On rare occasion, I've heard someone say to a child, another family member, or worker (down
the supposed food chain of employment, of course), "You're good for nothing." What sad
Each of us was made to be good. Some don't care to be good. Others don't seem to know how,
for the life of them. A few couldn't care less. But most folks want to be good. And the definition
of "good" is a changing, growing, evolving one throughout our life.
I was struck by the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley years ago, when he was addressing
this issue of being good. Here's what he taught:
"You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something.
You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your
presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others. … In this world so filled
with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must
rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a
strong voice for that which is right."
So how do we become good at something? Here's what I've been thinking:
After we do all the prerequisites like focusing, praying, and goal setting, we listen carefully and
watch vigilantly those who already seen to be like we want to be. And then we go and do.
Sounds like a well recited scripture, and one Nephi was really good at.
Then we take these steps:
We work on it more
We work on it more
We continue to work on it
We ask for forgiveness for slacking off or detouring, and work some more
We keep working on it more and more
President Thomas S. Monson offered great advice for our continuing saga of becoming good at
something, "When the world says "Give up," hope is the voice at the end of the days that says,
"Try it one more time."
It takes a lot of "one more times" to shake off the mortal man, to get rid of the pride and silly ego
of the here and now. Working on it is the way to getting better at - anything. Working for
something is far different (and better) than an instant, presto change-o shift in ability. Becoming
truly good at something takes effort, time, energy, and the huge desire. Lots of work, over years,
is required, most times.
Little wonder that work is an eternal principle.
With darkness and problems, with burdens and difficulties, this world needs all the goodness it
can grow. We each have a part to play. We don't have to compare our part to anyone else's, or
whine about how we want to be good at [you fill in the blank] right now.
As we practice, we get better. We more deeply internalize the concept President Hinckley was
talking about. It's probably not what we thought it was, when we began the exercise of being
good for something.
So - I'm off to work on polishing and practicing some more. I have a lot of work yet to do. But
this goal of wanting to be genuinely good for something? It's a good one. So - I'll work some
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
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.