President's Pen 3-27-17 (Unity)

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,

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)   A great question and one for each of us to ponder as we serve together in the Lord’s work.  As we are taught by the Lord, “And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.  And ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (D&C 42:6-7) 

Just before the Savior’s Atonement, He prayed for His disciples, whom He had sent into the world to teach the gospel. As he prayed, he pled for them to have unity: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”.  (John 17:21) Unity, as we go two by two, preaching the gospel in the Savior’s name, is a requirement for us to be able to raise our voices like a trump, declaring repentance and a remission of sins through baptism. 

It is no surprise to me that the Savior would plead with the Father that His disciples would be unified given their natural and fallen state.  Each disciple had come from different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Fishermen, a publican, tradesmen, and a tent maker (Paul) would come together with their own views, opinions, and desires, but to be part of the Lord’s work, they had to come together as one.  If they were divided in their purpose and efforts, the Savior’s newly established Church would have had little hope to survive as each man might succumb to doing their own thing and in their own way.  This band of new disciples stood strong together and went forth two by two teaching all nations. “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power…” (Mark 6:7)

The scriptures repeatedly teach the principle of unity: It is good for brethren to dwell together in unity, (Ps. 133:1)  I and my Father are one, (D&C 50:43)  I beseech you that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together, (1 Cor. 1:10) Be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, (2 Ne. 1:21) Saints should have their hearts knit together in unity, (Mosiah 18:21) The disciples were united in mighty prayer and fasting, (3 Ne. 27:1) The Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind.  (Moses 7:18)

As the scriptures teach so well, unity is how we are to serve.  The Savior declared, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)  His charge to us is not to be underestimated as He clearly tells us, if we are not unified, we are not His.  In no uncertain terms, if we are divided, we can’t do His work, have His Spirit, or effectively declare His truths.  You, like the disciples of old, come together from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.  You are unique individuals who have been blessed with distinct talents and abilities.  These differences are important as it allows you to connect with others as you teach and share the gospel, but you can’t do this work alone nor without unity. 

Speaking of differences, President Eyring taught an important truth, “The children of God have more in common than they have differences. And even the differences can be seen as an opportunity. God will help us see a difference in someone else not as a source of irritation but as a contribution. The Lord can help you see and value what another person brings which you lack. More than once the Lord has helped me see His kindness in giving me association with someone whose difference from me was just the help I needed. That has been the Lord’s way of adding something I lacked to serve Him better.”

All too often Elders & Sisters, I see companionships that could take a lesson from President Eyring and from the apostles of old and learn to work together in unity.  I often hear statements such as, “we’re just so different from one another”, or “we have nothing in common”, or “I’m the only one who…(fill in the blank here).”  I know of contention on simple matters such as: what we’ll do for pday, what time we’ll go to bed or start our planning in the morning, what we’ll do for exercise, when and what we’ll eat.  I also observe companionships who refuse to have companionship inventory, and instead of talking things out, remain silent, let issues build, and carry that spirit with them into the work.  The outcome: hurt feelings, cold shoulders, quick to anger, anxious to criticize, and slow to love and forgive.  This approach will never work and will clearly hinder the work. As the Savior taught, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

Equally damaging and unappealing is any missionary that speaks poorly of other missionaries, who bullies, makes fun of, is unkind, condescending and quick to criticize.  If this is a part of you or your behavior, I invite you to remember who you are, who you serve, and to repent.  We are all in this work together and we should follow the counsel of Paul given to the Ephesians by always, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Elder & Sisters, I invite you to look within your heart to determine if you are one that unifies or divides.  Are you a peacemaker, or is it more important for you to be right, rather than do what is right?  Are you courageous enough to have a loving and kind conversation with your companion when there are important things to be said (obedience issues, desire to do the work, equally yoked, or anything else that divides)? Do you hold companionship study so you can teach in unity and by the Spirit?  Can you put aside selfish desires for the greater good and yield to the enticing’s of the Spirit when the natural man wants to rage?  Are you one that is found praising, encouraging, showing patience, and helping?  I honor and love the peacemakers among us who can get along with everyone and can see people for who they are, beloved children of God. What a blessing it is for each of us to work on our Christlike attributes and seek to become as the Savior is.  He is the exemplar of unity and peace! Two will always walk together more purposefully, effectively, and happily when “they be agreed”.  I testify that this is a true principle and invite you to follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philip 1:27) Love ya!

President Hall