Oct 8, 2009

A Lesson in Response-ability

by Kari Diane Pike

During our move from Arizona to Utah, I decided that one of the advantages of moving to an area with a high concentration of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be the ability to "hide out" for awhile and rest from the many responsibilities that filled my life before. Perhaps if we had moved to more transient area, where members are almost overwhelmed by newbies, that would have been possible. However, we moved into a ward that hadn't seen more than two or three new families in a couple of years. Ward members flocked to our home, laden with smiles, hugs, and yummy treats. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel comfortable...and useful. In a matter of a couple of weeks, I found myself fully participating in Relief Society activities, ward choir, stake choir, a new calling in Family History, and agreeing to substitute teach a Sunday lesson. When a member of the Bishopric called and asked me to speak in Sacrament meeting the same day I had agreed to teach, I accepted the responsibility, and then went to my room and cried. Then I prayed.

Responsibility is an interesting word. Bishop H. David Burton recently spoke in Conference about -ity words and how many of the personal traits we call "virtues" end in -ity. The suffix -ity refers to a quality, state, or degree of being. I am fascinated by the way the meaning of a word changes when you look at it from a different angle...responsibility as an adjective, rather than a noun. I looked at the word "responsibility" and pondered on my recent degree of response. Yes, on the surface, I responded politely and quickly to the call to serve and speak, but what about on the inside? What quality of "response" did I really make? I agreed to speak, but did I agree happily, or did I agree grudgingly?

I looked up responsibility in the Bible dictionary and found myself directed to "accountability" and "stewardship." Luke 12: 35 -48 stood out in the references. Here is an account of the Savior teaching a parable of a faithful and wise steward. Verse 35 begins by telling us, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;" Then verse 36 tells us "and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, [this part sounds like active members of the Church] when he will return form the wedding; [Remember the ten virgins?] that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." I turned to Matthew 25 and reviewed the parable of the ten virgins. Men and women, with lights and lamps, waiting for the Savior's return. They all know what is expected of them. They know what their responsibilities are, but some of the virgins neglect their responsibility and some of the men "beat the menservants and maidens" and become drunken. What if we compare their lights and lamps to our temple recommends? The responsibilities we carry out to qualify us for a temple recommend are the oil that fill those lamps, and keep our lights burning. We know what is expected of us. Our "response-ability" takes on new meaning here. Are we responsive to the things asked of us or are we becoming complacent and "hiding out?"

Verse 39 gives us a warning: "And if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through." By watching over and caring for our responsibilities, we can defend not only ourselves, but our homes and everyone and everything in it. The Lord promises the good and faithful steward that he will be made "ruler over all that he hath." There is another -ity word that comes into play here: dependability. If we are dependable, we will respond (give response) to the needs of others. The Lord depends on us to fulfill our responsibility to love and serve others, to keep the commandments and endure to the end --when He comes again and holds us accountable for our stewardships.

I no longer desire to "hide out." I'm excited about the learning process I am going through as I study to teach that Sunday lesson and I look forward to the opportunity to express my gratitude and my testimony about the new insights that are given to me as I prepare that Sacrament meeting talk. I will continue to explore more -ity word, too. Come visit me once in awhile at www.mamapikesez.blogspot.com and see how I am progressing...just so I can be held to a degree of accountability!


  1. Kari, how lucky your new ward is to have you and your family. Your thought provoking and insightful blog was wonderful.

  2. Yes sometimes I bemoan the fact that I moved to a very small branch (actually it was the biggest ward in the stake until the split) and I usually got to hide out in the back row, ha.


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