Find helpful commentary on the verses below to better understand the message of this revelation.
Casey Paul Griffiths (LDS Scholar)
Eden Smith and Stephen Burnett did not get the immediate chance to preach together. Instead, two weeks after this revelation was given Stephen departed on a mission in the company of John Smith, Eden’s father. The two traveled to southern Ohio to preach to John Smith’s relatives. Stephen and Eden Smith were able to preach together in August 1832, after Eden’s health had recovered.1
At this point in time, the Lord entrusted Stephen Burnett with the power to choose where he served, stating that it didn’t matter where he went “for ye cannot go amiss” (D&C 80:3). This statement is another illustration of the Lord’s admonition that “it is not meet that I should command in all things” (D&C 58:26). Even something as significant as the place where a missionary labors can be left up to the wisdom and good judgment of the receiver in special cases. On other occasions, the Lord involves Himself deeply in the call of missionaries. Elder Ronald A. Rasband shared the experience of assigning mission calls in company with President Henry B. Eyring:
First, we knelt together in prayer. I remember Elder Eyring using very sincere words, asking the Lord to bless him to know “perfectly” where the missionaries should be assigned. The word “perfectly” said much about the faith that Elder Eyring exhibited that day.
As we were nearing the completion of that assignment meeting, a picture of a certain missionary appeared on the screen. I had the strongest prompting, the strongest of the morning, that the missionary we had before us was to be assigned to Japan. I did not know that Elder Eyring was going to ask me on this one, but amazingly he did. I rather tentatively and humbly said to him, “Japan?” Elder Eyring responded immediately, “Yes, let’s go there.” And up on the computer screen the missions of Japan appeared. I instantly knew that the missionary was to go to the Japan Sapporo Mission. Elder Eyring did not ask me the exact name of the mission, but he did assign that missionary to the Japan Sapporo Mission.
Privately in my heart I was deeply touched and sincerely grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience the prompting to know where that missionary should go. At the end of the meeting Elder Eyring bore his witness to me of the love of the Savior, which He has for each missionary assigned to go out into the world and preach the restored gospel. He said that it is by the great love of the Savior that His servants know where these wonderful young men and women, senior missionaries, and senior couple missionaries are to serve. I had a further witness that morning that every missionary called in this Church, and assigned or reassigned to a particular mission, is called by revelation from the Lord God Almighty through one of these, His servants.2
1. Historical Introduction, Revelation, 7 March 1832 [D&C 80], Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 170.
2. Ronald A. Rasband, “The Divine Call of a Missionary,” April 2010 General Conference.
(Doctrine and Covenants Minute)