clbent04

Warning in my Patriarchal Blessing

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I received a warning in my Patriarchal blessing I review occasionally.  The warning says "you must also avoid materialism, for that will be a temptation you will face."

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To back up a little, I received this blessing when I was 19 years old during my first year in college. I remember the Stake Patriarch who gave me this blessing was an older man probably around his late 70's early 80's.  He and his wife were the kind, humble type, and I enjoyed my time visiting with them. Before the blessing, the Stake Patriarch asked me what I wanted to do career wise.  I had no idea.  I still had yet to declare a major.  I answered something to the effect of anything where I can make money, and explained to him I had enjoyed making money whether it was from some of my first jobs or some small businesses I ran as a kid.  

After talking for 45 minutes or so, I remember he proceeded with the blessing. He came to the part I quoted above, and I thought, wait, does that have anything to do with the information I just provided him, or is this really a warning from the Holy Spirit?  I wondered afterwards if I would have received the same warning if I didn't tell him before the blessing the part where I enjoyed making money.  I thought maybe the Stake Patriarch was taking what I said in our conversation too seriously.

The warning seemed odd to me as a 19-year old since I never obsessed about money or material possessions. For one, I didn't have much of either, although I was blessed with parents who did a great job providing for us.  So even though I told him I enjoyed making money, I didn't place an emphasis on it or anything I owned. I was more focused on experiencing life and being with friends even if we were doing nothing but bonfires in the middle of the night, or driving out to the hot springs.  

Although I was slightly skeptical about this one part in my Patriarchal blessing, I still took it seriously. I do a self-inventory check every now and then to honestly access the value I put on my material possessions among other things.  Interestingly enough, the older and more advanced I become in my career, the more I find this warning pertinent.  

My first job out of college was as a tax consultant with a mid-sized private firm.  I made decent money for a first year corporate tax consultant, but still, when I did my next self-inventory check I really didn't have many possessions or place too much of an emphasis on money or belongings. Back at the beginning of my career, I drove a Kia, bought a 3-bedroom starter home, and didn't own anything of interest other than my childhood basketball card collection (which I valued 2 years ago with an online price guide and found out is worth a whooping $75 altogether. so much for all those MJ cards I thought were gonna be thousands someday lol).

I never knew how my career was going to turn out, or what I would amount to, but as time went on I discovered I had a high aptitude in my profession.  I never anticipated becoming as successful as I am.  From the time I had started my first job out of college, I was promoted to a manager position within 3 years, a director position 3 years after that, and then, somewhat recently, I was promoted to VP of Tax for a Fortune-500 company. I have a large network including other corporate tax professionals across the nation, and only 3 others I know of have been promoted to a VP level tax position under 10 years. To put this in perspective, within a 9 1/2 year period, my annual tithing contribution is now equal to my entire salary I made working that first year out of college. 

And so, with the advancement in my career and increase in salary came the possessions. I bought the cars I always wanted to drive, the big house with the zip code (mostly for the better school district and shorter drive time to work), and the pricier basketball cards I could never afford as a kid. We're blessed to live debt free having paid off all our auto and home loans, and we save roughly 50 percent of our income. 

But then I find myself going back to my Patriarchal blessing and asking myself how I'm doing. I find myself more than ever spending money on possessions. And admittedly I like these possessions. I'm a car guy. I love the modern, high-end, exotic sports cars. I love the designs, the performance, participating in the car clubs and auto shows, the weekend roadtrips...  We have a barn-sized, two-story garage with a hydraulic stacking system that allows the cars to be stacked three high.  It's a common hang out area where we go be it friends or family.  We'll either take one of the cars out for a joyride, shoot pool, or just lounge around near the kitchenette and TV area.

I was hanging out in "the barn" as we call it by myself last night looking around and then reflecting on my Patriarchal blessing once more. I thought how much enjoyment from my possessions is too much to where it becomes materialism? I suppose any enjoyment from my possessions could constitute materialism.  To be honest, I love the cars, but I'd be happy without them too. I get a certain amount of enjoyment from having them, but as long as I can say I'm mostly fulfilled through my relationships rather than possessions, I think that's the test for me.

As others who rely on their Patriarchal blessings have come to learn, what may not have made sense to you at one point can become prophetic later. 

