President's Pen 2-26-18 (Called to Arms)

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! I trust the promise we find from the Frist Presidency in Preach My Gospel, “The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him.” Whether the blessings come now or later are not of concern, I simply trust that they will!

From the Lectures of Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “…unless a person has an actual knowledge that the course he/she is pursuing is according to the will of God, he/she will grow weary in mind and faint…”  So it is true for us…  Unless we know the course, direction, or why (knowledge/understanding) behind what we do, we too will tire, grow weary in mind and faint.   This is true for anything in life, be it missionary work, education, career, church service, and family life. 

As missionaries we are given a vision statement, our why, our message, and our direction…  “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 memorize it, recite it, and even sing it, but unless we truly know and have an actual knowledge that this is the course God wants us to pursue, it will be nothing more to us than a nice slogan or a rally cry that has little meaning and effect. 

In the scriptures we see a people, and in particular a leader, who understood their cause and the direction they should pursue.  Their vision statement… “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 46:12) Captain Moroni raised the “Title of Liberty” to bring focus to his people, motivate them to act, and inspire their behavior.  What was the result of this inspired vision? “And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying: Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.  And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God…”(Alma 46:19-21)  Moroni’s inspired vision stirred the hearts of the people, gave them direction, and they wrote it upon their hearts by making a covenant to abide by it.  Because they individually knew the course to pursue, they had purpose, they gave their all, they knew their why!

A missionary must come to understand the vision for what the Lord wants them to pursue… Our “Title of Liberty” for the souls of men is to invite and help them… We are to teach them the restored truths of the gospel insomuch that they will have a desire to increase their faith in the Savior and in His loving Atonement.  Our vision is to invite them to repent so they can feel at peace, forgiven, and clean.  Our purpose is to invite them to receive a remission of sins by entering the waters of baptism.   Our why is to help them receive the gift of the Holy Ghost so they can connect to heaven and receive loving guidance and direction.  Our message is to help them understand how to keep the commandments, continue in their faith, repent, keep covenants, enjoy the Spirit in their lives and endure to the end.  This has to become our WHY!  Does this purpose inspire and motivate you to come running, write it upon your heart, and make it the course you want to pursue?

Spiritual vision, when in harmony with the Lord’s will, always answers the question “Why?”  Where there is no vision “the people perish” (Prov 29:18), they lose motivation, grow weary in mind, and faint. The vision will always produce the reason behind what we do, and how we do it.  Without a strong vision or belief in the cause, we might do things out of duty, but it won’t be sustainable over the course of time.  Case in point on a subject where few have a vision: home teaching…  It is a struggle for many brethren in the Church because they do not know their why.   The why for home teaching is to bless and help families increase their faith in the Savior, repent, keep covenants, feel and recognize the Spirit in their lives, keep commandments and endure to the end.  If the “why” behind home teaching isn’t understood at a personal level, there is little motivation to go and do and it becomes a wearying and time consuming activity.  No vision, and no why, will lead to halfhearted attempts and going through the motions. 

A vision statement that is understood will always lead to goals that are inspired by the vision.  Goals answer the question “What?”  In other words, “what” will I do to accomplish the vision.  For Captain Moroni’s people it was to take up their arms, go to battle, and to make covenants.  A vision cannot be measured or counted, but a goal allows us to see progress towards the desired cause we are pursuing.  As an example… If my vision is to feel better about my health and well-being, I may set a goal to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, and get more rest.  These goals can be counted and measured and allow a person to begin feeling and seeing the results they desire.  What is often true, however, is many set the goal to lose weight or eat better, but grow weary of the effort required, and having lost sight of their vision (if they had one), fall back into old patterns.  A goal without an inspired or higher purpose (vision) will not be as meaningful or anxiously pursued.  No goals, and no what, will lead to halfhearted attempts and going through the motions.

A vision statement that has clear goals and objectives will always lead towards a plan.  Plans answer the question “How?”  A true plan will lead us to the details of how, when, where, and who.  For Captain Moroni, his plan was to gather his troops, march them into battle, and to specifically cut off the armies of Amalickiah. (Alma 46:31) Using the example of heath, a specific plan will include the time you’ll exercise and how, the kinds and quantities of the food you’ll eat, and even who you might make an accounting to.  No plans, and no how, will lead to halfhearted attempts and going through the motions.

