President's Pen 3-7-16 (Vision - Goals - Plans)

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!  We will soon celebrate Easter and the Savior's Atonement.  We have the opportunity to open our mouths and declare the greatest news for all mankind; there is victory over death, there is remission of sins, we are enabled by grace, and we will be healed of all wounds.  The Savior is the center of our message and as we have faith that the Lord has prepared the hearts and minds of the people; let us go boldly to find, teach, and invite all to come unto Him.

In my email last week I stressed the importance of connecting our Vision to Baptize with the Effort to Baptize.  I hope you've taken on the invitation to put in a full effort every day as you hold yourself accountable to the Lord.  You will reap what you sow and we have many companionships who are seeing the blessings of this promise.  

My focus today will be helping you to understand the connection between VISION, GOALS, & PLANS.  I'd like you to take some time on this email as I want you to really come to understand what I'm teaching.  As a mission, I believe many have a good understanding of our vision and we have made great improvement in our ability to plan.  Where I feel we need continued improvement is in our goal setting, so we can realize our vision, and make our plans more effective.  I'd like you to consider how the following chart links our vision, our goals, and our plans…

The chart above helps us understand that a VISION is the foundation for all we do, it answers the question "Why?".  As missionaries, we know that our vision or purpose is to invite all to come unto Christ, helping them received 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. The vision inspires and motivates all behavior and without a vision "the people perish" (Prov 29:18) or lose all motivation.  A good example of a vision statement was the Title of Liberty held up by Captain Moroni.  The Nephites understood "why" they would fight for their God, religion, freedom, peace, and their wives and children. (Alma 46:12)  Missionaries that truly come to understand the "Why" don't need external motivation or serve only out of duty.  Our vision of helping God's children is clear; without the Savior, without repentance, without baptism, without the Holy Ghost, and without the ability to endure to end, they cannot live with God.  This either inspires and motivates you or it doesn't, but it is WHY we do what we do! Joseph Smith taught this principle in Lectures on Faith, "unless a person has an actual knowledge that the course he is pursuing is according to the will of God, he will grow weary in his mind and faint."

Once our vision in clear, it then helps us understand how to create GOALs to accomplish that vision.  Vision can't generally be counted, such as faith in Jesus Christ or love in the home.  Goals, however, which are inspired and support the vision,  can be counted and therefore are specific and measurable.  Goals help us answer the question "What?".   In missionary work goals reflect the desires of our heart and the vision of what we can accomplish.  Through our goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.  Our goal setting is an act of faith.  Missionary goals that are inspired and can be counted include; who is being baptized, who will we invite to be baptized, who will we invite to come to church, who will be taught and what will we teach them, who will we contact, and who will we find.  Note that our goals are all about people or "who".  Our goals are always tied to the idea that we help people progress towards saving ordinances such as: what will we do to help them pray, read the Book of Mormon, come to church, keep the commandments.  Our key indicators are then a reflection of"What" we are doing, they measure our effort, and they tie to our vision of inviting all to come unto Christ.  Missionaries that feel like it's about the numbersdon't understand that there is a person behind every number.  The Lord left the ninety and nine to go after the one, because He numbers His sheep and counts them.  We count sacrament meeting attendance so we know who was there and who is missing.  The number tells us who we need to go find.  

Our goals then lead to our PLANS, answering the questions of How, When, and Where, or the details.  The only way goals, and then the vision is realized, is if we have a plan in place.  Missionaries who live by nightly and weekly planning understand the principle that if I'm ever going to bring someone to Christ, I have to have a plan to do it.  My plans have to be specific and tie back to my goals of helping my investigators progress towards saving ordinances.  I then understand why I make plans for those being baptized in the coming week and what I want to do to make it an unforgettable experience.  I understand why I will invite all to be baptized and who in particular I will help accept a date.  I understand why I plan down to the details of how to help people come to church.  I understand why I will plan to teach specific lessons and lesson plan to help my investigators progress.  I know why I plan for other investigators and what I'll teach, even if I have to drop them.  I understand why I will plan to follow up on on referrals and how and when I'll do it.  I understand and plan how, when, and where I will find new investigators every day.  I know why I plan to work with the ward council and who I'll see, call, and update.  Plans have to be driven by daily, weekly, monthly, and transfer goals.  If you have no plan, you will not reach your goals, and with no goals, you'll never reach your vision.  

To illustrate the connection between VISION, GOALS, and PLANS we need only look to our Heavenly Father's understanding of these principles.  Please note in the chart below.  His vision is to bring all of His children home.  This vision was created from the beginning and it is why we are here on earth.  He desires that we all become like Him and He wants us to return to His presence.  His goal is for all to receive immortality and eternal life.  Note that this is specific and measurable and can be counted.  All His children that receive a body will be resurrected. He will reach 100% of His goal of all having immortality.  Eternal life is His goal for all His children, but this is based only on conditions found in the Doctrine of Christ.  Sadly, not all will choose to have faith in the Savior, but note that he does all He can to make it possible for all to realize this goal.  His plan is the Plan of Salvation and it was prepared from the beginning.  The Savior allows for the Father's goal to come to pass, that all will have immortality and eternal life. 

Now that I hope you see the connection between vision, goals, and plans, I want to focus your thoughts on why you need daily, weekly, monthly, and transfer goals.  If you have a Vision to Baptize, your Effort to Baptize can be seen in how you set goals and make plans to drive those efforts.  As I look at your weekly goals, there are some that I believe don't understand how the goals will connect you to your plan and vision.   The following chart will illustrate my point. 

