I have lately pondered about being inspired — or being inspiring to others.
I was in a position where I conducted Sacrament meetings for years. I was also, during those (about five) years, responsible for getting people to speak also in the meetings conducted by the other members of the Bishopric.
I can’t enumerate the times I sat there quite amazed at how things worked out for the best. And, especially in situations, when I noticed that things worked out in spite of me, not because of me. That time included some time, when I felt that the Spirit was not so close — or more rightfully that I was not close to the Spirit. I did not feel either inspired or inspiring to others. Especially to my family.
Not that there was anything really bad happening, just that I was preoccupied.
Then, again, there were times, when I prayed, got answers to my prayers, did things the way that felt right, and the people whom I called on failed to deliver despite given promises. And sometimes even then I saw, and knew in my heart, that the emergency fillers would speak about something that someone needed. I saw it when I was looking at people in the meetings.
You know, from the front, you have a different view. You get to know the habitual snoozers. Those, who always have something else. Then you can see, who was taken by surprise. Something was said that touched in an unexpected way. When you have to sit there and try not to look bored, when there is a boring topic, or too shocked when somebody says something totally out there.
Can we expect any mortal being to be in constant communion with the Holy Spirit? From the scriptures we can see that the prophets were quite often deceived; we know from history, that modern prophets have made mistakes, and have had human frailties. Can I expect myself to be any better.
Brigham H. Roberts says in Relation of Inspiration (emphasis mine):
There is nothing in the doctrines of the Church which makes it necessary to believe that [men are constantly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit], even . . . men who are high officials of the Church. When we consider the imperfections of men, their passions and prejudices, that mar the Spirit of God in them, happy is the man who can occasionally ascend to the spiritual heights of inspiration and commune with God!
So yes, we have to see that although God is interested in what we do, and at times willing to help us, he primarily wants us to learn by doing. A friend likes to say that we are “spiritual beings who are gathering mortal experience, not vice versa.” I like that idea.
But then, am I inspiring, then? That is an even more difficult thing. Consider the situation of planning a Sacrament meeting. You want it to be a spiritually uplifting experience. If you think of the word “uplifting,” though, it means “lifting up” metaphorically. “Lifting” means work, or exerting one self. So it isn’t enough to stand and speak platitudes; however, when I planned the meeting, I never planned for anyone be shocked. But since this is the Lord’s church, too, he works by means we do not see to effect outcomes we can not expect. And yet that does not have to be a failing on my part. I am doing the best I can, and I receive the kind of spiritual guidance I am able to absorb. That may not be enough — or then I need different kinds of experiences.
So the answer is; to some, I may be inspiring, my own inspiration level notwithstanding. That is a heartening thought, since I have enough trouble keeping my own spirituality at the level I perceive good, while striving to be better.
Most of all, I am praying for the gift of Charity for myself. That I could have genuine charity. Not the kind of charity that buys a $1,000 dress for a $100 a plate “charity dinner” — or the kind that really calculates the price of average Saturday afternoon && Sunday morning meals and doubles that for Fast Offering. These are not bad, but I’d like to really be able to look at all of Heavenly Father’s children as equal in my sight as well as his. It seems to me this is much more difficult than I would have thought.
Anyway, Jesus gave us his example and his parables, which try to teach us to look beyond the clothes and hair style. My white shirt and tie do not make me righteous any more than some other brother’s polo shirt and sideburns (so 1970s!) make him unrighteous.
In short, there is a certain amount of humility, tolerance and patience that is required to see ourselves honestly in relationships to others, and others’ effect on us; and to wait on the Lord to deliver. He often likes me to wait longer than I’d like to.