PROVO, Utah — The joy one feels in the service of the Lord has little to do with circumstances faced and everything to do with one’s focus on Jesus Christ, Elder Ulisses Soares said Tuesday, June 25, at the New Mission Leadership Seminar.
“As His representatives, we are to teach people with power and authority that ‘redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah’ — who is the source of all joy,” taught Elder Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to the 164 couples of new mission presidents and companions at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
“Having a clear understanding of that in our hearts, we can rejoice in the service of the Lord even while having a bad day, a bad week or a bad year.”
As taught in the scriptures, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a condition of great happiness, he said, adding that the word describes the nature and purpose of our life here in mortality.
“As you incorporate joy in your mission culture,” he said, “everybody will be greatly blessed beginning with yourselves, then your missionaries and their families at home, those they find and teach and the local Church leaders and members.”
Elder Soares asked mission leaders to consider four questions in striving to establish a culture of joy in their missions:
- How can we fill our hearts with joy in the work?
- How can we establish a mission culture filled with joy?
- What benefits and blessings can a mission culture full of joy bring in our service?
- How can a mission culture filled with joy help our missionaries fulfill their purpose to bring souls to Jesus Christ?
He then shared five principles to help mission leaders and missionaries find joy in the work and establish a culture of joy.
Feeling joy increases our desire to share the gospel with others.
Elder Soares reviewed the joy experienced by Ammon in the Book of Mormon — first at the thought of teaching the gospel to the Lamanites, then of using the conflict at the waters of Sebus to show God’s power, and then of watching the people covenant by burying their weapons of war.
“Joy is at the heart of God’s plan for the salvation of His children,” he said. “As we experience this joy in our service, we and our missionaries can become modern Ammons and be instruments in the Lord’s hands to convert thousands of God’s children.”
Joy is a principle of power.
“The power of joy can influence the lives of many, the same way it did with Ammon and the Lamanite people,” said Elder Soares, sharing the conversion of Baptiste Prevot, a young French man who converted to the gospel as a foreign exchange student in Canada.
Prevot said he was deeply impressed by the joy and light shown by the missionaries who visited the home where he was staying. That impression was magnified as they had him read from the Book of Mormon.
“I felt surrounded by joy, light and immeasurable love — very similar to what those missionaries reflected in their countenances,” read Elder Soares from Prevot’s letter. “I had never felt such a feeling of joy in my life before, and I knew that these teachings would bring me lasting happiness and that their message was true, especially because I could see it through the joy they expressed in the way they taught me.”
The joy continued through baptism, mission, temple marriage and a family for Prevot, who was introduced with his wife by Elder Soares.
Our joy can be contagious.
Cultivating an attitude of joy in a mission is a matter of decision — one with long-lasting impact, Elder Soares said.
“The joy we find in the service of the Lord has the power to influence our missionaries during their service and for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Being a good example of what we teach is the best teacher.”
If mission leaders show continuous joy and love in the service of the Lord, especially in personal interactions with them, that influence will foster a positive attitude,” Elder Soares said.
“As we say in Brazil, my home country, ‘_A missão tem a cara dos seus lideres,_’ meaning that the missionaries reflect the attributes, habits and customs demonstrated by their mission leadership.”
He added: “I testify to you that as we experience and radiate joy in the service of the Lord, we can influence and motivate our missionaries to experience the same. Our joy must be reflected in all of our interactions.”
'Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause.'
Attributing the above quote to President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Soares said setting aside one’s personal concerns allows for growth and flourishing not only in the mission field but throughout life and into eternity.
“I testify to you that by losing ourselves in the Lord’s work, with our eye single to the glory of God, a new light will enter our lives and a renewed joy will fill our hearts. There is no other service in the world that brings more joy in our life than this.”
Focusing on Jesus Christ, we can feel joy even in the face of opposition and rejection.
Citing the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount, Elder Soares explained Christ taught His disciples they could “rejoice” and experience “exceeding joy” despite persecutions.
He encouraged mission leaders to teach missionaries to not lose the joy of the gospel when people reject their message or persecute them for being witnesses of Jesus Christ, which in turn could weaken faith and decrease effectiveness in the Lord’s work.
“I invite you to help your missionaries incorporate this principle in their hearts now because life after the mission will bring trials that sometimes feel like more than we can endure,” Elder Soares said. “If missionaries learn to rely upon Jesus Christ during their missions, they will ‘rejoice,’ experience ‘exceeding joy,’ and have the strength to overcome their life challenges.”