Archive for the ‘missionary work’ Tag

Sharing the Gospel

Reading: Alma 17

I often feel that I don’t do enough to share the gospel.  A big part of the reason I feel this way is that I am really quite a shy person and have trouble talking to people at all, let alone talking to people about something that means so much to me.

Another reason, though, is that I fear being insincere.  I fear that if I treat missionary work as another item to check off my list that people will think I don’t really care about them so much as I care about being a “good missionary.”

As I was reading about Ammon’s mission to the Lamanites, I realized that I fear this too much. In verses 27 and 29 it says:

Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways. . . Now  [Ammon’s fellow shepherds] wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.

Ammon was joyful at the chance to show others the power of God and thus win their hearts to the gospel. When we interact with others we should serve them and be friendly whether or not they accept the gospel: this is what the Savior taught, to love everyone. Yet it is not wrong to be happy to have the chance to share the gopsel, and it is not bad to help someone with the mindset that maybe you can help them see the power of God in your actions. If we truly love the gospel, and we truly love other people, then our desire to share the gospel will be sincere, and by sharing the gospel we will sincerely be trying to help our friends.

Today I am going to write in my journal about this insight and brainstorm a few ways I might be able to apply it to situations I encounter.

Are you ever scared of appearing manipulative or insincere as you share your testimony with others? What do you think helps others see your sincerity and your true desire only to help?

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Politics and Preaching

Reading: Alma 4:16-19

Imagine if the president of the United States called a press conference and announced that after looking at  all of the problems the country faced he decided that the best, most effective thing he could do to help the country was to resign as president and instead travel the country preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To most people this scenario seems ridiculous, yet it happened in the Book of Mormon.

Alma, as the new chief judge, was troubled by the problems in the land of the Nephites and so found another honorable man to take over his position as chief judge.  In Alma 4:19 it says:

And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.

The church is very careful to remain neutral on political issues, and will only take any kind of position when they feel that the issue is moral, which happens very rarely.  This is just my own thinking, but it seems to me that part of the reason they do this is because they realize the same thing that Alma did: that the best way to help people was in reaching out with testimony, not by making laws.

Today it is easy to get wrapped up in the drama and emotion of politics.  Sometimes I feel like there is very little I can do because I am not in a position of power.  Yet, here we learn that as members of the church with the pure gospel we are in a greater position to improve the country than most politicians.  Like Alma of old, we can do more by sharing the gospel than an elected official can do by changing laws.

Today I am going to pray for help to see opportunities to share the gospel, and for the wisdom and courage to do so wisely.

Have you noticed times where the conversion to an ideal was more effective than an enforced rule? Can you think of any hot political issues where people’s positions might be affected by their conversion to the gospel?

Every Member a Missonary

Reading: “Bring Souls Unto Me,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session

Recently I had a discussion about people we knew who had fallen away from the church.  We agreed that in many cases all it would have taken was a small amount of fellowshipping from ward members to get these people to come back to church, but in too many cases this friendship was never extended.

I, personally, am certainly not perfect in this area either.  I struggle with shyness, and while I am working to overcome it, I still often feel guilty that I don’t reach out to as many people as I could. I worry that I am missing the opportunity t

True Doctrine Converts, While False Offends

Reading: “Our Father’s Plan-Big Enough for All His Children,” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

As I spend time on the internet I see a lot of people who really hate religion.  They associate organized religion of all types with certain practices and teachings.  The problem is that as you dig in deeper to find out why these people hate religion so much it usually stems from things that our church, the Mormons, do not believe or practice.  Part of the reason I post in this blog is that I hope that I am able to provide a source that dispels the myths these people believe that just plain isn’t true, or that may be true about other religions but isn’t a part of the Mormon church.

In this talk Elder Cook explains this idea, and then explains one concept that is a major cause of this misplaced dislike and distrust of religion.  Many people have been taught that only a very few will be saved by Christ, and that most people are not just going to hell, but going to a hell of extreme torture.

The common precept was that a few would be saved and the overwhelming majority would be doomed to endless tortures of the most awful and unspeakable intensity. The marvelous doctrine revealed to the Prophet Joseph unveiled to us a plan of salvation that is applicable to all mankind, including those who do not hear of Christ in this life, children who die before the age of accountability, and those who have no understanding.

