The People Did Rise Up in Rebellion – Ether 10:5-8

5 And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.
6 And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did cast into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.
7 Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine gold he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine workmanship he did cause to be wrought in prison. And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations.
8 And when he had reigned for the space of forty and two years the people did rise up in rebellion against him; and there began to be war again in the land, insomuch that Riplakish was killed, and his descendants were driven out of the land.

Even a king has limits to his authority, and those limits are set by the people he governs! As the Declaration of Independence of the United States declares, all governments “[derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
How does this principle manifest itself in our personal lives? Whatever position of authority we may hold, whether it be as a parent, a teacher, a church leader, a manager in the workplace, or any other role, our ability to influence other people is ultimately constrained by their willingness to follow us. As the Lord taught Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood.” In other words, expecting others to obey us because of our position is both unwise and unsustainable. Instead, lasting influence is achieved “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41).
Today, I will strive to influence others in the Lord’s way. I will love and respect those I lead and will seek to persuade rather than to compel.
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5 Responses to The People Did Rise Up in Rebellion – Ether 10:5-8

  1. eric Kerr says:

    Your point is a good one and very interesting. In a practical sense, how do you think this applies to parenting? A common refrain from parents to kids “because I said so”, would be contrary to this point. I think the parenting scenario is one of the most important, but also the most challenging.

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  2. risa webb says:

    This was good to hear, especially in the context of church leadership. I have been struggling with my stake calling and your comments help set my mind right in my expectations and how to lead. Love the book of Ether! Such a short and mysterious book, such a wealth of wisdom if you can see it.

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  3. I've been thinking about your question. Here are some thoughts:
    As parents, we are responsible to protect our children, which includes shielding them from decisions they aren't yet ready to make for themselves. When they fight against those restrictions, parents may not always be in a position to teach and persuade, either because there is not enough time or because the child is not ready to learn. They may have to act by compulsion, using their position of authority as the justification. I think it's a reality of life that all leaders sometimes have to do that.
    The key, I think, is to recognize the limitations of that leadership technique. It isn't sustainable. It creates resentment and a feeling of disempowerment. It generally doesn't prepare the child to make the right decision the next time. And by the way, it's very inefficient: we all make thousands of decisions each day. How many of those decisions do parents have the time or energy to control?
    So while I think parents do need to intervene at times, I don't think this should be our primary technique or our primary focus. The payoff from teaching correct principles and coaching our children through making wise decisions is far greater that the temporary reward of forced good behavior.
    And by the way, when we compel our children to make specific decisions, we're generally being reactive, aren't we? If we're proactively investing in the relationship and consistently teaching, then we are far more likely to be able to influence them in stressful situations.
    What do you think?

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  4. Thanks, Risa! I'm teaching the Old Testament in seminary this year, and the book of Ether has the feel of an Old Testament book. I agree that it contains many hidden treasures.

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  5. risa webb says:

    I like your points on parenting! I agree that sometimes you have to be the omnipotent authority, but he who is compelled in all things is an unwise and unprofitable servant. My hope as a new parent is to be aware of the teaching moments and to be in tune enough to use them well. Nothing drives me more crazy than when people lie to their kids because they don't want to hurt or scare them, or think they are protecting them by lieing. True, children don't need the full brunt of the worst of humanity, but if there is something difficult or scary coming into their lives don't you think the best way for them to get through it is for their parent to take their hand and lead them? I often ponder on how I will teach Duncan gospel truths amid the clamoring of the world's noise. I worry that there is no structure in society anymore that condemns evil or shames that which is truly shameful. The principles of truth that Duncan will get are going to come almost exclusively from his home and in church. I need to be sure that I am leading him well, with the full armor of the priesthood, and in line with the principles of righteousness. As the example of Riplakish indicates, the alternative is a whole lot of ugly for everyone.

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