Self-Mastery by Elder Russel M Nelson – Lecture Notes

General Conference Oct 1985


Topics include health, exercise, word of wisdom, addiction, chastity

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-FASTING & CRAVINGS: “Fasting gives you confidence to know that your spirit can master appetite… Fasting fortifies discipline over appetite and helps to protect against later uncontrolled cravings and gnawing habits…
-ALCOHOL: “In order to avoid water that might be contaminated, we were even counseled to brush our teeth with an alcoholic beverage. We chose not to follow that counsel, but simply did what we had learned to do once a month. We fasted that first day, thinking we could introduce simple food and fluids gradually thereafter. Later, we were the only ones in our group without disabling illness…
STIMULANTS: “as you develop courage to say no to alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants, you gain additional strength. You can then refuse conspiring men—those seditious solicitors of harmful substances or smut. You can reject their evil enticements to your body.
If you yield to anything that can addict, and thus defy the Word of Wisdom, your spirit surrenders to the body. The flesh then enslaves the spirit. This is contrary to the purpose of your mortal existence. And in the process of such addiction, your life span is likely to be shortened, thereby reducing the time available for repentance by which your spirit might attain self-mastery over your body…
-CHASTITY: “Shakespeare expressed such self-conflict as one of his characters contemplating conquest in lust spoke these lines:
What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?

Or sells eternity to get a toy?

For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy? …

EXERCISE: “I would not want you to neglect your body. It deserves daily care. Physical conditioning through regular exercise requires self-mastery too. I marvel at Elder Joseph Anderson, now in his ninety-sixth year. For decades, the strength of his spirit over his body has induced him to swim regularly. But his motivation has never been to attain physical longevity. That has come only incidentally. His desire has been to serve God and His anointed. Elder Anderson has followed what I label as the Lord’s prescription for a long and useful life. Those faithful in “magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become … the elect of God.” (D&C 84:33–34.) Elder Anderson’s exercise program agrees with the perspective of Paul, who said: “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8.) Handsome and fit, Elder Anderson personifies this scripture: “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20.)

– TITHING & HONESTY: “As you work during the productive years of life, whether at home or in the field, in the factory or at a workbench, reputation is built and character is forged as you develop self-mastery. Faithful payment of tithing is part of that process. It defends you against dishonesty or shabby temptations. Courageous accountability for your own actions becomes a cherished prize.

-ENTERTAINMENT & SPEECH: It really matters what you listen to, what you look at, what you think, say, and do. Select music that will strengthen your spirit. Control your speech; keep it free from profanity and vulgarity. Follow the teachings of this proverb: “My mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing … perverse in them.” (Prov. 8:7–8.)

-LONELINESS, DEATH, & SERVICE: “remember a concept expressed by my father some time after my mother had passed away. Your grandparents had been married for sixty-four years. When someone asked how he was doing, my father simply stated, “I’m lonely, but I’m not lonesome.” Do you know what he meant? Though he was now without his sweetheart, he was so busy assisting family and friends, he had replaced sorrow with service and had displaced self-pity with selfless love. He had found joy in following the timeless example of the Master.

-ENDURE TO THE END: “Scriptures tutor us at least twenty-six times* to endure to the end to attain eternal life.

-BODY & SPIRIT TO JUDGEMENT: “the soul, composed of the resurrected body and the eternal spirit, … will come before the great judge to receive its final assignment for the eternity” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 46.)

– TRIAL & SUCCESS: “not an age in life passes without temptation, trial, or torment experienced through your physical body. But as you prayerfully develop self-mastery, desires of the flesh may be subdued. And when that has been achieved, you may have the strength to submit to your Heavenly Father, as did Jesus, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42.)

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