A young man, upon completing his engineering degree, traveled across the country to accept his first position within his chosen profession. Raised in a gospel-centered home in Salt Lake City, the young engineer was excited for not only new and interesting professional opportunities, but also for new opportunities to share his faith.
The young man’s enthusiasm waned, however, when faced with coworkers who were skeptical, uninterested or downright belligerent toward his faith. He soon felt inept in convincing his colleagues who were more educated and more experienced of the validity of his beliefs.
His discouragement swelled when a work associate, after inviting him to a dinner, also invited a minister who presented anti-Mormon literature. The young engineer became troubled, not only with the sentiments that were shared, but also with his inability to respond to them. He questioned himself and, for the first time, his convictions. He realized he had never gone through the process of asking if the Church was true. After much anguish of mind, he resolved to ask God.
As he knelt in prayer, he received a strong confirmation that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ’s church on the earth. The experience, he later recounted to his daughter, filled him with “spiritual energy.” He said, “[I knew] the Lord was pleased with me and what I was doing, and I should continue on that path. It was more than, ‘You know it’s true.’ I knew it was true and was moved to act on it. I felt renewed.”
That “spiritual energy” fueled him to redouble his missionary efforts. From that point on the young engineer was no longer governed by fear when sharing the gospel. In fact, his family would remember him as a bold missionary who professed his knowledge of the blessings of the gospel to all within his sphere — family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, even the clerk at the grocery store or the person sitting next to him on an airplane.
Missionary work became natural as he focused less on himself and the clumsiness of his delivery, and more on how the message of the gospel could bless the lives of those around him.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained in the October 2014 general conference that the desire of Latter-day Saints to share the message of the gospel stems from more than a sense of spiritual duty. “Rather, our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is a reflection of how important these truths are to us.”
Elder Bednar shared the example of his young son, who, after scraping his arm and experiencing the ministrations of his older brother, gathered the bandages and ointment used to soothe his own injury to then administer ointment and bandages to the arms of his friends.
“Why did that little boy do what he did? Please note that he immediately and intuitively wanted to give to his friends the very thing that had helped him when he was hurt. That little boy did not have to be urged, challenged, prompted, or goaded to act. His desire to share was the natural consequence of a most helpful and beneficial personal experience.
“Many of us as adults behave in precisely the same way when we find a treatment or medication that alleviates pain with which we have long suffered, or we receive counsel that enables us to face challenges with courage and perplexities with patience. Sharing with other people things that are most meaningful to us or have helped us is not unusual at all.”
It is a pattern seen repeatedly in the scriptures. Alma the Younger, for example, testifies to his son Helaman of his conversion by an angel. Alma contrasts the despair he feels at the knowledge of his sins with the joy he feels after crying out to Jesus for mercy. “And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36:12, 15, 17-20).
After personally experiencing the joy of the cleansing power of the Savior’s Atonement, Alma’s immediate desire is to share that joy with his fellow men. “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (vs. 24).
President Howard W. Hunter said, “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others” (“The Atonement and Missionary Work,” Seminar for New Mission Presidents, June 1994).
If our attempts at missionary work feel awkward or clumsy or difficult, may each of us, like Alma and the young engineer, be blessed with our own personal knowledge of the positive effects of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will be filled with the “spiritual energy” needed to proclaim that knowledge to others.