President's Pen 10-31-16 (Repetition - TTIPF)

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 ya!

As we concluded our quarterly interviews this week I have continued to ponder on the importance of our skill development and the value of repetition.  Repetition is perhaps the most intuitive principle of learning.  I did a bit of quick research and the principles of repetition (practice) are traceable to ancient Egyptian and Chinese education, with records dating back to approximately 4,400 and 3,000 B.C.,.  In ancient Greece, Aristotle commented on the role of repetition in learning by saying “it is frequent repetition that produces a natural tendency” and “the more frequently two things are experienced together (role play & then teaching), the more likely it will be that the experience or recall of one will stimulate the recall of the other”. 

The study of repetition and skill development have even been written into mathematical formulas (for those of us that are math lovers) to prove that habit strength (skill development) can be mathematically proven.  For fun… according to this equation, as the number of pairings between the two increases (choose any missionary skill), habit strength increases (we get better). The mathematical formula that describes this relationship is as follows, where N represents the number of pairings between stimulus and response: SHR= 1 – 10-0.0305 N. This equation for habit strength was embedded as a key component of reaction potential, which was expressed as a function of both Habit Strength (SHR) and Drive (D):  Reaction Potential = SER = SHR x D – There will be an open book test on this at our next zone conferences (yes, some definite nerd in me ;)  Get ready!!!

My simple point on the above, if you want to get better, you have to repeat, practice, repeat, practice, and do it again and again.  The reason why this matters is it points to our purpose of becoming better at everything we do, especially as we labor in the Lord’s vineyard.  Every day I can get better at individual and comp study, role-playing, finding, teaching, setting goals and making plans, working with the members and on and on.  It won’t happen without desire, but when you find the internal motivation, all things become possible to you!

In our interviews we practiced our T.T.I.P.F skills – Teach Simply, Testify Personally, Invite Boldly, Promise Blessings, and Follow Up.  As repetition improves our skills, I wanted to reemphasize what we discussed. 

Teach Simply – Whether you’re teaching from the scriptures or pamphlets, focus on the needs of the people.  Put the scriptures/pamphlet in their hands and give them a background that is relevant to what you’re teaching.  Let them know you’ll read it together and that you’ll stop them as they read (perhaps on punctuation or key words).  Interact with them by asking questions, relating it to them, help them think as you explain and apply it to their lives.  Teaching simply means you don’t lecture, you don’t share everything you know, you watch for your Mormon vocabulary, you make it easy for them to understand.  Milk before meat.  Do you teach simply and involve them?  This is a skill and the Spirit will use you as the instrument to help them recognize what you are teaching is true.

Testify Personally – You should testify often of what you’re teaching, but the most powerful way to do it is in a personal way.  As Elder Oaks taught, people want to know what the doctrine does for them first and how it will help/bless them.  When you testify, share briefly how the principle has blessed you.  Make this real for people, not something that feels scripted or canned.  Why is God important to you, how have you felt the blessing of having a family (even if they’re completely imperfect), why are prophets important to you, why do you love the Savior, how can apostasy make us feel dark and confused, why is Joseph Smith important to you, why does your baptism matter, why do you love the Book of Mormon?  You don’t have to share a personal witness for each of the principles, but you do need to make your witness personal!  Do you practice this skill?  Can you see how the Spirit can use you as the instrument if you do?

Invite Boldly – Our purpose is to invite!  You can’t simply say, “Will you read, pray, come to church, keep the commandments or any other commitment.”,  as just something else you’re going to say; this has to be POWERFUL! Help people know that as they accept a commitment they are showing their faith in Christ.  Help them see that they are accepting an invitation from an authorized representative of the Savior.  Once they accept, you then need to ask three inspired questions….  “Why is accepting this commitment (read, pray, church etc.) important to you?” “What blessings do you hope for as you keep this commitment?” “Are there any obstacles that would stop you from keeping this commitment that we can help with?”  - We INVITE – They COMMIT!  You have to do your part on helping them understand why you are asking them to do these things.  It prepares them for baptism and a remission of sins, invite them like their salvation depends on it, because in truth, it does. Are you practicing these skills?  Can you see how the Spirit can use you as an instrument when you invite like you can and should?

Promise Blessings – As natural fallen men and women we are always thinking about ourselves.  We want to know what’s in it for us and if people are going to live they gospel, they have to know how and why it will help them.  This is where you have to understand their needs, their desires, their hopes.  If you can promise blessing that are important to them, they are more likely to act.  You should promise specific blessings based on the invitations you extend.  These have to be heartfelt and personal to you so you can be bold and confident that the blessings they seek will come.  If you make this a scripted line of blessings you always state, it won’t have the same effect.  Are you aware of the blessing for each principle we teach, do you practice sharing them, can you see how the Spirit will use you as an instrument as you promise blessings that God has prepared for them?

Follow Up – My dear friends, this is a skill that you have to master.  Without your follow up you have done little to invite them to come unto Christ.  Without your follow up (members included) you tell them your invitation isn’t important. You tell them that they are important to you.  You have to take out your planner, you have to write it down, you have to tell them when and how you’ll follow up.  When you follow up you have to ask them about their experience, their feelings, and hopes.  You have to be devastated when they don’t do what we ask.  This skill requires practice, repetition, and consistent effort.  Are you practicing this skill?  Can you see how the Spirit can use you as an instrument to help them along the path of conversion?

These five basic missionary skills require (Reaction Potential = SER = SHR x D) your repetition and practice.  You have time to work on them each and every day and you can become great at them.  They all point back to our purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism (for a remission of sins), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  You are an instrument in the Lord’s hand.  Become an instrument that is fine-tuned, sharp, capable, and powerful so the Spirit can use you in this great work!

I invite you to become great! Your diligence and desire are required, but it is within you.  Please know of my love and high expectations for you.  We are disciples of Jesus Christ and he loves and expects the best from us.  One percent improvement every day, across all we do, can lead to amazing results.  Love ya!

 Mission Update

Please check your portal to find the mission calendar through the end of the year.  I have also posted a section on repentance from Elder Tad R. Callister’s book, The Infinite Atonement.  I don’t often have you go to other sources, but I felt impressed to share this chapter with you as you see to help change hearts and teach the doctrine of repentance.  A new month begins Tuesday, sow seeds of faith, diligence, and hard work, and let’s reap the fruits of souls coming unto Christ throughout November and December! Love ya!

President Hall