President's Pen 6-11-18 (Follow the Keys)

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!  “In this work there must be commitment. There must be devotion. We are engaged in a great eternal struggle that concerns the very souls of the sons and daughters of God. We are not losing. We are winning. We will continue to win if we will be faithful and true. We can do it. We must do it. We will do it. There is nothing the Lord has asked of us that in faith we cannot accomplish.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)  So true and so grateful we have all been called to teach repentance and to baptize converts!

In just a few short weeks, a miracle of how the Lord’s restored Church operates will occur.  The peaceful transition of one mission president to another will take place, and the Lord’s work will continue to move forward.  This smooth transition takes place in every leadership position in the Church, from the prophets, seers, and revelators, to the stake presidents, temple presidents, bishops, relief society, young women, primary, and elders quorum presidents.  There are no hard feelings, no political wrangling, or attempts to block what the Lord desires for His work and His children.  We sustain, we support, we raised our hands to the square, and we go to work. 

What makes this transition so powerful is understanding the nature of priesthood keys.  As we all know, the Savior is at the head of His Church and He holds all keys… He guides, directs, and leads it day to day to help bring to pass the work and glory of the Father; immortality and eternal life.  When the Savior restored His church to the earth, He sent heavenly messengers to first, restore the priesthood, and second, to restore the keys to direct the use of the priesthood.  Simply said, the priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man. Priesthood keys are the right to direct the use of that power in specific ways.

For the Lord’s work to be directed in His way, we align ourselves to those who hold the keys.  The living prophet aligns himself to the Lord and directs the work for the Church.  A temple president directs the work of salvation inside the temple.  A stake president directs the work of salvation within the stake, including the keys of missionary work.  A mission president, using his keys, directs the work of the missionaries and convert baptisms.  All keys must be aligned in order for the work to be effective.  Temple presidents, stake presidents, and mission presidents work together under the direction of living prophets, seers, and revelators and when they do, the power of the priesthood flows into the lives of families and individuals. 

A way to think of how priesthood keys are aligned is found in the example of a power circuit.   When you plug a power strip into the wall, it draws upon the electrical power and feeds it to each circuit.  When the circuits are aligned, power flows all the way to the end of the row.  If the circuit is broken, power stops flowing into it and it is rendered useless.  This is also true for those that hold and exercise priesthood keys, there must be alignment for power to flow (from the Savior to each leader who holds keys).  For this reason, there are coordinating councils (led by area seventy,  including all stake presidents, the temple president, and mission president for that area) where priesthood leaders gather together to align keys.  

As a priesthood leader is called, keys are given that authorize them to direct, control, and govern the use of the Lord’s priesthood on the earth (especially in the ordinances).  Those who fall under keys, the ward congregation for a bishop, a quorum for an elders quorum president, or missionaries to a mission president, are wise to align themselves to the instruction and direction of their leaders so God’s power can freely flow into their lives.  As Elder M. Russell Ballard taught, “Those who have priesthood keys … literally make it possible for all who serve faithfully under their direction to exercise priesthood authority and have access to priesthood power.”   I would like you all to read Elder Oaks talk by going to the following link… Keys and the Authority of the Priesthood

When I was called to serve as a mission president, Elder David A. Bednar of the Twelve, laid his hands upon my head and gave me the keys to direct and preside over the Texas Houston South Mission.  In just a few weeks, President Guthrie will likewise receive keys from an apostle of the Lord to continue directing the work here in the Great THSM.  When President Guthrie walks off the plane here in Houston on June 29th, he will hold the keys to direct you and you efforts to teach repentance and baptize converts.  Imagine that the keys come directly from the Savior, to the prophets seers and revelators, and directly to a mission president.  That is amazing!  If you want to be blessed, follow the counsel you receive at the hands of those who hold the keys.

When changes like this occur, it is natural to feel excitement and to wonder how and what President Guthrie will do to bless and direct the mission.  It is important for you to recognize that his direction, his inspiration, including any changes he decides to make, will come as he exercises priesthood keys.  The work in and of itself with stay the same, it’s the same gospel, we need to find, teach powerfully, and do all we can to invite others unto Christ.  You may not see many significant changes in the beginning, but in time, he will direct you based on impressions and in coordination local leaders as they align their keys.  I want you to embrace these changes fully, don’t hold back from offering your full support and effort on what he decides to do; this is how true power will flow into the work you are assigned to do.  His style will be unique, it will be his, and the Lord has called him, qualified him, and he will be anxious to bless, love, and serve you with his full heart, might, mind and strength. 

One of the great blessings that you’ll experience as a new mission president arrives is that you all get a fresh start.  As he begins and I exit, we will hold a brief meeting to discuss some administrative items such as budgets, systems and tools, and activities in the office.  We will not, however, discuss any of you individually.  I will simply tell him you are the world’s best missionaries (because it’s true!), that you are 100% obedient, engaged in the work, and excited to sustain and support him.  He will not know of past challenges or difficulties, unless there are health concerns that he needs to be aware of.  With that fresh start, and in his eyes, you will be the most consecrated, 4th missionary, second employee missionaries he’s ever met.  I have sent him all your pictures, he’ll be memorizing your names, and he will love you as I have loved you.  While I know you’ve been amazing for me, I know you’ll be even more amazing, supportive, and prepared to align to him.  It will be up to you should you choose to give him any impressions or actions that will be contrary to being the best missionary you can be.  Be awesome!

For some of you the change will be hard, simply because change is hard.  We know you love Sister Hall and me, I feel your prayers and I love you all like my own.  You will forever be ours and a change in leadership doesn’t decrease or minimize how we feel for you.  What I invite you to do is to recognize that love is exponential.  There is no limit to who we can love, how we love them, or how we let them into our hearts.  It is not a competition to see who we love more or less or if one is better than another.  You will love the Guthrie’s for who they are, for their unique talents and abilities, and for what they will do to love and bless you.  The love you will develop and have for them will not minimize, threaten, or be upsetting in any way to us, we want you to love them and give them all you have!  Please avoid saying things such as, “President Hall did it this way, or why are we going to change that, or I’m going to do it the old way.”  You will need to align to his keys, embrace his direction, and serve the Lord with all your heart if you desire to have power flow into your efforts.  

Elders & Sisters, this is God’s work, not the work of a mission president, local leaders, or of any man.  Leaders are called to assist the Lord, we are nothing without Him, and it’s a miracle that we’re called to serve in the vineyard with Him to begin with.  Leaders will come and go, they will do their best, but ultimately it is up to us to follow their counsel and to align our hearts, minds and will to the Lord.  I invite you to begin praying for President and Sister Guthrie each day and for their family.  They need your prayers as they begin this amazing journey of serving here in the Great THSM!  This is a big change for them too and they are as nervous and excited as you are.  They will do an amazing job and lift the mission to new heights.  My greatest desire is for you to be at peace with the change, to look forward with excitement, to follow priesthood keys, and most importantly to focus on your purpose of inviting and helping all come unto Christ. 

I love each of you with my whole soul.  The Lord has blessed us more than I can describe as we’ve served with you.  It is hard to leave, hard to go back to doing anything but missionary work, you will all feel this.  I was blessed by Elder Bednar to have the gift of gratitude.  I feel it now, and it helps me as we transition to other great things the Lord will have in store for us.  Thanks for your goodness, for your sacrifice, and for your willingness to serve the Lord. We honor and love you and for the next few weeks let’s continue to be urgent, tenacious, diligent, and purposeful and then please keep that Spirit and effort as the Guthrie’s arrive and beyond.  Love ya!

President Hall