PROVO, UTAH — The 164 couples participating in the 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar gathered as one on June 23 to hear collective counsel from Church leaders and enjoy their unified purpose.
Yet the mission presidents and their companions will soon arrive at different locales across the globe. They will speak a variety of languages and labor in different cultures.
No matter, taught Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday. While the Lord often shares similar warnings, promises and invitations — what each individual does with such offerings can vary greatly.
“Regardless of similar sounding messages, I invite you to keep your spiritual ears open and your hearts ready to receive the promptings of the Spirit for your specific situation and mission,” he said. “The Lord can teach us individually through divine repetition and by His Holy Spirit.”
When Elder Uchtdorf became a pilot, he found that dedicated preparation and meaningful repetition “were my best friends.”
They taught him he could do hard things. Preparation and repetition can serve mission leaders equally well as they face challenges, opportunities and trials.
Purpose of your mission
The scriptures teach an overarching purpose in the work of the gospel: “For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of (men and women)” (Moses 1:39).
“Our loving Heavenly Father invites us to join Him in His great work and purpose and He gives us two great commandments as a divine motive for our service as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “These commandments are to love and serve God, and to love and serve His children. If we fail in these two commandments, we fail in all others.”
So how does that motive and purpose translate into one’s daily ministry?
First, mission leaders love their missionaries and help them know and love God. They teach them to choose belief instead of doubt. They assist them in becoming truly converted to Jesus Christ.
And second, mission leaders inspire their missionaries to find people and invite them to Christ.
“Our Christlike love for others does not end should people refuse to listen to the good news of the gospel or reject an invitation to be baptized,” he said. “Our love is not conditional upon their interest in spending time with our missionaries. We love them because they are children of our Heavenly Father. They are our brothers and sisters. We love and pray for all men and women, and we continue to serve them, even those who hate, curse, persecute or mistreat us.”
The great commission
The Resurrected Lord commissioned His disciples to go forward and make disciples of all nations — baptizing them and teaching them to follow His commandments.
Today’s missionaries, said Elder Uchtdorf, also are also commissioned to find people to teach.
“Your missionaries need to develop compassion and love for the people they find. They need to be creative in their finding and teaching approach, and they need to always be ready to be guided by the Spirit. Instead of defaulting to certain standard patterns or lessons, missionaries need to find and teach to the specific circumstances of the people.”
Conversion comes from personal revelation, from seeking truth and from “the heavenly manifestation of spiritual light, even by hearing testimonies.” Missionaries are inviting people with all the love of their hearts to choose a divine plan of happiness for this life and eternal life to come and not door-to-door salespersons pressuring people to be baptized.
“We need always remember that we are in this great work because of our love for God and His children and because our mission is part of God’s work and glory.”
The restoration continues
The restoration of missionary work, principles, practices and procedures continues to unfold, said Elder Uchtdorf. "We are blessed by and believe in modern revelation through living prophets and apostles."
Recent inspired missionary-related adjustments include a “Preach My Gospel” update, a new Service Missionary concept, Mission Health Councils, expanded use of digital means for finding, Safety Zone videos for all missionaries, missionary dress standards for sister missionaries, and weekly missionary calls home to family.
The role of mission leaders is not to redefine the purpose of the gospel — “but to align our efforts with it.”
“For the next three years, your opportunity and your great charge are to create a spirit of love, unity and high expectation in the mission where you have been called to serve God and His children,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “You will do this by helping your beloved and precious missionaries to be filled with a love of God, with a desire to keep His commandments, and with an authentic love for all people.”