As he stood before his audience of new mission presidents and their wives, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he was reminded of his own first days as a mission president 43 years ago.
“I remember clearly what Barbara and I were feeling as we were preparing for our mission,” he said. “It was a curious mix of excitement, humility, joy and apprehension — with a little fear thrown in for good measure.”
Knowing that many gathered for the 2017 New Mission Presidents Seminar likely felt similar emotions, he reminded them of President Thomas S. Monson’s promise: “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”
In his examination of missionary leadership, Elder Ballard said those who accomplish the most in life are those with a clear vision and with goals to keep them focused on their vision and specific plans for how to achieve them.
“Missionary leadership begins with understanding the eternal worth of souls, he said. “Missionaries who truly understand the worth of their own souls will work hard. And they will learn the principles of becoming a successful missionary and gospel teacher through their study and application of principles taught in Preach My Gospel.”
Missionaries who understand the worth of every soul, he added, will seek every opportunity to share the restored gospel of Christ with everyone they meet.
The principles of leadership that a mission president and his companion teach the missionaries will serve the elders and sister well throughout their lives.
“This does not mean that every missionary will serve as a district or zone leader, or as a sister training leader,” he said. “But every missionary should understand the basic principles of leadership.”
Elder Ballard said that when missionaries understand their own precious worth, everyone else becomes precious also.
“Focus your missionaries on teaching the message of the restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith,” he said. “It is the same gospel and plan of salvation that Jesus Christ taught when He was here and that has been taught through every dispensation of time.”
Look for every opportunity to teach the missionaries how to become leaders. “The most successful mission presidents are those who go out and work with their missionaries,” he said.
Make sure missionaries understand to whom they should always look for guidance.
“The ultimate source of leadership is Jesus Christ — this is His Church and He leads it,” said Elder Ballard. “Teach your missionaries to also look to the general officers of the Church. This work is led by a prophet of God and apostles who will not and cannot lead this Church astray.”