As I mentioned earlier in my post about distinguishing between the superficial fluff of emotion and the divine communication of the spirit to our hearts (here), we need to beware of emotions. We need to strive diligently to learn the specific ways the Spirit speaks to us.
For emotion can be a dangerous thing. It can be wonderful, sure. It’s what gives life its flavor, after all. But like most wonderful things, the adversary has found a way of twisting it and using it against us.
Talented leaders know how to leverage emotion to their advantage. Learn to tap into the superficial springs of emotion in the souls of men, and you can easily get people to follow you.
Why do you think so many religious meetings are accompanied by live bands, shouting and gregarious displays of emotion, and led by charismatic, high-energy preachers who are adept at holding an audience in the palm of their hands? They walk around, grip the congregation with compelling prose and strong vocal fluctuations that often escalate into very “high-volume” orations. Most of the time, the better the entertainer, the greater their following (one of the problems due to the economics of a paid clergy, or the commercialization of religion, which I explore here).
But it’s also one of the miracles behind the explosion and sustained momentum of the Mormon Church. We’re not well known for our highly engaging and entertaining sacrament meetings to say the least.
Mormon bishops (our local leaders who run the weekly church meetings and the local affairs of the church) are not professional religionists, nor are any of the local church leaders – it’s a lay ministry. They didn’t seek their positions; they didn’t one day wake up and decide they wanted to lead a congregation because they were adept at such things.
Rather, one day they were simply called by a stake president (also unpaid and who himself was called in a similar manner) to serve as a bishop for their local congregation for a period of time.
They each come from different walks of life, and since they’re not paid, they still have to keep their jobs to provide for their families. They’re asked to do much, and sacrifice much, with no monetary reward. They’re not professional orators. And even if they were, they don’t often speak to the congregation.
Instead, instruction for Mormon Sacrament Meetings is provided by the general membership of the church. The bishop will call and ask certain members to speak on an upcoming Sunday, ranging throughout the congregation so that all who are willing and able might have the experience of teaching the gospel. Our youth, even as young as 12 years old are called to participate and give short talks on subjects provided by the bishop to the whole congregation.
As you can imagine, these talks aren’t always terribly compelling in their delivery. But the Mormon Miracle, as I call it, is that it doesn’t matter.
It’s the difference between superficial emotion elicited by a talented orator, and the pure accompaniment of the Holy Ghost that naturally surrounds the teaching of true principles and the administration of true ordinances.
The membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints flourishes not because of a structure built from talented public speakers whose sustenance is derived from their ability to hold a congregation and keep them coming back.
No, instead, our leaders earn their wages independent from their congregations, and the congregations return and grow because their meetings are rich with the pure doctrines of Jesus Christ, undiluted by the teachings of man, and not ornamented with fancy delivery.
If you have never been to a Mormon Sacrament meeting, then click here to find your closest chapel, and I invite you to witness the Mormon Miracle for yourself. If you go with an open heart, and not in the spirit of contention, you too will recognize the beauty behind the simplicity, and feel the power of pure principles.
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