Have you noticed that when you have determined to accomplish a very important task, many good ideas for other things to do seem to come to your mind? If they are allowed to interfere, they will distract you from the more important objective. I have found help by writing down those alternate thoughts as they come, promising myself that as soon as I finish the important task I will attend to them in priority. That practice focuses me on those matters that are essential. I believe that there can come into your life, because of your righteousness and your determination to do what is right, times when Satan will not be able to deflect you into serious transgression. He will switch then to the strategy of placing before you a banquet of good and worthwhile things meant to distract you from those which are the most important and essential to accomplish in your life. Fortunately, as you pray for guidance, the Holy Ghost will help you identify those matters that are vital and necessary to accomplish above others. That guidance means at times you may have to set aside some things that would be worthwhile and enjoyable to pursue those that are most vitally important at that period of your life.
Have you discovered that detailed instructions from someone else on how to make choices or how to best live your life are not nearly as helpful as personal guidance from the Holy Ghost? Such divine guidance comes from pondering and living the doctrines of the Lord, understanding His plan of happiness, and obtaining the ordinances and keeping the covenants central to that plan. Such a foundation allows the Holy Ghost to give you guidance and direction, taking into consideration your personal strengths and needs. The promptings of the Holy Ghost will tell you how you stand before God, if you are progressing or retrogressing, what you need to improve, and how to do it.
I know the principles we have discussed are true. They have blessed my life many times. One vivid example is when I was called to be a mission president, while I worked as a civilian for an admiral in charge of a program essential to the national defense of our country. When I told the admiral of the call, he was most upset because he did not understand how the call had come and what it meant. He concluded a tense conversation with the words, “You are a traitor to your country. I’ll see that you never have success in this industry. I will not speak to you again. You are finished here. If that’s the way Mormons are, I’m going to get rid of all of them that work for me.”
I knew what was right for me to do and was not worried about the outcome. Yet I was very concerned that my decision could cause a loss of work for innocent people who were honorably supporting their families in the program. As I struggled with that thought, there came into my mind the song, “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” I could not see how this circumstance could lead to a positive consequence, but I felt a peace and calmness as I proceeded to do my best to instruct a replacement.
I can see now that the Lord guided me each step of the way in what to do and what to say. My replacement was a very capable, experienced individual who learned rapidly. I was impressed to identify those things that needed to be done and even was able to outline some suggestions for important future improvements in the program. On my last day at work I asked to see the admiral again. The experience was totally different. That conversation ended with a much deeper appreciation for each other and for my beliefs. No other Church member was adversely affected because of my decision. At times, you could think of what the words of the song “Do What Is Right” mean in your life. May the doctrinal message it contains be as helpful to you as it has been to me.
Unless you have already done so, make this fixed decision now: “I will live to have no regrets.” I can testify of the incomparable peace that is continually present from being able to say, regarding those serious sins of immorality, “I have no regrets; I have not participated.” Yes, through the process of repentance even egregious sins can be forgiven. Yet, for those who have committed serious sin, in quiet moments of deep pondering there must remain a disturbing memory of times when those boundaries have been crossed, even when full forgiveness has been given by the Savior. How much more serenely pleasant it is to live never having done those things. I testify that such a life brings immense joy, peace, and tranquility on earth and throughout eternity. Live to have no regrets.
Have you been writing down the impressions that come as you ponder the doctrines and principles referenced in these pages? If you are doing so, congratulations. If not, please begin to write them down and follow them. The guidance you will receive is personalized direction from the Lord. It is, therefore, vitally important.
(Elder Richard G. Scott, Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy, chapter 8 – To Make and Keep the Right Decisions, Deseret Book, 2007).