We believe that there are different levels of heaven, and that most people are going to be pretty happy with their life after this.  Only a very few who directly rebel against God will be sent to what is conventionally thought of as hell, and even then the deplorable state stems from total separation from God, not because God is actively causing them pain.  We strive for the highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, where we will gain all that God has to offer to those who are able to handle it.

Today I am going to write in my journal about false ideas that people have about our beliefs, and then write about ways I can help dispel those myths.

Have you ever known someone who disliked our church or religion in general because they had an incorrect idea about our beliefs?  What can you do to help those around us see what we really believe?

Inviting through Fellowship

Reading: “Returning Home,” Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session

The gospel brings great joy into my life, and one of the things I can do for others is to invite them to also enjoy the joy of the gospel.  There are many, many members of the church who have stopped coming for various reasons.  In this talk Elder Gavarret asks us to reach out to those people in love and invite them back to church.  He says,

Oh, that each one of us would accept, as a beautiful demonstration of our love for our Heavenly Father, the responsibility we bear as members of this Church to seek after those who are not here with us! If through this loving service we should bring only one soul to the Church and if we would make it the object of our lives, how much rejoicing would we bring upon us and upon those whom we help return to Christ!

One of the main reasons that many people stop coming to church is because they feel unwelcome or something has happened between them and the people in their local ward.  If we can reach out to those people and show them that we care for them, in many cases they will come back to church.  Likewise, we can also through neglect or unkindness drive away people in our ward who are on the edge of not coming to church.  We should strive to make everyone feel welcome as part of our quest to be more like the Savior.

In my life, I have found it much more enjoyable to go to wards where I feel welcome and loved. I also know how miserable it can feel to go to a ward where you feel like nobody cares about you or particularly wants you to be there.

For example, when I was dating my husband I would drive down to Provo from Rexburg every two or three weekends, so I did not spend much time in my own ward.  Perhaps because of that the members of my ward really made no effort to befriend me or make me feel welcome.  Even the bishop seemed not to want to bother with me when I talked to him about what I needed to do to get ready to get married.  I also was having trouble getting along with my roommates at the time.  One the other hand, the members of my husband (then boyfriend)’s ward made me feel very welcome on the weeks I was down in Provo even though I wasn’t truly a member of their ward.  All of this made it an unpleasant experience to go to my own ward, and made it easier for me to make excuses not to go if I was feeling tired or sick.

For a good example, though, I have often talked about how welcome we felt in our last ward we were in just before we moved.  After two years of first being in the primary and then in the nursery, as well as being very shy, I was worried about really getting involved in our ward.  However, the people reached out to us with kindness and I was made to feel very welcome and very loved.  It was a joy to go to church and if we felt sick or tired we were much more likely to put in the extra effort to go when we could have stayed home.

Truly, I believe, that our testimony should be independent of how others in the ward treat us.  God asks us to go to church even when we feel like we don’t want to.  The fact that you don’t get along with your ward is not an excuse to stop coming.  However, I know first hand how huge of an affect our attitude has on the other people in our ward and that we can have a huge affect on the activity of those around us just by trying to be a friend to everyone in our ward.

Since we live in Utah, pretty much all of my neighbors are in my ward.  And, even if they weren’t they’re still my neighbors.  Today I am going to say hello to all of the neighbors that I happen to walk by or see and maybe even ask them how they’re doing.

Can you think of times that the people in your ward had a big affect on how you lived the gospel?  What can you do to help others feel more loved and welcome?

The Truth of God Will Go Forth

Reading: “The Truth of God Shall Go Forth,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

In the past couple of weeks the Mormon church has gotten a lot of bad press.  First of all, the success of proposition 8 in California, which clearly would not have passed were it not for the efforts of the church, has led many to protest the church’s involvement.  Second, the Jewish coalition to remove victims of the holocaust from the records of the church recently broke off talks and made a public statement demanding the church stop all proxy work for the dead.

