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RS/MP Chapter 15: Faithful, Energetic Service in the Kingdom of God (Lorenzo Snow Manual)

Posted by Robert C. on August 8, 2013

First, as the dog days of summer drag on, it might be good to start your lesson (or lesson prep) off with a Lorenzo Snow cone. Enjoy.

From the Life of Lorenzo Snow

I really like the opening vignette for this lesson relating how Pres. Snow (Elder Snow back then) got caught in Malta (check here for a little background) and basically decided to make lemonade (another good dog-days treat…). Here is the key quote:

Rather than complain about the delay, he decided to go to work. In a letter dated March 10, 1852, he wrote, “I feel that much good will result from the manner in which the Lord may direct the employment of the time now at my command, as I am surrounded by an interesting people, and in a most important field of labour, where a great work will be accomplished, extending to adjacent nations.” [p. 183]

Also, the conclusion is worth adding:

Elder Snow never realized his dream of serving in India and circumnavigating the globe. Instead, he diligently followed the will of the Lord during his unexpected stay in Malta, building a foundation for missionary work there. When he was finally able to board a ship in May 1852, he went west rather than east, following his leaders’ instructions to return to Salt Lake City. About two months later, Elders Woodard and Obray organized a branch of the Church in Malta. [p. 184]

I think this part of the manual’s Question #1 for this quote is nice: What words would you use to describe Lorenzo Snow’s attitude about serving the Lord? I also plan to invite my quorum members to share experiences—either positive or negative—that they have had or witnessed where life threw lemons and the response to those lemons was interesting, noteworthy, or instructive.

Because we have received . . . we serve

In the next section, I like the following quote at the very end of the section, explaining that we are “answerable for our individual acts and for the manner in which we use the talents and ability the Lord has given us” (p. 185).

Again, the manual suggests a nice question here. From Question #2: “What does it mean to you to be an ambassador of Christ?” I’d change the wording a bit of the first part of Question #2. Instead of “Why do you think membership in the Church brings such great responsibilities?” I would ask what responsibilities membership in the Church brings, and then add “why” as a follow-up question.

I have always felt rather moved by the “where much is given much is required” scriptures (Luke 12:48; D&C 82:3), and I think that it would be time well spent to give class members a chance to reflect, privately and aloud, on what we have been given (on this earth, in our wards, in our families, in our cities and country, etc.) and what ways we can give back.

Membership . . . is a call to help others

I like the following quote:

The design of the Lord was to bless not only him and his posterity, but all the families of the earth. . . . When Jesus came, He came as a sacrifice not simply in the interest of Israel, or the posterity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but in the interest of the whole human family. . . . [p. 186]

Part of what I like about this quote is the idea of universality here. I think a good question for this quote might be something like the following: The Gospel is for everyone. How (and why) does this compare or contrast with worldly norms or institutions? The aim of this question would be to get class members to think about the various ways that we tend to discriminate, whether by race, gender, age, ability, looks, etc. In my ward, and in most parts of Mormondom, I suspect these last two categories (ability and looks) are the most widespread bases for hurtful discrimination.

Every calling and responsibility is important

Two quotes from this section stand out to me. The first:

I am sometimes led to believe that some of our brethren, Elders in Israel, are too ready and willing to shirk the obligations they are under by reason of their covenants, the faith they once possessed seems to be almost exhausted, and they appear to settle down into the quiet satisfaction of a mere nominal membership in the Church. [p. 186]

Here’s a brainstorm of questions for this quote: In what ways are we prone to “settle down into . . . mere nominal membership”? Why? What are some signs or symptoms of this kind of settling? What is a cure for this kind of settling? What is the opposite of this problem, and how do we get there?

Second money quote for this section:

There are others who think . . . if they belonged to the Quorum of the Twelve, or were they President of the High Council, or of the High Priests or Seventies, then they would consider it important how they conducted themselves. [p. 187]

Here, I’d be inclined to ask a question such as the following: If you were Bishop (or Relief Society President), do you think it would change the way you acted, apart from your specific calling-related responsibilities? How and why? I’d ask this question with a knowing, mischievous smile—after all, we all know that it shouldn’t matter, and yet I think we all know that it would matter.

