In our day, the Lord has said, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day" (D&C 4:2).
We have often heard it said that we are to serve the Lord with all of our heart, mind, and strength but what exactly does that mean and how do we do that?
In addition to this the Lord has also told us, "For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies" (D&C 84:33).
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we often are told that we are to "magnify" our calling or "magnify" our priesthood but what exactly does that mean and how do we do that?
To serve the Lord with all of our heart, mind, and strength has often been described as serving faithfully in one's calling, or being diligent, valiant, stalwart, or serving worthily. Others have said it means to do our duty. Still others have said that serving the Lord with all of our heart, mind, and strength is how we magnify our calling. Still others say that to magnify means we are to enlarge that which has been given to us as illustrated by the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-28).
While all of these answers are technically correct, they are nonetheless vague and don't completely provide a fully satisfying explanation, nor do they tell us how we can actually apply them in our callings. Therefore, let us take a closer look at these two statements.
The first thing the Lord tells to do is to serve Him will all of our heart. The heart is the metaphorical seat of our emotions. Thus, the heart is the symbol of our attitude. Whether we have joy, happiness, love, meekness, patience, jealousy, bitterness, revenge, or contention, all of these attitudes are said to come from the heart. Thus, the heart represents how we feel about something or someone.
But in modern times we know that the heart is not where our emotions and attitudes actually come from. If that is true then the question becomes, what does the Lord mean when He says we are to love Him with all of our heart?
To answer that question we need to discover what it means to love.
When a young man and a young woman fall in love, they want to be near one another as much as possible. They want to do things together and they enjoy being in one another's company. In this sense, their hearts are one, meaning that they are united. This is the sense in which God told Adam and Eve to become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). It symbolizes being united in purpose, of working together and of wanting to be together.
When we love the Lord with all of our heart it means we want to be with God, not just after the resurrection but now, today and every day. We want to have Him be part of our life and have us part of His life. It means doing what He wants to do, going where He wants to go, and saying those things that He would say. Loving the Lord means becoming "one flesh" with God.
In many of His parables, Jesus likened Himself to the bridegroom and His followers to the bride in a marriage. The groom is the husband who is the head of his family while the bride is the wife who is to obey and be in subjection to her husband (1 Peter 3:1). As Christians we are the bride who is expected to be obedient to our head, Jesus Christ.
But Christians are not just supposed to do what they are told simply because God tells us to do it. We obey our head primarily because of our love for Him. We obey Jesus because our hearts are set on the same thing His heart is set on. Thus, we obey him because we want to, not because we are told to or because we have to.
We see this principle illustrated in hobbies. A hobby is something a person wants to do because it is something they love doing. Take for example numismatics or the study and collection of coins. There are millions of people all over the world who spend hours closely looking at coins for their dates, design, minting location, and metal makeup and it can literally be a back-breaking job as people sit hunched over a table, sometimes with a magnifying glass, intently peering at worn coins trying to make out markings that are important to them. And in the pursuit of this hobby they have also come to learn and memorize a wealth of information about coins that the vast majority of people know absolutely nothing about.
But the reason why they do this is because they want to. They are willing to spend a tremendous amount of time, bent over small coins and learning great amount of information that is not useful to anyone except in the making of money. And they do this even though they are not getting paid for it, simply because they love doing this kind of work.
No one has to force them to do this and nor do they get bored doing it. In fact, very often they hate to have to break away from their study of coins to go do other things. Yet, at the same time, there are other people who would hate having to do that kind of task unless they were getting paid very well and then, it would only be a job.
This principle not only applies to numismatics but to almost all hobbies. The reason why people engage in hobbies is because they are doing something they enjoy and want to do. This is what it means to do something with all of your heart and that is what the Lord wants us to do with our service to Him.
Service to God and our fellow man is not meant to be something we have to be forced into doing. Instead, the Lord wants us to have joy in serving Him and the reason why is because, if we want to live in the celestial kingdom with God, this is what we will be doing for all eternity.
The Lord told Moses, "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). The more people God can give immortality to and the more of those who He can help achieve eternal life, the more glory, honor, and prestige it brings Him. But for Him to do that takes sacrifice and effort on His part.
This is what all loving parents do, but in caring for their children they are actually serving the needs of their offspring. However, parents don't serve their children because of some law that forces them to. Instead, they sacrifice and serve out of love for their children and that love comes from deep within their heart.
Jesus taught, "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:27). Service is what the gospel is all about. Temple work is service to those beyond the grave. Missionary work is service to those who need to be saved. Home teaching and visiting teaching is service to families. Every calling in the Church from the Primary, to Sunday School, to the Relief Society, to the priesthood quorums, to being a bishop, Stake President, an Area Authority, or an Apostle, are all centered around serving others in one manner or another.
