31 July 2016

Being the Second Choice - Alma 50:37-38

On occasion, a work supervisor will tell me that I was not the first pick for a job. That bothers me a little. I know that I can be a controversial decision, given things like the Psychic Proximity Principle, the Trump/Clinton ticket, and other bizarre pronouncements, but I would hope that in a few realms, I can be the first person considered. I am always grateful for my employment, no matter how it comes to pass, but it can be tough to think that you essentially were something like a back-up plan or a fall-back position and someone else was originally more preferred. Apparently, there is always a little more room for some more humility!

I am heartened by the fact that a great man in the Book of Mormon was the stated second choice in a matter of great importance concerning the record of the people of God. Alma the Younger, the only man to be both the leader of God's church in America and the political chief judge of the Nephite nation for a time, was deciding who was to be the next custodian for the sacred records to which he had been entrusted, essentially who would be the next writer in the Book of Mormon.

There are only two direct references in the Book of Mormon to Alma's first choice for the next record-keeper: a man called Nephihah. Earlier, this man was Alma's appointed successor as chief judge when he wanted to focus more on religious matters. The other reference is at Nephihah's death that is mentioned in Alma 50:37, which gives just a touch of background to this man's life:
And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
This sounds like a good man "with perfect uprightness before God." The people thought enough of him to name a new city after him. Alma obviously liked him, because in the next verse, it is revealed that Nephihah was Alma's first pick for the job of the keeper of the sacred records:
Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.
So, Nephihah had "refused" the job and it was given to Alma's son Helaman, the second choice.

Now, Helaman was no slouch - eventually leading the legendary 2,060 stripling warriors that also looked to him as a father and became an important prophet and church leader in his own right. However, in the most sacred responsibility of keeping and adding to the record of the Nephites, he was the first runner-up that got the job because the original "winner" refused it.

Sometimes, we get the joy of being the "next choice", but neither I nor you should let this sort of fact get us down. Most of the important things in life are not a competition and we hopefully choose to do the best we can with opportunities (even second-hand ones) that come our way - just like Helaman did.