an experience in your life that you said greatly shaped it from there on out. You said that this started at the Spanish temple dedication, and kind of carried into a trip to Utah that you took three weeks later. And this was shortly after your mission. Do you mind sharing that experience?

GM: The Spanish temple dedication was an extraordinary moment for me. I through a series of, you know, in inverted commas coincidences was able to be there. And then, at the last moment was invited to actually be in the celestial room for what was the first dedicatory session. And I'm sitting there, with friends, with family, you know, a family of friends rather from the area. And at first, I was a bit like a spiritual tourist about the moment. President Hinckley's there, Elder Holland's there, his wife's there, you know, there's just these, to me, these extraordinary people. And I'm like, "Why? Why did I get to be here?" And then you know sometimes the Spirit tells you things, and sometimes the Spirit tells you off. And as it turns out, this was more like one of those. And the Spirit took the same question I'd asked but with a different tone, and said, "Why do you? Why do you get to be here?" And I look around, and I suddenly realized, really, everybody there is there because they have sacrificed their lives for something like the last 30 years. So these the leaders from Portugal, from Spain, that had- that had literally were the first members of the Church in the area, and, and had built what had led up to now this temple. And I felt a course humbled by that reflection. And then in that reflection in that moment, really was faced with a question, which was, you know, are you willing to hold your whole life in your hands and give it to me? That's what these people have done. That's why they're here. They already did it. And you're here now, and, and I remember feeling terrified about that question. Not because I expected some crazy or unexpected thing to happen if I answered, yes. But because I thought I would just be told to go back and do what I was already doing. You know, yes, I'll do it. And that wasn't, I already had within me a desire for something different, a hope of something of a sort of sense of mission. But I did say yes. And that was the moment. This was a real decision point. And the decision comes from the Latin to cut off, to kill. And this turned out to be one of those moments that cutting off or the killing of an old life, and the birth of a new life. And really everything that's happened since then, and that's been, you know, just I think, coming up on 20 years, in a couple of months here marks 20 years since that moment. And the difference the dividing line between all that's happened and what's happening before is so stark, that that really was, to use President Hinckley's term, for a different but similar event of his own life, a day of decision for me.

MJ: Yeah, well, I love that story. Because I think that it's so interesting. I think we've all felt those feelings of like, you talked about being almost afraid that you would be told to go back to what you had been doing. But then also feeling this longing to have a sense of mission. And I think that's something that a lot of us experience at certain points in our lives and those decision moments that kind of change the course from their own. And I kind of want to talk about how that shaped you for what you're doing now. So you have that experience. And then I believe was it like three weeks later that you came on this trip to Utah?

GM: Yes, that's right. I was visiting with, as I remember, with Jake White, who was one of my missionary companions, and I was with him in Utah, and, and went to see Jerry Lund, Gerald Lund. And, and when I was visiting with him in the church, offices, he, he just, I had this idea, and I was I really wanted to teach to write this is what was in my mind, and I had this idea for some sort of curriculum for returning missionaries. That's what the idea was. And he said, "Well, it's very timely here, I actually have been working, you know, over the years, and just such a curriculum". And he shared that with me, and he said, "Look, if you do decide to stay in America, you should come and help on this consultation committee. And just kind of give your thoughts and share these ideas." And as it turns out, I never did that. And I don't really remember why I just did this, that never happened. But that moment had a really curious force about it. I remember going downstairs and everyone was leaving for the day of sort of dusk. And I was writing down on a piece of paper, you know, cool. What if you did decide to stay in America, he'd said it as if it was just one of my options, you know, that his assumption was that this could be done. And up to that point, I don't think it had been a real option. You know, I suppose mentally it might have been, but emotionally, it wasn't. And so as I'm sitting there, I'd say almost every he's gone through the day, and I'm just writing and, I don't know, 20 minutes or so I'm writing these ideas. And I look at the piece of paper, and I noticed not what I've written down. But what I haven't written down, which is that law school is not on my list. So if I did decide to stay right here, if I did do whatever, I would, you know, what was really inside? It wouldn't be law school, which was inconvenient, because I was still at the time at law school in England.

MJ: The one thing you were doing was not on the list.