When we serve God with . . . cheerfulness, He strengthens us

I like the first paragraph of this section:

I say, let men serve God faithfully and energetically, and be cheerful. . . . There are times when persons are brought into conditions where it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to assume a cheerful aspect. But such times are very few.

I think Question #5 is a nice, simple, and yet evocative question: In what ways do faith, energy, and cheerfulness influence our service?

My own sense is that we, as Mormons, are prone to let martyr-like attitudes infect our Church service. Guilt is perhaps the most common motivator in the Church. And, somewhat ironically, I think that oftentimes those in the Church who are the most susceptible to feelings of guilt are the most obedient and active members of the Church. This can be problematic, of course, and it’s a problem that I think would be very productive and cathartic to discuss in a classroom setting.

I often find that in my efforts to serve “energetically and faithfully,” I fail to serve “cheerfully.” Do any of you face the same challenge? Why do you think that is? What advice do you have for me?

The work . . . is sometimes difficult, but it brings great joy

I think this section of the lesson nicely bring the themes above full circle. In the previous section, I asked about the challenge of serving cheerfully. This section offers comforting words in a way that should help the lesson end on a positive note, with words of assurance, and a reminder of Pres. Snow’s example of making lemonade out of lemons when he was stuck in Malta.

If we serve God properly, we should be happy and cheerful, at least generally. If we are not happy and cheerful, it stands to reason that we are either not serving God, or we are not serving God properly. I often struggle to keep my heart in the right place, and so my efforts to serve do not always yield joy. But recognizing this lack of joy has itself been a blessing, since it has helped me to repent of whatever it is that is troubling my heart, which is usually some sort of pride or ingratitude. After repenting, I have inevitably experienced the joy of service that President Snow describes.

5 Responses to “RS/MP Chapter 15: Faithful, Energetic Service in the Kingdom of God (Lorenzo Snow Manual)”

  1. Jen Parkinson said

    THank you so much for this information! I am planning my RS lesson right now and I was at a stand-still. I Have had several thoughts as I have read through this. Thank you!

  2. Pam said

    Thanks I too am planning my lesson, some of my thoughts were tough to put into words, you have worded many of my thoughts beautifully, and added many more, thank you!

  3. Jim Siniscalchi said

    I liked and enjoyed this lesson as it stirred some feelings and thoughts from within and had me ask questions of myself. It caused in me in a want and desire to become better than I am.

    Am I consciously aware of my thoughts, deeds, and am I really doing my best to live the life of holiness and walk in all Godliness and worship before God in prayer all the day long, even carrying a prayer in my heart continually. Am I disciplined, yes disciplined and focused, until I’ve become the new creature in Christ I desire, and walk in Godliness ! Do I make this my goal to seek to be like the Father and His Son by acting in a godly manner. Isn’t it Latter-Day Saints objective to become as He is? (3 Nephi 12:48; 27:27). Do I take upon myself His divine Nature? Do I have an eye single to His glory? Do I LOVE all mankind, even the one who may smite me or despitefully use me? Yes, them too. Do I have an ever growing desire to do good in all I do, and think like He would in any given situation? If not, why Not?

    When those feelings of guilt come upon me as they often do, do I dwell on what I can’t do today, but rather, dwell on that the fact that I would if I could? And then go about doing my best at whatever I can do when I can? Do I prepare myself in a state of readiness for duty in His Kingdom?

    Could it be, I need to be reading His word, even all His Holy scriptures, but more particularly the B of M? It truly has great power in its words, and I know it does. I have been humbled to the very depths of humility, even to the losing of all that that I had, and have also experienced His great power and have seen His glory and majesty in all life and have been blessed more than all that I have ever lost. Reading the Book of Mormon and really pondering it and its message has had a great effect on my spiritual being and the changes I am seeking. It really is magical in that sense. I would recommend daily doses. 

