Priorities

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“Benevolent is a lovely word that we don’t hear very often. Its roots are Latin, and it means ‘to wish someone well.’ To be benevolent is to be kind, well meaning, and charitable…Our Savior taught us about and lived a benevolent life. Jesus loved all and He served all. Centering our lives on Jesus Christ will help us acquire this attribute of benevolence. For us to develop these same Christlike attributes, we must learn about the Savior and ‘follow in His ways.’ ”

Mary N. Cook, First Counselor, Young Women General Presidency
Remember This: Kindness Begins with Me,” April 2011 General Conference

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“In my office hangs a wonderful painting depicting Jesus with Mary and Martha. Every day as I am greeted by this piece, I reflect on our challenges as women. Sister Hughes, Sister Pingree, and I felt inspired to use the account of Mary and Martha as the theme for our meeting. The Lord taught, one thing is needful: choose that good part. That is what we are going to talk about tonight, choosing that good part.
 
“Martha lived in the small village of Bethany, where she ‘received [Jesus] into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word.’ Both women loved the Lord. And ‘Jesus loved Martha, and [Mary].’ In fact, their relationship breached convention, for at that time women were not usually able to discuss the gospel with men.
 
“On one occasion Martha was making dinner and, as the scripture says, ‘was cumbered about much serving.’ In other words, she was stressed out!
 
“Mary, on the other hand, ‘sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word,’ while Martha became increasingly upset that no one was helping her. Does that sound familiar? Do you think she was thinking, ‘Why is Mary sitting there while I’m sweating over this stove?’ So Martha turned to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.’
 
“The Lord’s gentle invitation to Martha may have surprised her. ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’
 
“The Savior’s response strikingly clarified what mattered most. On that evening in Martha’s home, the good part was not in the kitchen; it was at the Lord’s feet. Dinner could wait…
 
“Mary and Martha are you and me; they are every sister in Relief Society. These two loved the Lord and wanted to show that love. On this occasion, it seems to me that Mary expressed her love by hearing His word, while Martha expressed hers by serving Him.
 
“Martha thought she was doing right and that her sister should be helping her.
 
“I don’t believe the Lord was saying there are Marthas and there are Marys. Jesus did not dismiss Martha’s concern, but instead redirected her focus by saying choose ‘that good part.’ ”
 
Bonnie D. Parkin, Relief Society General President
“Choosing Charity: That Good Part,” October 2003 General Conference

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“Some years ago, in her parting words to the Relief Society sisters, Sister Belle Spafford said, ‘The average woman today, I believe, would do well to appraise her interests, evaluate the activities in which she is engaged, and then take steps to simplify her life, putting things of first importance first, placing emphasis where the rewards will be greatest and most enduring, and ridding herself of the less rewarding activities.”

Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society General President
Steadfast and Immovable,” October 2001 General Conference

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“The purpose of the Relief Society organization of the Church, stated in our handbook, is to help women and their families come unto Christ. This means bringing the influence of Jesus Christ into our homes. It means we focus on his gospel and we find joy in living his commandments. It means we reexamine our time commitments, and give emphasis to becoming a family that is united and at peace.”

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead,” October 1995 General Conference

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“Sisters, this is a complicated era in which we live. Technology has simplified some tasks and opened up ways to learn that our grandmothers never imagined. But with a computerized society have come increased pressures, causing us to weigh carefully how we use our time, to evaluate thoughtfully what we can do that will make the greatest difference.”

Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society General President
Seek, and Ye Shall Find,” October 1994 General Conference

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“Formulating priorities is an ongoing process for us all. Sisters throughout the Church, many in circumstances far more difficult than mine, have prayerfully considered the counsel of the prophets and sought the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they too have endeavored to make wise decisions regarding the well-being of their families. And though their decisions have been inevitably varied and diverse, and sometimes misunderstood by others, I believe that they too must and can trust the Lord to help them fulfill their responsibilities.

“When we have been honest with ourselves and humble before the Lord in decisions about work and in the myriad decisions involved in mothering, we can go forward with courage.”

Jeanne Inouye, Relief Society sister
Be of Good Cheer,” October 1993 General Conference

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“Though we are women with different cultural backgrounds clear across the span of my voice, some with varying differences in personal situations (we may even clash at times on opinions regarding temporal trends or how to bake a loaf of bread properly), my firm feeling is that we must pursue a course of a covenant people. We must secure those traditions which are sacred to good people everywhere. In each country as you hear this program by direct line, your course should become clear, your priorities ought to be known to you as a daughter of God. Personal opinions may vary. Eternal principles never do.”

Elaine A. Cannon, Young Women General President
If We Want to Go Up, We Have to Get On,” October 1978 General Conference

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