Abinadi words changed one person. One. We don’t even know whether Abinadi knew about Alma. For all we know, Abinadi died thinking that nobody changed.
Meanwhile, (Alma 26:4) Ammon and his brethren baptized thousands.
So who was more righteous?
Who was more righteous: Ammon or Abinadi? Ridiculous question, right? So why do we ask these questions about ourselves and others?
Do you really, truly, sincerely, whole-heartedly believe that Abinadi was just as righteous as Ammon despite their vast differences in baptisms? I think we all believe it in our minds, but how often does it filter through into our hearts? Let me give you a couple of examples to show you what I mean.
1) I’ve seen missionaries who desperately want to be mission leaders, not because they want to be powerful or impressive, but because they desperately want the validation.
2) I’ve seen people praise others for being called into positions of leadership at a young age.
3) I, too, have wondered if I really had anything to contribute when I compared myself to other leaders in the church.
4) We take our callings more seriously when they are a “serious” calling.
These are all very small manifestations of the insecurities we feel over our worth and contribution. Even though we can see how very vital Abinadi has been (despite his lack of converts), it’s hard for us to see how very vital we are in His grand scheme of things.
Does it even matter if we believe it?
Does our calling in the nursery really matter? Does our job as the building coordinator make any difference at all?
Yes. A resounding yes.
Let’s look at Abinadi again. Abinadi grew up among the people of King Noah. He knew how wicked they were. He preached to them once, had to go into hiding, and then he came back two years later. He knew these people, and so he probably knew that they weren’t going to repent. What if he let that attitude affect his calling? Do you think he would have been righteous enough for his face to shine and for the guards to be too scared to touch him? Would he have been able to deliver his message and reach Alma?
So does your calling in nursery matter? I don’t know; does it?
Even if our callings change no one but ourselves, it’ll matter. Heavenly Father has an ultimate Plan of Salvation, but I also believe that He has very specific, smaller plans for salvation for each of us. Seemingly inconsequential callings are a part of those plans. If nothing else, let those callings teach you humility. Elder Uchtdorf said, “To be effective Church leaders, we must learn this critical lesson: leadership in the Church is not so much about directing others as it is about our willingness to be directed by God.” Are you willing to be directed in any manner, the small and large alike? Moses’ people were asked to look at a snake and be healed; it was small and simple but they refused to do it and were not healed. Are we missing out on vital lessons because of how “simple” our responsibilities seem?
Dropping the world’s point of view
In your quest to overcome worldliness, might I recommend a worthy course of action? Drop the world’s notion of success and important responsibility.
Our world has taught us that if we do really well, we are going to be promoted, paid more, emulated. We’ll be given more responsibilities and people will see that we’re doing a good job. (No wonder stay-at-home mothers struggle so much; there are almost zero measurable indicators of a successful day!) I like to believe that when these feelings pop into our hearts and minds, they are coming from a need for validation rather than a thirst for power.
So how do we receive validation in the Lord’s way? Not by receiving acclamations for being a bishop, I’ll tell you that much.
There are rather simple ways to be validated without needing more responsibility or a “better” calling.
You can pray and ask about your worth. You can look at someone you love, smile at their contributions to your life because of their simple existence, and then you can choose to believe that God feels that way about you. You can also try what Elder Uchtdorf recommends: “God’s greatest reward goes to those who serve without expectation of reward. It goes to those who serve without fanfare; those who quietly go about seeking ways to help others; those who minister to others simply because they love God and God’s children.”
You are worthy. You can feel validation in the Lord’s way. In the same way that we view Abinadi’s heroism, you can rest easy knowing that Heavenly Father values your contributions no matter how “small” they seem in the eyes of the world.