On many weeks I will see companionship goals that look something like the above.  Let me share with you where I see the disconnect in linking the Vision to the Goals…  

  • First, when I see 0 for baptisms every week I recognize that you might be responding to this in the context of not having a baptism scheduled for that week.  I understand this thinking, but you can't have a goal of zero or zero desire of heart.  May I recommend you always have a goal to baptize every week, even when no one is schedule to be baptized.  Why?  I want you to think, eat, dream, sleep, talk about, and focus on baptism.  You are always working towards baptism, always have this goal in mind.  
  • The same is true for confirmations.
  • Baptismal dates are also something that you might not truly understand how to consider.  Will you not find this week, will you not invite someone to be baptized this week?  When I see this as a zero I wonder if you have a vision to baptize.  I might set a goal of three or more each week as I know that if I'm going to baptize I have to invite and have people on date.  I will do everything I can during the week to find and invite people to be baptized.  It is a worthy goal and I'll make plans to go make it happen.   
  • Church attendance is a goal we should correlate to progressing investigators.  When I see your weekly goals I'm often surprised that you have a smaller goal for church attendance than for progressing investigators.  How can this be?  If investigators are progressing, do you not set a goal to have them come to church?  I might also increase this goal as I know I'll find new investigators in the week that I want to come to church.  I'll do all in my power to make this goal by creating plans for everyone to come to church.  
  • Member Present lessons is a goal that everyone should have and when I see other lessons goals higher than MPLs I wonder if we understand the importance of member friend lessons.  This goal should be at least 50% of all investigator lessons, if not higher.  You then make a plan to get those members with you at the lessons.  
  • Other lessons are important and you should strive to have at least 20 people lessons each week.  The only way you get better at teaching is to set a goal to teach more.  The less robotic and scripted you are the better.
  • Progressing investigators is a goal where you should ask, what can I do to help people progress this week by praying, reading, and coming to church?  This goal should reflect the desire of your heart as you help people progress.  When I see this as zero I wonder if you understand that your goal is to help people progress, not a number!  
  • Referrals received is a reflection of how you open your mouth and ask, "Who do you know…?".  You should set a goal every week that is consistent with your effort to find through members, less active, part member, current investigators and street contacts.  This number represents contacts and people you will meet through opening your mouth.  When I see a low number here I wonder if you really understand the need to OYM!  
  • I often see confusion from week to week on the goal setting of new investigators.  When I see a goal of 1, I wonder if you recognize how many investigators you will have to find to baptize.  If your goal is to find one investigator every week, it will take you over four months to baptize one person.  This assumes they keep commitments.  Our standard is 3, you should always set a goal to meet the standard.  Anything less and you aren't on the path to baptize.  Finding is where missionary work begins.  If you don't set a goal to find and contact people every day all other key indicators will suffer.  
  • I often see a big goal of LARCs each week and I'm always hopeful that it is in the spirit of finding when we teach and teaching when we find.  We need to strengthen our new converts and bring back the less active, but these are our finding gold mines.  If you don't have a goal tied to finding referrals please add this to the purpose of your visit.  
  • Same is true for PMGs and in most cases our PMGs are still dinner appointments.  A real PMG goal should include members we teach because we recognize we will find new investigators through them, not just eat dinner.  Have the Savior's name on your lips throughout the dinner appointment.
  • Finally, service.  You should set a goal for the companionship to do at least 20 hours a week of service (10 hours per person).  You have the time to serve and I need you to be hitting weekly to look for projects.  Your first priority is non-members for your service hours.  Bless the members by teaching them, that is the best way to serve them. 

Does this help you think through goal setting?  Please note that every goal is a number, but all numbers have a person behind them.  I will baptize and confirm John, or a person we haven't met yet (1).  We will invite Mary, John, and Joe to be baptized this week, plus the three other people we find (6).  We will have Mary, John, and Joe come to church, plus the three other people we find this week (6).  We will have member presents with Mary, John,  Joe, Bob, Jane, and Bill and invite Mark, Steve and Beth to come to these lessons (6). We will have other lessons with people we have yet to meet and our others, Mark and Steve (4).  We will have Mary, John, and Joe progress, plus three others we haven't met yet (6). We will get 10 referrals this week from people that we visit for names that we haven't met yet (10).  We will find three new people this week who we haven't met yet, but we know the Lord is preparing them (3).  We will have these LARC's (insert names here) and we will teach and get 5 referrals (5).  We will teach 5 PMGs (insert names here) and seek 5 referrals (5).  We will serve 20hours by blessing these people (insert names here) (20).  

Your goals should be realistic and include a solid commitment that you will do all you can to accomplish them.  If it's just a number that you put down in your planner each week, you likely don't understand the principle of goal setting.  The goal should drive you because you understand the vision.  It should stretch you and you should do everything in your power to reach the goal.  You should write it on your white board and refer to it daily so you can see how you're progressing (see attached pic).   If it's not visible and reviewed you'll never hit it.  I have included a document you might want to print and use to track your goals if you don't want to use the white board.  You won't hit your goals every week, but you won't hit any if you don't have them or work towards them.  When you account to the Lord each night you can have peace in your mind knowing that you did all you could to invite and help others come unto Christ.  

Coming to understand how VISION, GOALS, and PLANS work together will bless you for the rest of your life.  Developing the skills to set goals and plans are critical to your success as a missionary, husband or wife, father or mother and all you hope to accomplish.  Your mission begins a life long pattern of behaviors, many of which will dictate whether you stay faithful and true, have a successful family,  successful career, and successful life.  If you have no vision of where you're going, no goals, and no plans, you will be lost, blown by the wind, and as taught by Elder Ballard, "reach but a small part of your full potential."    Thanks for your great service; I hope that I am able to inspire you to do and become better.   You are all loved and we are blessed beyond compare to work with you.  

President Hall