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“Magnify Your Calling” – Understanding the Meaning and Origin of This LDS Phrase: Jacob 2:2

The words which Jacob, the brother of Nephi, spake unto the people of Nephi, after the death of Nephi:

Now, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, according to the responsibility which I am under to God, to magnify mine office with soberness, and that I might rid my garments of your sins, I come up into the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God.

Jacob 2 – Book of Mormon

In Latter-day Saint culture, we often hear the phrase “magnify your calling.” For some, this may feel pressuring, like an anxious demand to fulfill expectations perfectly or else face consequences. Even the Church, in their Come Follow Me curriculum, seems to acknowledge that high religious demands can become burdensome: “Sometimes church members feel overwhelmed with the demands of life – including what they might see as the demands of being a Latter Day Saint.”

How do you feel about this? Is your calling causing you to feel more or less supported at church? Is your calling causing you to feel more joy in service, or less?

Jacob 2:2, our scripture, suggests that when we feel discontent in our callings, that we should magnify it. To me, this means to get a magnifying glass and investigate the root causes of our pain.

An invitation for self-reflection and understanding, rather than an outward demand for perfect performance, shifts the focus inward. Here are some key thoughts to ponder:

  • To “magnify” callings when feeling discontent, which could mean examining the deeper reasons behind the discomfort, rather than just trying harder at superficial levels.
  • This process requires “soberness” – being open, honest and thoughtful about what we find. Not just a quick, dismissive judgment of flaws, but a patient, searching look with a “magnifying glass.”
  • The goal is understanding the root causes of pain and discontentment, which often requires slowing down, looking within, and being willing to acknowledge difficult truths.
  • Done right, this process of “magnifying” callings through sober self-examination can lead to growth, wisdom and discovering how to authentically align our lives with our values.

Origins of the Phrase “Magnifying One’s Calling”

The phrase “magnifying one’s office” can be traced back to sermons given in 1825 by Rev. Daniel Wilson. In his writing, Wilson asks “who did God commission to preach the gospel?” He answers that God chose not perfect angels, but imperfect humans like us.

This provides helpful context for the Latter-day Saint view of callings. We believe God intentionally calls normal, flawed people to serve and administer the gospel through church roles. He does not reserve these duties only for heavenly beings.

As humans called to magnify sometimes difficult offices, we must remember our responsibility to fulfill our callings in God’s way, not our own. When we feel discontentment, magnifying our callings means humbly examining our motivations and depending on God’s grace – not just working harder out of ego or obligation.

In essence, Rev. Wilson’s early teachings remind us why callings matter – and why remaining self-aware through prayerful “magnification” helps us live up to these sacred trusts from God.

Swanston, J. (1773). Sermons, on Several Important Subjects: By the Reverend Mr. John Swanston, … To which is Prefixed, a Short Account of the Author’s Life. … …. United Kingdom: William Smith. Sold at his shop.