President's Pen 12-5-16 (Accountability is Calling)

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!

Elders & Sisters,

We love you!  We are having so much fun as we #LIGHTtheWORLD each day!  I pray you are doing all you can to help others come unto Christ as you invite them to do as He did!  Sow with all your might this day and every day and let’s reap the reward as more souls come unto Him!

We learn a sacred truth related to our mortal probation in the Doctrine & Covenants (72:3), “…for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render and account of his stewardship, both in time and eternity.”  The accounting of our stewardship will be rendered in all the important assignments we receive throughout our lives.  Consider a few examples where we will render an account… our relationships (spouse, children, family, fellowman), our callings (missionary service, etc.), covenants (baptism, sacrament, temple, priesthood), and in our talents.  This day of accounting will either be awesome, or it could be one where, “we would fain to be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.” (Alma 12:14) We will all stand accountable for our lives and I know we will all stand prepared as we follow the Savior and do as He did.

The good news is we don’t have to wait for the judgement day to come to begin rendering an account of our service.  Each day as we review our labors we are blessed to render an accounting to the Lord in our prayers.  We can share with our Father what we did, how it went, recognize His hand, and ask for forgiveness where we may have fallen short.  Each year you will have the opportunity to render an accounting to the Lord as you declare your tithes and offerings.  Every two years you will have an opportunity to render an account as you seek to qualify to enter the Lord’s House and retain your temple recommend.  Each month you will render an accounting to the Lord as you return and report on your visiting and/or home teaching assignments.   Bottom-line, you get lots of role play and practice rendering an account to the Lord long before the that either great or dreadful day!

I want you to love the idea of accountability as it is a motivating and rewarding experience when clearly understood.  There is no better time than the present and the accounting of your missionary labors can teach you invaluable lessons.  Think of how your accounting of the work happens daily and weekly.  The first and most important is your daily accounting in prayer.  The second is your weekly email to me and in our interviews.  The third is in your weekly accountability calls with your district leader and in your district councils.  Accountability in missionary work is a wonderful blessing as it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your vision, your goals, your plans, and your effort.  Some may view accountability as big brother looking over my shoulder or that it’s just about a number, while others see it as a blessing where you get to share, counsel, and continue to learn, develop, and progress.  How do you view the opportunity to account?

As weekly accountability is new for most of us as we begin our missions, I thought I’d share how I might hold a weekly accountability call with you if I were your district leader.  First and foremost, I would let you know what time to expect my call (it would be scheduled) and I would make sure you have your planner, area book, weekly goals, and weekly key indicators in front of you.  My call will only last fifteen minutes and I need you ready, prepared, and good to go when I call you.  I’ll take notes during the call and I’ll also have the notes from our district council meeting where we discussed any issues or challenges with helping people progress that we could review.

I would start the accounting by asking about you and your companion… How are you both, how was your week, any service, did you see any miracles, is there anything I can do to bless or serve you?  As a leader, I always want to make sure you know that I care and appreciate all you do.  The more I invest in getting to know you (Doctrine of Proximity) and truly show genuine love and concern, the more comfortable you will be in offering your account.  We are not looking to tear down, but encourage, lift and inspire.  You ultimately know whether or not you gave a full effort, my intent would be to help you keep your desires and efforts high and help you reach your purpose.

I would then review the efforts of your missionary service for the week.  The key indicators are the guide for me to do this, but keep in mind the key indicators are not about a number, they are about people, their progress, and your effort.  In each of the steps below you’d be prepared to share with me your actual key indicator result and your goals for the coming week.

2) – If you had a baptism for the week I would congratulate you on your efforts and ask how the service went.  We may also talk about plans to help the new convert get to the temple and I’d remind you of the need to teach the new member lessons.  If you didn’t have a baptism that week I’d ask if you had any investigator’s attend a baptism in the district or zone and what they thought about the experience.  I might ask about your vision and effort to baptize and how you feel about your personal commitment to see someone receive a remission of sins.  We’d talk about your goals to baptize this month and next and discuss names and the blessing it is to invite and help people come unto Christ.

