In “Helping the Poor and Distressed“, President Dallin H. Oaks quotes Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 which says that “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause”. The phrase “anxiously engaged” has made me ponder what the Lord is asking and if I am living up to that request.
Let us look at the word anxious and what it means. The dictionary has two definitions of the word:
- experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
- wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease
I believe most of us would equate the word anxious with the first definition above. However, the Lord’s use of anxious in “anxiously engaged” appears to be the second.
If we plug the second definition into the phrase replacing “anxiously” we get the following “wanting to be engaged very much”. To me, that phrase would mean always looking for opportunities to do good.
As a father, one of my goals is to always be ready when a teaching moment presents itself. This is part of helping my children to become productive members of society as well as learning how to find and cling to truth. In this, I can say I am “anxiously engaged” in parenting. I definitely have that “wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease” as I watch for teaching moments.
The dictionary also has two definitions of engage:
- occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention)
- participate or become involved in
I think both definitions apply as we look at “anxiously engaged”. First, good causes should “occupy, attract, or involve” our interest or attention. I am of the belief that if we are not doing one thing, we are doing the other. If good causes are not engaging me, then what is? Could I be doing the opposite? Or could I be idle and not doing anything?
Second, we should “participate or become involved in” good causes. How else can the work of the Lord go forward if we aren’t?
What is a good cause? In his address, President Oaks discussed how we can help the poor and distressed. This is a good cause. There are others as well. For instance, rearing up children in truth and righteousness is a good cause. Loving our neighbors as ourselves is a good cause. Letting our light shine through our examples, showing our good works that God may be glorified (Matthew 5:16) is a good cause. Having empathy for those who struggle is a good cause.
The advice of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon is a good measuring stick for being “anxiously engaged in a good cause”. He said, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). When we serve others we are engaged in a good cause because what better cause can there be than being in the service of God?
As members of the church, we should seek out good causes, even if those causes are not directly related to the church. President Oaks stated, “The Church of Jesus Christ is committed to serving those in need, and it is also committed to cooperating with others in that effort.” Research can be done into organizations that do good. I’ve mentioned before some of these organizations. When we find an organization that is doing good, we should contribute our time to their cause.
Tips For Teaching
When teaching this address, consider the following:
- Discussing what the phrase “anxiously engaged in a good cause” means. You could divide the class up into groups and have each group discuss the phrase and present what they determine it means.
- Play or sing “Have I Done Any Good In the World Today?” (Hymns #223). Divide into two groups, each group discussing one verse and then presenting their findings
- Ask class members if any are involved in organizations that do good and have them explain what the organization does.
- Ask class members to share experiences when they have done a good deed.
- Discuss as a class what you could do as a class to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause”
Being “anxiously engaged in a good cause” means being aware of what is going on around us and searching for opportunities to serve. We can do that through donations of time and money. We can be “anxious” about it by making sure we are always looking for opportunities. There is so much good that can be done if we will take the time do recognize them and engage in them.