When the Priests Left Their Labor – Alma 1:26

26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

I think Mormon’s main point in this verse is that a lay ministry creates a sense of egalitarianism in the church. Just as the Nephites had adopted a form of government which spread the responsibilities more evenly among its citizens, so also the church organization, in which priests and teachers also had “day jobs,” enabled and encouraged all of the members to participate more fully.

The phrase that strikes me most, however, is that the priests (and the members) “left their labors” to participate in their church responsibilities. I’m not great at “context switching.” When I am deeply involved in a project at work, with family activities, or with church service, it’s hard for me to change gears and jump wholeheartedly into another activity. And yet that is what members of the Church must do. We all receive callings which we must balance with our other roles in life. In order to fulfill our church duties, we must be able to “leave our labors” at the appropriate time and then “return diligently to [our] labors” when our church duties are completed.
Today, I will intentionally balance the time I spend on each of my responsibilities, including family, work, and church. I will focus my complete attention on the task at hand and will “leave my labors” in one area of life when it is time to engage in another set of responsibilities.

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