I often meet two kinds of people. The first has a voice that others hear. The other has a desire to be heard, but they don’t know how to bridge the gap, how to become a prophet (that is Prophet with a small “p”). That is what this essay is about.
Part of writing this post is facing my own failures. Part of it explaining what the cost is to achieve a voice that is heard, something I have done in the past and have seen others do. Part of it is lessons learned.
- You have to have a focus. You need a single topic, or tightly related set of topics. In my own case it was ADR. In Suzette Haden Elgin’s case it was verbal violence. In Dr. De Mars case it is tribal ethics. I would note that Dr. Elgin is a wonderful author of feminist fiction, an artist I respect (I have some of her work) and has other accomplishments. Sorry, she only has a strong voice in her primary focus. Dr. De Mars is a well regarded professor of advanced statistics and a world judo champion. Her voice that matters is in ethics.
- You have to accept costs in pride. To be heard clearly you have to choose accessibility in your communication. That means that a certain group will disparage you and, if you do it well, the rest will think that anyone could have written or said what you had to say.
- You have to take time to learn the area you want to have a voice in. It takes two thousand hours to gain solid understanding. Ten thousand hours of applied practice and study to gain mastery.
- You have to accept collateral demands as well. Carla Bateman, who had a voice locally for many, many years, probably spent thirty or more hours in selfless volunteer service doing things she could have been paid for (she was and is a nurse).
- If you want a voice in any community of faith you have to respect its norms, have knowledge of its core and maintain spiritual resonance. If I wanted a mainstream LDS voice I would need to shave my beard — which would make Win and my employer sad, though my ten year old would be happy.
When you look at Area Authorities in the Church you will see people who have given thousands of hours of service, who observe norms, who spend time in prayer, study and focus. When they speak they are easily understood. If you want a voice of that type or greater, you have to accept a level of cost at at least that level.
Finally, the sixth point (and I know the rule of fives, but obviously, as I’ve noted, I have my failures), you have to embrace humility. If you can’t embrace loving humility, true patience and kindness, then no matter what you think about what you have to say, you are ready to be the one to say it. (cf Numbers 16:10).
You have to decide if what you have to say is worth it. With ADR I’ve said what I had to say. I guess I should go back and clean up typos, do some editing and rewriting and such (that is part of the work and humility that would be part of having and keeping a voice), fill in gaps in material and such, but I don’t see a need, you can tell I’m not willing to pay the price.
That decision, and acknowledging it, and the elements of the real price, goes into deciding if you really want to have a voice, if you really want to be a prophet, someone who speaks on an issue and who is really heard. Dr. Elgin decided to pay the price. She has sold millions of volumes, changed many lives for the better. I consider her one of the saints of God. I have not done it, yet I have reflected on my failures, and I hope my reflections and thoughts will aid those who desire to have a voice and who are honestly willing to do what it takes to be a [p]rophet.