21 And it came to pass that Moroni, having no hopes of meeting them upon fair grounds, therefore, he resolved upon a plan that he might decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds.
22 Therefore he caused that Teancum should take a small number of men and march down near the seashore; and Moroni and his army, by night, marched in the wilderness, on the west of the city Mulek; and thus, on the morrow, when the guards of the Lamanites had discovered Teancum, they ran and told it unto Jacob, their leader.
23 And it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites did march forth against Teancum, supposing by their numbers to overpower Teancum because of the smallness of his numbers. And as Teancum saw the armies of the Lamanites coming out against him he began to retreat down by the seashore, northward.
24 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites saw that he began to flee, they took courage and pursued them with vigor. And while Teancum was thus leading away the Lamanites who were pursuing them in vain, behold, Moroni commanded that a part of his army who were with him should march forth into the city, and take possession of it.
After taking possession of a number of Nephite cities on the east coast, the Lamanite king traveled to the west coast. The cities which they had conquered were relatively easy to defend because Moroni’s armies had worked so hard to fortify them. The king left very clear instructions: “He did command that his people should maintain those cities, which they had taken by the shedding of blood” (Alma 52:4). It had been costly to take those cities, and he did not want to lose control of them again.
Captain Moroni, who was at the time in the western regions, sent orders to Teancum to retake the city of Mulek if at all possible. Mulek was the northernmost city which the Lamanites had taken on the east coast. Teancum made some preparations to attack, but ultimately abandoned the effort, recognizing that he would not be successful (Alma 52:16-17).
Sometime after, Moroni brought an army to the east coast. He and Teancum and their chief captains held a council of war. Recognizing that they would not be able to retake the city by attacking it directly, they created the following plan to entice the Lamanite army, which was led by a commander named Jacob, to come out of the city:
1. Moroni hid with his army in the wilderness just west of the city. Teancum marched past the city on the east with a small number of soldiers.
2. Recognizing that they could easily beat Teancum’s army, the Lamanites abandoned the city and began to pursue Teancum. Moroni’s army emerged from the wilderness and easily took control of the city.
3. As Teancum approached the city of Bountiful, another Nephite army, led by a man named Lehi began to pursue them. When they tried to return to Mulek, they discovered Moroni’s army in the rear. They were surrounded.
While I’m sure there are many lessons to be learned from this battle, I’m thinking today about the importance of steadiness and perspective as we make decisions throughout the day. If the Lamanites had simply stayed true to their core mission—defending the city—they would not have left it defenseless as they pursued a lesser goal. Likewise, we can easily be distracted by enticing opportunities which may seem very attractive but which may ultimately be preventing us from achieving our highest goals.
In our most recent general conference, President Dallin H. Oaks reminded us of the importance of being consistent in doing the small things which will help us over time to achieve our most important goals:
Consider the scripture study we’ve been taught to incorporate into our daily lives. Or consider the personal prayers and the kneeling family prayers that are regular practices for faithful Latter-day Saints. Consider attendance at seminary for youth or institute classes for young adults. Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth…
None of these desirable small and simple things will lift us to great things unless they are practiced consistently and continuously (“Small and Simple Things,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will be consistent in doing those things which will help me achieve my highest goals. I will avoid being distracted, and I will strive to remember my priorities, so that I don’t fail to achieve my core goals by pursuing less important objectives.