"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
January 8, 2013
Measuring Spoons for Growth and Goodness
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

Measuring spoons mean nothing whatsoever to me for cooking. I learned to use a ‘pinch’ of this and a ‘bit’ of that, and to cook it till it’s done.

For baking, however, exact measurement is much more important. If I follow, with precision, the recipe for the best banana bread in the entire world – one my mom got when we were living in Hawaii – it will turn out delicious every time. Without the recipe, it’s a goner. All those perfectly good ingredients go to waste, without measuring out the right amounts of each. Or, we’d eat that batch of bread, enjoying it much less than we might.

For my own personal growth, I’ve found measuring spoons – so to speak – work well, too.

Sometimes I’ve required myself to move too fast. To over-mix life’s ingredients or add too much worry while leaving out quite enough faith. By doing so, I’ve made a mess of things. Or left out important parts of the learning experience. Or tried to measure with too severe a measurement … one fourth teaspoon of mercy instead of one tablespoon.

It seems the correct measuring system is important in order to meet a core principle of truth – one we have to, each of us, come to accept and enjoy:

"Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10)

Utilizing proper measurement allows us to remember that we are loved and very important to our Father. It prevents us from feeling like we are ‘less than’ simply because we serve in a different way than other people. Not in a lesser calling, because there IS no lesser calling in the kingdom. This is a myth – a mess – perpetuated by culture, perhaps. But it’s not a principle based on truth.

Because Brother or Sister So-and-So serves as Bishop or Stake R.S. President does not make them better. Any of the prophets will tell you this. They know that in the kingdom it’s a lateral playing field…. Simply callings that need to be tended to.

Were I to measure myself, should I have dumped a pound of praise upon my head when serving in the Stake RS or YW? Or dropped a mere one-half spoonful of delight upon myself when serving in the nursery, or as a visiting teacher? Two points to make here:

1. My visiting teacher rocks. She will surely find herself with some extra measurement of goodness for the amazing job she does. What’s more important than ministering personally to another woman in the church?

2. Anyone who serves in the nursery, in my opinion, deserves all the applause – spiritual and physical – they can get. That’s one job I hope I never have to have again. I sound like a whiner. I hope it doesn’t land me back in the nursery for bad behavior.

In order for a cake to turn out, each amount of proper ingredient is needed. They work together in order to create a yummy treat. Sometimes, it’s even nutritious.

In order for the Church to work, each proper ingredient is needed – individual service at every level. As we work in combination with others, we find wisdom and enjoyment and even healing.

I imagine the Savior rejoices at our every attempt to add to the goodness factor in this mortal school. He gives us a generous portion of grace and allows us to make mistakes as we learn to accept his recipe for eternal joy.

Our measuring spoons, when growing a better ‘us’, should be generous in loving, personally-tending ways. Small in ways that would condemn or make us feel less than another. And whatever our part – one that requires a large portion of time and energy, or one with lesser time or involvement – we can find satisfaction as we serve and learn.

The ability to utilize basics of gospel growth and wise measurement of how we’re doing in the process? Our recipe will turn our fine.

Step away from the kitchen, so to speak. Think back a year ago or ten years ago. Comparing where we are now to where we were then may allow us a more full measure of appreciation for what we’ve learned and how much we’ve grown. If we’ve erred by comparing ourselves to others, we can un-do that behavior, with practice.

It’s God’s Plan of Happiness we’re growing into. This is the Savior’s church. It’s his recipe – complete with atoning sacrifice – that allows us to churn into someone better. If we’re leaning on Him, and measuring – the best we can – with the tools He has given us, He is equipped to whip us into shape and help us turn out just fine.

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About Vickey Pahnke Taylor

Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, teacher, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in interpersonal communications.

A Billboard award-winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, she uses music as a teaching tool. But her favorite way to use music has been to sing to her children. You should hear the family's rousing versions of "Happy Birthday"!

In addition to three solo albums in the LDS market, she co-wrote "Women at the Well" with Kenneth Cope and "My Beloved Christ: with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme song for Utah's Make-A-Wish foundation, the song for the Special Olympics program, and EFY's theme song.

She writes for several online magazines and columns, and has authored several books. Her website, www.goodnessmatters.com, is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, pointing people gently toward Christ and eternal principles of truth.

She has spoken for the Church's various Youth and Family programs for 25 years. She and her husband Dean have eight children and four grandchildren. She adores being a wife, mom and grandmother. She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Italian and Southern foods, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets.

Vickey was baptized a member of the Church as a teenager in Virginia. She serves as gospel doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves on their stake high council.

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