The key to successful member-missionary work is gaining a desire to "know the mysteries of God," Elder M. Russell Ballard said during a fireside in the David O. McKay Center at Utah Valley State College Sept. 22. More than 7,000 young adults, including institute and seminary students from Utah County, attended the Sunday night event.
Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was accompanied by his wife, Barbara, used Nephi and Joseph Smith as examples of effective missionaries.Quoting 1 Ne. 2:16, Elder Ballard explained that having a desire to learn influences Church members affectability at anything they are called to do.
"That was the key to Nephi's success. Because he had a desire to know the mysteries of God, he did cry unto the the Lord, who listened to him, . . ." Elder Ballard said. "The minute Nephi knew what he knew, the most important thing was for him to share it with someone else."
The same principle affected Joseph Smith – whose desire to understand led him to pray about the truthfulness of all churches, Elder Ballard said. "The Prophet Joseph was driven throughout his lifetime, seeking to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. . . . Almost all revelations came to the Prophet Joseph as he was seeking answers for himself or for others about the Kingdom of God."
It is essential for Church members to learn about the Church, as did Joseph Smith and Nephi, before they can share its message, Elder Ballard explained. He added that to be an effective missionary, Church members must understand the Restoration, the importance of the priesthood and the plan of salvation.
Elder Ballard told the students that they are commanded, in the scriptures, to share the gospel with others. "This is a duty and responsibility that rests on our shoulders," he said. "Why? Because the Lord chose to share His great message and to expand His Church clear across the face of the earth by giving testimony to some of His children and hoping that it will burn bright enough that they in turn will carry their testimony and place it before others."
Elder Ballard said if members will share the message of the Church, then others will sense their love for the gospel and will also come to know "the glorious message of the Restoration."
If Church members will become missionaries – "wise, prudent, loving, careful, sensible missionaries, . . . solid missionaries who share the truth in a meaningful, sensible way," then they will be blessed all their lives, Elder Ballard promised.
He encouraged the college students to have a good attitude, using Elder LeGrand Richards, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve before his death in 1983, as an example.
Elder Ballard said he had the privilege to drive Elder Richards to work at the Church Office Building regularly. "One day, we were coming off the hill, down toward the Church offices in a snow blizzard. The snow flakes were as big as dollars, hitting the windshield," recalled Elder Ballard, adding that he was doing everything he could to keep the car on the road. "Brother Richards was sitting next to me singing,
O' What a Beautiful Morning'. . . . I said,Brother Richards how do you keep such as positive, upbeat attitude.' He said, `Oh, I never worry, I just do the very best I know how every day and I let the Lord do all of the worrying.' "
Elder Ballard then asked the young adults to take this approach to missionary work. He asked them to select a date in the near future by which time they will have prayerfully shared the gospel with friends who are not members of the Church.
"When you get as old as I am you will start to realize that the things that really matter are the lives that you have been able to touch, the people you have been able to teach, and the people you have been able to help along the way," he said. "All the rest fades into insignificance."
He also encouraged all the young people to serve a full-time mission, saying no other event in his life prepared him for the Lord's work like his mission to England. There, he continued, he learned how to talk to people and how to build relationships of trust.
"I believe that a full-time mission is the most important educational experience that a young man or young woman can have if they go out filled with desire and strive with all of their heart to be faithful and do the work of the Lord," Elder Ballard said. "I don't think that there is anything that I have learned in my whole lifetime that has been any more important or impactful than knowing how to share the gospel and how to teach this glorious and beautiful truth."