A True Believer

Reading: Alma 26

Today, the reputation of religious people in society at large has been tarnished by the bad examples of a few. Religious leaders who are after money, political power, and who do not practice what they preach are much too common. As I read Alma 26, which consists of Ammon rejoicing in how blessed he has been by the Lord, I saw the attitude of a true believer.

Ammon is perhaps the greatest missionary in the Book of Mormon. He and his brothers forsaked their own right to rule the Nephites as king, and instead went to preach the gospel to a group of people who had been their enemies for centuries. As they preached they debased themselves, seeking to serve their enemies so that they could convince them of their sincerity and the truth of their word. Ammon and his brother’s choices lead them to the conversion of a whole kingdom of people who so loved the Lord that they were willing to give up their lives rather than continue to fight and kill. Even after all of this, Ammon did not take credit for himself but gave credit to the Lord. In verse 12 he says,

Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therfor I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

In our church the clergy is set up in such a way that it discourages anyone who is after money and power. All but a very few in the church do their work entirely as volunteers. Even missionaries and mission presidents must pay their own way as they take two to three years out of their own lives and whatever other employment they have. There is also a high rotation, so that a person serving as a bishop now many in a few years be serving in the nursery (basically babysitting 1-3 year olds) and no one would think it strange. Those in the highest levels of the church are kept so busy administering to a large worldwide church that they have no time for lives of leisure. Yet, church members are not perfect and you still occasionally hear of a bishop who behaves inappropriately or others who abuse their positions (always with quick punishment and removal from said position upon discovery of the infraction).

Ammon, however, had the opportunity for all the money and power he wanted. He could have been king. He could have let the Lamanites worship him as a God. Yet, each time he gave God the credit and sought only to serve God and his fellow men. Ammon was a true believer and I only hope that we all can follow his example.

Today I am going to try to be extra thankful and thank God for all they many ways he blesses me.

What great leaders have you seen in your life? What was it about them that made them such a great leader?

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2 comments so far

  1. javelin19 on

    Be careful. Many leaders today come from wealth and high education. Most mission presidents are not plumbers or third grade teachers. They own a business or manage a corporation. Also, most bishops who are released go into high priest group leader or a stake calling.

    • searchingthescriptures on

      It is definitely true that most mission presidents are well off, but I would argue this is largely because becoming a mission president is so expensive. In a sense a mission president pays for his mission twice: first in the wages or income he loses by not working for three years, and second by actually paying for his own mission as well as the support of his family while he is on the mission. Only more wealthy people can make such a commitment.

      It is also true that many bishops go on to have a stake calling, but the simple fact that there are fewer stake callings than there are ward callings means that most bishops will not end up going to a higher and higher level. Stake callings are usually most often filled by former bishops, but the fact that you are a former bishop does not mean that you will receive a stake calling. Even if they do, they will never make any money doing so. Only a very very few are ever called to a full time general authority position. What I was trying to say is that no one would look down on a bishop if he were “demoted” to what is basically the most undesirable calling the whole church (depending on who you talk to) – it is even a common occurrence.

      I also do not mean to suggest that no church leaders have a background of wealth or education. I am just saying that the hiearchy of the church is set up in such a way that you will not gain much wealth or power simply by preaching the gospel. Even with the structure, though, there are still people who abuse their positions for material gain or other forms of power. although I feel safe saying that this isn’t very common. What I hope is that we can learn to be more like Ammon, and serve God with no thought for ourselves. Ammon did not have a hiearchal structure that mandated that he not benefit financially from his mission – yet he chose to forsake his right to the throne, and to have the Lamanites he taught always look to God when he could have easily set himself up as their king. Ammon is a great example of what makes a great leader, and I’m sure many of our church leaders would make the same choices as Ammon given the chance.


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