GM: Yeah, that's right. That's right. The big thing I was doing was not on the list. That's right. And it wasn't that that was a shocking moment because I wasn't really enjoying it very much. But given the physical distance of being a different continent, the conversation I just had, which just assumed that this was a real choice. I remember just seeing it with new eyes. And it was almost like at that point that the genie was out of the bottle, and there was no putting the genie back in. That even though it took a little, you know, took a few weeks before that was, you know, there were plans in place. And I had officially changed what I was doing. I just never went back before that moment. I never said, "Okay, well, I'm just going to go back there, get you to go back and spend a few more weeks in law school and just see." I just did. The optimism just grew and grew the hope of what could follow grew and so I never went back to law school. And I called my parents from the United States. And I remember my mother answers. Fortunately, she listened to her while and she said, "I think you better talk to dad."

MJ: She's like, "I'm going to turn this over."

GM: So he comes on the phone and he listens too which isn't, which isn't entirely like him, and he listens for a while. And then because all Englishmen quote Shakespeare, you know, of tea and crumpets for breakfast in the morning, he pulls a line, straight out of Hamlet. He became quite chilly, about all of it actually, "Son, you know what we've always told you." You know, and I knew what he always told me, which was go to law school. But that's not what he seemed to remember. He said, "Well we've always told you son: 'to thine own self be true'." And I don't remember him ever quoting that line from Hamlet to me ever, or my whole life. Or since but in that moment, I'm sure that he was being led in what he said. And, and that that was right. There was another line actually he followed up with so "to thine own self be true". And then he quoted something from a primary hymn "Do what is right. Choose what is right. Let the consequence follow. And that was very empowering and supportive, that I wasn't crazy about this, these ideas weren't just, you know, weren't just youthful fancies, for example. And, and I felt that it was, you know, for me in a, in a very small way, really important. In my life, it was essential. And so and so, quit law school. And, and pursued this, this different, totally different journey. And to teach, to write, to get to read, and study all the time. And, and, and try to find ideas that have the power of relevancy for people and that can make a difference, you know, to my own small way to, to share some light in a world that can be filtered, who knows where sometimes. And, and, and the opportunities came, you know, thick and fast. And, and were persistent after that. It has been... Yeah, it has been quite the adventure.

MJ: Well, I think that you do a great job of that, Greg. And I think the interesting thing about the story that you just told, is you have that experience with your father where he says "Do what is right, let the consequence follow." And essentially, that is what you have spent your life teaching people is this the importance of making choices. And so I kind of want to go ahead and just get right into this concept of essentialism. Can you explain for those listening, that maybe aren't familiar with your book, or the things that you teach, what is essentialism?

GM: Essentialism is disciplined, continual, systematic, approach to figuring out what is essential, eliminating everything that's not, and then building a system in your life to make it as effortless as possible, to do what you've just identified as being essential. So it's just those three steps, it's this, what is essential? You have to create space to be able to do that. To then have the courage of those convictions, and actually, eliminate what is less important or even totally non-essential, out of your life. So that then you have the resources, the space, the energy to be able to actually build a new system, a new life, with new routines, new habits, to be able to really actually follow through, hopefully as effortlessly as possible, on the things that really matter most.

MJ: Yeah. And you had an experience that kind of shaped this concept of essentialism in your own life, and it has kind of served as the inspiration for that when your wife was having your child. Is that right?

GM: Yeah, that's right. I mean, this was this, I was, I was already observing a phenomenon in professional environments, in organizational levels, where were organizations would, would often start off with a clear idea of what they were doing. But as success came to them, they would start to be pulled in so many different directions that they started violating more important things for less important things. And so they fell into what Jim Collins has called the undisciplined pursuit of more. And if you do that, what happens at the organizational level is that you actually start to plateau in your progress or fail all together. And so I was observing that there a success paradox. And while I'm observing this, I have this little experience that in hindsight, was really important one, which is the email from a colleague at the time said, "Look, you know, Friday, between one and two, would be a very bad time for your wife to have a baby. Because I need you to be at this client meeting. And you know-

MJ: Because naturally, you can schedule your child's birth.