When we see the church we hold so dear being criticized so strongly by those who disagree with us, it can be upsetting.  However, Elder Ballard’s talk speaks of hope in spite of persecution.  In his talk he outlines the growth of the church, even in times when we were much more hated and desipised than we are now. Nothing will stop the work of God, as he says:

God has spoken through His prophet and announced to the world that “the Standard of Truth has been erected” and that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” That is undeniably and indisputably true. We have seen it for ourselves, in decade after decade, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the time of President Thomas S. Monson. Persecutions have raged. Calumny and lies and misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade from the time of the Restoration forward, the truth of God has gone “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” The little Church that started in 1830 with just a handful of members has now grown to more than 13 million Latter-day Saints in many different nations around the world, and we are well on our way to penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country, and sounding in every ear.

While it would be too lengthy to repeat, I found the history of the growth of the church to be very inspiring and would encourage you to go read it.

Elder Ballard ended his talk asking members to continue to live the gospel, and to rise to the challenges of our day and time.  He says,

he Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.

I cannot think of a specific thing I can do today, other than generally living the gospel, that directly pertains to missionary work.  However, this talk did remind me that President Monson specifically asked us as a church to pray for missionary work to be able to go into countries where it is not currently welcome.  So, today I am going to once again put that in my prayers, and hope to remember to do so in the future.

What can you do to help the church continue to grow, as Elder Ballard says?

Sharing the Gospel

Reading: “Go Ye Therefore,” Silvia H. Allred, First Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In her talk, Silvia Allred encourages all member to increase their efforts in missionary work.  She tells the story of her own conversion, and how her own baptism at 14 years of age lead to the conversion and baptism of the rest of her family.  She later served her own mission.

One thing I appreciated in Sister Allred’s talk was the emphasis she placed on simple ways each of us can contribute to missionary work.  She shared the following list of ideas, many of which would be easy for most of us to do:

  • If you have children at home, help prepare them for missionary service.
  • Prepare yourself for missionary service.
  • Invite family and friends to listen to the missionaries or to attend our Church meetings and activities.
  • Accompany the missionaries to investigators’ homes, or invite the missionaries to teach nonmembers in your home.
  • Invite people to a family home evening in your home.
  • Invite people to a family history center, or help them do family history research.
  • Give referrals to the missionaries. Members can be the greatest and best source of referrals.
  • Share your beliefs and testimony with nonmember friends and family.
  • Seek for opportunities to reach out to others.
  • Extend friendship to investigators and new converts.
  • Give your best efforts to finding those who are seeking the truth.
  • If you have family members or friends on missions, send them letters of love and encouragement, and pray for them.

We do not have to serve a mission in order to be a missionary.  We can reach out to those around us.  The Lord needs all of us to spread the gospel.

One way that I am trying to reach out to others and share the gospel is by writing in this blog.  Although I’m not sure if there are many people who actually read it, I do see how certain topics are often clicked on in internet searches.  Today I am going to try and improve the look of my blog, in order to make it easier to read so that people will be more likely to read it rather than move on to something else.

How do you share the gospel with those around you?

What Missionaries Do

Reading: “Your Commission to Teach the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Chapter 1: What is My Purpose as a Missionary, Preach My Gospel

The first section of the first chapter of Preach My Gospel tells us what missionaries do.  I gleaned the following points from this short section:

  • Every person-every single person we meet and see every day-is a child of God
  • Many of these people are searching for answers to life’s problems
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ will help them find joy in their lives and relief from the consequences of sin
  • Missionaries are called to teach these people with special authority
  • As your understanding of the Atonement grows your desire to share the gospel will increase
  • Only the gospel will save the world from itself
  • You are called to teach people this message that will help them find happiness and salvation through Jesus Christ

The only difference, I think, between what a full time missionary and what a member missionary would glean from this is that the member missionary does not have the special authority that come with the call to serve a mission.  However, every member has the responsibility to share the gospel.  Then, when that special authority is needed we introduce them to the full-time missionaries.

As I believe I have written before, one of my weaknesses is a lack of patience.  Sometimes when I am going through my day I get irritated by the little things people do, such as driving in a way I think is stupid, or taking too long in a line at the grocery store.  However, if I think of everyone as children of God then I am lead to be more patient with everyone I meet.  And, when I treat others with greater patience I am a better example of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which I think is the first step to becoming a better missionary.

Today as I go about my day I’m going to try to remind myself that everyone is a child of God.  I will especially try to remember this at times when I am feeling frustrated with things people do.

