In the early days of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Lord gave a pattern to the Prophet Joseph Smith about how the elders He had chosen are to serve. He said:
“And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations—Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances. He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances. And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you. And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me. Wherefore, by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens. And the days have come; according to men’s faith it shall be done unto them.” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:14-20)
Putting our trust and faith in the Lord, always having humility of heart before Him, and observing to keep the covenants we have made with Him are essential for us to obtain the blessings we seek in all that we do in His name.
At an earlier time, the Lord taught that this pattern of service is founded upon love, and that it is the pattern that the Father had taught Him, and by which their relationship is governed. Then, as in our time, the Lord invited His disciples to serve according to this divine pattern:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me…
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you…
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:4,7,10,12-14
Let us review a few examples of how the divine pattern of loving and serving works between the Father and the Son.
- The Father testified that in the pre-mortal council, the Son sought to do the will of the Father, and to honor Him by sustaining the Plan of Salvation and offering to pay the personal price needed to fulfill it:
“But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2; see also Abraham 3:23-28)
- At the beginning of the restoration of the gospel, the Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Father testified of His love for the Son, and bore record of Him:
“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17)
- The resurrected Son testified to the Nephites that He was in the world not to pursue His own purposes, but to fulfill the will of the Father.
“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.” (3 Nephi 27:13)
- As He served His mortal ministry, the Father sent angels to minister to and strengthen the Son during times of trial and great physical and spiritual stress, as well as during times of joy. Here are four examples:
As He began His ministry after fasting for forty days, and after being tempted of, and rebuking the devil (Matthew 4:10-11);
On the mount of transfiguration when Moses and Elias appeared to Him as translated beings, and the Father’s voice testified to Peter, James and John of His love for the Son (Matthew 17:3-5);
As He prayed and suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-44);
As He appeared to the Nephites in great joy after His resurrection (3 Nephi 17:15-25).
The Lord testifies of the divine pattern of loving and serving one another:
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15).
The divine pattern of loving the Lord and serving one another has been set before us — and He invites us by the voice of His living prophet on earth, President Russell M. Nelson:
“Ministering is a higher, holier way to care for God’s children… Ministering brothers and sisters who love the Savior by keeping [the] two great commandments will come to know His infinite love for them and for those to whom they minister… They … will become more like Him. They will teach His doctrine, bear witness of its truth, and care for the people assigned to them with the pure love of Christ.” (General Conference Leadership Meeting, October 2018)
As disciples of Christ, we can each respond to the invitation to love and serve one another in a higher and holier way: in our personal ministry as His disciples; in our eternal callings as parents, husbands, wives, or children; and in our priesthood given callings to serve others in the Church. Applying the divine pattern of serving will bless those we serve, and secure for each of us the blessings that we seek in the covenants we have made with the Lord.