When I served my mission, and as my children served missions, I was deeply struck by the insight that at that specific time in our lives, we were exactly where Father needed us to be. Both for our growth and to assist Him in His specific work in that area.
Being a Linchpin
As we continue in life through a variety of milestones and the daily grind, periodically it is worth pondering if we are where Father needs us to be and to make inspired adjustments, if necessary. I was reminded of the importance of this as I was reading in Mormon recently. While studying I was struck by how Father needed Mormon to fulfill specific responsibilities in his time. Mormon was a linchpin.
A linchpin serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit. Such as a pin, passed through the end of an axle that keeps a wheel in position or from coming off.
We learn in Mormon 1 some of the attributes of becoming a linchpin at a key time in the history and in the lives of others. Mormon was described at age 10 as “sober” (trustworthy) and “quick to observe.” He would be a leader of armies at 16 and have the stewardship of protecting and adding to the plates at age 24. He would be a heartbroken witness to the complete annihilation of his people. Additionally, he would abridge an ancient record with exactly the words that Father wanted a people to hear and study, who would live nearly 2000 years in the future.
I’d say that Father clearly had an important work for Mormon to do at that particular time in history. He held things together in Fathers kingdom at that time, as well as played a key role in bringing the Book of Mormon to us in our time.
Quick to Observe
Let’s back up for a moment and understand a bit more about two of Mormon’s attributes, being sober and being quick to observe. We learn from Elder David A. Bednar that,
“Mormon, even in his youth, is described as being ‘quick to observe.’ As you study and learn and grow, I hope you also are learning about and becoming quick to observe. Your future success and happiness will in large measure be determined by this spiritual capacity…As used in the scriptures, the word observe has two primary uses. One use denotes ’to look‘ or ‘to see’ or ’to notice’…The second use of the word observe suggests ’to obey‘ or ’to keep’…Thus when we are quick to observe, we promptly look or notice and obey. Both of these fundamental elements—looking and obeying—are essential to being quick to observe. And the prophet Mormon is an impressive example of this gift in action.”
A Few “Saintly” Questions
Are we being sober, quick to observe and striving to be qualified to become a linchpin in our dealings with others and successfully navigating the challenges of the world?
Are we adapting the ways we lead and fulfill our callings during this pandemic (or any unexpected curve ball in life) and making inspired changes to continue to meet the needs of those we love and serve?
Are we regularly taking time each week to ponder on how and who Father needs us to serve in BOTH our calling and our responsibility as a saint?
We don’t have to be the president of an organization to contribute as a linchpin to the needs of that organization. We don’t have be assigned as a ministering sister or brother to a specific person to listen for and act on promptings of safeguarding someone Father has placed in our path.
Quick to Observe
My grandpa spent most of his life in a small farming community in Kansas. In his little town of Cawker City, their claim to fame was the largest ball of twine in the world. (Random, right?) Yet, as I learned more about my grandpa, I think he had the largest heart in the world and was quick to observe.
When my mom was 6, her family moved from their farm and into town where grandpa opened an insurance agency. I have grown to admire many of his qualities as my mom has shared some great stories about this man who died years before I was born. He clearly had a great sense of humor, but he was also a man of faith, commitment, and love for his fellow men. He was known for being a fair and firm man.
Mom told me of how he would insure the crops for the local farms without them making a single payment on a premium until they had harvested their crops. He paid their premium and trusted that they would be men of honor and pay their debt when they could. Imagine the trust my grandpa had placed in these folks. He was never let down by a single farmer in that community.
Because the life of a farmer is hard and sometimes unpredictable, my grandpa brought a sense of peace and hope as they planted their crops, worked hard, and prayed that they would have a bountiful harvest. He was quick to observe where there was a need and take personal responsibility to help his fellow men. Although my grandpa was not a Latter-day Saint, he was a good and faithful servant who was a linchpin for those farmers. He helped hold together their hopes, dreams, and livelihood.
Adapt as Needed
The pandemic has taught us many things, but perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve seen is how folks have adapted from their “normal” way of doing things in their homes, work and community.
Working and worshiping remotely is now commonplace. Slowing down from overscheduling our families has helped us more fully value how we use our time each day. Seeking ways to fulfill our callings and minister more effectively has helped us to move away from old approaches or traditions, to new ways of showing love and caring.
Personally, I have grown to love “porch visits”. I have experienced some sweet discussions on a porch chair or step, that were not previously had in the comfort of a living room. Because we have less contact with our sisters and brothers, when we do have a chance to gather in some capacity, it is more sacred and treasured.
We would be wise to ponder on work arounds for the challenges we face in fulfilling our callings rather than resign ourselves to just waiting it out to go back to the old habits and traditions.
Ponder Regularly on Next Steps
We can be a linchpin for our families and other associates by maintaining a righteous purpose and constantly seeking to observe opportunities, through the Lord’s guiding Spirit, to make a difference in the lives of others. As we ponder on what Father would have us do at this time and within our stewardships, He will guide us in ways that we would have never thought possible.
There may be a specific individual or family that Father needs us to be their linchpin in the gospel. Being His hands and holding them strong is a sacred privilege that requires regular assessing, adjusting and not assuming we know what is needed. We need to approach these linchpin opportunities with the prayer, “Father, this is your child that you know and love, how can I help you with encouraging and supporting them?”
If You Knew
If you knew that Father was counting on you to be a linchpin for a family you are assigned to minister to, would your prayers for them change? Would you seek to learn what their family goals and challenges are and seek to find ways to help them in their family quest?
If you knew that you were a linchpin for a student in your class, would you strive more fully to seek revelation on how to best teach, support and get to know that student?
If you knew that in addition to all the “regular” things Father needed for you to perform in your current calling that you were a linchpin for one specific individual or family to move through a particular challenge in their life?
I suspect that Mormon knew he was a linchpin in his time. He knew that Father had entrusted him with sacred responsibilities. He knew that he was not only to protect the records but add sacred insights into those records. Because Mormon knew, he faithfully followed Father’s directive to NOT lead his people into battle when they were refusing to see Father’s hand in their preservation. He was also a humble follower when Father asked him to lead his people into their final battle. Father’s purposes are not our purposes and we do not always understand what may seem like a change or “mistake” in what we were first instructed to do. Yet Father is teaching us the power of observing, listening to the Spirit and acting in faith.
So, are you willing to be that kind of linchpin? I’m confident that as we choose to be inspired linchpins, Father will lovingly guide and bless us in our efforts.
Beth Young is the written content manager at Leading Saints. She is a convert of 43 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 32 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She loves writing, teaching and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental and spiritual health.
Image by Thamizhpparithi Maari – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0