3) – We’d talk about the people you have on date, how they’re progressing, if they are committed and getting prepared (review the baptismal tracker or teaching record).  I might ask about scheduling the baptism interview and verify your plans.  If no one is on date I might ask about your plans for the week to invite and extend baptismal commitments and review your goal.  I might give some suggestions or just help you commit to doing all you could to help someone progress to this important milestone.  You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

4) – We’d talk about your investigators that attended church that week and about their experience.  We’d talk about any challenges in helping people attend and even discuss your plans for the coming week.  I’d continue to encourage you to make sure your plans are specific and review the need to follow up and invite using all the tools and resources available. You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

5) – We’d talk about your progressing investigators and review the specific goals you have with them that week.  We’d talk about any plans you feel like will help them progress and I’d encourage and invite you to stick to your plans, even when they may not go exactly as we hope for.  I’d ask about how your member friend lessons are going and invite and encourage you to make sure you have a member at every lesson.  You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

6) – We’d quickly review any other investigators and we’d discuss any rescue plans or drop plans as appropriate.  If I see you’ve had an investigator that won’t keep commitments I might encourage you to have the faith to drop and move on. You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

7) – We’d talk about any referrals you received that week, how your efforts went in contacting and connecting with them.  I’d encourage you to make sure we contact all media referrals in 24 hours and make sure you have a solid plan when you do.  You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

8) – We’d talk about members you visited that week and those that you plan to visit in the week to come, we’d talk about any that are really fired up about the work or those you help to inspire.  I’d make sure you are scheduling visits with as many members as possible and that your effort is to serve, help, and encourage them to share the gospel.  We might discuss how you are earning the referral and your goal to do so.   You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

9) -- We’d talk about any less active members you’re working with and review their progress.  We’d also discuss any less actives you plan on visiting in the week to come and review any plans you have to help them.  We’d also want to talk about any recent convert lessons and make sure they are receiving them.   (missionaries are responsible for all recent convert lessons and will always want to have a member join)  You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

10) – We’d talk about any new investigators you found that week, how you found them, and how you feel about their readiness to hear the gospel.  We’d also talk about your goals and plans to find new investigators for the new week.  If you haven’t found in the last week I’d review your goals, plans, and effort.  If you fell short, I’d encourage you to recommit and make finding a part of everything you do.  I’d encourage you to have faith in the Savior and to do your best.   You’d give me key indicator result for the past week and your goal for the week to come.  

11) – We’d briefly review your efforts with the ward/branch council and make sure we are communicating regularly with the ward mission leader.  I’d encourage you to be proactive in your daily plans to reach out to them.

12) -- We’d review the meetings for the week and make sure you knew of any assignments for district council in the coming week.  I’d encourage you to be prepared for the meeting and thank you for your participation.

13) -- We’d briefly talk about how you’re doing as companions and encourage you to be unified, repent where needed, and serve the Lord together. 

I’d end the call and thank you for your wonderful efforts and service.  I’d encourage you to do all you can to meet your goals and to follow your plans for the week.  I’d let you know that I’ll follow up at district council and that I’d probably reach out on Thursday to check in on your progress and offer any support in your efforts.  I’d let you know that I learn from you just as much as you’re learning from me and that I look forward to a great week!

Elders and Sisters, for those that are giving a full effort, accountability calls are a blessing.  For those that are not serving as they should, accountability calls are undesirable and painful.  Your fellow zone leaders, sister training leaders, and district leaders are your peers, but they have been called and therefore qualified to help you render an accounting.  They are not your superiors or there to make you feel uncomfortable.  What I do want them to do however is to hold you accountable to your goals, your plans, and your efforts.  If you’re not living up to the missionary standards, I have asked them to give you kindly correction.  If you are not giving a full effort, I have asked them to inspire you to do so.  Those that struggle with missionary leadership generally don’t understand that principle of sustaining your leaders.  If you follow the keys, you’ll recognize that they represent me.  I ask them to lead by example, to be the best missionaries they can be.  They aren’t perfect nor are any of us, but they have been asked to help me hold you accountable and I am grateful for their willingness to do so.  Please let them do so to the best of their abilities and help them as well.  

I love that the Lord has blessed me with agency.  With my agency I am 100% accountable and 100% responsible for my actions, efforts, and outcomes.  I’m grateful for a God in Heaven who makes it possible for me to repent when I use my agency unwisely so I can get back on track.  Accountability to my Father in Heaven is all the motivation I need to do His work and do it in His way!  I don’t fear, He loves me and wants me to succeed!  I invite you to recognize that the day of accounting will come and that it will either be a great or dreadful day.  THSM missionaries know their purpose and I trust that we are all on the path to make it a great and wonderful day as we prepare to give our accounting to the Lord! Love ya!

Mission Update

We’ve have just short of 300 souls come unto Christ as a mission this year!  What a remarkable blessing and I’m so grateful for you effort and for these good people who have received a remission of their sins and who are now on the path back to their heavenly home.  Many more await us and I encourage you to open your mouth every day and remove any fear.  Ask for referrals from everyone, work with your members, visit those that are less active and bless them.  We succeed when we invite and help!

President Hall