Saturday, August 11, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on choosing how we respond to challenging situations

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"During a perilous period of war, an exchange of letters occurred between Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, and Pahoran, the chief judge and governor of the land. Moroni, whose army was suffering because of inadequate support from the government, wrote to Pahoran 'by the way of condemnation' (Alma 60:2) and harshly accused him of thoughtlessness, slothfulness, and neglect. Pahoran might easily have resented Moroni and his message, but he chose not to take offense. Pahoran responded compassionately and described a rebellion against the government about which Moroni was not aware. And then he responded, 'Behold, I say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. … And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart' (Alma 61:2, 9).
"One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended—and to say with Pahoran, 'it mattereth not.'"
- David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," General Conference October 2006
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The story of the interchange between Captain Moroni and Pahoran from Alma 60 and 61 is one of the remarkable gifts of the Book of Mormon. It is honest and sincere, not trying to minimize or cover up the mistake in judgement made by an otherwise great leader. Moroni is touted as one of the most powerful and inspired leaders:
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. (Alma 48:17)
But in this case, Moroni made a simple but potentially very hurtful mistake as he misjudged the motivations of a co-worker and accused him falsely. The great soul shows up instead in Pahoran; he could have been offended and hurt by the improper criticism, in a time of great need; but instead, he chose to be loving and forgiving:

Pahoran teaches us to love, to forgive, to accept that others also may be dealing with burdens and challenges that lead them to act in ways they normally might not. In this case in particular, Pahoran is apparently quite familiar with Moroni's pattern of faithful and diligent service to the Lord's cause, which likely made it easier for him to accept that there must be a temporary misunderstanding causing the criticism. But perhaps the greatest key lies in Pahoran's own confidence that he is doing what he should, with God's approval and according to his own covenants. That is true "spiritual maturity." If any man criticizes you when God has given approval, truly "it mattereth not."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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