GM: Yeah, I mean, you know, and I'm sure they were joking. But as we go, Thursday night, in the middle of the night, we're in the hospital, our daughter's born. Everybody's well enough off. And Friday morning, I mean, everyone is as well off as one is after you've gone through the valley of the shadow of death the night before. But that morning, I am feeling torn. I do not feel empowered to simply say, this is what's essential. This is what is not, I feel torn. I want to do both. I want to keep everybody happy. I want to, you know, I want both, which is really the classic non-essentialist dilemma is that-

MJ: Right, we want it all?

GM: Well, yes. And if we just simplify it to just we want both. Whenever there's a trade-off the nonessentialist wants both. I think it's quite a natural man instinct, actually, we want, you know, there's the occasion to eat it too, we want both, we think both is the way to happiness, we think both is, is is is the way to success. Sometimes we even think that's what success is. But you know, as I go to that, meeting that day, I find well, of course, I didn't get everybody happy, I'm barely really present in the meeting, I'm tired, and, and, and so disconnected. And, and of course, I haven't been there for something that clearly more important, you know, my, my daughter, my wife, and I violated something essential for something non-essential. And I learned the simplest of lessons, which is if you don't prioritize your life, someone else will. And, and so that did become a clarifying moment, again, in hindsight. And I really, I really realized that, that it's not the only time I've done something maybe not as I've not that sort of thing very often. But and I'm not the only person who has made the basic error. It's actually a pretty universal mistake. And so people listening to this can ask themselves look if they ever felt like I was feeling stretched too thin at work or at home? Have they ever felt like, I was feeling busy, but not necessarily productive? Have they ever felt that their day is being hijacked by other people's agenda that that that that takes them off course? And if the answer to any of those questions is yes. Then, you know, what, what I write about in the essentialism is is intended to be a way out, you know? The way out Is the way of the essentialist.

MJ: Which, you know, you go through those questions, and I'm like, well, that should just about cover everyone. So I think this is an important thing for anyone listening. And definitely for me, you know, I've read this book a couple years ago, before we did our first interview. And it's something that I've often thought about. And I've thought about some of the concepts that you've taught, and specifically how those, how we see those in the scriptures and within the church. And so I think that that's one reason I was like, "Oh, we've got to have Greg on this podcast." Because I think the things that you teach in regard to how this applies to the gospel, and our membership in the church is so so valuable. One thing that was interesting to me was I remember when I read the book the first time, and I thought this reminds me so much of President Oaks talk "Good, Better, Best". And I asked you, I was like, "Did that influence writing the book, and you explained to me that you actually had seen these principles in the businesses that you were working with and then that allowed you to kind of look at these things in the Gospel through different eyes. So I guess my question for you, Greg, is, would you say that your faith has influenced the topics in your research or that your research has influenced your personal faith?

GM: The answer's yes. They're interrelated. I don't even fully know how I'd separate them. And, but, but I will say this when I was first writing Essentialism and was looking for examples in scripture. Partially as a, as a foundational, sort of, steadying mechanism, to make sure that what you're teaching isn't just fresh, it must be fresh and true. You know, and so and so there's a few ways of doing that, you can do that through a variety of research techniques, you can do it through study and you should also I felt, I should also do it foundationally in scripture. Does this does this fit within what we what what what is revealed truth? And at first, what I found was okay, there are a few stories. So classic, simplification of prioritization stories in scripture, and I, I felt like I was bringing together you know, these "a piece here and a piece there", you know, Mary and Martha story, you know, one is focused on the Savior, the other focused, too concerned with, with the hospitality of the moment and, and all that had to be done. And, but the first chose that good part. Okay, there's a story that supports essentialism, and I felt like I was reading in that way. But over time, I have understood something very different, which is that every page and literally almost every story, if not every story, is an essentialist story. And it took me a while to see that too and what that revealed to me was how non-essentialist my own mind had become. How many Non-essentialist ideas I had that got in the way of me, reading the scriptures, you know, it's not just me, it's not just, I read the scriptures directly. When we read the scriptures, we have, you know, that there's, there's me, there's my mindset, the way I see the world, you know, to use Paul's description to see through a glass darkly. And, and I realized that that part of my loss of what was interfering with my reading of the scriptures was a set of assumptions that turn out to be non-essentialist assumptions. And so it was interfering with the very, which scriptures I emphasize, which ones I read, and how I read those stories. And so, for me, essentialism was a, a vehicle for cleansing some of that, for helping me to say, "Okay, let's, let's just try and take some of the world out of my mind. So one of the world's expectations out of my mind and just seek what is actually written here." And and and then what I find is you could almost literally at random turn to any page of scripture and say, "Okay, what's the story?" And what you'll find is, it's a story about someone who has been asked to make a divine trade-off between something essential and something non-essential. And sometimes those trade-offs are so- they're really tough. And that's why they make it in scripture and survived for thousands of years, you know, they they're like, exquisitely tough challenges, because they're the people are being asked to make decisions between something essential, meaning very important, the most important, and something else, really important. You know, you think of Abraham, with his son, Isaac, You know, this, this is, in a sense, the test of all tests, because he has to be able to discern the priority of his life. He's not allowed to simply say, "Look, there's a lot of good things, and there's a lot of really, really good things, he must be able to discern between, between, you know, the Lord Himself, in his will, for Abraham, and the life of his own son, and previous promises that have been made to him. So this is, this is an essentialist challenge, and maybe, you know, among the very toughest in scripture. And if he hadn't known what the priority was, versus what a bunch of important things were, he couldn't have passed the test. He passes the test because he knows God first. Everything else, including my own son, including a life of my own son, second. And getting that priority, right, is really the story of all scriptures. It's the same story again, and again. Will we give up something less important, for the thing, the thing that matters most, which is putting the Lord first and trusting that He's always right, and so that we're seeking constantly to have the discernment to be able to know the difference between the priority and even the other good things in our life?

