Pres Uchtdorf introduced the principle “Lift where you stand” a few years ago in General Conference. As an example of someone who lifts where he stands, he recited the story of John Rowe Moyle. John was a convert to the Church who left his home in England and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley as part of a handcart company. He built a home for his family in a small town a valley away from Salt Lake City. John was an accomplished stonecutter and, because of this skill, was asked to work on the Salt Lake Temple.
Every Monday John left home at two o’clock in the morning and walked six hours in order to be at his post on time. On Friday he would leave his work at five o’clock in the evening and walk almost until midnight before arriving home. He did this year after year.
One day, while he was doing his chores at home, a cow kicked him in the leg, causing a compound fracture. With limited medical resources, the only option was to amputate the broken leg. So John’s family and friends strapped him onto a door and, with a bucksaw, cut off his leg a few inches from the knee.
In spite of the crude surgery, the leg started to heal. Once John could sit up in bed, he began carving a wooden leg with an ingenious joint that served as an ankle to an artificial foot. Walking on this device was extremely painful, but John did not give up, building up his endurance until he could make the 22-mile (35-km) journey to the Salt Lake Temple each week, where he continued his work.
His hands carved the words “Holiness to the Lord” that stand today as a golden marker to all who visit the Salt Lake Temple. 5
John did not do this for the praise of man. Neither did he shirk his duty, even though he had every reason to do so. He knew what the Lord expected him to do.
Years later, John’s grandson Henry D. Moyle was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and, eventually, served in the First Presidency of the Church. President Moyle’s service in these callings was honorable, but his grandfather John’s service, though somewhat less public, is just as pleasing to the Lord. John’s character, his legacy of sacrifice, serves as a banner of faithfulness and an ensign of duty to his family and to the Church.
I’ve had minor cut on my foot the last week or so. I notice it when I get out if the car and walk to my chair each morning and feel a little grumbly. Imagine the experience of John Moyle. I love his powerful example in enduring hardship for the sake of the Gospel cause. He understood the meaning of “lift where you stand.” To lift where you stand is to contribute in whatever role you’re in, regardless of the attention received or the status associated with that role. At its heart, the meaning of the principle is to live your life as a disciple of Christ to the fullest extent in all aspects, even though you may not be considered a leader in the Church.
Perhaps the most dramatic story of Martyrdom in all of the New Testament is the story of Stephen. Stephen was a mighty man of faith. And while the scriptures don’t say much about him, it’s clear that his faith in Christ and the corresponding miracles he performed caused a stir in Israel. So much so, that it served as a threat to the Jewish leadership. In appearing before the Jewish council, he was full of the power of God, to the extent that he appeared to them as though he had the face of an angel.
After proclaiming the divinity of Jesus Christ, Stephen was stoned to death. As he died he witnessed the Savior in vision.
So who was this man Stephen? What calling did he have? Apostle? General Authority? Stephen was one of 7 individuals called to help the Apostles in physical tasks. One LDS Church article compared his responsibilities to that of an LDS Aaronic Priesthood holder – the Priesthood held by 12 to 18 year old young men. How can it be that this dramatic story about one of the first Martyrs of Christ’s Church was about a “regular” member of the Church and not about one of the prominent leaders?
Stephen took his role as disciple of Christ so seriously that he gave his life for it. It wasn’t status or accolades or social acceptance that drove him. He faithfully served out his calling as witness of Christ in spite of the social perception in his society.
Pres Uchtdorf asks the question, “when we stand before the Lord to be judged, will He look upon the positions we have held in the world or even in the Church? Do you suppose that titles we have had other than “husband,” “father,” or “priesthood holder” will mean much to Him? Do you think He will care how packed our schedule was or how many important meetings we attended? Do you suppose that our success in filling our days with appointments will serve as an excuse for failure to spend time with our wife and family?”
The Savior Himself laid down the foundation for this principle. He emphasized the important of anonymity when doing the Lord’s work. Status plays no role. Matthew 6:1-3 states:
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the ahypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have bglory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Pres Hinckley further built on this principle by highlighting the importance of the role every member of the Church plays. He stated that “You have as great an opportunity for satisfaction in the performance of your duty as I do in mine. The progress of this work will be determined by our joint efforts. Whatever your calling, it is as fraught with the same kind of opportunity to accomplish good as is mine. What is really important is that this is the work of the Master. Our work is to go about doing good as did He.”
Paul taught that the Church is an organization where each member plays a role towards the building up the Kingdom. Ephesians 4:11-12 states:
The pioneer spirit represents what it means to lift where you stand perhaps more than any other example. In the most recent Ensign magazine the brief highlight is told of a Mrs Williams from Wales who died on the trip to America but said that the greatest honor she had ever received was to be able to become a member of the true church of the Son of God, that there was no fear in her breast concerning the other life and that her religion now proved its strength more than ever before. …She continued lucid through the night, and at a quarter past four the next morning her spirit departed in peace, leaving a smile on her lips.”5
Paul further taught in 1 Corinthians 12:21 that all of our talents are required, just as a hand can’t say to the foot that it’s not needed.
Pres Uchtdorf teaches that there are 2 categories people often fall into – serving for the status of it and trying to hide from serving. Neither of these are acceptable.