What is an endowment?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 , , 0 Comments

I've been slacking, I know. Since I last wrote, I have:

-Graduated from college.
-Mailed in my acceptance letter and received a letter from my mission president.
-Talked to one of my best friends for the last time in the next 20 months right before she reported to the MTC. (She's there now. Reports to the California San Jose Mission, English speaking, soon!)
-Moved back home to NJ, for now.
-Got all of my immunizations. (Even the chicken pox, although I've already had the chicken pox...)
-Received my big girl temple recommend and permission to go to the temple! (That one happened just last night.)
-Done a lot of mission shopping.
-Had a terrible case of allergies that isn't quite gone yet.

A blond, a brunette, and a redhead walk into a graduation ceremony...
Lookin' rl gud in that cap and gown.

I've been trying to put together a mission outfits post, now that I'm finally getting all of my stuff together, but what with my being sick and all, I haven't been feeling very photogenic. Just know that that's on the way.

What I wanted to share with you today is some of the knowledge I gained while interviewing with my stake president last night about the nature of an endowment. He used an analogy that I really liked, and I wanted to share it with you guys, because I know that it was the first time I've ever had an endowment clearly explained to me.

Here in New Jersey there used to be a college called Glassboro State College, or GSC. (This is a true story, by the way.) A man named Henry Rowan approached GSC and told them that he would give them $100,000,000 if they followed four rules that he set. The rules were:

    1. Promote a higher level of learning. Spread more knowledge, give out more degrees. Basically, become a better, bigger school.
    2. Take on my [Rowan's] name.
   3. Abide by these covenants.
   4. Be permanent, meaning stay changed.

If GSC at any time was not abiding by all four of these rules, the endowment of $100,000,000 was forfeit and they could be at risk of losing the money. Of course, Glassboro State College accepted and became Rowan University, which they have been ever since.

This is the same sort of concept with our own endowment. 

First off, let me just give you this awesome definition of an endowment which my stake president had me memorize.

(He told me to remember it 2 g's POCK, but then said that someone called it 2POCK, and I like that one a lot more. :] Get it? Like 2Pac, the rapper? Yes? No? Okay.)

An endowment is a grand gift (2 g's) of power, that power being the ordinances, covenants, and knowledge (POCK) received in the temple that are necessary for eternal life.

If you think about GSC's story, you realize why that gift is an endowment. If it had been $1,000 or even $10,000, that's not grand. $100,000,000 is a grand gift.

However, in order to receive that gift they had to do four things,which are really similar to what we must do in order to receive and keep our endowment from God.

1, we need to achieve a higher standard of living. The way my stake president put it was: As (Your name here) College, you are doing great things. You are doing much good in the world. But with your endowment, when you become (Your name here) University, you are capable and responsible to do so much more. You need to live a better life.

Another big part of number 1 is to spread more knowledge. If we look at D&C 43:15-16, it tells us what we are spreading, how, and why.

15. Again I say, hearken ye elders of my church, whom I have appointed: Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit;

16. And ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken.

If we replace, for the sake of this blog, elders with sisters, or even with your own name, you see the work of a missionary. We are sent forth to teach the children of men (everyone) the things which the Lord has put into our hands by the power of His Spirit (the gospel). In that sense, our job is to teach everyone the gospel. Simple enough.

We are also to "be taught from on high." What does that mean? Really, it means that we must be open to revelation and to the Spirit. In order to receive testimony of anything, which is required of us if we are to teach the Gospel, we must be able to discern the Spirit and revelation from our own thoughts. As Sister Beck said, "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life."

Sanctify, or purify, yourselves and "ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken." Give? Give what? This is one of the keys to understanding missionary work.

What we are giving is the gospel. We are giving of our knowledge of it to others. We are giving the opportunity to others to recognize and follow Christ. We are not just teachers, but givers, and this why missions are so incredibly hard. As full-time missionaries we are asked to give not just knowledge, but everything, to the Lord. We give up our own will so that, when the Lord says "knock on that door," we do it without hesitations. We give up our dreams and desires of the moment so that we don't waste precious energy pining for thing that are unimportant for the moment.

2, we take on the Lord's name. In that sense, your goal shouldn't even be (Your name here) University, but Jesus Christ University. That's why it's so important that our missionary badges have the name of Christ on them. It becomes our charge to live a higher standard of living, coming as close to Christlike as we are able to.

3, which is rather self-explanatory, we keep our covenants. In order to be worthy for our grand endowment of power, we must be willing to abide by the promises we make in the temple.

4, be permanent. This one is perhaps the hardest, but most important, concept. We can't be willing to slip back into (Your name here) College's way of living. Once you have made covenants, or sacred, two-way promises, with the Lord, you cannot allow yourself to revert. You need to have a permanent and abiding testimony of the gospel and of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. You need to sustain your leaders and believe that they are called by God.

As a missionary, you need to know that the Lord called you to your specific mission. You need to be permanently committed to exact obedience and discovering the will of the Lord. You can't be willing to take one eensy-weensy step backwards to who you were before you were called to serve and then received your endowment.

I hope these responsibilities aren't daunting to you. For me, it gave me great hope. I have been living a long time as Dain Broadbent College, and while she's doing great things and is spreading much good in the world, her potential for goodness and even greatness is so much greater as Dain Broadbent University, or even Jesus Christ University. The same is for you. As Uncle Ben so famously said to Peter Parker, "with great power comes great responsibility." What I think he left out is that, with great power, or grand power, comes great potential for growth and goodness.

Yes, this is all the opinion of an un-endowed future sister missionary, so don't take my word for it if you don't want to. This is just how I was taught to think about endowments, and if it helps you like it did me, awesome.

Either way, you are awesome. Yes you. You are doing good things, great things. If you have doubts, don't feel guilty. We all do. It's how you respond to those doubts that determine whether you will keep doing good things or if you will one day start to do grand things. That's all up to you.