Question 1. What does it mean in the Asia North Area Plan 2018 that “lightening burdens by helping Church memberships become a blessing in daily living” by having missions and councils act in “high expectations” and “high love”?
First of all, I hope you understand that expectation and love are measured based on the perspective of Heavenly Father, not of our own. In the Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, the Lord said, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”. This means that God sees each of us as a being with such great worth who have the potential to become like God. The high expectations on us come from this perspective.
Thinking about the high expectations Heavenly Father has of us, we come to know that we are expected to do things beyond our abilities. Actually, we can meet these expectations when we have high love. Without high love, we are bound to see the high expectations of God on us as a burden and to be overwhelmed.
Sometimes, we easily misunderstand these high expectations as statistical or numerical achievements. It is good to have such tangible results or achievements. However, what Heavenly Father expects from us and sees important are the efforts we make and how much we grow in the process. The Lord said “…what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27) After all, what Heavenly Father expects from us is that we become as perfect as Christ.
So, when we are armed with high expectations and high love and we are faithful in every step of the process, we are blessed to be more converted, come closer unto God, and serve with greater joy. Consequently, Church membership becomes a blessing in our daily living and our burdens are lightened.
Question 2. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that when we give high expectations and high love, we can see miracles. What are miracles? Can we find some examples in the scriptures about high expectations and high love which brought about changes and miracles?
In the Book of Mormon, we can find some examples. A miracle happened when Lehi told Nephi and other sons to go to the Laban’s house in Jerusalem for the brass plates as the Lord commanded. In 1 Nephi 3:5-6, Lehi said to Nephi, “behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them. … it is a commandment of the Lord. Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.”
Lehi had high expectations of his son Nephi. Let me put the verses another way, “My son, you have not complained so far, unlike your brothers. The Lord commanded you to do so because He trusts you. He will bless you to bring the brass plates.”
Nephi was inspired by his father and said as we all know so well, “… I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. …” (1 Nephi 3:7)
As you know, it was not easy for Nephi to bring the brass plates. Nephi faced several difficulties. However, he finally obtained the brass plates and brought them to the wilderness, meeting the high expectations of the Lord and his father Lehi for him. In the process, he exercised strong faith and he was able to succeed thanks to the guidance and help of the Lord’s Spirit.
Also, the high expectations and high love of Alma the Elder led his son Alma the Younger, who once stood against the Church, to repent and change to become a prophet. It takes faith that high expectations and high love can bring about miracles. The miracles that happened to Alma the Younger were possible as his father Alma the Elder and church members fasted and prayed with faith. (Mosiah 27:14, 23)
Question 3. How can we apply the principle to work in high expectations and high love? Do we follow the principle when we just say “I expect you to do well. I love you.”?
I will give you an example of how we, as parents, treat our children. In order to treat our children in high expectations and high love, we should see them just as God sees them and we have to have them feel it. There was a very expensive pottery at our house when our children were teenagers. I warned them not to touch it, but one day they broke the pottery as they played in the house. They cried in regret and sincerely apologized to me, saying “Dad, we are sorry.” The moment that I was about to stop scolding them and tell them it is okay, my wife said, “It’s all right. You are much more precious than the pottery. Did you get hurt anywhere?.”
Consider your children as Heavenly Father’s children. In order to let them know how parents think about them, we parents should truly love them and express our love towards them in our daily lives. My youngest son often says that at the moment, he felt how much we, his parents, treasure and love him. It is more important to see children in the sight of God and express true love to them than to urge them to act on high worldly expectations you set for them.
Question 4. Have you had someone who had high expectations of you and loved you with high love? Also, will you share some examples of when Church leaders led a council in such a way? What miracles followed?
My father was a great example to me. Not long after I joined the Church as a teenager, I once told my father that I would not go to church anymore because I was disappointed by imperfect members. He said, “Don’t look around, look up. Build a strong relationship with God.” He meant that I should look up to the Lord, who is perfect, and keep His commandments, meeting his high expectations of me. His words showed his high expectations and love for me.
A bishop I met at BYU-Hawaii had high expectations of me and loved me with high love. At the time I was one of his counselors. He said to me, “When I see you Brother Choi, I see you as a future church leader (not a mere student).” He added that I should see other international students in Hawaii as future leaders. He cared about every aspect of my life and loved me.
While I served in the Asia North Area Presidency as a new General Authority, Elder David F. Evans, who was the President, always encouraged, trusted, and complimented me with great love. Also, all apostles have high expectations and high love, though they express them differently. They always see our youth and young adults as our future leaders.
In 2009, the Worldwide Korean Young Singe Adults (YSA) and Single Adults (SA) Conference was held in Seoul for the first time. It was a special conference to have many YSAs and SAs be prepared to be called as leaders for the upcoming SMYC (the current FSY). Because it was the first ever conference held in Seoul in church history in Korea, we faced difficulties. There were a lot of controversies over the success of the Worldwide Korean YSA and SA Conference that will be held for the first time, in Seoul. At the time, I said “Brothers and sisters, please pray. If it does not work, please fast and pray. If it does not work, fast and pray in temple. Then it will work.”
Still, there was much disagreement on whether the SMYC would be successful. Then a leader said, “Listen, didn’t you hear that the servant of God came to us and told us that we should pray, and and we should fast and pray, and if it still does not work, then we should pray in the temple as we fast? What makes you think it would not work? Wouldn’t we be able to make it successful when we trust the words of God’s servant and exercise our faith?”
The leader encouraged us to plant the Lord’s expectations in us and build up our faith. His words brought about changes. Members in the meeting came to be humbled and accepted such expectations and faith. Many miracles happened. We witnessed that the 2010 Worldwide Korean Single Adults Conference paved the way for successful national Youth Conferences (SMYC, EFY, and FSY), which planted and grew desire and assurance for missionary work in the hearts of many young single adults and youth and later they went on a mission when growing up.
We believed that we would be successful. We made our efforts with one mind and one heart. We led the youth with high expectations and high love, and the Lord helped us to succeed.
Question 5. How could the goal lighten the burden of church members? We feel grateful for high expectations and high love. But at the same time, we might feel burdened because of the worries that we would not be able to meet the expectations.
Sometimes we could not achieve our goals even after we work hard in high expectations and love. But we should not be disappointed in ourselves even at those moments.
We are disappointed in ourselves when we do not firmly aware of our true identity. We should have high expectations that we, the children of God, have the potential to be helped by Heavenly Father despite the mistakes and failures we make. We consider a failure as a step or process toward future success.
Preach My Gospel read in page 10,
“Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs.” This means “some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true” because they have their own agency.
Also, it describes a successful missionary as following, “when you feel the Spirit testify to people through you, love people and desire their salvation, and go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.” If so, this means the missionaries are already successful missionaries regardless of outward achievement of their baptismal goal.
On the page 11, it says, “When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointment, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”
High expectations focus on the process you act on the high standard of Gospel, not on the outward results. Judging only from the tangible achievements is to apply worldly expectations. Actually, when we work in high expectations and high love, we internally grow and improve to be like the Lord, just as He expects us to be able to be like Him, regardless of our worldly achievements.
When we act in faith with such high expectations and high love the Lord has of us, we can do something beyond our own abilities. That is a miracle. In this way, we are blessed in our daily lives and my family and I are to be happy and find joy in the gospel.