29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward.
30 And behold, they would have carried this plan into effect, (which would have been a cause to have been lamented) but behold, Morianton being a man of much passion, therefore he was angry with one of his maid servants, and he fell upon her and beat her much.
31 And it came to pass that she fled, and came over to the camp of Moroni, and told Moroni all things concerning the matter, and also concerning their intentions to flee into the land northward.
A strong human spirit with control over appetites of the flesh is master over emotions and passions and not a slave to them. That kind of freedom is as vital to the spirit as oxygen is to the body! Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Decisions for Eternity,” General Conference, October 2013).
Effective leadership and success in any venture begins with self-mastery. This is one of the fundamental lessons of the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. As we saw earlier this week, Mormon described in some detail the noble attributes of Captain Moroni, and he explicitly linked those attributes to Moroni’s military success.
In contrast, we read in the passage above about Morianton, a Nephite leader who led an invasion into a neighboring Nephite territory. Knowing that Moroni’s army would likely drive them out again, he attempted to escape with his people into “the land northward”—he clearly hadn’t thought through how this would play out—but was thwarted even in that plan.
Why? As Mormon tells us, Morianton was an undisciplined man, “a man of much passion.” We don’t know what triggered his abuse of a female servant, and it seems unlikely that this was an isolated incident. Nevertheless, on this occasion, this servant had had enough, and she escaped to the camp of Moroni to provide valuable information which enabled Moroni’s troops to prevail.
Moroni was successful because of his own positive attributes. On this occasion, he was also helped by a significant flaw in the character of his opponent. Morianton’s failure to master his emotions was his downfall.
Today, I will remember that self-discipline is essential for my success. I will strengthen my spirit, so that I can be the master of my passions and not a slave to them.