King Benjamin was a remarkable leader. He was able to remain humble in spite of the political power he possessed, and to avoid abusing that power. At the end of his life, as he reported back to his people, he said that he had spent his days in their service. “I, myself,” he said, “have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne” (Mosiah 2:14). He wasn’t telling them these things to brag or to elicit praise from them. He was trying to teach them three principles which they could learn from his service:
- “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
- “If I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?” (Mosiah 2:18).
- “If I, whom ye call your king,…do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!” (Mosiah 2:19).
About thirty years later, four of Benjamin’s grandsons wanted to preach the gospel to their enemies, the Lamanites. Their father, King Mosiah, received assurances from God that they would be protected, and so he allowed them to go (Mosiah 28:5-8).
One of those young men, Ammon, traveled to the land of Ishmael, where he was tied up and taken to the king. When asked about his intentions in coming into their land, he said, “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die” (Alma 17:23). When the king made the bizarre offer to let Ammon marry one of his daughters, Ammon responded, “Nay, but I will be thy servant” (Alma 17:25). Ammon worked with the other servants to water the king’s flocks, bravely defending the sheep when they were attacked. Afterward, he carried on with his duties as though nothing unusual had happened, feeding the horses in preparation for the king’s expected trip to the land of Nephi (Alma 18:9). It was only when the king began to ask questions that Ammon began to teach him. Before that, he was not ready to be taught. But he was ready to be served.
How did the son of a king learn to be so diligent in menial tasks like watering sheep and feeding horses? This was no ordinary king’s son. This was the grandson of King Benjamin, who had worked alongside his people and who was not unwilling to get his hands dirty. Ammon’s father, Mosiah, had apparently followed the example of his father (Mosiah 29:40). And now Ammon was able to win the respect and admiration of the enemy king through selfless service (See Alma 18:10.)
As I’ve pondered these stories today, I’ve been reminded of the following principles:
- God loves all of His children. When we are kind to them, we are kind to Him. Service brings us closer to God.
- No one is too great to serve, and no one is too small to serve. We should all be willing to set aside considerations of wealth, social status, age, and other differences and simply do the work that needs to be done.
- People may be more willing to let us serve than to let us teach. That’s okay. We should be willing to bless their lives any way we can.
- When people see us serving selflessly, they may want to know more about us, which may open doors to sharing the gospel.
- When other people serve us, we should be grateful to them, and we should be grateful to God.
Today, I will strive to follow the examples of King Benjamin and Ammon. I will be willing to serve as needed. I will serve without expectation of personal gain. I will use service as an opportunity to grow closer to other people and to my Heavenly Father.