President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, welcomed new mission presidents and their wives to their new assignments — calling missionary work “the Lord's work.”
“We thank you for your radiance of goodness and your love for our Heavenly Father,” he said in his June 25 remarks. “We know that the missionaries who will serve under your direction will be loved and guided by you.”
The missionaries serving across the globe, he added, represent “the very best of our young people.”
“They represent the hopes, the prayers, the dreams of parents, grandparents and siblings; they represent the love and sacrifice of families. When you, as their leaders, realize the importance of these young men and young women for the future of the Church, you will lead and guide them the Lord’s way.”
President Uchtdorf encouraged the mission presidents and their companions to teach the missionaries “the Savior's way” by example and with love. “Show how,” he said, is much more important than “tell how” in missionary work around the globe.
Mission presidents and their wives may wonder if their influence is making a difference, or if their service is affecting the work.
“I testify to you that you will make a wonderful, great difference,” he said. “However, you may never be able to measure the influence for good you will have.”
Jesus Christ taught that the first great commandment is to love the Lord. The second great commandment is similar to the first: “love thy neighbor.”
“These are the pre-conditions for a successful mission,” he said. “They will assure that we do the work for the right reasons, that we have pure motives, and that we serve because of our love for God and His children.”
The Lord called His ancient apostles to the work with the invitation: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Today's call to the ministry is very much the same: “Come, follow me.”
“With this commandment, the Savior Himself sets the standard and gives the priorities for the ministry of His disciples — then and now. To follow the Savior is to learn of Him and His divine character. You and your missionaries are His representatives. It is your responsibility as leaders to inspire and encourage your missionaries to become more like the Savior, more Christlike.”
It is vital that the missionaries incorporate Christlike attributes into their lives, added President Uchtdorf. “These attributes are the foundation of a Christ-centered, successful life and character. Christlike attributes are essential to becoming and being a successful missionary.”
Christlike attributes are the consequence of righteously living and making correct choices.
“Christlike attributes are gifts from God, and we cannot develop them without His help,” he said. “The one indispensable gift we all need to accept is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, including the path of true repentance. Help your missionaries to embrace these principles of the gospel.”
President Uchtdorf encouraged the mission presidents and their wives to help the elders and sisters that they serve to cultivate and enrich their character through study, learning, prayer and hard work. Those who have the Christlike attributes of faith and hope receive the Lord's promise “that He will bear His servants up as on eagle's wings” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:18).
“This vivid image is even more powerful when we consider how young eagles learn to fly,” he taught. “Eagles build their nests high on the edge of steep cliffs. When their offspring are old enough, the adult eagle coaxes them to the edge of the nest and gently pushes them into the canyon, where there is nothing to support their wings but the air. For these eaglets, the thrill of soaring begins with the fear of falling.”
A missionary's life is also defined by growth and overcoming fears, he added. It's about faith, hope and acquiring knowledge and skills. “It is about enduring and trusting that God is always there, and that He will bear each missionary up as on eagles’ wings.”
“True faith in Jesus Christ leads to action, including repentance, obedience, and dedicated service. Obedience and righteous actions, in turn, strengthen our faith,” he said.
When missionaries have faith in Christ, they trust Him enough to follow His commandments, even when they do not completely understand the reasons for those commandments.
The missionaries need to seek, knock and ask to receive answers to their questions from the Lord.
“This is the way the young Prophet Joseph received instructions and answers,” he said. “They need to study and pray to find answers to their questions. At times, an answer may not appear right away, but as the missionaries continue to progress day by day, they receive more light and knowledge. Until then, they need to walk by faith.”
As missionaries develop Christlike attributes, he added, they come to better understand their sacred call “to proclaim and to baptize the Lord's way.”
[email protected] @JNSwensen