President's Pen 2-20-17 (High Expectations)

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! Thanks for the wonderful interviews this past week. I always walk away feeling like we truly have the best missionaries in the world!

In the Gospel of Luke, the Savior teaches a principle that we all know to be true… “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”  As members of God’s true and living Church, the standards and expectations we are given are not for the faint of heart.  We are asked to give our will to God through our obedience, to sacrifice the things of the world as we bless and serve others, to consecrate our time and talents to build up the kingdom of God.  Membership in Christ’s Church elevates us, refines us, stretches us, and helps us become more than we could have ever imagined.  As missionaries, you are learning that much is required and that the standards for excellence are constant and enduring. 

Because you have been given much, much is expected of you...  You are expected to live the standards of the Church at the highest levels as faithful and consecrated covenant keepers.  You are expected to keep a rigorous schedule that requires self-discipline. You are expected to set goals that help people progress towards saving ordinances and make detailed plans to see your goals through.  You are expected to treasure up the word of God through focused studies and gospel living.  You are expected to live with a companion with whom you are required to develop unity and purpose.  You are expected to establish relationships with local members and leaders and to earn their trust.  You are expected to open your mouth, overcome fear, and find those the Lord has prepared for you to teach.  You are expected to be worthy of the Spirit so you can teach with power and authority.  You are expected to invite people to change their lives, to be baptized, and to endure the end.   You are expected to work a full and productive day and to do it again, and again, day after day.  In short, you are expected to become true disciples of Christ, willing to do His work, serve with all your hearts, and do it willingly and gratefully.  Much is required of you…

You might ask the question of why the expectations put on you are high and at times uncomfortable.  Here’s a real-life example of what high expectations did for a group of average students…   Several years ago, there was a famous research study conducted by a Harvard professor named Robert Rosenthal.  In this study, a group of 18 elementary school teachers gave their students a special test that Rosenthal put together. The test predicted which children were primed for a boost in IQ over the next few years.

The catch, of course, was that it was not a special test at all. It was just a general IQ test with a fancy sounding name, but the teachers didn't know this. Once the results came back, Rosenthal picked a random group of students from each classroom and told the teachers that these students were “bloomers” that were predicted to blossom into brilliant students.  In reality, there was nothing different about these students from their peers.

A few months later, the students were given another IQ test. The results were astounding. Students who were labeled as “bloomers” (even though they were simply average students to begin with) scored significantly higher on IQ tests than their peers.  Why did this happen?

Researchers have discovered that the improvement was due to the different way that the teachers treated the students that they expected to succeed. Compared to the other children in the class, the “bloomers” were given more feedback, allowed more time for answering questions, and generally received more smiles, nods, and gestures of approval from their teachers.  In other words, when a teacher treated a student as if they were destined to become smart (even if they were average to start with), the student became smart.

How does this apply to you? Your Father in Heaven expects you to return to live with Him.  He sees you as you will be, not as you are today.  He sees all as capable of achieving immortality and eternal life.  He gives extra attention, demanding assignments, positive feedback, kindly correction, unlimited blessings, and very high standards.  As His spirit sons and daughters, He expects you to become like Him and the heights we need to reach cannot be achieved if He were to demand something less.  Like the students in the classroom, you are destined for greatness and He expects you to succeed!

As for my expectations of you, I see you as the Sons of Mosiah, the Apostle Paul, and Alma the Younger; phenomenal missionaries.  I see you for what you can become and it would be unfair to you if I see you as something less.  I expect you to live the doctrine of Christ and come to understand why this is your purpose.  I expect you to find every week those the Lord has prepared.  I expect you to work with the members and invite them to act.  I expect you to help people progress and follow up as they keep commitments and repent.  I expect you to teach repentance and baptize converts each month and help build the kingdom.  I expect you to have faith and hope in the Lord’s work. I expect you to be exactly obedient and worthy.  I expect you to be accountable for your efforts and to reach the mission standards of excellence (3-2-1 Vision to Baptize).  I expect you to do the Lord’s work in His way and become Preach My Gospel missionaries.  Yes, I expect a lot, but I also know the same is expected of me.  We have been given much and much is required…

Some missionaries might look at the high expectations and feel their knees buckle and succumb to the pressure of inadequacy, but it needn’t be so.  When missionaries come to understand who they are as sons and daughters of God, the spiritual endowments they’ve received (temple blessings & Holy Ghost), the power and authority they’ve been given through their calling, and the recognition that they never do this work on their own, expectations simply become possibilities for greatness.  You + Christ = Becoming Perfected in Him, Eternal Life & Endless Joy.  I’m so happy that much is expected of me!   

Elders & Sisters, I want you to recognize that high expectations are a blessing and a reminder of who you are and who you will become. The expectations our Heavenly Father has set for us are realistic and obtainable.  You will not be asked to run faster than you are able, but you will be asked to run!!! We need not worry that we won’t achieve all expectations in this life, what is expected is that we keep improving, keep working, keep striving, and keep moving forward.  If we set our expectations low, what then do we become, something far less than our potential.  You are destined for greatness and the expectations put upon you as missionaries will help you become true converts, incredible husbands and wives, amazing fathers and mothers, and consecrated, faithful members of the Savior’s true Church.  Expect more of yourself, expect more of your efforts, expect to be humbled, expect that the Savior’s grace is sufficient for you in your weakness. Expect bumps in the road, chasms to cross, hard and difficult days, but also expect that all things will work towards your good.  We get what we expect! Expect more, expect greatness, expect to become who the Lord knows you will become.  Much is given, much is required.  We love you with all our hearts!

President Hall