President's Pen 2-13-17 (Urgency!)

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,

We love ya!  What a great opportunity we had to learn from Elder and Sister Zwick last week.  We were blessed by their experience and example and it now falls upon each of us to follow their good counsel.  Two important priorities stand out in my mind…  We must become more powerful teachers as we simplify the message and testify boldly.  We must also be clean and obedient if we expect the Lord to give us the success we desire.  We know the Savior’s Atonement is real for all of us and we must apply it in our lives if we want to teach it with power.  I am energized and know that all of you will continue to do your best each day!

“Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” (D&C 88:73)  A well-known scripture for our times and one that living prophets and apostles have quoted often in the last several years.  To hasten means to be quick to do something or to move or travel hurriedly or to cause (something) to happen sooner than it otherwise would. 

It’s important to note from this verse of scripture that the Lord will hasten His work, not usElder Bednar asked three important question about the Lord hastening his work, “Will we keep pace? Will we as individuals and collectively as a church keep pace with the Lord’s hastening? Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?  If we always do what we have always done, then we will always get what we have always gotten. May I suggest that what we have always done and always gotten were good in their time but we need to improve as the Lord is quickening the pace. The Lord’s hastening of His work requires us continuously to learn, to change, and to press forward with faith in the Savior.”

I love this teaching from Elder Bednar and it causes me to reflect on whether or not I am keeping pace.  The Lord clearly can do this work without me, so the question is will I keep up or fall behind?  Will I do it the Lord’s way or mine?  Will I stay with what is comfortable or will I get out of the way and do what He’s asking of me?  I can affirmatively say that I want to be at the pace the Lord is running and I know that His grace is sufficient for me to keep up!

Why is hastening important to us?  Elder Zwick shared some very insight thoughts with me following his tour with us and the single greatest impression that I received from our discussions is we all need to increase our pace!  He shared that we have great missionaries, some of the best, and he doesn’t share this compliment widely.  He sees you as obedient, good teachers, worthy of your call, and striving to get better.  What he did notice, however, was a lack of urgency or desire to make things happen now!  Specifically, he cited what he perceived as weak goal setting and plans.  He heard missionaries share goals, but felt as if they were empty and something we just do versus something we truly desire and give our all to accomplish.  He was hoping to see more passion, more drive, more diligence, more tenacity, more urgency!

I reflected on his comments and take full responsibility to make sure I am driving a culture where we not only desire to teach repentance and baptize converts, but that we are urgent about it.  Consider why we need to be urgent as you read the words of Elder Carlos Asay, “The imperative duty to share the gospel takes on greater urgency when we understand that our salvation is intertwined with the salvation of others. “Heaven’s gate is shut to him who comes alone; Save thou a soul, and it shall save thy own” (John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Two Rabbis”). It was President John Taylor who warned: “God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty” (Journal of Discourses 20:23). This warning must not be taken lightly.”

If we are to serve with real intent and full purpose of heart, we need to keep the pace the Lord is setting for us.  This will be evident in your weekly efforts to find.  If you have very few investigators in your teaching pool, and I see no new investigators for the week, I might ask myself whether or not I have the urgency to seek out those the Lord has prepared.  If you have several investigators, but very few progressing or coming to church, I might ask myself if I have the urgency to help them attend church or keep commitments.  If you have several investigators and no one with a baptismal date, I might ask myself if I am being bold in my invitations and urgent about my desire to help them receive a remission of sins.  If you are setting monthly baptismal goals, but aren’t seeing the fruit of your efforts, I might ask myself if it is a real goal and if I have the urgency to do all required to help someone come unto Christ.  You shouldn’t accept a week where you don’t find someone to teach, unless you are literally bone tired at the end of every night having given your all.  You shouldn’t settle for investigators not coming to church or keeping commitments.  You shouldn’t settle for a month where you don’t teach repentance and baptize converts.  The Lord has people prepared for us, and because we know He’s hastening His work, He expects you to do your part.

If we are to keep pace we must have greater urgency and excitement to do the Lord’s work.  Our goal is to see people come unto Christ as they increase their faith in the Savior and apply His Atonement.  We want to see people change and shake the burden of sin and guilt as they are baptized.  We want to see people have the Holy Ghost guide and bless them as they make and keep all covenants so they can qualify to live with God.  This is not a passive or mindless assignment; we are talking about your salvation and the salvation of others!  You must have a real goal and committed plan each month, week, and day to do the Lord’s work.  You are all called, set apart, qualified, and given the authority to teach with power, awaken souls, and we must do it with greater resolve and faith in the Savior. 

Elders & Sisters, my invitation to you today is to keep the Lord’s pace!  We can no longer insist on doing things as they’ve always been done.  You have a new schedule, use every moment of it wisely, you have been given greater trust, strive to keep it.  The Lord is with you in the vineyard, he has suffered that you would come to this area, we are in the 11th hour, and there is simply no time for lack of effort.  I expect your best every day!  I expect you to have faith in the Savior to find!  I expect you to work with the members!  I expect you to be exactly obedient and worthy! I expect the Lord to give us success when He sees that we’re doing our part!  Every one of you are becoming His disciples, His true followers, believe that He will bless you.  I KNOW we can give more and I am committed to doing it with you!  I love ya, God loves ya and His work is being hastened!  We will keep the pace!

President Hall