Dear Elders and Sisters,
One day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking to Capernaum, the disciples were having a private argument. When they arrived, Jesus asked them: "What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" They were embarrassed to tell him because "they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34)
The desire to have praise, recognition and worldly power is a natural human weakness, but it is a dangerous trap. It is like walking down the streets of Manila during a rainstorm. When you step in a puddle of water, you don't really know if it is a centimeter deep, a meter deep or two meters deep. If the puddle is a centimeter deep you can keep walking with no problem. If it is a meter deep you can suffer a serious injury. The trap of worldly praise and power is 100 meters deep and can wreak destruction on your soul.
During the Council in Heaven before the world was created, Satan fell into this deep hole. He rebelled against Heavenly Father, saying: "I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor." In contrast, Christ said: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:1-2)
As you study the life of Jesus Christ you will see a remarkable, consistent message. It is remarkable because Christ was the most pure and powerful person ever to be born on the earth. If anyone had the right to receive praise, recognition and worldly power it was Him. But He consistently rejected it every time:
-After fasting for 40 days, Satan came tempting him with food, power, worldly wealth and worldly glory. Christ humbly resisted, saying: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:1-10)
-When He healed the sick, He often asked them to keep it quiet. Even after raising a young woman from the dead "...he charged them straitly that no man should know it..." (Mark )
-He was approached by a man whose son son was possessed by a terrible spirit. As he was talking to the man, a large crowd began to gather. He quickly healed the boy "And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it." (Mark 9:17-30)
Jesus not only set the example himself, He also taught against the trap of seeking praise and power:
"Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues..." (Luke )
"Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto me to fast." (Matthew )
"Behold there are many called but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and [they] aspire to the honors of men..." (DC 121:34-35)
"And also he [William W. Phelps] 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)
How Does This Apply To Us?
Of all people that should NOT be affected by this temptation it should be missionaries. You have give up everything: school, work, family, popular music, friends. You work hard, 7 days per week, for 18 months or 2 years. You spend your days studying the gospel, talking to strangers, being rejected, walking hour after hour, giving selfless service.
However, it applies to you just like it did to the disciples of Christ during his life. Even missionaries are tempted to think that being called as a leader should one of their goals. Even missionaries can think that being praised or respected by others is important. Even missionaries can, from time to time, lose sight of the fact that it is God we are serving and no one else.
Sometimes our families make this even more difficult. It was the same during Jesus' time. "Then came to him the mother of [James and John] with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." Sometimes your family or friends set expectations for recognition and success that are false. They equate leadership responsibilities with success. It was not true at the time of Christ and it is not true now.
We need to resist every temptation to fall into the hole of aspiring to the "honors of men."
When his disciples were "moved with indignation" because of the request of the mother, Jesus taught: "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."
Then He uses himself as the example: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:20-28)
I invite each of us to follow the example and teaching of the Savior. When asked what is the greatest commandment, he taught:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)
This is how He lived His life: loving God and loving us. He followed His Father with exactness and devotion and He gave everything, including His own life, to save us.
We will be blessed as we serve only God and our fellow men, not our own desires for praise or power.
Thomas asked him "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
This is a question all of us should ask.
And for all of us the answer is the same: "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:5-6)
Let us humbly serve God and our fellow man, without the desire for recognition or authority. Let us love them as He loves them, with a selfless, pure love.
Mahal na mahal po kayo,
President Creg Ostler