Our family has had the recent blessings and opportunities of having two of our sons serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the same time. It’s been wonderful to see their testimonies grow and strengthen through their study of the gospel and dedication to the work of the Lord. Their experiences have also given me occasion to reflect on many memories from my own time as a young man in the mission field.
One such memory was that every district meeting and zone conference was started by reciting Doctrine and Covenants section 4 as well as the “Standard of Truth.” I recall the feelings of comfort and strength that came from those prophetic words. As young missionaries, I feel we were inclined to think that these inspirational passages were directed specifically towards missionary service. This week’s study of the February 8-14, 2021 Come, Follow Me lesson and my reading of Doctrine and Covenants section 12 has reminded me that the “marvelous work” (verse 1) mentioned in these scriptures also refers to so much more.
Establishing Heavenly Father’s Work
Although the revelation found in section 12 was given through Joseph Smith to Joseph Knight Sr., we read in verse 7 that the Lord is also speaking to “all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work.” I am grateful for the opportunity I have had this week to study and ponder what our Heavenly Father’s work is and what my role can be in it.
We learn in Moses 1:39 that God’s work and glory is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” I am so thankful for Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice that allows us to gain immortality through resurrection and eternal life through the cleansing of our sins. In Moroni 10:32 we learn that we must “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” This process of coming unto Christ may begin with missionary work, but it continues as a lifelong work. We need to progress individually and help others to do the same.
Serving in Christ’s Restored Church
We can all participate in our Father in Heaven’s work of salvation and exaltation by serving in the various capacities made possible through Church callings. In reference to the spectrum of callings that exist in the restored Church of Jesus Christ, President Nelson has said: “Your devotion to duty and your selfless service are just as important in your callings as ours are in our callings. Through a lifetime of service in this Church, I have learned that it really doesn’t matter where one serves. What the Lord cares about is how one serves” (“Ministering with the Power and Authority of God,” Ensign, May 2018, 68).
In the Church’s General Handbook section 1.2, the work of salvation and exaltation is divided into four main responsibilities:
“Living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Caring for those in need.
Inviting all to receive the gospel.
Uniting families for eternity.”
I believe every single calling in the Church falls into one or more of these categories. The attributes and principles of humility, love, faith, hope, charity, and temperance in all things (as listed in Doctrine and Covenants 12:8)—when followed and applied—will qualify us for the work.
Striving to Be Fellow Servants
At times we may feel inadequate, but I take comfort in the words of M. Russell Ballard who reminds us: “We should not be surprised to know that those individuals called to do the Lord’s work are not humanly perfect. Stories in the scriptures detail incidents about men and women who were called of God to accomplish a great work—good sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father called to serve in their assignments in the Church, striving to do their best, but none of them yet perfect. The same is true of us today” (“Precious Gifts from God,” Ensign, May 2018, 9).
We are taught in Doctrine and Covenants 12:4 that “whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.” I feel that each calling in the Church, whether large or small, can be seen as a ripe opportunity. Verse 3 in section 12 also teaches, “the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts.” I love and appreciate this teaching that our participation in the Lord’s work can simply start with a desire. And through continued effort, we may “treasure up for our souls everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 12:3).
In reference to the humble beginnings of Joseph and Oliver’s labours and how they were relatively unknown at the time, I was touched by the introductory overview to the February 8-14, 2021 lesson of Come, Follow Me that tells us, “however small or unseen your contribution may seem at times, you too are a fellow servant in the Lord’s great work.” I am so grateful for the joy and growth that comes from serving others. My family and I have also received many blessings that have come to us through the actions of those who have given service in God’s work.