However, such service isn't just confined to this life in mortality. Instead, what we are doing here is just practice and preparation for performing even greater and significantly more important service in the eternities. But if we were to spend forever doing something in heaven we didn't like, then heaven would not be a very pleasant place to live. Instead of finding joy and happiness in being there, we would be miserable for a very, very long time. That is why it is imperative that we learn to love the Lord with all of our heart. Once we find something we take joy in doing then we have to do it with all of our mind. Going back to the illustration of coin collecting, in order for a person to know what to look for in coins and knowing the value of what they are looking at takes more than skill. It takes knowledge and that knowledge comes from studying and learning about the subject of this particular hobby.
When studying is a chore then there is no joy in doing it and most children don't like going to school precisely because studying for them is a chore. It's not something they want to do but are forced to do if they want to graduate. But when a person does something they love, they take joy in learning about it and want to learn more.
When we receive a calling in the Church, there is a duty or an obligation that comes with it and that means there is not only work that needs to be done but there are things that have to be learned. When a person loves doing something they automatically begin to think of ways to improve what they're doing or how to do it better or do it more efficiently or more productively.
This is how all businesses operate. They are always looking for ways to bring in more customers by providing better customer service, having better merchandise, or offering a greater value. As a small business begins to become successful, the owner begins thinking of opening a second store or how to expand their current location to better accommodate more customers. Therefore, to be successful, a business owner has to constantly be using their mind to think of ways to help their business grow by becoming better.
And the same is true in church callings, including our calling in the priesthood. No matter what the calling is, it takes more than just doing what is required. To love the Lord with all of our mind means to use our mind to think of ways to do our calling more effectively, more efficiently, and more productively. It means learning all there is to know about our calling and then applying that knowledge to become better at performing that particular duty.
Those who simply do their duty and no more are not using their mind. For all practical purposes, they are mindlessly going through the motions of performing only what is expected of them without putting in much thought into how they can make what they're doing better.
This is what it means to magnify one's calling. When a person magnifies their calling they do more than what is expected of them. In the parable of the talents, the person who was given one talent and hid it in the ground gave back exactly what they have been given and no more. In the same way, when someone does only what's expected of them and no more, they are not magnifying their calling. In order to magnify one's calling a person must use their mind to find ways to improve and expand upon what that calling requires of them.
Take the example of a home teacher. His duty is to visit each of the families assigned to him once each month. A person who merely visits every one of his families every month is only doing what's expected of them. But a home teacher who takes a genuine interest in each of his families, takes the time to know each of the children within his assigned families and spends time talking with them, or who performs some sort of service to their assigned families is doing more than the barest minimum of just "visiting" their families.
A secretary in one of the church organizations is expected to keep the minutes of the presidency meetings but when that secretary takes the time to make sure everyone has a copy of the minutes, who prepares the agenda for the next presidency meeting, who helps remind the president of things that are coming up, and makes sure that necessary arrangements are made, then that secretary is magnifying their calling because they are doing more than just their duty. And the more thought they put into their calling the more they are magnifying it. But it isn't enough just to love what we're doing and put a lot of thought into it. Without action, nothing ever gets done. This is why the Lord said that we must serve Him with all of our might and strength. That means we must put forth physical effort in whatever we do.
There is a saying that "Nothing great is ever accomplished without effort" and the same is true in the Church. The covenant we make with the Lord when we are baptized is to help build up the kingdom of God here on earth but no kingdom was ever built without hard work.
In the Book of Mormon we read, "For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence" (Jacob 1:18-19).
Notice that Jacob and his brother Joseph had been consecrated as priests, which calling was to teach the people, but they didn't just go out and teach the gospel. Instead, they magnified their calling by taking upon themselves the responsibility of "answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God." Then they went forth and taught the people "with all diligence."
While Alma the younger was serving as both the Chief Judge of the land and the High Priest of the church, he saw that the church of God was beginning to grow in iniquity, so he gave up his position as Chief Judge and devoted himself to strengthening the church of God. He first labored hard and diligently in the city of Zarahemla and then, after he had set that church in order, he traveled to the city of Gideon and did the same.
After his work there was done, he went back home to rest for a short while then went out again, this time to the city of Ammonihah. However, the people there rejected his message and cast him out of their city, but before that happened Alma "had fasted many days" to plead for the Lord's help in his effort to turn the hearts of those people to Christ (Alma 32:26).
Alma loved the Lord and therefore his desire was to serve God and his fellow man with all of his heart. When he saw that iniquity was growing in the church he used his mind to figure out how to resolve the problem and once he had his solution, he gave up his position as Chief Judge, not because God required him to do so but because he wanted to. This was his decision, and then he used his vitality, energy, and strength to go throughout the cities of Zarahemla and Gideon to serve his people by re-teaching them the gospel of salvation.
When he came to the city of Ammonihah he likewise used his physical strength to preach to the people but when they would not listen, he didn't just give up and go away. Instead, he fasted for many days as he continued to labor diligently to bring them to Christ and he left that city only after he had been physically cast out.
This is what it means to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind, and strength, and this is what it means to magnify our calling.
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