Rhonda Kay Kunzler is currently serving as an Activity Day Leader and a Manti Temple Worker. She is married to her best friend and hiking partner, Rick Kunzler. They have 5 adult children, four of whom are married and brought to the family, 3 of the most incredible daughters in law and 1 completely awesome son-in-law. They currently have 4.5 of the most adorable and completely entertaining grandchildren with hopes for many more. Their baby girl is at BYU studying English and ASL.
It all ended with sourdough bread.
I bet you thought I was going to tell you it all “started” with sourdough bread. Nope, it ended right there.
My husband wanted to visit some elderly and shut-in’s. I excitedly agreed, “Absolutely! I’ll bake sourdough bread to take to everyone.”
I looked up a recipe…and wanted to cry. I needed a “start.” The website supplied a link to make a start- it would take 10 whole days. Luckily, the next day a co-worker shared her start with me.
After five days of ‘feeding” and tending that start, 10 cups of flour, and a brand-new cast-iron Dutch oven, I had 4 baked loaves packaged and ready to be delivered. We finally set out on our visits.
Later, I was ‘sharing” (or was it bragging?) my experience with a friend who responded, “That’s a lot of work for something that cost $2.39 at the grocery store.” (and may I add- tastes better than mine did).
So, why did I put off visiting those who needed a visit for 6 days?
What is the REAL Reason?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:
”The act may be good and visible, but the sin is in the motive. On earth, the wrong motive may be known only to the actor, but in heaven it is always known to God.” (Pure in Heart, pp 16-18)
I don’t want to sound as though I have conquered this mortal-man dilemma of motives and actions, but I have a few questions I ask to keep myself in check. Before I do most anything: texts, phone calls, visits, even baking bread…(haha) I try to remember to ask:
First, Is my eye single to the glory of God?
- Is this more about God or more about Rhonda?
- Who will get the glory? Heavenly Father or me?
- Is there any other reason I am doing this than to glorify God?
- Will the mom’s of my Activity Day Boys be blown away with the elaborate craft I have concocted and comment how grateful they are that I am their son’s leader? Or is this activity going to help the boys gain a testimony of their Savior?
Humility is the key virtue we are striving to make sure our eyes are single to God’s glory. When a new stake president was being called in our stake, my husband was one of the brethren being interviewed. He was instructed to bring 3 names of men in our stake who could serve as Stake President. I watched and listened to him ponder and pray that he would be inspired to share the name of the man whom Heavenly Father had already chosen to be the Stake President. My sweet husband genuinely wanted to be helpful to the visiting authorities and do God’s will. I loved watching him go through this process. It was humbling for him and me. If it had been me being interviewed, I had 3 names in my mind within seconds of who I would have suggested and that would have been that. Not Rick, he wanted to list the names Heavenly Father wanted him to list, not necessarily the names that Rick thought it should be.
This experience taught me, when I am asked to do anything, ie: give a talk, teach a lesson, bear testimony, or write an article for Leading Saints, I should evaluate my motives. Do I go with the big glory stories? Do I embellish things to make them more exciting? OR do I ask Heavenly Father for direction and then listen and then follow.
Every time I have asked God first, listened second, and started writing third, it has always turned out better. Do you know how many talks I have had to re-write because I first wrote what I wanted to talk about? This gospel isn’t about you and it definitely isn’t about me. It is about our Heavenly Father and our Savior and how we can help each other get home to them.
Second, Is my heart pure?
- Am I trying to “teach” something?
- Prove a point?
- Share MY knowledge? Or will I give the glory to God?
- Will the one being served think I (Rhonda) am amazing? Or will they have gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father?
Third, sometimes my heart is pure. Sometimes it isn’t. When answering these questions has shown that my heart is not pure, I step back and try to purify it.
As a ward young women’s president, I really wanted the girls to love me and think I was totally ‘cool.’ I began complimenting them on anything I could see- their hair, clothes, make-up, etc. After a while, I felt fake. I was trying so hard to think of things that don’t really matter and would sometimes revert to, “you are so great…”
One day someone told me that I was “so great” and it felt insincere. I realized I was more worried about the girls loving me than appreciating the gifts Heavenly Father had given them. I started looking for qualities and values to compliment them on and stopped looking outward. I looked for the individual gifts God had given these girls and pointed them out to them. It stopped being about me and became about God’s glory manifested in these remarkable young women.
Getting Real and Sincere
When my husband was bishop, we had a single sister in our ward that needed a lot of attention. Our family was often complimented on our Christ –like Charity towards her. Our service to her began to feel all for show. One day as she sat next to me at our kitchen counter, I asked Heavenly Father to let me see her how He sees her. I felt an expansion of love for her. I felt HIS love for her and it was incredible. That day she became my friend. She is not someone I should serve; she is not someone to be pitied. She is my friend. Where once I felt pride as I was complimented for serving her, now I am offended if anyone tells me how “awesome” we are to tend her. I simply reply, “It is not service. It is friendship.”
Purifying Our Motives
In my efforts to purify my heart, I’ve found the following steps helpful:
- Ponder on what Father needs from me; how I can be His hands.
- Consider ways to do this anonymously.
- Commit not to discuss with those that don’t have a need to know
- Find ways to be relational with that person I’m serving so that they feel loved by God, not beholden to me
Other times, when I haven’t made the effort to purify my motives, I still act. I make a point to do this especially if I know it will be of benefit to someone else. (Hoping for bonus points). Purification is a process. We work on it day by day and sometimes we just act- because we have been prompted to act.
Moving With the Kingdom
Elder Marlin K. Jensen, in his first address as a newly called member of the first quorum of the seventy said:
“This kingdom will roll forward with or without us as individuals. Men and women who even momentarily take their eyes off God’s glory and seek to exalt themselves, or who become entangled in the vain things of this world, will find that the kingdom quickly moves on without them.”
I don’t want to be left behind. I want to move with the kingdom. I want to be like our Savior, Jesus Christ, and be able to say, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2)
A dear friend taught me that we don’t get to Heaven by elbowing others out of the way and making it all about “ME”. We get to Heaven by gathering people in our arms and bringing them along with us, oftentimes unseen in the crowd we have gathered.
Loving the Porcupines
We minister when no one is watching. We call friends just because we were thinking of them; we try very hard not to lecture our friends and families who have a faith crisis. We post uplifting comments on social media, we smile at everyone and we always try to leave others more encouraged than we found them. And as my husband reminds me: we love the porcupines. We don’t measure success by how many people we brought to church on Sunday; we measure success by how many people we brought to Christ through our words and our actions.
It is truly all about our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the great healer. He is our Redeemer. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Light of the World. And we, who know this, only reflect His light and give Him the Glory.