President's Pen 4-17-17 (Look & Behold)

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,

We love ya!  Thanks for your diligent work and tireless efforts as you shared the #PrinceofPeace initiative.   The Savior truly does bring peace to our lives and the message we share will continue to calm troubled hearts and lost souls.   I loved the following quote from Elder Callister as we have been studying the Savior’s Atonement this month… “The doctrine of the Atonement is the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe will ever know. It is this doctrine that gives life and breath and substance to every gospel principle and ordinance. It is the spiritual reservoir that feeds the streams of faith, provides the cleansing powers to the waters of baptism, and supplies the healing balm to the wounded soul. It is the focal point of the sacrament, temple, and other gospel ordinances. It is the rock foundation upon which all hope in this life and eternity is predicated.”

In our recent MLC, I shared a leadership principle that is taught as Nephi is given the vision of the tree of life.  In 1 Nephi 13:1 we read, “And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked beheld…”  This is one of many instances where Nephi is asked by the angel of the Lord to, “look and behold”.  By looking and beholding, Nephi demonstrates his obedience and has his eyes and mind opened to the path that leads to eternal life. 

When you apply this principle to leadership, you will find that “looking and beholding” allows you to minister more personally, understand more deeply, and lead more effectively.  In the case of Nephi, he clearly understood what it would take for his people to commence, catch hold, cling to, and continually stay by the tree by “looking and beholding”.  Imagine the power that would come into your missionary work if you were to focus on “looking and beholding” your investigators the way our Father in Heaven and Savior do…

To apply specific context to the leadership principle of “looking and beholding”, I shared our mission key indicators with the leadership and asked them to “look and behold”.  Why, because our key indicators can open our eyes and minds to see how the doctrine of Christ is being applied by our investigators and by us as missionaries.  Study the graphic below and “look and behold” how the doctrine of Christ, the key indicators, and missionaries proselyting attributes are all intertwined…

We know that all things are centered in Christ and that faith in Him and His Atonement is found in everything we do.  Our responsibility as missionaries is to invite other to come unto Christ and help increase their faith in Him.   A successful day will always point to the Savior, His love, His example, and His call for us to follow Him.  His name should always be on our lips as we boldly and lovingly represent Him.  A successful day will always include our desire to help someone change and turn back to God.  A successful day will always include how we helped someone prepare to make and keep sacred covenants.  A successful day will always include how we helped someone feel and recognize the Spirit.  A successful day will always include helping someone find the tree and stay there! Every day can be a day full of success!

Now follow how the doctrine of Christ, the key indicators, and a missionaries’ proselyting attributes work together…

“Look and Behold” the principle of faith … As we come to understand that our purpose is to increase our faith and the faith of others in the Savior and His Atonement, we will have a greater desire to share it.  An indication of our desire to share it will be found in the number of people we talk to and invite to listen to the message each day.  An indication of their desire to hear more about what we teach will be found in their desire to have us come back and learn more, a new investigator.  The way we come find new investigators begins with our faith in the Savior and His work.  We then demonstrate our faith by setting goals and making plans to find people to teach each day.  We demonstrate our faith by diligently going to work and by using our time wisely and by talking to all who will listen.  Because of our faith, we strive to improve our skills in finding and connecting with people (members, less active, part-members, investigators, formers, referrals, door/street contacts) as we desire to be instruments that the Lord can use towards his vision, goal, and plan.   Faith leads us to FIND!

What does this mean in a practical sense?  If I’m you, I’d “look and behold” what I do each day to determine if my faith in the Savior and His Atonement leads me to want to find people every day and if my planning, diligence, and skills are in alignment with my faith.  We find that the key indicator of “new investigators” is simply the status of a person (their desire to learn more and have us come back) and that our faith and proselyting skills leads lead us to finding them. 

As we are all agents to act, if I were to call you during the week and ask you about how your finding is going, I would “look & behold” as to the strength of your faith, and then ask you questions about your planning, diligence, and missionary skills.  Perhaps there needs to be some sharpening in one or more of the proselyting attributes.  We might find that your faith is low, or that your planning isn’t specific enough, or that your diligence and tenacity isn’t sufficient, or that we could improve your finding skills.  We might find that you’re simply not opening your mouth enough each day. We might also find that you’re doing all you can do and that the trial of your faith is being tested.  Whatever it might be, we would find an opportunity to refocus on our purpose, and then apply the doctrine of Christ, specifically faith in the Savior, to your finding efforts and desires…

Let’s “look and behold” repentance…  As faith is increased, our desire to change and become more like the Savior also increases.  We desire to teach these principles and an indication of true repentance begins as new investigators transition to progressing investigators as they read, ponder, pray and keep the commandments.  An indication of their repentance can be seen as they accept baptismal dates and join us at church.  A critical element to help them repent is to involve members who can strengthen and help these investigators stay on the path.  These are all key indicators that point to the doctrine of repentance and they indicate whether or not the person is willing to change.  Equally important is the missionary attribute of teaching repentance effectively.  Our proselyting skills are again demonstrated as we set goals and plan to help them change.  We see as we study and treasure up each day, in our companion study, and in our lesson plans.  We also strive to help them repent as we teach simply, testify powerfully, invite boldly, promise blessings, and following up (T.T.I.P.F.).

Again, we can “look and behold” how the doctrine of Christ (repentance), is tied to the key indicators (progressing investigators, church, member lessons, and baptism dates), and how our proselyting attributes (planning, study, companionship study, and teaching skills) are linked.  As we are agents to act, if you are finding that few of your investigators are progressing, we would could review proselyting attributes that you might need to improve.  Are we teaching simply, testifying powerfully, inviting boldly, promising specific blessings, and following up every day?  Are you using members, are you doing all you can to be prepared to teach and testify?

To be brief in writing, I’ll stop at repentance as we analyze how the doctrine of Christ, the key indicators, and a missionaries’ proselyting attributes all work together, but I invite you to follow the same pattern for baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Can you “look and behold” how all things are centered in Christ and how everything we do, measure, and seek to improve ties back to the Savior, His doctrine, and His way?

Elders and Sisters, I share the concept of “looking and beholding” with you for a few reasons.  First, the doctrine of Christ is our purpose and message and it is the center of everything we do.  We need to examine if this is what motivates us as we invite and help all to come unto Christ. Second, key indicators reflect a person’s progress and journey as they come unto Christ.  Missionaries who talk about the numbers miss the point that key indicators are about people and their progress, not about the missionary. It is true that the key indicators may demonstrate a missionary’s effort to help an investigator progress, but it is always about a person, not a number.  Third, proselyting skills and attributes are critical in helping people progress (key indicators) and are essential if we want to help people on the path and the only way back to the Father and the Son (doctrine of Christ). You can “look and behold” how you’re doing in each of these three important elements of missionary work.  Do you love and understand your purpose (doctrine of Christ)?  Do you do all you can to invite and help investigators progress (key indicators)? Do you do all you can to improve your missionary attributes to help all come unto Christ (skills)? We teach repentance and baptize converts as we know it is the only way for mankind to be saved and inherit the blessings of the celestial kingdom.  I invite you to review these principles and discuss with your companion what you might need to do to progress in one or all three, they indeed work together!  I testify in the name of the Savior that great things can be brought to pass as we “look and behold”.  As disciples of Christ, we are each on a mission to become as the Savior is and the Spirit will speak to your heart and mind those things you can do to more effectively today to serve in the Lord’s work!  Love ya!

President Hall