    2 Peter 3:11—Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…
    The Prophet Joseph exclaimed: “When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man advances, when he shall come to receive his Saints unto himself, where they shall dwell in his presence and be crowned with glory and immortality, when I consider that soon the heavens are to be shaken and the earth tremble and reel to and fro and that the heavens are to be unfolded as a scroll when it is rolled up, that every mountain and island are to flee away—I cry out in my heart, ‘…What manner of person ought I to be in all holy conversation and godliness!’ (2 Peter 3:11).”
    (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith’s Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 210.)

    Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh… (Doctrine and Covenants 84:20-21-20)

    “That is what holds these people together—the power of the priesthood. And in the administration of it we have seen and do see the power of godliness; not a form of godliness, mind you, but the power of godliness.

    Paul said that in the latter days men would be ‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof’ [2 Tim. 3:5]; but what I refer to is the power of godliness. Have you ever seen it manifested in your lives? We heard of it this morning from the leader of the Church as manifested in the healing of the sick. We see it in the temples of the Lord; we see it in the sick rooms; we see it manifested in presidencies of stakes, bishoprics of wards.

    “In all the leadership of the priesthood we see that same power of godliness. . . . It is the power of godliness, of godly lives. It is the power of godly men and godly women, through the ordinances of the priesthood made manifest; and everyone shares in it.” (CR, April 1927, pp. 26-27; see also D&C 107:28-30.) (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 3:74.)

    Am I Cultivating a spirit of charity, being ready to do for others more than I would expect from them if circumstances were reversed? Am I developing the character traits of godliness? Being upright, just, and merciful, and exercising a spirit of nobility and godliness in all my intentions and resolutions- in all my acts and dealings? Am I ambitious to become great, not in the estimation of the worldly minded, but in the eyes of God? And to be great in this sense: “ Do I Love the Lord God with all my might, mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself?” Do I love mankind because they are my brethren, the offspring of God? Do I Pray diligently for this spirit of philanthropy, this expansion of thought and feeling, and for power and ability to labor earnestly in the interest of Messiah’s kingdom?

    IS there evidence that I am a changed creature and have the Savior’s image in my countenance? Was I meek, poor in spirit, and lowly of heart? When you saw me did you see a peacemaker? Was I Jesus to the least of us? Was my worship more than just mere words? Even if you don’t know who I am, did you see Him when you saw me? Does everything I do point to Him? Will you know I am giving all that I am, serving Him and my fellow-beings, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth for His glory? Did I show the world the love he gave for me? Did I so live that if love is who I am, then did I prove that His love is true? Was I a light on the hill whereby, others too, may know, that He is who truly says He is? Did you feel loved? If not then I have failed you, me, and God.

    King Benjamin, as quoted by Mormon…And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. Mosiah 5:8

    The Lord God doth keep His promises, yea, even according to all His words, and opens up the Heavens according to His Promises. Is it my greatest desire is to become like our Savior?

    Do I Guard against forgetting due to the ease of the way (see Helaman 12:1-2)? Do I remember the goodness and mercy of the Lord in all things (see Mosiah 4:11).

    Is it my conscious effort to become like Him. Do I deny myself of all ungodliness and offer this as a sacrifice unto the Lord God? (See Moroni 10:32; D & C 59:8). Mere words ought to be inadequate to express those feelings.
    Have I have given myself to much study, prayer, and fasting. I have found for myself that the Powers of Heaven can be really opened to each of us on an individual basis?

    Thank you Rob C for this post and every one of you, for the time you take to consecrate your heart & words to help others, even a soul like me.

  4. Robert C. said

    I’m glad these notes were helpful to some of you—and I apologize for the handful of typos I found (and corrected) while preparing my lesson this morning!

  5. Raye Isom said

    Thank you for putting a positive spin on a lesson that seemed so heavy. I’m stealing some of your bits to lighter the vibe of my lesson.

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