This Book of Mormon prophet-leader is a fine example of a missionary with an awesome mission plan. What made his mission plan great is that he used his best talents to render spectacular service. That then led to a great missionary experience.
- Service - Ammon made the commitment to be a servant to others "even perhaps for the rest of my days".
- Finding - Ammon knew where to find converts.
- Exemplify Christian Values - Ammon's loyal service to the Lamanite king strongly exemplified many points of the scout law and easily made him "Trustworthy".
Love Your Enemies
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:43-48)
When Ammon and his brethren went forward to fulfill this huge (and risky) commandment of the Lord, in faith, would it not follow that because of their faith they should expect tremendous blessings in return?
Have you ever wondered where Ammon got his ideas of serving the Lamanites? Why would this mighty Nephite Prince even consider forsaking the royal crown to do such thing?
When Ammon was a young man, he must certainly have heard the wisdom and instruction of his grandfather, King Benjamin, not not only delivered his famous address on Service to all of his people in his old age (Mosiah Ch 2), but also probably repeated and expanded greatly on this message to his own household and family.
In his recorded sermon are many references to Service. There are also many references to "Keep the Commandments" which Jesus Christ taught is serve God and serve your neighbor. Also that this service is a requirement to becoming a "profitable disciple" of Christ. This message would have weighed deeply on the hearts of Ammon and his brethren when they pondered what to during their repentance process. (Mosiah 27)
(Mosiah 2:10-27) I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear ame, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and aconsecrated by bmy father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me. I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you— And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.
Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?
And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God', do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another— I say unto you that if ye should serve Him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be profitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth dvary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do ekeep his fcommandments he doth bless you and prosper you. And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the bdust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you. And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am ano better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth. Therefore, as I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you.
Develop Your Talents
A big factor in Ammon's success was the way he magnify his many talents in rendering service to other: (Matt 25:14-31 Parable of the Talents)
- Royal Family Education - Highly educated and practiced in hard work, giving leadership, communicating with others.
- General of the Army - As a Nephite Prince he would have been a trained leader in the military
- Military Physical Training - No flabby muscles on this kid.
- Combat Skills - Evidenced by how quickly he wielded both his sling and his sword. "that he cannot be slain by the enemies of the king; neither can they scatter the king’s flocks when he is with us, because of his expertness and great strength; " (Alma 18:3)
- Weaponry - He probably owned some magnificent weapons. (Swords, spears, bows, arrows and slings per Alma 17:7) That's a lot. His enemies only had clubs (Alma 17:37)
- Royal Household Manager - He would have been highly experienced in all aspects of running the royal household and clearly knew what was expected of each servant there.
- Courage - His skills, weapons and training gave him great courage. He did not flinch when trouble came whereas ever all others would have fled.
- Horsemanship Skills - He was able to work in the stables all by himself while everyone else ran to tell King Lamoni what happened.
- Leadership Skills. Evidenced when he quickly took charge of the situation when bandits where stealing the sheep and he gave them specific orders to chase the sheep. So strong was his leadership that the whole group of shepherds followed his directions.
- Trustworthy. "Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them." And this while all the other servants stopped what they were doing to tell the king what happened earlier. (Alma 18:10)
A lot of commentators reference the talents listed my Mormon at the beginning of his narrative about Ammon in (Alma 17:3). But this mostly refers to just teaching skills that only came into play only after his magnificent display of service skills. Prayer, fasting and prophecy probably helped him to prepare for that experience:
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
Notice that the few instances of divine revelation given to Ammon and his brethren were instructions about providing service. Basically the theme is be patient and rendering service until the golden teaching moment arrives:
- 17:10 - Be Comforted
- 17:11 - Be patient in affliction
- 17:11 - "show forth good examples unto them"
Start with Service
Ammon was committed to spend a long time in service to the Lamanites.
And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die...But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. (Alma 17:23,25)
But see Verse 26 - he had only been in the king's service for just 3 days before the big incident at water of Sebus!
How can you become a great missionary like the Prophet Ammon. Below are some latter-day examples:
- Be Like Ammon - This hero from the Book of Mormon can teach us a lot about missionary work and activation today. (LDS Ensign July 2014)
- Ammon Helped Me Reach My Neighbors - Eight Stages of Feeding the Flock (LDS Ensign March 1995)
- Scouting Based Ward Mission Plan - Doing missionary work today following the example of Ammon.
Lift Where You Stand
A great example of following in Ammon's footsteps:
- Lift Where You Stand -An outstanding conference address by Pres Uchtdorf about recognizing your talents, opportunities and then taking action. (LDS Ensign Nov 2008)
- The Faighful High Councilor - Another Lift Where you Stand article (LDS Ensign June 2017)
- Ch 18: Alma the Younger Repents - Stories for LDS Youth: Conversion of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah.