President's Pen 7-17-17 (Excellence!)

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 se 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! Each transfer brings the opportunity to recommit, refocus, and rededicate our efforts to serving the Lord.  As you begin this new transfer, set worthy goals and make effective plans that help you accomplish your purpose to invite and help others come unto Christ. Believe and trust that the Savior is in the vineyard with you!  Resolve to find every week this transfer, to teach repentance with power and authority, and to prepare God’s children to receive baptism and a remission of their sins.  

“Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.”  These words have echoed in my mind over and over since Elder Holland spoke them so powerfully at the most recent general conference.  Our Father in Heaven’s desire for us is not to remain as we are or become average, adequate, or mediocre, but immortal and endowed with power and glory; just like He is.  

The phrase, “Don’t plan to stay as you are”, speaks to me at a personal level and invites me to look within my soul, change and repent, and strive for excellence.  I am, after all, a son of God and He did not send me to the earth to fail nor fall short of my divine potential.  He wants me to be excellent, not average!  I don’t believe there is a soul that comes to this beautiful planet that wants to achieve less that their divine destiny, but sadly, we find souls all over this planet that have come to the belief that average is good enough and that mediocrity is sufficient.  We, however, need not fall into the trap of the world, as was spoken so well by Paul to the Corinthians, “yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor.12:31) What is the more excellent way?

Moroni also echoed Paul’s teaching, “But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way.” The Savior and His gospel is the more excellent way! By coming to know it, live it, and share it, we are put on the path to excellence and in the process of becoming who God wants us to become; even as He is! 

A quote I love states, “Mediocrity is crowded, but there’s a whole lot of room up in excellence.”  What does this mean? Unfortunately, there are those that never aspire or reach high enough for something better.  They tend to stay with the crowd, rather than rise above the crowd.  We see this in all walks of life, in every profession, in families, with members of the Church, and even in missionaries.  There are those that prefer comfort and the status quo vs. pushing themselves to become something more. We know more comes from the Savior’s divine help and strength (grace), ever pushing us upwards, higher, and higher as we strive to do all we can do.  No one ever need be merely average or mediocre, unless they of course choose it.  The objective is not to become better than others, but to become our best selves. That is so cool!

Excellence is not an act, but a habit, it takes practice and perseverance. Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Excellence is a continual process and not an accident.  Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude. The difference between excellence and mediocrity is effort, commitment, and detail.  The price of excellence is discipline, the cost of mediocrity is disappointment.  – From all these statements, we start to see a pattern…  Excellence is built upon practice, effort, commitment, perseverance, attitude, and discipline.  It does not come without sacrifice, and thus, there’s a whole lot of room up in excellence. It is also important to point out that excellence does not equal perfection.  “Excellence is something you can reach for, but perfection can only come from God.”

Elders & Sisters, your mission affords you a truly unique opportunity to become who you desire to become.  The Savior’s Atonement lifts you above the natural man, making it possible for you to achieve the highest heights.  What is required on our end is tenacious, consistent and persistent effort.  Nothing in life worth any value comes easy.  For this reason alone, so many are simply satisfied going through the motions and never reach their full potential.  We see this in missionaries who don’t come to understand their purpose and therefore only receive a portion of what they could obtain.  This is not who you are nor is it what a loving Heavenly Father wants for you.  Imagine what you could accomplish through the Savior and His grace if you choose the more excellent way.  It will require greater self-mastery, sacrifice, obedience, faith, and diligence, but oh how great will be the reward if you choose the harder, less traveled path.  “It’s You vs You, make sure You Wins!”  

My invitation to you today is to recognize that your Father in Heaven knows who you are, but doesn’t intend for you to stay who you are.  Your mission is the opportunity for you to redefine your future, your desired outcomes, and who you will become.  Mediocrity will always attack excellence, fight this when you feel like giving up, giving in, or not giving your best.  The power is within you to become excellent!  Rise to your potential, get rid of the excuses (#ARlistbegone!), set goals and make plans, and see how the Savior can transform you into more than you could have ever expected.  “You did not wake up today to be mediocre!” I love ya and know excellence is within you!

President Hall