In my previous capacity as an employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had the opportunity to work directly with leaders of congregations from all across the globe. My job involved helping them resolve the difficulties that arose as they went about fulfilling their assignments and responsibilities caring for Church members in their specific areas. I performed many different functions across a variety of administrative fields in conjunction with my particular skill set, but to summarize my duties briefly, I made sure policies were followed and worked keeping finance, membership, and welfare records in order. It’s not quite as glamorous as it sounds…but I believed in the cause.
So day to day I got to interact with these leaders (Bishops, Branch Presidents, Clerks, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, Area Authorities, etc.) and helped them solve these complicated problems. Sometimes, however, I got to provide assistance for people who were not leaders of the Church. For example, an individual’s donation records would be missing or inaccurate, so I would work with them directly to get copies of their bank records for validation, unit deposit receipts, etc. Just boring things like that. When these people contacted us asking for various types of direction, they would almost always refer to themselves as “regular members.” For instance, my desk phone would ring and I would pick it up and ask who it was. A common response was, “Hello…well…actually I’m just a regular member of the Church…and I need help with [insert issue here].” I really did not like when people said that. I mean, it’s an innocent introduction and it’s obviously important that I know who I’m dealing with, but I don’t like that. To me, there are no such things as “regular members,” and that is the basis of the following thought:
I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the restored Church of Jesus Christ having previously been lost for centuries due to apostasy (see mormon.org). I decided while serving as a missionary in Chile a few years ago that my membership in the Church is a defining element of my life. I am a member of Jesus Christ’s Church. I have learned from some profound experiences that this is actually a big deal. Because of that, and because of the teachings of the Savior we have record of, we can understand that “regular members” don’t (or at least shouldn’t) exist. Each member of the Church is a follower of Christ, having actually made promises to God that they would fulfill their end of a really important bargain. There is no room for being regular when the stakes are that high. God never intended for any of us to be just “regular.”
When Christ visited the American continent after His resurrection, He called twelve new Apostles, taught the people the doctrine of the Church, established an order, and because of that the people prospered for many years. Jesus taught:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house; Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (3 Nephi 12:14-16)
Jesus was talking to the members of His Church – to those whose hearts had been softened and turned to Him – and the counsel still stands. The instructions are clear: We are to be the light in the world. We cannot hide. We are to give light to all the world, that by doing so we might glorify God in Heaven. I don’t know about you, but I find absolutely nothing “regular” about that admonition. As members of the Church in these latter days, we are subject to the same charge as the members of old. Jesus counts on us to be that light, to go above and beyond, and to be the people that the world needs as He prepares to come again. I testify that this is true, because I’ve experienced the light of Christ in my life, as I hope many of you have also.
Even though I am no longer professionally employed by the Church and don’t deal with the same things that I used to, I will always remember those “regular members” and the lesson they taught me. Now, I’m obviously not going to explain this whole idea to someone as a correction if they do say “regular member” in the future. Honestly, I really don’t care how people refer to themselves. But I just want to make one thing clear: In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no room for “regular members.” Only exceptional disciples. And there is absolutely nothing normal or regular about being one of those. My hope is that we consider what our Church membership really means, and be the lights that the Savior wants us to be.