It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
On March 1, 1841, at the suggestion of Joseph Smith, men in the four wards of the Church in Nauvoo were assigned to work on the temple.
A few years later, when the body of saints planned to wagon their way west, members were organized into companies of hundreds, and into fifties and tens, with each person having specific assignments.
When the people reached Utah, they attended conferences where names were read from the pulpit of people who were assigned to take their families into the wilderness and there establish communities.
These assignments weren't taken lightly. At the end of one meeting, the names of 250 men were read from the pulpit to help colonize the Cotton Country in southern Utah. Charles Walker was one of those called. He recorded in his journal (his spelling is retained) for Sunday, Oct. 19: "At night I went to a meeting in the Tabernacle of those that had been called. Here I learnd a principle that I shant forget in awhile. It showed to me that obedeance was a great principle in Heaven and on earth.
"Well here I have worked for the last 7 years thro heat and cold, hunger and adverse cercumstances, and at last have got me a home, a Lot with fruit trees just beginning to bear and look pretty.
"Well I must leave it and go and do the will of My Father in Heaven who over rules all for the good of them that love and fear him, and I pray God to give me Strength to accomplish that which is required of me in an acceptable manner before."
Three weeks later, he wrote:
"Wend 13 (12th) The house looks desolate. The things all sold, the wagon loaded ready for the trip.
"Thurs 13 Many came and wished me good bye with tears in their eyes and blessed me.... This was the hardes(t) trial I ever had and had it not been for the gospel and those that were placed over me I should never moved a foot to go on such a trip, but then I came here not to do my will but the will of those that are over me, and I know it will be right if I do right."
Today, the Church continues to have important work to be done by assignment. For example, welfare assignments might ask members to work in mills, canneries, at bishops storehouses. Assignments usually come to stakes, the leaders of which divide the assignments among wards. At the ward level, the bishop gives the assignments to the high priest group leader, the elders quorum president and/or the Relief Society president.
These leaders carry the assignments into their respective quorums or groups or societies and ask: "Anybody want to volunteer?"
Imagine if Brigham Young had tried to settle the West with only volunteers: Instead of reading a list of names, the Church leader would ask for those who would like to settle the southern deserts at risk of life, family and loss of fortune." A case could be made that if the early saints had not sacrificed and worked together so much, they might not have had the unity to succeed in their arduous undertakings. Could we use that strength of unity to face today's challenges?
A wise leader understands the growth that comes of sacrifice and service and wants it for every member. A wise leader also understands that priesthood authority comes from "love unfeigned" and that as he shares the joys and sorrows of his quorum members in a close and warm spiritual relationship, each will respond more readily. Love is a more powerful motor than fear or guilt or anger.
The kingdom of God on earth was not built by volunteers, though volunteers are appreciated. Nor is it in the economy and harmony of the gospel for the same few volunteers to do all the work. To the contrary, gospel work blesses those who do it, and the entire quorum, group or society should be included, according to the wisdom of the leader in considering personal capacities and situations. For example, if a member has a situation that makes an assignment in a cannery difficult, let him or her employ a fair share of talents in another manner. Rather than "Anybody want to volunteer?" we change the language to: "Brother Jones, would you be willing to accept this assignment next week?" And leaders should make serious effort to treat every active member fairly.
When all in the quorum, group or society are busy serving each other, the ward or branch will be blessed in manifold ways.