What do you do to be a better member missionary?

New Temples

Reading: President Thomas S. Monson’s Saturday Morning Address, October 2008 General Conference

Today I listened to the audio of President Monson’s introduction to the General Conference last Saturday.  In his short blurb he first talked about temples.  He talked about the programs that have been put together in celebration of new temples, and how he supports that as a great opportunity for you to participate in “something they will never forget.”  He then announced several new temples that were organized.

Recently I read someone questioning whether having all of these temples around lessens the specialness of the temples.  On a superficial level, I think this is definitely the case.  In my ward in California the time and effort it took to plan and take a trip to the temple taught us to respect the temple greatly.  When I later had the opportunity to go on a youth temple trip with a ward in Idaho Falls, where they see the temple every day, I was shocked at the lack of respect and irreverence the youth had in the temple.  It is true that familiarity can lead us to lack respect.

At the same time, though, I think that this is a small price to pay for the opportunity of having a temple nearby.  When you do not have to go so far to visit a temple, it relieves a great burden, especially for those who are disabled or poor, or who have very little time.  It is up to us to maintain our respect for the temples despite the fact that we do not have to sacrifice so much to go.  If we grow careless in our temple worship, we should blame ourselves, not the church’s new policy on temple building.

Another thing that President Monson talked about in his introduction is an appeal to members to pray for missionary work.  He said that when the church prayed for missionary work to be extended at the behest of President Kimball (I think) the work made great leaps and bounds.

So, today, I am going to pray for missionary work to be extended into lands where it is now not possible for the church to go.  And, try to make it a habit, since President Monson requested it.

What do you think about the new temples?  Did you have any other thoughts about President Monson’s address?

Just fyi, I am going to wait until the transcripts are available to write about any more conference adresses.  Until then I feel the need to study Preach My Gospel.

The Bar

Reading: “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” M. Russell Ballard, Liahona, November 2002

In November 2002 Elder Ballard gave the famous talk that “rose the bar” for missionaries.  Essentially, in his talk he told the young men of the church that they must be better prepared for their missionary service.  And, he instructed bishops to only recommend young men (and women) for service who they felt were truly prepared for the call.  And, indeed, after this talk the standards for missionary service were raised and many who may have gone on missions unprepared before simply no longer were called to missionary work.

It is my opinion (after reading this article) that every person who wants to serve a mission should read this talk closely.  It is a forthright challenge to the young men of this church to rise up to a higher standard.  It covers all the necessities, in my opinion, of missionary preparation.

One thing I wanted to do was to make a quick list of all the descriptions Elder Ballard uses of a prepared missionary.

  • Worthy
  • Qualified
  • Spiritually energized
  • Meticulously obedient
  • Faithful
  • Exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity (Alma 53:20)
  • True at all times
  • Vibrant
  • Thinking
  • Passionate
  • Know how to listen and follow the spirit
  • Clean from sin
  • Honest
  • Solid testimony of the restored gospel
  • Hard working
  • Covenant makers
  • Covenant keepers

Sometimes people like to share stories about how much missionaries were changed by their mission, with he message being that it could change an unprepared, less that faithful young man into a strong young man.  Elder Ballard comes out and says that is not right, that missionaries should be prepared before they leave for their missions.

We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5).

When I first thought of what I would talk about in preparing for a mission, a list of things came to my mind, such as regular scripture study, or getting up early, or things like that.  As I am reading these talks, though, I am realizing that prepartion should be deeper – it should involve your whole heart and soul.

I found Elder Ballard’s talk to be very energizing.  I love to make lists.  I have an analytical mind and writing things down in lists helps me get a grip on things that otherwise seem to big or too hazy to understand.  However, it is clear from both Elder Bednar’s and Elder Ballard’s talk that true discipleship does not come in lists.  It is about an inner transformation into the Lord’s servant.  This is just as true in my life as it is in those who are preparing for a mission.

Today I will think about what it means to become a disciple of God.  I am striving to be better all the time, of course.  But, if I were to become a true disciple of God, what would I act like?  What would I look like?  What would I think like?  How would I be different from what I am now?

What about you?  What do you perceive as the difference between just doing the right things and becoming the right person?