President's Pen 6-20-16 (Our Missionary Purpose)

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 have been very blessed this week here in the Great Texas Houston South Mission.  This past Friday night we had 14 new converts join us at the temple to participate in baptisms for the dead for the first time (pics attached).  Most of these new saints had family names with them and we are so grateful that you are not only a blessing them, but their ancestors.  Your names are blessed not only here on earth, but for those awaiting the gospel on the other side of the veil.  You are an answer to those who have long awaited the gospel as one of their family members here on earth is baptized.  Our mission motto is "Begin with the End in Mind", helping us remember that baptism is only the first step.  On Friday night we witnessed these good members go from font to font and we will now continue to work with them as they prepare to take on greater covenants.  Continue to see the big picture in your efforts.  I'd love to see all of you at the temple once a month as these newest converts continue to make steps towards living with their Father in Heaven.       

As I pondered the idea of seeing the "big picture" this past weekend, I reviewed in my mind our purpose and why we do what we do.  In Elder Christofferson's talk, "Our Missionary Purpose", he uses the following examples to keep our minds focused on things we do (activities- -the what) vs the reason why we do them (our purpose – the why).  As you read the points below, assess your progress and ask where 1% improvement will make the difference in your efforts.  Don’t become overwhelmed with what you're not doing, remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.  If this Spirit prompts you to do better, then embrace it and keep doing the best you can.  

(1) If missionaries are purpose-driven, they teach people in a way that helps them truly understand the gospel and why and how they should repent. If the missionaries’ focus is not on their purpose, they may simply teach to achieve a certain number of lessons taught per week. In that case, they will be trying to get through the lesson rather than really listening and responding to what is in the investigator’s mind and heart. They will be sharing information rather than offering salvation, and those are two very different experiences for an investigator (and for a missionary).

We have focused this month on our teaching and will continue to do so.  Following each lesson you should ask the following questions… Did we boldly and clearly invite them to act?  Is there evidence that their faith was increased? (you'll know this if they are firm in their commitment to act).   Will we follow up daily to understand their experience and help them keep their commitments?  Will we begin to lesson plan for the next visit based on their needs and focus on our desire to help them progress?  Did we tell the message vs. teach it?  Did we teach in unity?  Do they know our purpose of why we teach them in the first place?  Do you teach with power and authority?  Astonish, awaken?

(2) Missionaries who forget their purpose might “open their mouths” and engage in finding activities to fill the teaching pool with a particular number of bodies without seeking and listening to the Spirit to discern who is feeling the Spirit as they talk. Finding will be focused on numbers without reference to the potential for conversion.

As you consider this point, ask yourself…  Do we set goals and plan to find everyday?  Do we open our mouths with everyone? Do we use time wisely and ask for referrals from everyone?  Do we remember why we are finding in the first place and do we keep this as our motivator and focus?

(3) Without the missionary purpose in mind, the daily planner is likely to serve simply as a schedule and appointment calendar. However, with the purpose uppermost, the planner will become a tool for ensuring that the things that need to happen to produce an outcome, that is, to bring about conversion and baptism, are, in fact, identified, remembered, and made to happen with regard to each individual investigator. Otherwise, a missionary is likely to fall into the trap of thinking that the measure of his success is busyness.

I will sing the praises of goal setters and planners for all my days…  Do we remember that goal setting is about helping people progress towards the saving ordinances?  Do our goals reflect the desires of our hearts and are we passionate and tenacious until we achieve them each day/week/month?  Do our plans focus on helping people progress?  Do we use the 13 steps and ask ourselves the questions that allow for the Spirit to guide our efforts?  Do we find ourselves trying to fill time (schedule) vs focus on our purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ?

(4) A missionary who has internalized his purpose will look forward to his daily opportunity to feast upon the word of God because his study will have purpose. He will be searching for answers to his investigators’ questions of the soul, as well as his own. He will be looking for guidance on how to teach and lead investigators in the path of repentance. Without this sense of purpose, a missionary is likely to be less enthusiastic about individual and companion study. While he may devote the time, it will be without the fire that could later imbue his teaching with the spirit of revelation and prophecy. (See Alma 17:2–3; 43:2; D&C 11:21, 25–26.)

The glory of God is intelligence… Do you have the self-mastery to study each day and to treasure up the words that the Spirit will bring to your remembrance when you need it?  Is your companionship study focused on the people as you lesson plan and create companionship unity in your teaching.  Do you love "Aha" moments as you study for yourself and others?  Do you desire to know the doctrine and the scriptures well enough to become an instrument for the Spirit?  

(5) A missionary might go through the motions of inviting people to attend Church because he believes that that is what missionaries are supposed to do. However, when the missionary purpose is burning in his heart, the missionary understands that participation in Church is essential for the investigator to develop a stronger desire for baptism and to establish a foundation for enduring to the end in the gospel covenant. With the ultimate purpose in mind, the invitation to attend Church will have greater urgency, the explanation of the importance of Sabbath worship and what to expect in an LDS Sunday service will be different, the spirit that attends the missionaries’ words will have a persuasive power that would not otherwise be present.

With the Sabbath day invitation, and all other invitations, do you help the investigators know what's at stake?  Have you planned bold invitations for each lesson and prepared for how you will invite and follow up?  

Elders & Sisters, my invitation to you today is to "Begin with the End in Mind" or to always keep your purpose in mind as you focus on your efforts to help others come unto Christ.  The points above can be a great indicator to you on how well you have the missionary purpose written on your heart.  Elder Christofferson counsels… "It will be a continuing challenge for you and for your missionaries to keep clear the distinction between the purpose, on the one hand, and the means used to achieve the purpose, on the other hand. It is so easy for the means to become the end, for us to lose ourselves in missionary activities such that they become ends in themselves. For example, as you teach the missionaries in different aspects of the work, they may begin to act as if their purpose is to teach lessons, or to talk to anyone and everyone they can about the Church, or to set goals and make plans. These things and others taught in Preach My Gospel are important activities, vitally important, and you need to help missionaries become good at them, but unless the missionaries consistently see and use them as means to an end—bringing people to Christ—they will concentrate on the activity as their purpose rather than conversion."

Let us all keep our vision and effort to baptize in mind.  Keep looking for those small areas where you can improve each day.  Let me help and bless you along the way, we are in this work together.  We love you and we are so grateful for your service, devotion, growth, and desire to help others come unto Christ.  

Mission Update

We had 13 souls enter the waters of baptism this week to receive a remission of their sins!  We are blessed to have the Lord preparing hearts.   A shout out to all those that stay faithful in finding…  We have a companionship this week that after several weeks of struggling to find, found five new investigators, and they didn't go home or quit until they had reached their goals.  This is the tenacity that is required in our discipleship.  Keep your faith, be persistent, do all you can, the Lord will take care of the rest.  A big thanks to all those who have given hours of service to the flood victims in our area, a great way to bless those around us!  Love ya!

President Hall