A Mormon’s Greatest Responsibility


Ponder that thought for a moment. What would you say is the most important responsibility of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ?

Ladder On the Wrong Building

When I was a kid, the following parable was taught at church. Perhaps it was even preached in General Conference.  It goes like this:

  • Life is like climbing a ladder.  First, we choose what building to lean our ladder against. Then…every day…every month…every year, we advance upward. One rung at a time.  At the end of our life, we will have climbed high up on the building that we have selected.  But…what if?  Just what if…we picked the wrong building?  How sad that would be!  An entire lifetime of climbing, only to arrive at the top of a worthless building.

I have now learned that my building of choice is highly flawed. Fortunately, at 64, I still have a few years to scurry down my ladder and move it to the building of highest worth.

My New Perspective

Today, during the joint Relief Society/priesthood lesson, Joseph Smith was quoted:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to….”

How would you complete that sentence?  You’ll probably get it right.  I didn’t.  And haven’t my entire life.

Could my greatest responsibility be…..

  • To follow the teachings and example of Jesus?  That would have been my first guess. But, nope, I was wrong.
  • To love others as I love myself?  Another great guess…but wrong.
  • To love God above all else?  Nope.  Oh man!
  • To obey the commandments?  Nope.  What?  And, here I thought that was the first law of heaven.
  • To love my wife more than anyone else?  Nope.
  • To nurture and take care of my children?  Darn it.  Another nope.
  • Provide for my family?  Nope
  • Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick?  Nope, nope & nope.
  • Be the Good Samaritan?  Nope.
  • Welcome back the prodigal?  Nope
  • Care for the least of these?  Nope.
  • Everything else I can think of?  Nope

Obviously, I’m in big trouble.  For 64 years, I did not know what my greatest responsibility was.  Thank heavens, it’s finally been lodged firmly in my brain.

A video was shown about the coming Trek activity for our youth.  Elder David R. Bednar was the apostolic speaker.  He shared the Joseph Smith quote.  To drive the point home, the citation was passed out in written form.  And then someone was asked to read it out loud.  Then we discussed.  I tell ya, after all that, I’ve got.

Here’s the quintessential quote from the very first prophet of the restoration.

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to…..seek after our dead.

Now, if your proverbial ladder is leaning on the wrong building, let’s both of us get ’em moved, pronto.

18 thoughts on “A Mormon’s Greatest Responsibility

  1. Was it Jesus that said, “let the dead bury their dead”? I can’t remember. I struggle violently against this. There are actual living people in need. There are children going hungry. There are homeless and helpless and refugees. There are languages and skills that need to be taught. The LIVING matter. They matter more than any dead. I do not for one instant believe that a dead person would rather be baptized instead of a hungry child fed. Yet all my Mormon family spends so much time serving the dead while ignoring the living.

    It is antithetical to jesus ministry. He has no hands but ours. He is with the dead.

    Let the dead bury the dead and let us help the least of these.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s truly saddens me how sometimes we forget and take 1 point and doggedly attack it and ignore everything else that is or has been done. Forgive me as I don’t mean to be disparaging but I don’t believe anyone has forgotten to serve the living. I remember on several occasions now serving with those people who should let the dead bury their dead, being shoulder to shoulder with them in Louisiana, Meryerland, Baytown gutting houses and cleaning out trash and whatever else was needed for complete strangers on their own “dime”. The church and it’s humanitarian aid has provided so many opportunities to serve the “living” and many good brothers and sisters are constantly engaged in good causes in local wards and branches all the while still remembering those who have gone before. I live in a stake providing help to refugees, just last month we held a Christmas dinner in our building and invited an organization that helps the homeless and provided meals for them and their families. Because I serve those who have gone on before doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten my neighbor, and that is certainly not what I am being taught to me or what I teach in my classes on Sunday. “It is the doom of men that they forget” is a quote I heard once, I love it. I can certainly do more, I am far from perfect and that is true of those who I meet with at church. There are times I see our weaknesses in our congregation but it never fails that a good brother or a good sister will always raise their hand and say “Yes, I can help.” Isn’t that what Christianity is? Yes there are cracks in the building Sam, but what a beautiful building it is. God bless us as we strive to serve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Mirza,

        Thanks for weighing in on my blog conversation. You have made some outstanding points.

        There are cracks in the building? Yes there are. They shouldn’t be overlooked. They should be fixed.

        A beautiful building? Absolutely. As we make repairs it will only enhance it’s beauty.

        This is what bugs me. So often we elevate one principle to the top of the heap and call it the most important–our greatest responsibility. It’s hyperbole and actually degrades the message, IMO. Why can’t we just say, It’s important and these are the potential blessings?

