Now free of the chief judge position and able to focus wholly on leading the Church, Alma decides to travel around to check on the status of the Church in the various Nephite cities and encourage the members in each location. His first stop is the city of Gideon. An excerpt of his words to the members in that city is recorded in Alma 7.
Although the bulk of Alma’s address concerns the coming of Jesus Christ, he also makes three separate statements about situations that have brought him joy as the Church leader:
- After having fallen into sinful ways, the people of Zarahemla, his home city, have repented and become established again in the way of righteousness (verse 4)
- The people of Gideon have a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and they believe in what the Church is teaching (verse 17)
- The people he is speaking to have given him their full attention and have absorbed the message that he has delivered (verse 26)
The same three situations can bring joy to a minister today.
Jesus said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10). Likewise, there is joy among the ministry. The most basic calling of a minister of God is to preach repentance, and when someone heeds that message, it causes great joy. This can include any of the following scenarios:
- A sinner repents, decides to give his life to the Lord and requests baptism.
- A member who has fallen into a sinful condition repents and rededicates himself to the service of God.
- Two people who are at odds with each other are restored to full fellowship with each other after offering sincere apologies and extending full forgiveness.
Any of the above brings tears to my eyes!
Pick any belief of the Church, and you can find people who are vehemently opposed to it. This can include the deity of Jesus Christ, the validity of the Book of Mormon, the necessity of the various ordinances such as baptism and feet washing, or anything that the Church believes in.
If you look at the social media page of someone who doesn’t believe in God, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see negative comments about things we believe in. If you look at the website of another faith, you expect to see beliefs that differ from those of our Church.
However, what hurts as a minister is to have members of our own Church disagree with our beliefs. Whether it’s interpretations of the scriptures or positions on current cultural or political issues — whether it’s expressed verbally, on social media, or by choices made in their personal lives — when our Church members do not share the beliefs of the Church, it makes it very challenging for the Church to move forward and very discouraging for the ministry trying to lead the Church.
Conversely, what joy it brings to the ministry when the congregation is united in the beliefs of the Church. It makes it easier to preach to the members; it makes it easier to pray together; it makes it easier for new members to learn the beliefs of the Church and grow spiritually. This is the condition we love our Church to be in!
With seemingly everyone’s attention tied to their electronic devices, any time that anyone gives you their full, undivided attention, you should feel honored. A similar challenge exists for the ministry in trying to present the Word of God. A great deal of competition exists for people’s attention.
When preaching a sermon, it’s very discouraging for the minister to see people looking at their phones instead of paying attention. On the other hand, if the people in the congregation are making eye contact, occasionally nodding their heads, and maybe even saying “Amen” here or there, that is very inspiring for the preacher who will likely rise to even greater heights in delivering the message for the day.
Even as I write these blog articles, I know that I am competing for the attention of our readers with other reading material or TV shows or whatever. As a result, it does make me happy to hear people say they read the articles. It’s certainly a better feeling than hearing someone say, “What blog?”
Although the goal of serving God is not to just make your minister happy, the things described above will help the Church be successful in its mission today, and that should bring joy to all of us.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.