“They Separated Themselves” – Alma 17:13, 17

Within the infinite work of the Lord, we each have a finite work to do. Our efforts complement one another, enabling us to collectively reach many more of Heavenly Father’s children than any of us would have been able to do alone.

When the sons of Mosiah and their colleagues arrived in the land of Nephi for their missionary service, they each received a blessing from their spiritual leader, Ammon, and then “they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest” (Alma 17:13). Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, where he befriended King Lamoni (Alma 17:19-24). HIs brother Aaron had more difficulty at first, encountering resistance in the lands of Jerusalem and Ani-Anti, and then being imprisoned with some of the other missionaries in the land of Middoni (Alma 21:4-15). After they were delivered from prison through the influence of Ammon, “they went forth whithersoever they were led by the Spirit of the Lord, preaching the word of God in every synagogue of the Amalekites, or in every assembly of the Lamanites where they could be admitted. And it came to pass that the Lord began to bless them” (Alma 21:16-17).

It’s tempting to compare our service with that of other people. We may even modify our service to emulate those who seem particularly successful. While there are plenty of opportunities to learn from one another, we should also remember that it takes the collective effort of many different people with different talents and different approaches to reach all of God’s children and accomplish all of His work.

In June of 1831, after a church conference in Ohio, the Lord revealed that the following conference would be held in Missouri. He called on a number of church members to begin traveling to that location, preaching the gospel along the way. He organized them into fourteen groups of two, and He instructed them to spread out, to maximize their reach:

Let all these take their journey unto one place, in their several courses, and one man shall not build upon another’s foundation, neither journey in another’s track.

Doctrine and Covenants 52:33

I am currently serving as an elders quorum president, with responsibility for the adults in my congregation. When I first received this assignment, I shared my feelings of inadequacy with one of my leaders, saying “There are so many people to serve.” He replied, “That’s right. That’s why you need to follow the Spirit of the Lord to know whom to reach out to at any given time.” It was a great reminder to me that God’s work is personal, and that we serve His children one by one. (See 3 Nephi 11:15, 17:21, 18:36, 28:1.)

I am also grateful for the ministering efforts of so many people in my congregation. When the ministering program was first introduced, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland emphasized the importance of individualized service:

Let me stress that we at Church headquarters don’t need to know how or where or when you make contact with your people; we just need to know and care that you do make it and that you bless them in every way you can.

Be With and Strengthen Them,” General Conference, April 2018

Today, I will seek the Lord’s guidance to know whom to serve and how I should serve. I will remember that my service may look different from the service of others, and I will be grateful for the composite effect of our combined efforts to do the work of the Lord.

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