Sunday, February 14, 2016

2016-02-14 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

While traveling to the city of Capernaum, the disciples of Christ got into an argument along the way. When they arrived, the Savior asked them what their argument was about. They had been "disputing among themselves who [was] the greatest."

One of the weaknesses of the natural man is the desire to be recognized by others for the good work they do. Many people also have the desire to "excel", to be in charge, to be a leader.

Even though each of our missionaries is striving to be 100% devoted to serving the Lord, they can also struggle with this weakness. A missionary can say to himself: "If I am a really good missionary, I will be called as a district leader, a trainer, a zone leader, a sister training leader or an assistant to the president." Some missionaries even set a personal goal to "achieve" certain leadership positions.

What makes matters even more difficult, some of your family members or friends might tell you that they expect you to become a leader, otherwise you are not a successful missionary.

What was the response of Jesus to his aspiring disciples? He said "If any man desire to be the first, the same shall be the last of all, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35) In Luke 22:26 he said "But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve."

In more recent times, the Lord told Joseph Smith about William W. Phelps: "And also he hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me." (DC 58:41)

There is the story about the man who wanted to climb over a very high wall to reach a treasure. He planned and worked for years to build a ladder that was tall and strong. Finally, he used all of his energy to climb to the top. When he reached the top he was disappointed to realize that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall! There was no treasure at the top! The treasure was at the top of another wall! Some missionaries and some members of the Church lean their ladder on the wall of leadership positions and then they realize too late that it is the wrong wall. It is empty.

What is the true measure of success on your mission? The measure of your success is: HAVE I BECOME A TRUE DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST? This is it. Everything is encompassed in this simple measure of success. A disciple of Christ is laser-focused on finding, teaching, baptizing, reactivating and bringing souls to the temple of God. A disciple of Christ strives to develop the Christ-like attributes of Faith, Hope, Charity, Love, Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence, Obedience and Integrity.

Titles or leadership positions are not included in the description of a True Disciple.

Matthew 25:31-46 contains a most interesting description of the final judgment. When those who will go to the celestial kingdom of God ask Him why they are allowed to go, He says: "For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." These are true disciples of Christ.

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:10,13,15,16 the Lord says: "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father. And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" These are true disciples of Christ.

Can you see what is important to the Lord? Caring for His children, and especially bringing them back to the Father, are the important things to the Lord.

"We do not 'step down' when we are released and we do not 'step up' when we are called. There is no 'up or down' in the service of the Lord. There is only 'forward or backward' and that difference on how we accept and act upon our releases and our callings." (Dallin H. Oaks, April 2014 General Conference)

If you are measuring your success, or the success of others, by leadership positions now is the time to repent and become focused on what really matters. Some of the most Christ-like people I have known in my life never held a high leadership position. They were simple, loving, consecrated disciples of Christ who serve out their lives away from the limelight of the world. I hope to some day be worthy to shine their shoes.

Consider this poem:

Father, where shall I work today?

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then he pointed out a tiny spot and said, "Tend that for me."

I answered quickly, "Oh no, not that! Why no one would ever see.

No matter how well my work was done. Not that little place for me."

And the word he spoke, it was not stern; thou working for them or me?

Nazareth was a little place,

and so was Galilee.      (Meade MacGuire)

When the day of your final judgment comes, no one will present a list of leadership positions, college degrees, cars, homes or worldly accomplishments. Your judgment will come in terms of individual people that you blessed or didn't bless. Your judgment will be in your own soul--are you a woman or man of God or are you a woman or man of the world? At that time, no one will care about worldly recognition. Your pure heart and your pure service will count for everything....everything.

May the Lord bless us to put aside the distraction of recognition, title and position. May He bless us with a pure love for His people and for Him.

Mahal ko po kayo my fellow servants,

President Creg D. Ostler