President's Pen 10-10-16 (Effectual Struggles)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

We love you!

As I was studying the Book of Mormon today I came to the following verse in Mosiah 7:18, “…O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”

I love this verse in the Book of Mormon as it teaches the difference between struggling in vain and an effectual struggle.  Both imply difficulties, and yet there is significant difference between the two.  To struggle in vain, as it states in this scripture, is to go through difficulties that most often we bring upon ourselves.  In the case of the people of Limhi, they had brought upon themselves bondage to the Lamanites due to their wickedness.  In other words, they were struggling because they had made choices that brought suffering and consequences they could have otherwise avoided. 

Consider the kind of struggles in vain we might face on the mission that could most often be avoided…  Relationship issues with a companion, lack of daily purpose due to poor goal setting or planning, feeling unprepared due to a lack of study as individuals or companions (scriptures, PMG, language), difficulties with mission rules.  Only a few examples, but you can see that these are struggles that can be avoided if we live the Golden Rule, let the Lord guide us in our planning, have meaningful studies, and come to understand the Missionary Handbook and the blessing of obedience.  Why struggle in vain if we don’t have to?

An effectual struggle on the other hand is something far more purposeful.   The synonyms of effectual are useful, capable, powerful, effective, and successful.  The idea behind this type of struggle is that the results are always beneficial to us; either in the process or in the end.  An example of this might be the way you learned to read or master your times tables.  At the beginning the struggle was real and not easy, but the end result were skills mastered that are useful to you for the rest of your life. 

I like to envision our parents overseeing us as we effectually struggle through the course of our early development.  When we begin to walk, talk, enter school and do difficult things it is best for our parents to let us fall down, work through hard problems, and figure things out on our own.  Through this process we grow, develop, and become independent and capable; our struggles are effectual.  Our parents are always there to help when needed, but they let us fail at times so we can learn from our experiences.   

Think about the effectual struggles you feel during your missionary experience.  When you begin your mission you may struggle with your gospel knowledge, the language, the ability to teach, invite, follow up, set goals and plan, overcome fear, find your purpose and a host of other effectual struggles that come your way.  As you purposefully study, practice the language, improve your teaching skills, master how to invite and follow up, make faithful goals and detailed plans, talk to everyone, and recognize that this is the Lord’s work; you gain in wisdom, experience, confidence, and skills that would be otherwise impossible to attain.  Through your weakness you are made strong.  Through your trials you strengthen faith.  All of these effectual struggles “give thee experience and shall be for thy good.”

We often want to wish away our struggles as they cause friction, discomfort, and even momentary pain.  Consider what will happen to a child if a parent hovers like a helicopter over every challenge, removes difficulties or makes the path smooth.  Although if might help the child in the short term, in the long run it stunts growth and limits opportunity. 

For this reason, I am grateful that a loving Heavenly Father allows for effectual struggles.  We are not asked to run more than we are capable, but we are asked to do all we can do.  The Savior’s grace is sufficient for us as we all need divine help and strength on a daily basis, but a wise heavenly parent won’t remove struggles we cause to come upon ourselves and won’t take away opportunities for us to develop our spiritual personalities.    

Limhi, in this great verse of scripture, knows his people will likely still continue to struggle after escaping the bondage of the Lamanites, but he also knows that going forward it will be for their good.  What does this teach us?  Why struggle in vain (useless, hollow, worthless, ineffective) when we clearly don’t need to.  What else?  Count your many blessings, for when you effectually struggle, there will always be something of value at the other end.  The outcome may not come today, it will require tenacity and diligence, and it will make us uncomfortable, but the value that comes from the experience will be like the diamond that is formed only through high pressure and high heat.

Apply this to any principle you might be struggling with right now (language, planning, finding, teaching, working through members etc.) and ask yourself if you have the grit and determination to work through it.  You will need to look at the big picture in these moments, but when you do, what you are meant to learn will become clear.

Thanks for all you do each and every day to weather the storms that come upon us.  You have all built upon the rock of our Redeemer and as the winds blow and the fiery darts of life come your way, the sure foundation you are built upon will always stand.  Love ya!

Mission Update

New convert temple trip will be Friday, October 21st from 6-8pm.  Do all you can to help your new converts prepare with family names to join us at the temple.  Be diligent, be obedient, be faithful, be grateful, this is the Lords work.  Love ya!