Let me tell you about one of my heroes in the Book of Mormon. His name is Pahoran. We know relatively little about him. He was the third Chief Judge for the Nephites after he took his dad’s place. His father Nephihah was made Chief Judge by the prophet Alma after Alma devoted himself solely to the ministry. His sons teach us a lesson about following leadership. One of his sons is indirectly responsible for the birth of the Gadianton Robbers. The same robbers that become the civilization’s doom later on. So, basically relatively little.
But we do get one small glimpse into his character. Now whether this is a defining moment or a long pattern of behavior I can’t say. What I do know is the one chapter he stars in, he shines pretty brightly. He reflects Christ’s attribute of forgiveness and grace.
In Alma 60 we read a letter Captain Moroni wrote to Pahoran. It’s a strongly worded letter filled with censure and frustration. Now, keep in mind, this is the same Moroni that made quite the impression on Mormon, the record abridger. Mormon even declares that if everyone were like Moroni the “very powers of hell would have been shaken forever” (Alma 48:17). And then he names his son Moroni. In short, Mormon thinks Moroni is awesome.
So, in Alma 60 this awesome, righteous man sends out a letter to Pahoran, the Chief Judge. This is about year 11 spent in warfare. A war he prepared for but due to the actions of some of the people his nation lost ground. He died at the very young age of 43. In short, his livelihood took a toll on his life. Do I blame him for the language in his letter? No. Have I felt the same emotions on things? Yes.
In his letter to Pahoran he basically tells him to get it in gear or else. What he didn’t realize at the time is Pahoran had been chased out of the capitol by rebels. He is trying to gain support for the cause of freedom – the same cause that is so dear to Moroni. He also is probably tired, frustrated, and angry.
Now, let’s interrupt the narrative to ask a quick question. How would you respond to Moroni’s letter? I’d be tempted to start off my reply with a “Now look here, buddy…” You can imagine the tone.
That’s what makes this glimpse into Pahoran’s life so fascinating. He follows Christ’s perfect example in forgiveness and grace. He responds, “You have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry” (Alma 61:9).
People are going to say stupid things. Sometimes on purpose. Sometimes not. They are going to say things when they are tired, frustrated, or angry. And I am going to hear those words when I am sometimes tired, frustrated, or angry. How will I respond? Will I let the emotion and the moment speak or will I remember the wisdom of Pahoran?
I hope I will remember Pahoran.