You all know what I’m sharing above is true, it is not new to you, and you hear it often.  The question I’m often asked is how do I get there?  How do I make this vision become something that motivates, inspires, and gives me the direction I need?  How do I let this vision truly make a difference in the goals I set and the plans I make?  How can I hear Moroni’s cry and want to join in with all of my heart?  The truth is, you have to come to it on your own.  A brief example below…

In a recent letter from one of our returned missionaries, she shared how she came to understand the missionary vision/purpose and how it became personal and real.   While serving, she went through a very difficult few weeks… Her grandmother unexpectedly passed away, there were troubles with family at home, her companion was experiencing some real challenges, and she wasn’t seeing the success she had hoped for.  She was very down and was on the verge of calling me and asking to go home.  In her letter, she expressed how the doctrine of Christ was something she had heard taught over and over, but it wasn’t until she realized that she could apply it to herself that the light went on in her mind.  On a particularly difficult day, she recognized what she needed was greater faith in the Savior and His Atonement for all that was going on at home and on her mission.  Rather than losing hope or turning to despair, she turned towards the Savior and let Him carry the burden she simply couldn’t.  She shared how repentance took on a new meaning, and that it wasn’t simply about turning from sin, but changing the way she thought about her relationship to God and how He could and would bless her.  She realized that the covenants she had made would help her focus on the Savior and become more like Him; patient, long-suffering, obedient, and humble.  She prayed more mightily for the Holy Ghost to be with her and then allowed the Spirit to comfort, teach, and testify that what she was doing as a missionary mattered, that her family would be well, and that she could endure not the current and future challenges.  The vision she proclaimed and taught suddenly became real!  She realized that it wasn’t just something she said or read about, but that it actually helped her in a meaningful and personal way.  This experience was like hearing Captain Moroni call her to arms; to take up the fight, and to make a covenant to serve with more heart, might, mind, and strength.  I can witness to you that she did and that it changed her mission.  She had found her why and it became her motivation to study, plan, find, teach, invite, follow up and do what missionaries do.  They weren’t just activities, they were purposeful experiences on helping others come unto Christ.  The challenges did not go away, but she blessed many and she expressed that it has forever changed her. 

Elders & Sisters, unless you come to an actual knowledge of why you’re here, you too can grow weary in mind and faint.   A vision does not mean that things will become easy.  Moroni still had to fight the battle, but he knew what he was fighting the battle for.  Going through the motions will never bring peace of mind, growth, or happiness.  It is when we jump in with both feet, surrender our will, and apply the vision to ourselves that our missions change.  The understanding of the vision, and belief in it, makes all the difference on the days that don’t go well and when all seems to fall apart.  Having a “Why” inspires you to keep pressing forward, to pursue your goals, to execute your plans, and to stay with it through the ups and the downs.  Vision truly does motivate, inspire, and direct…  I invite you to do three things today: First, go back and read chapter 1 of PMG and make it a goal to study it at least once a month for the rest of your mission.  It has been written to help you understand your why.  Second, study the doctrine of Christ in the scriptures and liken what you read to yourself.  How did Nephi, Jacob, King Benjamin, Abinadi, Mosiah, Alma, Alma Jr., the sons of Mosiah, Amulek, Mormon, and Moroni apply the doctrine of Christ to themselves and how can you do the same.  The third invitation will come at zone conferences this week… if you accept this invitation, and truly ponder what is asked of you, it will lift your vision and all that comes with it.

As the cliché says, “There are two great days in a missionaries life, the day they get their call, and the day they find out why!”  I invite you to write doctrine of Christ in your heart; it is the purpose of our work and the only way.  God’s vision is to bring all His children home, His goal is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, His plan is the Plan of Redemption, Salvation, Mercy, and Happiness.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and living prophets and apostles call us to arms.  We have accepted the invitation to go to battle, to fight for a cause more noble than anything else we can do. I pray that we will all find our reason and why to fight with them.  We know the battle has already been won, but there are many who need our invitations and help to bring them safely home.  I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that this is God’s work and that it is true! Love ya!

President Hall