Planting Standards

Posted by Matthew Watkins on January 29, 2017

And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.

Alma 46:36

The other night when I read this verse, I was impressed by the phrase “planted the standard.” Obviously, the word “standard” in this verse means “flag.” But it made me think about the meaning of the word “standard” that we use more frequently in the modern day and in the Church especially– a guideline of morality. A principle of conduct that leads to a happier life.

The next thought that came to me is, “How are we planting standards” around us? Captain Moroni loved his people, and he know that they could only find happiness and peace by maintaining the liberty he proclaimed in his standard. So he went all throughout the land, boldly waving it and mounting it for all to see, inviting them to make a covenant to uphold it. Are we also bold and unashamed of the standards of the Gospel around others?

The other part of this phrase that caught my eye was the word “planted.” I thought of the parable of the sower. The sower cast his seeds far and wide, into both fertile soil and barren ground, giving every part of the earth an opportunity to grow a fruitful harvest without judgment or discrimination. Moroni didn’t just set his standard in the capital of Zerahemlah where the wicked kingmen were most concentrated. Nor did he only erect it in the loyal, righteous city of Gideon where it would be well-received. He hoisting his standard “upon every tower which was in all the land.”

Are we selective about who we share our message with? Do we pre-judge which of our friends would make the “ideal Mormons?” Do we assume that an invitation to hear the Gospel will only be well-received by close friends? Clayton M. Christensen debunks that one pretty quickly:

We learned… that we simply cannot know in advance who will and will not be interested in learning about the Church. We thought we could judge and therefore exclude from our list many people whose lifestyle, habits, or appearance made them seem unlikely candidates. As we reflect on those who have joined the Church, however, few of them would have been on our list of “likely members” when they first encountered the Church…

This experience also taught us that we don’t need to transform out relationships into friendships as a prerequisite to inviting others to learn about the gospel… we need not and should not alter our relationships with others in order to invite them…

Over the past twenty years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries

The last thought that came to my mind was, why? Why did Moroni decorate the Nephite cityscapes with the title of liberty? Because the Nephites needed constant, in-your-face reminders everywhere they looked. They needed the word of God everywhere the turned so they wouldn’t forget it. It needed to be a visible part of their everyday lives. They needed to be inundated with the word of God.

The Lord gave a similar command to the ancient Israelites, and promised protection and liberty for obeying:

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

Deuteronomy 11:18-22

The Nephites especially needed it because of their tendency to forget the Lord very quickly:

And there was nothing save it was… continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things– stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction.

Enos 1:23

And we are the same way. I’ve heard that General Authorities when discussing something that they want members to internalize and apply, ask the question “How many tellings does it take?)” How often do we need to be lovingly taught, reminded, guilt-tripped? How often will they need to “get in [our] face a little, nose to nose, with just enough fire in [their] voice to singe [our] eyebrows a little?” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/we-are-all-enlisted?lang=eng) I How many reminders do we need until we “get it?”

That’s why we wear CTR rings. That’s why we (hopefully) have framings of the Temple, of the Proclamation to the World, of the First Presidency, and of the Savior on our walls. It’s why I have a picture of Christ on the overhead visor in my car. It’s why we wear Temple garments. We need the constant, everyday, in-your-face symbols and signs around us to keep reminding us of who we are, and of the covenants we have made.

How firmly are those standards planted in your home?

This post first appeared on Power in the Book