Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
I think it can be easy when writing anything to want people to read and to like your work, and very easy to think you are writing in vain if people don’t like it. While I am not sure one should aim to be disliked (that’s just another version of catering to the world’s tastes, after all), I think Nephi’s statement here points out that in writing – or in anything, particularly the use of our talents – it is the approval of God that we should most seek, and that is often at odds with worldly popularity and acclaim.
1 Nephi 6 is very short, and so I don’t have a huge amount to add this reading through. Much the same things leapt out at me, for while I’ve long finished what I was working on while writing the above (and er.. maybe it wasn’t particularly pleasing for some!), I’m still trying to work on several writing projects, some of which are more serious than others.
The two verses around verse 5 also stick out. First verse 4:
For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
On one hand I think this speaks very much both to Nephi’s aims and the aims of the Book of Mormon as a whole: it’s not written to entertain or primarily inform, but to persuade us of a course of action that has eternal consequences. On the other, perhaps we should let this filter through in our own priorities too. Not that we shouldn’t do (or write) other things (I hope not, since one thing I’m working on is a piece of fiction, and entertainment is hopefully part of that!). But we should always give serious thought to what we focus on and prioritise the most, a theme that President Oaks has touched upon frequently. What, in the end, do we want the most?
Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men.
Again touching upon the same topic. It’s something I recurrently give thought to over the years, particularly considering that we renew the covenant via the Sacrament “to always remember” the Saviour. What do I end up spending most of my time thinking about, worrying about and working on? If I was to measure my mental priorities by the time I spend thinking about various topics, do the most valuable and eternal things come out on top? Or is it filled principally with other matters, many of which may not be bad, but which are simply not of eternal worth or concern?