President's Pen 3-13-17 (Agents to Act)

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!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  Thanks for your great work this past week and for your focus on our purpose and our message.  The blessing of inviting and helping others repent is that we are changed in the process as well.  Keep up your tenacious, real intent, full purpose of heart efforts.  The Lord loves you and He is always at your side. 

I have taken some time recently to reflect on the great blessing of agency and accountability.  Both are wonderful principles that bless my life and help me continuously improve. I love that our Father in Heaven puts no limits on our potential and that I can do and become whatever I put my heart and mind to.  The only limitations to my growth are the stumbling blocks I put in my own path and they usually come in the form halfhearted efforts or a lack of self-discipline.   The natural man is an enemy to God and will always be so.  I am grateful, however, to know that the power is within me to overcome the natural man as I listen to the enticing’s of the Spirit and apply the Savior’s Atonement.

What I love about these days of missionary work is the trust and love the Lord has for this generation of missionaries.  No longer are you scripted, no longer is a precise schedule dictated to you, you are indeed a unique generation and fully enabled agents.  We of course are given guidelines, but you are given freedom to act, to plan, to study, and to use all the spiritual blessings you’ve been endowed with to help all come unto Christ.

As we begin this transfer, I want to reemphasize the importance of your ability to own your outcomes, choose freedom and eternal life or misery and captivity.  You are an agent unto yourself and you’ll decide if the glass is half empty, half full, or if you’re just grateful you have a glass! To avoid the perils of agency gone wrong, I again share with you the anti-responsibility list.  You review it each day as part of your companionship studies and I’m hopeful you are finding that you are moving further and further away from its deceptive and harmful effects.  The world is full of prideful and unpleasant individuals who sadly use this list as the defender of all that has gone wrong, what will go wrong, or that might go wrong, instead of just owning up, repenting, and striving to become better.  If it is to be, it is up to me!  Read these again and I invite you to identify those that easily beset you, repent, and make the necessary changes to be 100% accountable and 100% responsible…

Blame Others – Saul blames others for his disobedience. “But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen” (1 Sam 15:21) – Never my fault syndrome, bad area, bad companion, bad members, bad leaders, bad weather, bad you name it…

Self-Justify – Saul justifies his disobedience. “to sacrifice unto the Lord… And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?”   (1 Sam 15:21-22)  I worked hard yesterday, no one else keeps this rule, it’s the spirit of the law that matters, too tired…

Make Excuses – Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? (1 Nephi 3:31) Not my fault, not my responsibility, the ward doesn’t help, the ward mission leader isn’t involved, no one is helping us find, I’m the junior companion, not my concern…

Hide – “And Adam and Eve went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord” Moses (4:14) Avoid responsibility, in the apartment too long, don’t like accountability, hang out in the car, spend too much time with the same members…

Cover Up – The Prophet Nathan rebukes David: “Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword … and hast taken his wife to be thy wife … For thou didst it secretly” (2 Sam 12:9, 12)  Cover up the past and the present, see disobedience that should be corrected but don’t act, it’s not my problem…

Flee/Avoid – “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3) This won’t work, I can’t do this, won’t hold companionship inventory, choose not to address the problem, no solutions, only problems given…

Abandon – Alma to his son Corianton: “Thou didst do that what which was grievous to me; for thou didst forsake the ministry” (Alma 39:3) Go through the motions, mind elsewhere, don’t care, no purpose, companion has to drag you along…

Deny/Lie – “And Saul said… I have performed the commandment of the Lord.  And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears…” (1 Sam 15:13, 14) I say this, do that, not me, not us, rationalize the past, hypocritical, fudge the key indicators…

Rebel – Samuel rebukes Saul.  “For rebellion… Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Sam 15:23) I don’t care for mission leadership, I have a better way, this doesn’t apply to me, this is lame, they don’t do this in other missions…

Complain/Murmur – “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and… said… Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!” (Num 14:2)  Why this rule, why that rule, this ward/branch, these leaders, these reports, my companion, this area, this bike, this weather…

Find Fault/Get Angry – “And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel” (1 Ne 3:28) My companion this, my area that, I’ve had enough, unkind, rude, sarcastic, …

Make Demands/Entitlement – “We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.  And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness” (1 Ne 18:10, 11)  I’m the senior companion, I’ve been out for so long, I should be this or that, unless the member help, I’ve always done it this way, I’m right…

Doubt/Despair/Give Up/Lose Hope/Quit -- “they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; for they did not believe that I could build a ship” (1 Ne 17:17-18)  This area is dead, members won’t help, when I’m not your companion, when I get transferred…

Wallow in Self-Pity -- Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy. (1 Ne 17:21) I’m not as good, I compare, I don’t have these talents, my area is the worst, I can’t learn this…

Undecided --  “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21)  Not sure this is for me, this is not what I expected, the grass is greener…

Procrastinate – “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late” (Hel 13:38) I’ll get around to it, I’ll study that later, I’ll put in minimal effort, I’ll get around to planning or studying or working with the members, MONKEY J

Enable – Eli does not discipline his sons for their sins: “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and… honourest thy sons above me…?” (1 Sam 2:22, 29) I see disobedience in others, but do nothing about it, allow others to break the rules, follow the crowd instead of doing what’s right…

Fear – “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth… His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant” (Matt 25:25-26) I can’t OYM, I’m not good enough, I’m inadequate, I don’t speak well enough, I don’t want to offend my companion…

The source of all the points above come from one simple word, PRIDE!  It destroys a nation, a people, a family, and for certain individuals. As disciples of Christ, who are becoming more and more like Him each day, I invite you to embrace your agency, take full accountability, choose to be responsible and make the necessary changes.  We all suffer from points on this list from time to time, and yet the more we focus on improving, the better we become.  Don’t settle for the natural man, fight it, push through it, crush it, and use the Savior’s grace to help you.  

Elders & Sisters, agency is a blessing and a gift beyond compare.  Use it wisely and be grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has entrusted you to deliver the message of His gospel.  He calls the weak and yet enables us with divine help and strength at every turn if we but come unto Him and humble ourselves.  The only true gift you have to give to Him, that he hasn’t already given you, is your will, your agency, and your heart.  He will never demand it, take it way, or control you in any way shape or form.  What’s incredible to me is the more I give in, give up, and let go, the more free, happy, and blessed I feel.  I know this is a true principle.  Let us all choose the path the brings happiness and lasting joy by be agents to act versus being acted upon!  Love ya!

President Hall