Alma 38:1-15, LeGrand Baker, Alma to his son, Shiblon—be true to law of your own being
Our personalities are an eternal part of the law of our own beings. We come into this world with three things: agency, personality, and integrity. Our personalities stays intact. The thing that is challenged is our integrity—the question is: Can we be in the environment of this world the same person we were before we came here? (Even if cultural circumstances here temporarily stifle our personalities, it will blossom again after we are no longer in this world.)
Before we came here, each of us received an assignment that was to be fulfilled in this time and place. Those assignments were, of necessity, perfectly compatible with the personality that define us as an eternal Self. Alma’s commandments to his sons (virtually patriarchal blessings) demonstrate how those assignments and personalities were so well coordinated.
To Helaman, Alma gave the charge to preside, and to Shiblon he game the charge to teach. Helaman’s experiences in the mission field demonstrated that he was best fit for his assignment. Shiblon’s experiences demonstrated the same about him.
Consider Shiblon’s personality traits as his father describes them. He said:
11. See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.
The Hebrew word most often translated as wisdom (Strong 2451) has a number of other connotations: skill in war and administration, shrewdness, prudence. So we can know that Shiblon was a very bright young man. He was no weakling either, as is shown by his fathers admonition that he not boast in his “much strength.”
However, his calling was not so much about his abilities as it was about his personality. His brother had shown himself to be a dynamic leader, but Shiblon was different from that—not inferior, just different.
Other of Shiblon’s characteristics that his father mentions are:
v. 2 steadiness and your faithfulness [keeping eternal covenants] unto God;… as you have commenced in your youth
v. 3 because of thy faithfulness [Here, keeping missionary covenants] and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.
v. 4 and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.
Alma reminds him of the covenant of invulnerability that comes with keeping our eternal covenants, and promises him that if he will be true to who he is “that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day (v.5).”
Alma’s blessing concludes with an assignment to his son. While it is likely that the assignment may have been typical of that given to a “second son,” yet it is also true that it seems to fit his personality perfectly. Alma said, “And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things (v. 10).”
Shiblon’s blessing has a message for each of us. It is this: You and I, and all the other people who make up the Kingdom of God are different from each other. Those difference cannot be ranked as superior or inferior to others, they are simply different. Let me give you an example.
When I was a boy I lived on a small farm in Utah. We had a neighbor we called “Lib.” She was a simple lady with almost no education, and no leadership skills. People sometimes made fun of her because of that. But she was one of the kindest persons I have ever known—completely without guile—a ministering angel to everyone who needed help or who just need a friend.
My family and I loved her very much.
How can her qualities be ranked as lower than another’s great academic or leadership skills? I don’t believe they can.
Like Lib, each of us in this world is left to become the very best of what we already are. Like Lib and Shiblon, each of us is given an assignment that most perfectly fits our eternal personalities. And like them, each of us will be judged—not my our great successes—but by the quality of the love we give to others.