        There were several other things about the meeting that were flawed. For years, I’ve tried to bring attention to them. At this point, I realize that most people don’t care about the overall quality of our priesthood meetings. I do. And I have heard others in my ward and stake lament and complain. My last salvo was this blog posting: https://invisiblescubit.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/oh-the-vaunted-priesthood-of-god-making-the-sabbath-a-delight/

        So, yes, a beautiful building. But, I have friends and family who have left or are leaving this beautiful edifice. It no longer makes sense to me to only point out the good. That way the bad only continues to get worse. And more of our friends and family are going to take their ladder and go.

        Mirza, you have great viewpoints. We agree on pretty much everything. I really, really appreciate your point of view being represented here.


  2. That was today.

    What about all of the other “top priority” items we’ve been told about over the years? Tithing. Obedience to leaders. Sabbath-day observance. Missionary work. ….

    When everything is top priority, nothing is top priority.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh if hindsight were 20/20. I know there would be many things I’d state differently, perhaps to make since of what I am wanting to say, or just to get my foot out of my mouth. Those of the past don’t have that luxury. As for myself In considering Joseph’s statement perhaps the root of what he is saying is not so much the priority and nature of the thing itself that is important but what it is at the core of it. In this case serving, loving and not forgetting others (dead or living) so then Love, which is the great commandment becomes our greatest responsibility. For isn’t that the great motivator in doing work for others? Sam I’ve appreciated many of the things you’ve posted here, it’s opened my eyes to many things. It’s also helped strengthen the fire that burns within me for this gospel that I love and for which I am grateful. You’ve always been a good example to me, keep fighting the good fight, you have many who love and respect you.


      1. Oh Mirza,

        Great comments!

        Helped strengthen the fire that burns within you for this gospel that you love? You and I have something in common. The faith journey that I’ve traveled over the past couple of years has stoked my fire of commitment, too. Some have been concerned that I’ve lost my faith. Some have accused me of having no faith. Well, here’s how I feel. My faith is now more firm and more focused than ever before. I’ve landed on the solid ground of truth.

        Thank you for your support. And…I send my support right back to you.


  3. I have already moved my ladder and it is not against the building of the dead. I prefer the building of blessing and loving the living and those who are on the journey of life. I choose the building of hallowed “I AM”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi SYSR,

      I hope you know that I love you, brother. You have been an inspiration to me. Did you know that? Well it’s time I told you. And now I have.

      Love, Sam


  4. Maybe there is no, one, right building. In fact, one could say that the building is really oneself. What matters in life isn’t whether the ladder is leaning against the right building, but rather the journey up the ladder. Happiness is in the pursuit – it’s enjoying the journey and being content – enjoying the flowers, the wind on your skin, sounds, sights, silence, and savoring the flavors along the way. It’s not about the destination, rather the journey is the goal and everyone’s journey is different. Perhaps one’s greatest responsibility is to self so that the self can love and serve others among other things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HILARIOUS! Pitiful and hilarious. And what a joy to know I totally don’ t hear ANY of that crap anymore!
    Unbelievable! And I lived it and taught it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And what a great teacher you are. As a result of your great instruction in the church, spanning at least a couple decades, I’m sure thousands are living the very principles you taught them.


  6. Sam,

    As always, I enjoy your posts. I hope we get to meet in person one day.

    Consider what you know from the Bible of what Christ prioritized. What were His admonitions? I would argue that the list you made was a pretty darn good one.

    Speaking frankly, the lesson you experienced is one of many things that have made me doubt if Mormonism is actually Christian. It seems that a great many place their ladders on the teachings of Joseph Smith or the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it seems after 64 years, you’re seeing the “whited sepulcher” for what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After these many months of exchanging wonderful thoughts, I’d love to meet you someday.

      Here’s to hoping, which is one of the enduring virtues of the gospel.


  7. The LDS focus is the temple. What is the pinnacle of the LDS religion? Get to the TEMPLE!! GODS HOUSE ON EARTH. Where we do work for the dead and ourselves only once and the focus is NOT the Savior but on signs and tokens. So yes. I would say that the focus is indeed the dead more than for the living. Which is why I have moved my ladder away from the church. I no longer call myself a member. I live for today. I live for the present. I live for the tangible people that need help. My loved ones around me. A LIFE not death. I love your posts Sam. Thank you!


  8. Sam, I’ve been a quiet follower of your blog for several months now. Thanks for your thoughts. They’ve really helped keep me grounded as I’ve gone through my faith transition. I’m right in the middle of it and I don’t know where I’ll end up but you’ve given me a perspective that is quite a bit different from that of most of the transitioned members and former members I’ve come across. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jake,
    Thanks for your comment. I personally know how difficult a faith transition can be. This may not bring much comfort. But, I can assure you that you will ultimately make the right decision. Only you know what is best for you and your family. If I can ever be of any help, feel free to email or message me.

    All my best in your journey, Sam


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