Edited by clbent04

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I'm not so sure you should be discussing deeply personal, sacred and spiritual experiences like the above on a public forum.  Casting pearls before swine and all that.

A blessing is for you and meant for you to interpret with your knowledge based upon Scripture, God's Word, his Prophets and the Holy Ghost-it ain't meant for the entire world.

Why are you asking Billy, Bob, Joe, Sue and Mary who may or may not share your faith about something so spiritual and personal but not relying upon the actual means with which God has blessed you to find the answers-which are mainly the Scriptures, words of the Prophets and the Holy Ghost?

Edited by boxer

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12 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

If you are saving half of your income, you are not particularly materialistic. 

Thanks. I do think how much you save is a factor in materialism, i.e., if you're willing to buy unnecessary luxuries at the expense of not saving you might be leaning closer to materialism.

Edited by clbent04

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17 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

If you are saving half of your income, you are not particularly materialistic. 

Disagree. People save for a rainy day, big trip, retirement...
If you are giving a significant amount to those less fortunate, that's a sign that someone isn't materialistic.

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5 minutes ago, Manners Matter said:

Disagree. People save for a rainy day, big trip, retirement...
If you are giving a significant amount to those less fortunate, that's a sign that someone isn't materialistic.

Disagree.  Personal decision.  One may or may not be materialistic if one is saving a bunch of money. One may or may not be materialistic if one is giving everything away.

It's about what is in the heart-do you have your heart set upon riches or not? And giving everything away may or may not be indicative of your heart.  There are very good reasons to save a bunch of money-get out of debt for one. If you are drowning in debt you can't very well help out others.

Edited by boxer

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5 minutes ago, Manners Matter said:

Disagree. People save for a rainy day, big trip, retirement...
If you are giving a significant amount to those less fortunate, that's a sign that someone isn't materialistic.

What percentage of your income or threshold would you use as a "significant" amount given to those less fortunate?

Edited by clbent04

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5 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

What percentage of your income or threshold would you use as a "significant" amount given to those less fortunate?

I generally save 50% of my take-home; I buy what I need, I save to provide a better lifestyle for my family. If you are giving away everything but your kids are going without shoes-you've got a big problem. I have no problem giving a generous fast offering, I have no problem helping other people out, volunteering my time, my talents, etc.  There is no set metric-it's a personal decision.  If you think you are materialistic, evaluate your life and determine if you are.

And you have to evaluate what the money is used for.  Just giving money is easy . . .actually helping someone out-that is the hard part. It's easy to donate money to the Red Cross, Wounded Warrior, etc. to make oneself feel good . . .except a good portion of the money gets sucked up into big salaries for individuals who fly on jets across the country-someone has to run the show and you won't get good people running the show paying them pennies.

Actually helping out your neighbor-taking them a ham for Christmas, giving them a call when they need it-actually ministering to others-truly ministering-that's the hard part.  Materialism is an attitude of "it's all about me, me, me" and it can be made manifest in many more ways than simply having money.

Edited by boxer

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People think having money solves problems . . .it may solve some problems. . .but not many.  There is a reason why one of the worst things that can actually happen to someone is to win the lottery.

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22 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

What percentage of your income or threshold would you use as a "significant" amount given to those less fortunate?

Revision of my original statement

If you have a Barn sized garage full of cars...I probably would consider that a tad materialistic.  Perhaps a better thing would be to invest a LOT more into your children's future?  Perhaps create a trust where they could draw off the interest when they get older so that they might have to work, but might never have to worry about starving to death?

Devoting such resources though can be a VERY HARD thing to do.  That's part of why I am still working at my age, because I was too materialistic when I was younger, and unwise with money.  Thus in many ways, I am the hypocrite talking about this rather than someone who is truly been good or selfless in how they utilized their money in their younger years.

Another thought...

The more you make, the easier it is to save, but the harder it is to live off those savings when you get older and are more accustomed to a much higher standard of living.

But, if you live as if you only had the salary that you started off with, and save the rest then it is far easier to live off that amount when you get older because you aren't accustomed to spending that much more.

 

Edited by JohnsonJones

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8 hours ago, JohnsonJones said:

Perhaps a better thing would be to invest a LOT more into your children's future?  Perhaps create a trust where they could draw off the interest when they get older so that they might have to work, but might never have to worry about starving to death?

