Steve Donegan is a retired U.S. Army warrant officer. He joined the Army and made this prophetic statement during his initial training: “The Army will either make me an alcoholic or a Christian.” Luckily, he chose the latter. His Army career took him into many locations in Europe, to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and around the United States. In each location, he served as a teacher at many levels, counselors in a variety of presidencies, and a student at the feet of many who knew/know more than him. His eternal companion has given him three children on each side of the veil and they have eight grandchildren.
In Alma 40:20, Alma uses seven words to his son, Corianton, that I have used many times in my discussions with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I would like to start with here. No, that I must start with here. Those seven words are:
“I give it as my opinion that…”
What follows here is only my opinion, but I suspect you will agree with me. The two words most overlooked are “all” and “like”. As a leader in the Church, it’s so important that we are striving to personally understand and help others understand the power of “all’ and “like”.
As we look at the definition as provided by a dictionary possibly available to the prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., the Webster 1806 A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language has the following meanings for “all”:
- Everyone; n. the whole; ad: wholly.
There does not seem to be any wiggle room in that word; all means ALL. And yet there are many among us, me included, who allow the 8,550 uses of this word in holy writ to fall into the hole of “selective obedience”. Thus keeping us from including all of Heavenly Father and Mother’s children in every thought, feeling, and action of ours. That limiting choice is beyond bad. It is destructive to our very souls.
Long ago I heard this thought-provoking statement and have spent (too much) time thinking about it. Essentially, it said:
“When you arrive in heaven you will look around to see who else is there. You will be surprised at some of the people you see, wondering how “they” got there. But notice the look on their faces; they are wondering how “you” got there!”
We have learned we need each other, in preparing for the second coming and for just getting through temporal life. That need is not going to go away after the second coming.
I cannot imagine after we stand at the “pleasing bar of God” (Moroni 10:34) and are assigned our place in the kingdom, we will sit around, enjoying our eternity with nothing on our to-do list. I am sure there will be a purpose there just as there is here (“…to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39).
My belief is we will not be able to do the work there by ourselves any more than we can do it here by ourselves. The word “all” becomes more encompassing to our minds when we realize the enormity of the tasks before us. As we look through our scriptures, we find many instances of the word “all.” I invite you to find the place where “all” means anything less than the definition given above.
I hope as you do this you will come away with two (possibly new) perspectives:
- Everyone you meet is part of that “all” and Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost care for and love deeply,
- Part of that “everyone you meet” who Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost care for and love deeply also includes the person staring back at you whenever you look in a mirror.
This is not to be confused with the word you hear from many young people who seem to want to stream as many instances of the word into every sentence they use. No, this word is the word used by authors of our scriptures who are trying to make a point that is too often missed by Christians, wanna-be Christians, and those who fight Deity about becoming a Christian.
How is this word used in the scriptures? I will provide just two examples, adding emphasis for clarity.
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28–29)
“And whoso standeth in this mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children; And to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of his counselors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God.” (D&C 58:17–18)
How We Are to Be
Too often I see children of our Father look at the words spoken by prophets, seers, and/or revelators and miss that they are to be LIKE our Father, LIKE Jesus Christ, LIKE our heroes of the scriptures, LIKE Christian heroes in modern days, and LIKE Church leaders.
Nowhere in the scriptures does it say you are “to be” one of these figures, just LIKE them. Even the most revered scripture of them all, 3 Nephi 12:48, does not say we are to be an entity, but that we should be an attribute;
“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
Jesus Christ has a Saul-who-became-Paul, he has quite a number of Nephis, he has a plethora of Almas, he has a Captain Moroni and an Angel Moroni, he has a Joseph Smith, Jr., he has an Eve, he has a Sarah, he has a Sariah, he has an Abish, he has (place your favorite General Authority or General Presidency leader’s name here).
He does not need another one of any of those. Those amazingly great figures were, or are, fantastically appropriate for where they stood or stand in the journey of the plan. But they do not stand where you are. Jesus Christ needs you to be the best (your name here) you can be, right where you are, no matter what the circumstances.
We need to encourage ourselves and others to stop comparing ourselves to those great figures we hear and read about and start thinking of and strengthening the example that we possess!
We are the one Jesus Christ has chosen to stand wherever it is we are standing. We are the one – not the world’s prophet, not a seer, not an authority figure working directly with the Church leaders (even if you currently do). We and only we can reach the children of God around us to let them know of the love of God towards them: the good news, which is really fantastically good!
Those “figures” will never be able to be everywhere at once. We are the message and messenger; now go spread the word. And yes, to all.
Overlooked and misconstrued words and actions will be our undoing, and there is nothing Lucifer wants more than our undoing. So let’s take a moment to consider how we give “all” of our heart and strive to be “like” those faithful souls who have preceded us and currently walk beside us.
We Are Each Entitled to Personal Revelation
One final thought to help in your quest to truly remember and inspire others to love and embrace Fathers’ plan of happiness. In the LDS scriptures Bible dictionary, there are some great insights on personal revelation. Let’s start with the word “prophet” and work our way over to “revelation.”
The last sentence in the definition provided for “prophet” states:
“In a general sense, a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost, as in Num. 11:25–29; Rev. 19:10.”
As a side note, Moses was more correct than he would ever know about prophets while earth-bound! See Numbers 11:25-29.
So now knowing what a prophet is (I highly recommend reading the entire definition; to know a “foreteller” from a “forthteller”, it is extremely enlightening), let us now turn to the middle of the definition for “Revelation”:
“It is the making known of divine truth by communication with the heavens and consists not only of revelation of the plan of salvation to the Lord’s prophets but also a confirmation in the hearts of the believers that the revelation to the prophets is true. It also consists of individual guidance for every person who seeks for it and follows the prescribed course of faith, repentance, and obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
May we become the Lord’s prophet and revelator our Father desires us to become. May we listen to the words spoken by our past and present leaders with more diligence, noticing the alls and the likes and the other words we may have misconstrued or just missed along the way. May we always, always, have His Spirit to be with us. May we always, always, stand in holy places and invite others to join us there.