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Elder Rasband on helping young mission leaders lead in the Savior’s way


PROVO, Utah — Revisiting his experiences as mission president and enlisting the participation of his wife and two returned missionaries, Elder Ronald A. Rasband led a presentation at the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on helping young missionary leaders lead in the Savior’s way.

“The Savior is our Exemplar for leadership in your missions,” said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “And leadership opportunities delegated to young mission leaders is a great privilege and opportunity for them to learn to lead in the Savior’s way.”

He later added in his Friday, June 24, session at the Provo Missionary Training Center: “Young missionary leadership is all about modeling and showing others how to lead — that includes being shown how to lead by the mission president and his wife.”

Showing a family photo from his time as a mission president in the late 1990s, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Showing a family photo from his time as a mission president in the late 1990s, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Serving in New York City

Elder Rasband, who frequently turned to Sister Melanie Rasband for her perspectives, revisited family experiences from the Rasbands leading from 1996 to 1999 what is now the New York New York City Mission. Through several photographs, he showed family members, pausing to highlight a daughter and son-in-law.

From left to right, President David A. Chase and Sister Rachelle R. Chase of the Illinois Chicago Mission, with her parents, Sister Melanie Rasband and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 24, 2022.

From left to right, President David A. Chase and Sister Rachelle R. Chase of the Illinois Chicago Mission, with her parents, Sister Melanie Rasband and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 24, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Announcing that the two — Sister Rachelle Chase and President David A. Chase — were participating in the seminar, the Apostle paused in an emotional moment, mindful of their pending departure to preside over the Illinois Chicago Mission for the next three years and opportunity to have experiences similar to those of the Rasbands a quarter-century ago.

“Presidents and sisters, don’t ever think that we — your leaders in this Church — don’t experience the same emotions that you do, with children, grandchildren and parents. We all make wonderful sacrifices, and we thank you once again for your consecrated willingness to serve.”

He asked Sister Rasband to recite their mission’s signature scripture, 3 Nephi 18:24: “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up — that which ye have seen me do.”

Read more talk summaries and see photos from the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders here

Elder Rasband then displayed several photos of individual missionaries standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, replicating the iconic pose by holding a Book of Mormon above their head, rather than a torch.

“In our mission in New York City, we had the beautiful Statue of Liberty, which served as a reminder to hold up the light of Christ for all to see,” he said. “You’ll find your own ways to remind your missionaries that it is the light of Christ they hold up, and not their own light.”

Questions and quotes

He called on new mission leaders and past mission leaders in the audience to share brief comments in response to two questions and two statements from Church leaders:

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • What do you think are the primary responsibilities of young missionary leaders?
  • How can we help each missionary lead with dignity and humility in whatever they are called?

And he included this teaching from President Russell M. Nelson: “When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him — when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life — you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.”

Elder Rasband acknowledged the opportunities for long-lasting relationships. “Presidents and sisters, one of your great hopes and rewards will be to watch your missionaries in later years continue to serve the Lord — as fathers and mothers and as leaders in the wards and stakes.”

With Sister Rasband, he invited two of their returned missionaries — Dustin Matsumori and Justin Starr — to join them, noting both have served as bishops.

Helping missionaries realize the potential, purpose

He posed the first of two questions: “What did you learn about helping missionaries see their potential and achieve their missionary purposes?”

Matsumori said: “The role of the trainer to help missionaries learn early on how to identify and recognize the hand of the Lord in their lives on a daily basis and to overtly call out and point out progression, growth and progress, no matter how small. …

Elder Ronald A. Rasband gestures toward with two of his returned missionaries — Dustin Matsumori and Justin Starr — during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband gestures toward with two of his returned missionaries — Dustin Matsumori and Justin Starr — during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

“It gives them daily reinforcement that they’re on the Lord’s errand and what they’re doing is important. Even if their teaching pool isn’t progressing as quickly as they’d like it to, they can see their own progression.”

Starr remembered watching the power of sincere praise as exemplified by Elder Rasband, including a specific zone conference where he interacted with — and praised — an elder who had previously struggled. “I guarantee that missionary still remembers the praise that you offered that day,” he told Elder Rasband.

Starr also spoke about a mission-defining experience earlier in his mission during a zone conference, listening to his first mission president talk about the Savior and His Atonement. “For the first time in my life, I sat and listened and paid attention to those teachings,” said Starr, acknowledging he was prepared for that time to hear and internalize the teaching.

In a post-conference interview, he expressed appreciation to the mission president for his teachings of the Savior that day.

“I’ll never forget what he said — ‘Elder Starr, if it has been my privilege to bless your life with my testimony of the Savior, then my advice to you is to go and ‘do thou likewise’ (Luke 10:37). And that’s what I tried to do as a young missionary leader, to hold up that light of the Savior.”

Preparing for future opportunities

The second question: Elder Rasband asked the two returned missionaries to share how their missionary leadership experiences prepared them for future leadership in their families and in the Church.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, second from left, and Sister Melanie Rasband visit with two of their returned missionaries — Dustin Matsumori and Justin Starr — during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, second from left, and Sister Melanie Rasband visit with two of their returned missionaries — Dustin Matsumori and Justin Starr — during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

“The mission was the first experience that I had in serving with and counseling elders and sisters from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, who had life experiences vastly different than my own,” Matusmori said. He added that he learned to take general principles, truths and concepts and then — being guided by the Lord — know how to tailor those messages to meet their unique needs.

“As a bishop, this was essential because I sat and counseled with individuals and families who were facing infidelity, divorce, abuse, addiction and crises of faith — experiences vastly different than my own. Yet I was able to again use the guidance of the Spirit to take a general principle and uniquely apply it. I learned that leading is not so much about learning to direct but how to be directed by the Spirit.”

Starr remembered witnessing the principle of repentance, even as experienced by missionaries. “I learned the people can repent and change and even face consequences when their faith in the Savior increases enough.”

Elder and Sister Rasband’s final thoughts

Sister Rasband said she hadn’t expected to be so emotional during the presentation, being with their two returned missionaries and watching how they’ve continued to progress, serve and lead in families and wards.

“Such wonderful leaders like these are worthy of your trust and your confidence,” she said. “Let them do the work the Lord had you call them to do — for the Lord and for you.”

Sister Melanie Rasband speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Sister Melanie Rasband speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

She reminded the sister mission leaders of their valued and critical role in the mission — under the direction of their husbands, the mission presidents — in helping young missionaries and being examples to them.

She also underscored the importance of being willing to delegate responsibility and allowing the young missionaries to learn lifelong, enriching leadership skills — as the two had exemplified — while lessening the demands on the mission president and companion.

“We’ve seen this proven approach to be the most effective way to juggle the demands of a Christ-centered mission.”

Before concluding, Elder Rasband said he wouldn’t consider himself much of a former mission president if he didn’t extend at least one invitation: “Write down one impression that the Holy Ghost has given you during this discussion on how to prepare, instruct or develop young missionary leaders.”

Testimony

Elder Rasband testified that the more mission leaders help their missionaries learn about the Lord Jesus Christ, the more they will love Him. “And the more they love Him, the greater their service will be and the greater their obedience will become,” he said.

The Apostle said he loves the Lord and continues to study of Him and His gospel, and he encouraged his listeners to do the same.

“And as you love Him, as you learn of Him, you will help instill in your missionaries and in your young leaders that desire for all to rise up and build up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and establish His Church in every mission across the globe.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

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