We have a sizable trust in place right now for our daughter, along with some life insurance policies on both me and my wife. I worry if we contribute too much to the trust and our daughter found out how much is in there, she might rely on it too much rather than develop her own talents and work ethic. My wife and I have talked about this quite a bit as to exactly what age we want to allow her to start drawing on the trust, and what the monthly withdrawl limits should be.

Edited by clbent04

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If Christ were to invite you to sell all your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and join Him in His work (He’s been known to do that), would you do so happily.

Regardless of how we’re doing temporally, that’s always a good question to ask ourselves to evaluate how we’re doing spiritually. 

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6 hours ago, clbent04 said:

We have a sizable trust in place right now for our daughter, along with some life insurance policies on both me and my wife. I worry if we contribute too much to the trust and our daughter found out how much is in there, she might rely on it too much rather than develop her own talents and work ethic. My wife and I have talked about this quite a bit as to exactly what age we want to allow her to start drawing on the trust, and what the monthly withdrawl limits should be.

 

One of the worst things you can do is give your kids a lot of money; they haven't earned it, they don't respect it and will blow it really fast. If you give your kids a lot of money, put stipulations on it like they can't touch it until they are 40 or something. 

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32 minutes ago, boxer said:

One of the worst things you can do is give your kids a lot of money; they haven't earned it, they don't respect it and will blow it really fast. If you give your kids a lot of money, put stipulations on it like they can't touch it until they are 40 or something. 

Or 55.  The gift I would want to leave for my kids is assurance that their retirement and old age will be adequately funded. That way they can pursue a career that interests them and funds their lifestyle without all of the stress of planning the financial future.  But no, I wouldn't fund the whole thing.

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7 hours ago, let’s roll said:

If Christ were to invite you to sell all your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and join Him in His work (He’s been known to do that), would you do so happily.

Regardless of how we’re doing temporally, that’s always a good question to ask ourselves to evaluate how we’re doing spiritually. 

I think that’s an excellent test. The hardest thing for me to give up wouldn’t be the extras. It would be the basic comforts and necessities of life. Access to a hot shower, money to buy food, my own bed to sleep in. That would be a huge test of faith for me. It’s reassuring to know I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from, or where I’m going to sleep tonight. When Jesus called upon traveling ministers to further the work, many times they had to solely rely on faith to survive. Granted, I’m thinking of apostles of old like Paul who lived the faith on an entirely different level. Modern-day apostles and full-time missionaries don’t have to rely on faith alone to survive the same way. I don’t think I would have a problem selling my possessions so long as I still had a place to sleep and food to eat. But I probably would struggle if it was taken to the next level.

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1 hour ago, MarginOfError said:

Or 55.  The gift I would want to leave for my kids is assurance that their retirement and old age will be adequately funded. That way they can pursue a career that interests them and funds their lifestyle without all of the stress of planning the financial future.  But no, I wouldn't fund the whole thing.

I can see the reasoning behind waiting till they were 55, but as of right now we have it set at age 25 for the trust to be accessible to our daughter. And granted there’s a monthly withdrawl limit set in place. We’d like her to have some of her trust to draw upon early on to help her get on her feet. We want her to value money but not stress about it. 

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Money is an interesting thing in the church. Many believe it is righteous to be poor while others think it is righteous to be rich.

I personally take Grant Cardon’s view on it and believe that it is selfish to say “I don’t want to be rich”. You may not need all the money, but you can do SO a much good with wealth. I think if you wanted to safe guard yourself from being tempted by materialism, start donating a lot of it, even if it is in the name of tax deductions.

As for your patriarch’s warning following him learning you wanted money... I wouldn’t worry to much about it being inspired or just a personal warning he came up with. One can easily see a patriarchal blessing as nothing more than a medium or fortune teller using basic info to “predict what will happen”, but I don’t. I think sometimes we have too high of expectations from patriarchs. We expect almost a “holy whiskers batman! How did he know that!?!?” Experience. I think we can do some good to demystify these spiritual things.

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15 minutes ago, Fether said:

Many believe it is righteous to be poor while others think it is righteous to be rich.

I challenge you too provide evidence of this.