MJ: Yeah, absolutely. I think it is amazing in studying the scriptures, how when you're looking for something, how much more you see it. Right now, in my Book of Mormon reading, I've been trying to look for statements of identity. And I, it's been amazing to look for those and see how frequently that shows up. And so I love that you as you were looking for those examples of essentialism, found them on every page. And I think, even with that, that's like a mindset shift in what we're looking for, and really this concept of essentialism, and living an essentialist life is a mindset. And one thing that I loved last time we talked, you kind of broke down for me how essentialism can be kind of a celestial mindset. Do you mind explaining that to those listening?

GM: Well, right. So, if you think about the, you know, if you can think about the kingdoms of glory, as, as a future thing, you know, a judgment to come. Or you can think about it as a lens through which to think about your life right now. And, and given that God exists in an eternal now, that is that the sense of past, present, and future that we have been given, to help make sense of this temporary experience on earth is not, does not appear to be God's nature or existence at all. Everything is now. The eternal now, that's how He exists. And so if we, if we take a page out of that, that truth, that reality then we can start to use the kingdoms of glory, as a, as different lenses with which to think about what we're doing. And in sort of an intellectual area, you can imagine that that's, that's really where a mind is, is very self-centered. We're consumed with the noise of the world, we hunger, after worldly rewards and worldly prioritization. And so we may, we may still go to church. But we're really the core of us is still in this telestial mindset. The terrestrial level and this is where I think it gets a little trickier, the terrestrial level, we're saying, you know, a lot of things are good. And which is, it's a true statement. But our discernment is only at the terrestrial level. And so we could easily, at that level, sort of prioritize a whole series of things about the same level of importance, we say, "Okay, well, I go to church, I can be with my family, or I can be with friends, or I can go exercise or you know, all of these things are good,

MJ: Right, all good things.

GM: All good things, and there's certainly a degree of light. And, and in some ways, I think of everything I do professionally as sort of being in the terrestrial place in some ways because you don't always have the opportunity as we are today to be able to see, to see the rich celestial gospel perspective and ramification. So, so that's sort of the terrestrial mindset, the selection mindset, we already use an example today with Abraham, but this is where we really are seeking those higher levels of discernment. So that we can distinguish, you know, the essential from the good, of course, also from the trivial many, but, but that that level of discernment is so critical. For example, in the Book of Mormon, there is this, as we all know, this repeated promise, if you keep my commandments, you will prosper in the land. I mean, that is communicated constantly through the book of scripture. But when you read, for example, Nephi, how he uses that term? And then what follows him having used that term, what you find is he's talking about personalized commandments. He's not talking about- he's not only talking about that time keeping the Law of Moses and going through these ordinances and and keeping the 10 commandments. He's, he's using it from this celestial point of view, where he's receiving personalized commandments for him, and really not for anyone else. Like, I don't have to build a ship. right? You don't have to build a ship? Well, you might, I don't want to speak for you, you might have to—

MJ: I'm not building any ships anytime soon so...

