You most likely have heard the following analogy before in Jeremiah 18 or recently in The Potter and the Clay, Ensign, January 2011. I found a bit more of Heber C. Kimball's quote, which was used in the Ensign article, in Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer By Stanley B. Kimball.
“I do not know that I can compare it [the proper course of life] better than by the potter’s business. It forms a good comparison. This is the course you must pursue, and I know of no other way that God has prepared for you to become sanctified, and molded and fashioned, until you become modeled to the likeness of the Son of God, by those who are placed to lead you. This is a lesson you have to learn as well as myself….You have come from the mill, and you have been there grinding. For what purpose? To bring you into a passive condition….Now suppose I subject myself enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he was dictated by the Great Master potter, that rules over all things in heaven and on earth, He would make me into a vessel of honor.
(Pretty Elisa made this fun pottery)
This goes along with taking hold of the steering wheel instead of trusting our Father to guide us. Before this quote, Heber C. Kimball talks about how "as [His] work progresses, the works of Satan will increase, and he will continue to present one thing after another, following up the work of God, and increasing means of deception, to lead astray such men and women, and take them captive." How can he lead us astray if we are trying to do good? When we are not in a "passive condition" or humble, we may think that we know more than the potter. Who is the potter? Jesus in the master potter, shaping us the way His master, our Father, instructs Him to. But our church leaders are also our potters, as stated in the quote above.
Are we humble enough to listen to our church leaders when they guide us, advise us, teach us? Or do we decide that we know better what shape we should take, trying to mold ourselves and "destroy [ourselves] by the power of [our] own agency?" Why do we fight it when He knows what our design is, what we must become? Why would we question it when He will make us into "a vessel of honor", something we cannot do on our own? I have been blessed with many wise and kind leaders who have helped and guided me. We only have to listen to the Father's words through them and obey. They want what our Father wants--a pot molded just right.
Besides the molding by our leaders, our Father uses our experiences to mold us. Many people talk about how we grow and are molded in our trials, and it is true, but I have also learned so much in the good times. We just need to always be willing to learn and grow. Two people going through the same experiences could come out very differently. We need to let the Spirit guide us and always stay on the straight and narrow.
I'm gonna start using that phrase "snappish and willful" when I start to take over and think I know what's best. Hopefully that will snap me back to humility so I will allow myself to be molded, so I can be what the potter is trying to make me into.