Many years ago, when I was a newly-called volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Thomas S. Monson, who at the time was the 2nd counselor in the First Presidency of the church, came to speak to us in the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah.
In his sermon, he told us that he was going to share with us the key to being a good missionary. According to the notes in my missionary journal, he said that the key was to “be yourself– but be your best self.” He emphasized that each of us was an individual, a child of God, and that God had endowed us individually with certain characteristics and attributes. “Be your best self every day.”
The advice to “be yourself– but be your best self” has stuck with me ever since and I have thought of it often.
In subsequent years, our society has developed a kind of obsession with what it labels “Authenticity.” The idea had already gained considerable mind-space in previous decades, but it seems that lately this idea of being “true to your authentic self” has become a kind of all-encompassing prime directive in our society. Continue reading