GM: But nevertheless, that's the idea of, you know, at least one application of a celestial perspective is that we, we have to be, we have to seek to be in tune so that we get answers that are that clear. I'll give you an example. I was, I have to only be general because of course, this is a personal experience. But when I was serving as Bishop, I remember in the same week, I had, I had two people come to me, well, two couples. And their situation was exactly the same. Very tough, really complex, personal situation. High stakes situation, I could hardly believe that, that this would happen within the same week. As they went through a very prayerful process of celestial discernment, they came to exactly opposite answers as to what to do. They both- each couple had the opposite answer, same situation, very, very similar. And nobody's exactly the same, but very similar on the surface. And I didn't trust myself in that situation, to my own logic, or my own thoughts, about what it would be. My goal was to help them to go to the Lord and to have this high enough clarity to be able to discern the right commandment for them. And that to me is part of what it means to have the celestial perspective is that we can discern this the right course for me. And in the final analysis, what's liberating about this is that I don't have to be so consumed with what other people's judgment of me is. There's one judge. There's not 10 judges, right? Well, there are 10 judges, but I don't have to worry about them all. You know you and I don't have to worry about them all. We do probably a bit too much. What people think, what people say, how people react to them, this is exhausting. But there is one judge, right? No man can serve two masters. And He's just saying two. You can't serve two. The celestial perspective means you got to know who your master is, who your judge is, and make sure that you're checking in with him. What's the right next step? What do I do next? And if we don't do that, we will immediately become cluttered by even very good ideas and expectations, and intents, and hopes, and, you know, we can get off track very quickly. You know, we can be in what might call it the law school of, you know, periods of our life. There's nothing bad about that, there's nothing bad.Lots of good about that. And, of course, I'm not suggesting that other people that are in law school aren't supposed to be there. I just there was, it was like a parallel path for me as a good path. And then there Yeah, well I love that you talked about the judge, and I couldn't help but think, who is the judge? And then who is our lawyer, speaking of law school, in that situation? And that is Christ. And if we are trying to pursue a disciplined path, in following Him, we look at the way that He did things. And so I was thinking about how, how Christ is an example of essentialism. How do you think that we see that throughout the scriptures? I was thinking about how we're doing the come follow me. And if we want to follow him, right, we live the way that he lived.We've enjoyed so much doing come for me and our family, and we've gathered around literally the hearth, you know, the fireplace, and we've sat there and that's our favorite place to have these conversations. And I remember in the first, the first lesson that we had, it was a very spiritual experience. And I'm not, not suggesting everyone has been or will be, but it was very powerful to have this, this church experience at home. And, and we really felt affirmed that of exactly this idea that, that, that Jesus Christ was under one obligation, which was to do the will of his father. Right, it was to do His will, at his time and his way. And, I mean, it got Him into all sorts of trouble actually, in the end, because He wasn't willing to water that down or to do something else because it was popular or to simply go with the religious jargon and norms of the day. And it's, you know, saying this, I hope, sensitively, you know, you don't crucify somebody who's no trap to your system. You know, I mean, Jesus was much, much more than nice. And, you know, sometimes, and I know, this isn't a knock on Mr. Rogers here, either. But sometimes there's a sense of a Mr. Rogers figure I just this though he's, he's, he's much more than just nice.He, he is, he is doing this extraordinary, exquisitely important, infinitely powerful mission, and nothing else. So, again, I don't want to go too far in it sort of twisting something but, but it is to me, breathtaking to consider what Jesus Christ did not do, in his earthly mission. I mean, there are so many places he didn't go. And so many people who were not healed in that moment, in that period, whether it is 33 years, or is three, but you know, the final ministry, I mean, there's so much not done. And of course, for some people that was too much it was, it was a crisis of faith for them, because they said, "Well, here we are, we've been expecting this Messiah. He's going to save us from all these things." And, and, and it wasn't that he didn't have the power to do those things. He did have the power, he could have released the Jews from under the Roman thumb. But it wasn't His Father's will. So He was obliged to do only what was essential, and, and constantly so. And so in our lives. That's, that's still an ideal. My mission in life is to do, you know, Jesus's will in His way, in His time. And, of course, that's like, you know, that's a full life, full challenge, to try and do that. And as I've said, get it wrong lots of times. And, in fact, I think probably, I'm off track 90% of the time, maybe all of us are, we're off track. But if we quickly repented, we quickly forgive, if we quickly move forward, then we're again, like Joseph Smith was called again to the work and our mission is restored to us. And we can still do in our own life, and our own way, a marvelous work and a wonder. That he will work through us and do more with our lives than we ever could alone. And, and it all really does come back to this idea of, of learning from Him what His priority was, and therefore in our life, in our covenant relationship with Him, to seek the priority in our lives. I'll tell you a very concrete way that I've done this and been tutored in this. And that is to see the sacrament on Sunday, as as a Urim and Thummim, for a week. That if we prepare for it right, in fact there appear to be about two rules for how to use a Urim and Thummim and that they're not not very complicated. But all Urim and Thummim's seem to work by two rules: One is we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Whatever faith we have, we must bring all of that faith to the table. And number two, is that we must commit, promise to do whatever we're told. As we use that Urim and Thummin, like whatever light comes to us, we must act upon it. It's not for curiosity sake alone, it is intended for action. So we must come sort of pre-committed to whatever comes. And if we do that, we will see things and that we will get that personal revelation, that we will be able to then discern our essential mission in life. And to be able to do that each week means that in a very great number of instances I have been surprised at at what the priority for this week is. I'm surprised by it. Not every time surprised, but I would think maybe even as much as 80% of the time I'm surprised at the answer that comes. It doesn't do nothing else. But yeah, go ahead.

