9: Balancing Personal Growth and Responsibility

“9: Balancing Personal Growth and Responsibility,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual (2003), 33–35

“9,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage, 33–35


Balancing Personal Growth and Responsibility

Doctrinal Overview

To succeed in our relationships, we should follow the Savior’s example by striving for growth in our physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual lives. Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “It seems to me that the most successful program of complete youth fitness ever known to man was described in fourteen words … : ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.’ There is the ideal of any program of youth fitness, to help our youth increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. It covers everything: physical fitness, mental fitness, social fitness, emotional fitness, spiritual fitness” (… So Shall Ye Reap [1960], 140).


Personal growth is a key to building lasting relationships.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Maturity” (198)

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Discussion. Ask students: What do you think it means to be “mature”? Explain that we can look to the Savior as our example of maturity. Read the statement by Elder Ezra Taft Benson in the doctrinal overview above. Invite students to search Luke 2 for the verse Elder Benson mentioned. Write on the board the headings Jesus Increased In and We Need to Grow. Have students list the ways Jesus increased and corresponding ways we need to grow. The completed chart should look similar to the following:

    Jesus Increased In

    We Need to Grow


    mentally and emotionally—make decisions based on gospel principles, take personal responsibility


    physically—observe sound health practices, have confidence in our abilities

    favor with God

    spiritually—live Christ-centered lives

    favor with man

    socially—be unselfish, serve others

    Ask students for examples of the types of maturity listed in the right-hand column. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives.” Invite students to discuss the following recommendations by Elder Ballard:

    1. “Think about your life and set your priorities.”

    2. “Set short-term goals that you can reach.”

    3. “Through wise budgeting, control your real needs and measure them carefully against your many wants in life.”

    4. “Build relationships with your family and friends through open and honest communication.”

    5. “Study the scriptures.”

    6. Schedule “the time for sufficient rest, exercise, and relaxation.”

    7. “Teach one another the gospel.”

    8. “Pray often as individuals and as families.”

    (In Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 15–17; or Ensign, May 1987, 14–15.)

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Discussion. Ask students whether there is any difference between aging and maturing. Invite a student to read aloud the first three paragraphs of the story by Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the “Maturity” section (student manual, 198). Ask students: What is this girl lacking if she wants a lasting relationship? Have another student read the fourth paragraph of the story. Ask: What did Elder Ashton say are true indicators of maturity?

    Write on the board the headings Mature and Immature. Ask the class for examples of what people their age do that is mature and what they do that is immature. List their answers on the board. Discuss how these actions can help or hinder a dating relationship.

  • Student manual. Write on the board the headings from the following chart. Fill in the left-hand column. Invite students to search the “Maturity” section in the student manual (198–99) for indicators of maturity. Have them identify principles in each statement and suggest which area of growth each principle belongs in. Write their answers on the board in the appropriate column. The completed columns may look similar to the following:


    Indicators of Maturity

    Mental and Emotional




    President Spencer W. Kimball

    Achieves higher grades after serving a mission.

    Is strong, hard-working after serving a mission.

    Has served an honorable mission.

    Is more gracious after serving a mission.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

    Controls thoughts.

    Controls actions.

    Controls thoughts and actions.

    Controls thoughts and actions.

    Elder Marvin J. Ashton

    Controls thoughts, is self-disciplined, conducts self wisely, has courage to flee contention and not retaliate.

    Demonstrates resilience and continuing effort.

    Tries to be Christlike.

    Earns respect.

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell

    Defers gratification.

    Demonstrates faith and trust in waiting for explanations.

    Elder Richard G. Scott

    Faces challenges, resolves difficult problems.

    Learns to apply truth.

    Elder Marion D. Hanks

    Is pure, demonstrates honesty and integrity, performs selfless service.

    Is responsible, considerate, kind; cares about others.

    Summarize students’ findings from the chart. Invite students to suggest other indicators of maturity. Ask: In what ways can each of these qualities increase the likelihood of success in marriage?


Reread the fourth paragraph of Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s statement in the “Maturity” section (student manual, 198). Encourage students to choose an area in their lives and to strive to improve in that area over the next several weeks. Testify that continued growth and balance are essential to lasting relationships.