President's Pen 1-2-17 (Time)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

Happy New Year, we love ya!  I know you each have a vision, goal, and plan for the things you want to accomplish in 2017.  As an agent, you are the architect of your life and the power is in you to achieve greatness.  The Savior’s Atonement enables you to become whatever you desire and reach any goal you set your mind to.  Recognize your worth, your divine nature, trust in your Heavenly Father, and accomplish great things this year!

As mortals on the earth we measure everything in time. It is the most precious commodity we have and the one we can’t store, bottle up, or save for another day.  Time is fleeting and we can’t get it back or make it stand still and that reality only becomes more apparent as we get older (I’m still 21 so all good here :).  In the scriptures we are taught, “And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” (Alma 42:4)  With that probationary time we are taught that, “…it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity. For he who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father.”  Simply put, our time on earth matters and how we use that time will make all the difference in the eternities. 

You all know the missionary cliché, “Do you make your time count or do you count your time?”  How you choose to use your time will largely be based on your understanding of your missionary purpose.  How you use your time will also be an indicator of how focused you are as you plan and prioritize.  There is no reason to wonder then why there is a full chapter in Preach My Gospel focused on how we are to, “Use Time Wisely”.  As missionaries, we are given this charge from the Lord, “Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.” (D&C 60:13)  For many, managing their time is a constant struggle and in some cases goes toward things that simply are of no consequence.

With a new year and a new and improved missionary schedule, I wanted you to see a visual representation of where your time goes in an average week (see attached chart).  The simple math is 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week,  168 total hours each week.  Here is the breakdown of the major activities you participate in each week as a missionary…

·         Sleeping -- A whopping 33% of your week is spent with your eyes closed.  That’s 8 hours of sleep each day and some may choose to get a little more.  The Lord counsels us, “cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:124)

·         Eating -- Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner 8% of your week is spent preparing and eating.  It adds up in a big way, but clearly needful and important for us to be good stewards.   Do you eat the right foods to give you the energy you need throughout the day?

·         Personal Study – You have a small 4% of your week (and day) that is spent in personal study. If you don’t use that one precious hour of your day wisely, imagine what you’ll miss out on.  Hard to believe we might struggle to stay focused on the one thing we get to take with us when we leave this life; light and intelligence.  Can you be wiser with this all-important study time?

·         Companion Study – Equally small is the amount of time (4%) you have to prepare as companions to teach in unity.  Sadly, some companionships don’t make this time meaningful and yet it is so powerful when we teach with a plan and the end in mind.  How do you use this time?

·         Meetings – You spend approximately 5% of your time in meetings each week, including your church and district meetings.  I have also accounted for time you spend with your ward councils, mission leaders, and correlation meetings.  Do you make your meeting time count?

·         Exercise -- Amazingly you only spend 2% of your week exercising.  Some of you get the added benefit of riding and walking during the day, but real exercise is such a small part of your day and week.  The benefits of mental, physical, and emotional health are scientifically documented and yet some don’t take the time to break a sweat.  You are developing a lifetime habit of well-being.  Can you use this time more effectively?

·         Service – Ideally you are spending at least 10 hours a week in service, only 6% of your time.  Missionaries that are regularly serving are far happier than those that avoid it.  Ideal hours to serve are between 10am and 12pm or even 2pm to 4pm.  Get out and serve, it is time well spent!

·         Planning (Daily & Weekly) – Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  How you use your time will be managed and prioritized by the effectiveness of your plan.  President Hall once said, “A missionary without a plan will not use their time wisely.” ;) You only take 4% of your time each week to plan, including weekly planning.  O be wise and plan, what more can I say!

·         Preparation Day – You are given 6% of your week to prepare for the week to come.  How you organize and use this time can make all the difference.  Have some fun, get needful things accomplished (shopping, laundry, cleaning, email) and mentally prepare for the week ahead.                

·         Proselyting (Find, Teach, Invite) – After we do all the above we are left with only 28% of our week to find, teach, and invite others to come unto Christ. If you account for travel time during these hours the amount of time you are truly teaching and inviting is relatively small.  A wise missionary might get in a good seven hours or more of proselyting each day.  Those that use these hours wisely are focused on their purpose and feel the greatest joy.  This is invaluable time that we can never get back if wasted. The Lord commands us not to idle away our time, your planning makes all the difference here. 

Are you surprised by where your time goes each week and how it might be spent?  Does the insight above give you a greater desire to develop more self mastery and use your time more wisely?  During your full-time mission you only have 730/548 days to do the Lords work.  That is only 17,520/13,140 hours in total and every one of them can make a difference in helping someone receive salvation.  Even when you’re sleeping you can use this time to dream of teaching repentance and baptizing converts! ;)

Elders & Sisters, the time you spend on your mission is a small 2%/1.6% of your total mortal existence (assuming you live to 90).  As it says in the Missionary Handbook, “Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given you. The period when you are able to serve the Lord with all your time and all your efforts is extremely short. Use it fully and wisely. Such an opportunity is a privilege.”  As you may have heard said, you only have 2 years or 18 months to serve a mission and the rest of your life to think about it.  I invite you to evaluate how and where you spend your time.  You are agents to act and the power is within you to improve if needed.  I pray that we will serve with all of heart, might, mind, and strength and use our time to its fullest each and every day.  Love ya!

Mission Update

We had a phenomenal month and had nearly 50 souls come unto Christ to receive a remission of their sins!  All of these new converts need a friend, a responsibility and continued nourishment.  Please do all you can to make sure they get the new convert lessons; we are responsible to teach them.  Make a goal and plan to get them to the new convert temple night in January.  Keep the great work coming and let’s use the valuable time we have to continue finding, teaching, and inviting all to come unto Christ.