MJ: Well, no, I was just gonna say that's, that's super interesting. And I think you know, as you talk about discerning that priority, I think that can be something that as members of the church, it almost adds this whole other element of what is essential, you know, I need to read my scriptures. But I also need to reach out to my ministering sister and I also need to fulfill my calling. And so how do you see that, Greg? How do we better balance that as members of the church?

GM: Oh, this is, you know, this is a very real challenge. And to pretend it's not is, is it's not helpful, it's not faithless to suggest that it's a bit confusing, which thing is most important, because almost any principle, you know, somebody can stand up and give a talk or, or you could read a whole volume of talk saying this thing is the thing. I mean, that's at least the impression one can receive this is the most important thing.

MJ: Like, there are one million things that seem to be the most important thing.

GM: -to do now. Exactly. And I see her, now it's not easy, but I see her grapple with them. And I see her going, "Okay. I'm taking the time out, and I'm going to go" And what that means is she's going to get on her knees. And she's going to just keep talking this through until she gets an answer. Okay, look, this is the thing, focus on this. And then you can get to the next thing. He is willing to give that revelation. President Nelson's talk on revelation for the church and for individuals is worth this repetitive reading. Because this is the very key in a society suffocated with options. It is not surprising that within the church as we bring all of that noise and ideas and options with us, that we too may be sometimes guilty of non-essentialism. Of thinking that this particular I don't know what this party that we're planning is, is equal to importance as, as going on a temple trip, I don't know, I don't want to- I don't want to be the judge of this. But I know that the Lord did not create a world where everything was equally important. And so what we have to do as we, as we enter the church, as we're members of the church, that's not enough, you can't just stop and say, "Well, now just do everything." First of all, because you can't. There are still too many things. But we have to then- but what has to happen if we want to go further in our spiritual journey we have to. And we want our contribution to increase that we might do really the Lord's work in our life. Our discernment level has to increase to match the number of options that we have. So when someone's feeling crazy what do I do? Do I minister? Do I minister a sister? Minister a brother? Do I- what do I do for them? And you know, and you're pulling all these different directions, you go back to the Lord, you make in a sense, you admit that it's His problem. We're willing to do whichever now what's the right thing? And a prompting will come and really, I think these changes, I think there's a, there's a consistent, golden thread running through many or if not all of the changes that have been made in the last year, these this absolutely, palpably powerful, revolutionary year that we've had in the church. That many of these things are, are actually stepping into the same basic principle, which is, how do you simplify the process, I'm not doing three hours, we're doing two hours, we're no longer having two quorums, we're going to have one elders quorum. And we could go through, you know, the other major, the other major changes in a similar way, it's a simplification process, in most instances, but it's also the change is not just the less, it's less but better. So it means that it's in a sense, it's less things, but now we must have greater discernment. No, you don't have to go and visit your family and bring them a message every month in the way we did before. No, that's no longer you don't have to feel forced with that structure. But you are required to get a higher level of discernment so that you can know what the real need is. And so again, it's less but better. I think that that, to me, is one way of thinking about many of the shifts and changes that they made.