I would suggest that people in the church think it's righteous to be humble and that people in the church think it's righteous to be self-reliant and wise. Whether richness and/or poorness is the result of these "righteous" traits is often in question. But I doubt very much the wealth itself (or lack thereof) is viewed as anything more than evidence by most.

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2 hours ago, boxer said:

One of the worst things you can do is give your kids a lot of money; they haven't earned it, they don't respect it and will blow it really fast. If you give your kids a lot of money, put stipulations on it like they can't touch it until they are 40 or something. 

I simply do not believe this.

It's like suggesting healthy people are guaranteed to be worse off than the sick or disabled, smart people are worse of than the unintelligent, the coordinated or strong worse off than the clumsy or weak.

Once can teach their children how to be humble and grateful, to serve and to love, and to be Christ-like in their doings even with children who are healthy, intelligent, talented, and strong. Why can't one do the same with money?

I, for one, believe that no one "earns" wealth.

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26 minutes ago, Fether said:

I wouldn’t worry to much about it being inspired or just a personal warning he came up with. One can easily see a patriarchal blessing as nothing more than a medium or fortune teller using basic info to “predict what will happen”, but I don’t. I think sometimes we have too high of expectations from patriarchs. We expect almost a “holy whiskers batman! How did he know that!?!?” Experience. I think we can do some good to demystify these spiritual things.

Injecting cynicism into godly things doesn't strike me as a very good approach either.

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11 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Thanks. I do think how much you save is a factor in materialism, i.e., if you're willing to buy unnecessary luxuries at the expense of not saving you might be leaning closer to materialism.

Still. buying multiple expensive cars is unnecessary. Even if you have the money, it would be better served elsewhere. A car's purpose is to take you from point A to point B. I recommend you  follow the Lord's counsel in Luke 16:9. Money should be used to help others, not to buy worldly possessions.

"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."

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1 hour ago, Fether said:

I think sometimes we have too high of expectations from patriarchs. We expect almost a “holy whiskers batman! How did he know that!?!?” Experience. I think we can do some good to demystify these spiritual things.

I feel sorry for you if that is what you really believe.  I suppose that would be your attitude towards any priesthood blessing.  I find it sad that someone in the LDS church would refer to the priesthood and it's blessings as "mystic" in any way.

 

My experience has been in the testimony building category of hearing things come from the mouths of worthy priesthood holders who couldn't of themselves know what I needed to hear.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I challenge you too provide evidence of this.

I would suggest that people in the church think it's righteous to be humble and that people in the church think it's righteous to be self-reliant and wise. Whether richness and/or poorness is the result of these "righteous" traits is often in question. But I doubt very much the wealth itself (or lack thereof) is viewed as anything more than evidence by most.

Maybe not on an extreme level. But how often do we hear the phrase “I don’t want to be rich, I’m happy where I’m at”.

Is that just laziness or is there some underlying feeling that seeking riches is pure evil?

 

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54 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Injecting cynicism into godly things doesn't strike me as a very good approach either.

If you want to take my example to the extreme, then sure, you are right

 

3 minutes ago, mirkwood said:

I feel sorry for you if that is what you really believe.  I suppose that would be your attitude towards any priesthood blessing.  I find it sad that someone in the LDS church would refer to the priesthood and it's blessings as "mystic" in any way.

 

My experience has been in the testimony building category of hearing things come from the mouths of worthy priesthood holders who couldn't of themselves know what I needed to hear.

In not sure I understand your response, or maybe you misunderstood what I was saying. I simply mean that not all blessings need to have some intensely spiritual root with immense and miraculous conclusions. In the example of the patriarchal blessing above, the OP was questioning whether his patriarch’s words were inspired or not (maybe I misunderstood that). I was simply arguing that they were inspired, but not in the sense that an angel came down and demanded he say a certain phrase, but rather the patriarch felt, from his brief meeting with the OP that material desires may be is downfall.

I was using the phrase “demystify” purely to just drive home a point, that inspiration is not “mystic”, but rather simple.

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7 minutes ago, Fether said:

Maybe not on an extreme level. But how often do we hear the phrase “I don’t want to be rich, I’m happy where I’m at”.

Is that just laziness or is there some underlying feeling that seeking riches is pure evil?

Or...a third, less cynical reason. Like maybe they are legitimately happy where they're "at (sic)".

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