A concept that has been on my mind lately is the concept of PRINCIPLE. I am reading (well listening on audiobooks) to”The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. He just recently passed away so its been neat to learn from him as he is now on the other side. The lessons there reminded me of a discussion I had awhile back with good friend of mine that I want to share with you. His name is Eric Wood and he just recently got married to a beautiful girl named Seneca.
I met up with him a couple of months back as he was preparing for the wedding and he kept telling me over and over…”I am a man of principle, I am a man of principle.” It was like his motto. I shrugged it off at the time and was like yea yea Eric that’s cool man whatever. But as I have been progressing in my own personal life I am realizing that I want to become a man of principle as well. But what does that mean?
Joseph Smith, the first prophet and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints taught, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (Messages of the First Presidency,comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 3:54.)
So becoming a man of principle is in essence, to govern yourself, your life and all your actions by principles. But what are principles? A principle, by definition, is a concept of truth, rule or law that if lived by, will always bring a direct consequence. Often principles are based on high moral standards of conduct.
Whether you are religious or not, we all can accept that there are certain principles that if adhered to, will benefit individual lives and society as a whole. Positive consequences follow correct principles. Here are some examples of what I believe are correct principles. Why do I believe them? Because when I live them I am happier and better off in the long run.
Love, Sacrifice, Selflessness, Integrity, Respect, Virtue, Trust, Honesty, Compassion, Balance, Justice, Open Communication, Faith, Repentance, Forgiveness, Responsibility, Discipline, Diligence, Patience, Preparation, Commitment, Goal-oriented, Loyalty, Hard work, Perseverance, Free Agency, etc.
Principles are not people, places or things that we can describe specifically. Principles are found within our own behavior. I could compare a correct principle to the concept of gravity. What goes up, must come down…You cannot see or touch the force of gravity but you know that its there. It will continue existing no matter what we do as a society or people. You can’t just get rid of gravity. It remains constant.
Now that we know what a man of principle is… the question now is, why become a man (or woman) of principle?
To me the answer is simple, it is because if our lives are founded on principles then our lives will stable. Stability brings peace and happiness and success. Correct principles never change. Good principles and their positive consequences will not go away. Correct principles are like an anchor to the soul and bring us into harmony with the world and universe that surrounds us.
If we are a man or woman of principle then our principles will determine our priorities and decision-making. We can be proactive in deciding to live by these principles which will give us known and desired outcomes instead of letting those around us or the outside world dictate our lives and happiness. It is no secret that if you want to train to be a strong athlete, you must first strengthen your core. Your core involves your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. If your core is strong then it gives you a solid foundation to build off.
At your core, you want to have engrained in your fibers principles of good moral behavior. They should dictate everything you do in life. A word of caution however: If your core is centered in something other than principle, you are going to be subject to all kinds of change that will bring weakness, instability and conflict.
Just take a look around you in your own circle of family, friends, acquaintances and then look at society as a whole. Morals and principles have been thrown aside for other motivations. Many good people center their lives on something that is subject to change and it ends up bringing them heartache… Money, Fame, Fashion, Looks, Music, Athletics, their home, etc etc. If all your strength and energy is devoted to one of these pursuits then you are unstable. Your core is weak because it will fluctuate based on the status of your center in the here and now. Still others center their lives on what they think are good things but they still are missing an anchor of principle. Anything other than correct principles can in the long run be harmful.
Centers of family, parents, children, romantic relationships, friendship, career, church, community service are some examples. These are all good things and should definitely be a significant part of your life however neither one should take over as your sole motivation and core for meaning, purpose and direction in life. All of these good things are subject to change as well.
Family members grow up, move away, move on, grow old or die. Romantic relationships end, and the other person often lets you down and fails to live up to expectations. Friends come in and out of our lives and social circles change. Job opportunities come and go and are at the mercy of the demand of society. Church leaders are only temporary and cannot tell us every detail of what we need to do in our lives. Service opportunities are not always present… the list goes on and on.
I don’t know about you but I want my life to be governed by correct principles and I know everything else will fall into place. Correct principles will apply to all other areas of your life and put everything into the right perspective. For example, when I started to live my life by principles of virtue, love, selflessness and sacrifice I found a beautiful woman and she became my girlfriend.
Now that I am in a relationship, living according to principles of commitment and loyalty has brought us close together. I am developing the principle of patience with the relationship in just taking it a day at a time. There is a saying that “every good thing takes time” and I believe it to be a true principle with relationships. I am learning the principle of trust, with lots of time apart and other guys around my girlfriend constantly I am choosing to not ever be jealous and trust that she will be faithful. Open communication and honesty are also key principles to our relationship. No secrets allowed! The more open and honest and the more we freely communicate the closer we grow and the more we learn about each other. Repentance and forgiveness are essential. We both know that the other person will make mistakes. We all have a past and we all have a future full of shortcomings and mistakes. We are choosing to let those things go and trust in each other that we will recognizes our mistakes and shortcomings in ourselves and commit to changing and improving ourselves.
I am learning and growing each day in my relationship with Carlie. We make each other better. I am growing in understanding of the principles that will give my life a foundation of peace and happiness. As I exercise these principles on a daily basis they are becoming part of who I am. I am becoming a better man. My core is getting strong. I owe it all to her and to Heavenly Father for bringing us together just at the right time.
The ultimate “man of principle” was the Savior Jesus Christ. He taught principles in parables so that the people of his time would understand. He changed the world with principles of love and compassion. He is always the answer. Christ has perfected all of the good principles in himself and that is why he is an “unchangeable” being.
The earth, heavens and universe obey him because they operate on principle as well. Christ is in perfect harmony with the earth, heavens and universe because he embodies perfection of all the principles with which they are made. That is why he can command the elements, turn water to wine and even the waves of the sea obey him.
He is our older brother and our example. He lived a perfect life and he taught us how to live ours the right way to be happy. He has given us the blueprint to return to him and Heavenly Father to live forever with our families. We would be wise to make him the center of our life. By studying his life and making him our foundation, correct principles will naturally start to take root in our lives. We will become our own tree that will give nothing but good fruit to the world and everyone around us. We will then be able to teach our future children and grandchildren correct principles. We will become like the Saviorand then when he comes we will see him and recognize him because we will be like him.
The Book of Mormon and the Bible are both the word of God and teach us about Christ. The scriptures are full of principles that will make us happy. Helaman 5:12 says, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”