MJ: Well I love that you brought up President Nelson, I feel like I say this every episode because every episode, this concept of revelation comes up and President Nelson comes up, and how he is teaching us It seems like how to receive revelation from the Lord. And in this case, he's teaching us what is truly essential. And I think that that makes it such an exciting time to be a member of the church and that we're learning so much more how to be like Christ, and how to follow Him. And that is such a powerful thing that I think, I don't know that I really have thought about until the past like year or so is, how am I following Him in my life? Am I doing the things that He did? You know you hear I'm trying to be like Jesus, I've always sung it. But it feels like in the last little bit, that's become a lot more real. And it's only through that process of receiving personal revelation that we're able to do that. Greg, I could literally talk to you all day. But I just have one last question for you. And I think that this is going to be really interesting to hear your answer because it's essentially, no pun intended, what we've been talking about this whole time, and that is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

GM: I've learned something new about this. I suppose it's two things. But we've emphasized especially at the beginning when you asked me about Spanish temple dedication, the first kind of all in, and that is, in that moment, that was an "all in" moment. I was giving my whole life to the Lord and I really believed in that moment. And still believe that what I was saying was, you don't have to take anything from me. Because it's already yours. And so that's what all in meant to me. And I still think that was an important, critical moment. But there's a second kind of all in that I have been learning more about recently, researching more about, studying more about and I see exhibited by President Nelson. I know I'm not saying it yet, but I was just watching one of the video biographies of President Nelson. And one of the things I seem to think one of his children said was that he said, when he was at work, he was completely at work. When he was a church, he was completely a church. When he was at home, he was completely at home with the family. And, and at first, it sounded like, oh, here's someone who has balanced their life well. Like that's what it sounded like at first. But then I thought, I don't think it's just about balance. It's that in this moment, he is doing what's right, right now. You know, that's, it's not that he's going. I'm in work mode. I mean, it's not just the shift, it's just in every now is where he is, he's giving everything in this moment. And I think that that's what all in looks like. So if you really start to emphasize of focus on this moment, if you prioritize this moment, above, anything that's happened in the past and above, anything that you're worried about in the future, and you realize it's always going to be about this moment. It changes. It changes what it means to be all in. Because if you use this lens, this lens of this present moment, this now then, every time the scriptures use the phrase, always, which is not very many. I mean, there are multiple repetitions, but there about only a few things worth going and studying it.

MJ: Yeah.

GM: You find that there are only a few things the Lord is actually saying, Please, in every moment, do this in every moment. That's what He's saying what He says always. He's saying every now and every now do this. We can't have 50 things you've got to do in every moment. But there are a few things we're supposed to do in every moment. And that's what I think President Nelson's doing. He's in this moment humble before the Lord. In this moment, he's remembering Jesus Christ. That's what we're saying in the sacrament. Every, you know, always remember Him means in every now, remember Him. And so in any moment, when I started, you feel grumpy. I go, Okay, well, I'm not remembering that. I've got to remember Him. I've got to be humble before Him in this moment. Doesn't matter what I did on my mission, it doesn't matter what I did 10 years ago. Didn't matter with what calling I've served in in the past, what things I've done. This is not relevant. This is not what the judgment is. It's in this moment. Can I be all in with Him. That's what it means now to me to be all in.

MJ: That's amazing. I have never thought about it like that. And I feel like I'm going to need like a few days to chew on it. And I also need to go study where always is found in the scriptures. So you've given me a good list of things to do, Greg, as always, and I so appreciate you being willing to take the time to talk to me it really means the world. So thank you.

GM: Morgan. Thank you so much.

MJ: Many thanks to Greg McKeown for joining us on today's episode and thank you for listening. To learn more about Greg, visit gregmckeown.com. And if you've enjoyed this episode of All In and want to keep the good times rolling, please leave us a review or rating on iTunes. And don't forget to share this podcast with your friends. We'll see you next week. Thanks so much.

View More