Alma the younger was a talented man by Mormon’s lights, a talent that followed the Pauline Path: he “actively opposed his father and sought to destroy the Church . . . he experienced great success.”
Like Paul, Alma’s life changed course with a heavenly vision.
When Alma emerged from this experience, he was a changed man. From that moment on, he devoted his life to undoing the damage he had caused. He is a powerful example of repentance, forgiveness and enduring faithfulness . . . Every citizen of the Nephite nation must have known Alma’s story. The Twitters, Instagrams, and Facebooks of his day would have been filled with images and stories about him. He probably appeared regularly on the cover of the Zarahemla Weekly and was the subject of editorials and network specials. In short, he was perhaps the most well-known celebrity of his day.
Alma’s story has always seemed rather remarkable to me for something I think President Uchtdorf hints at here. A man or woman can not only change, but their spiritual history does not determine their future spiritual journey or even hierarchical position, Whatever the guilt or sin (there are extremes that I’m passing by), public or private.
President Uchtdorf continued with the story of Ammonihah and the encounter with Amulek (Alma 8-15).
Learning from Alma and Amulek
“Let me begin by asking all past, current or future leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ, ‘what can you learn from Alma?'” This seems a fraught question to me, not only because of Alma’s history, but its effect in his life, reflected in his seeking out help.
For whatever reason, sometimes we as leaders are reluctant to find and ask our Amuleks. Perhaps we think that we can do the work better by ourselves, or we are reluctant to inconvenience others, or we assume that others would not want to participate. Too often we hesitate to invite people to use their God-given talents and engage in the great work of salvation. Think of the Savior—did He begin to establish His Church all alone? No. His message was not “Stand back. I’ll handle this.” Rather it was “Come, follow me.”
There is a difficult assignment embedded here. Success in Church leadership will hinge on finding the Amuleks.
In whatever position you currently serve, whether as a deacons quorum president, a stake president, or an Area President—to be successful you must find your Amuleks. It may be someone who is unassuming or even invisible within your congregations. It may be someone who seems unwilling or unable to serve. Your Amuleks may be young or old, men or women, inexperienced, tired, or not active in the church. But what may not be seen at first sight is that they are hoping to hear from you the words “The Lord needs you! I need you!” Deep down, many want to serve their God. They want to be an instrument in His hands. They want to thrust in their sickle and strive with their might to prepare the earth for the return of our Savior. They want to build His church. But they are reluctant to begin. Often they wait to be asked. I invite you to think of those in your branches and wards, in your missions and stakes, who need to hear a call to action. The Lord has been working with them—preparing them, softening their hearts. Find them by seeing with your heart.
The task is doubly difficult since it can seem like a chancey business to seek out that quiet voice, that retiring personality, that reluctant participant, to become a public face in the kingdom. It requires more than viewing a list of names, or contemplating one’s own friendship strata.
President Uchtdorf turns to what he calls the Amuleks of the Church and illustrates one corner of this room with the story of a man he names David. David’s trajectory starts in the ideal way: he does the mission, the temple marriage but then he begins to question. His doubts are fueled by encounters with literature that challenges his convictions and finally David leaves the Church and takes on the role of public critic of Mormonism. Eventually, David’s path leads back to the Church. Part of the story is an LDS man who respects and then befriends David. The duality of seeking is the crux, David seeking, his friend seeking him.
The Amuleks share some responsibility in the narrative. And it’s here where the idea can lead in many directions. The men and women who live the Amulek story don’t have to end out as Church officers. They can give powerful service in any number of ways, yes, even in the “bloggernacle” I suppose.
My dear brothers and friends, let us seek out, find, inspire, and rely upon the Amuleks in our wards and stakes. There are many Amuleks in the Church today. Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you are one.