PROVO, UTAH — Five years ago, Sister Cristina B. Franco and her husband, then-President Rodolfo Franco, participated in the mission leadership seminar in preparation to preside over the Argentina Resistencia Mission.
President M. Russell Ballard, now acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke at this seminar, inspiring Sister Franco.
At the 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar, Sister Franco — who currently serves as second counselor in the Primary general presidency — shared President Ballard’s timeless counsel, including five principles for mission leaders, “in hopes that it will bless you, enlighten your minds, and give you the further direction and guidance you may be seeking.”
The five principles, taught by President Ballard, include:
1. Don’t preach. Instead, implement the Lord’s council system.
“The more you seek to include your missionaries in meetings and discussions, the more you will show your faith in them,” said Sister Franco. “They will, in turn, express the same in you.”
2. Provide a vision.
“You have been set apart to seek, receive and portray revelation for the mission to which you are assigned. I encourage you to diligently and humbly seek this revelation. Take time to consider your mission and its history, your missionaries, and the people you serve. Prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in the scriptures. He will direct you,” she said.
3. Encourage free expression.
“As mission leaders, you have been given power and influence to inspire your flock to do the best they can,” Sister Franco said. “In your interactions with your missionaries and those in your mission boundaries, identify and express admiration for the strong and positive traits you see in them. Your missionaries trust you. Your lasting influence with your missionaries is powerful. Your recognition and admiration will encourage them to be successful.”
Part of missionary service is development, she said. “As your missionaries feel your encouragement to appropriately express themselves in accomplishing the success of the work, they will gain greater confidence and feel a stronger sense of unity in the mission.”
4. Empower sister training leaders.
“Sister missionaries come prepared with an innate spiritual depth and awareness unique to their gender,” she said. “They are sensitive, observant, and deeply desire to serve obediently.
“Listen to your sisters. Encourage their participation in all meetings, discussions, and decisions. Lean on their experience, their intelligence and their unique abilities to accomplish work that others may not be able to do.”
5. Practice until the council system is deeply rooted into the mission culture.
“The council system is to, first, identify the issue to be solved, improved or changed. This may require some lengthy explanation and orientation on your part to give your council adequate information about the issue.
“Second, open the discussion for participation from all members to help generate possible solutions, ideas, improvements or changes. Ask open-ended questions and listen. Keep the discussion focused on the issue. Allow the Spirit to teach and lead you and council members. Be kind and validating in your recognition of all input. Then, make plans to accomplish what the group has been led to do.”
This principle of counseling together is a foundational principle of leadership development in missionaries. “Empower them through counseling,” she said.
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of leadership and love, said Sister Franco. “This is His Church. This work is real. …
“I’m eternally thankful for the two missionaries who knocked on my parents’ door when I was 3 years old. They influenced not only my parents, siblings and my life, but also the lives of our posterity and all of the lives that we have and will touch for eternity.”