Elder Uchtdorf at Mission Leadership Seminar: Assuring new mission leaders ‘you are not alone’

Prophets, leaders and great missionaries of ancient times, the modern restoration and the present day have all been surprised by their calls to serve the Lord, feeling somewhat uncertain and unprepared.

“I am sure that you feel that in a similar way,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf to new mission presidents and companions attending the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar.

And yet those prophets, leaders and great missionaries each humbly went forth to serve the Lord, proclaiming His name and inviting others to come unto Him, said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council.

In his concluding address at the June 26-27 virtual seminar, Elder Uchtdorf repeated with reassurance the phrase “you are not alone” to the 135 mission leadership couples watching from throughout the world, underscoring their advance preparation for their upcoming service.

He used scriptures and eternal perspectives to reassure the mission presidents and companions that they can be like those in the past, moving from feeling unprepared or unworthy to becoming faithful and mighty.

‘My grace is sufficient’

Elder Uchtdorf noted Paul speaking of his own call: “[The Savior] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

A monitor shows a number of the 135 couples of new mission presidents and companions participating in the virtual 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar.
A monitor shows a number of the 135 couples of new mission presidents and companions participating in the virtual 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Latter-day Apostle followed with Moroni’s teaching from Ether 12:27. “And if men [and women] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men [and women] weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men [and women] that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Elder Uchtdorf reviewed the support and resources — from printed and digital materials to mentors, Missionary Department staff and others — available to the new mission leaders in the months since their first interview with a member of the Twelve and the call from the First Presidency to preside and serve.

“All of these resources and people will continue to be a tremendous help to you as you begin your service — you are not alone,” he said.

“Most importantly, you have God’s words, His Holy Scriptures and the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, and you have a channel to speak directly to your and our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ in prayer. The Father and the Son direct this work through the Holy Ghost — you are never alone.”

Jacob’s parable in the Book of Mormon about those laboring in the Lord’s vineyard includes the line that “the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them” (Jacob 5:7).

“Our Lord and Master, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, has been laboring in your mission before you will arrive,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “He will labor with you while you serve, and He will continue to labor with the people in your mission long after you have returned home.

“With all this help and support, you may enter the mission field full of confidence that you have been sent prepared to serve as mission leaders and as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not alone.”

He assured his listeners that the Lord knew of their call. “As the scriptures teach, you were reserved, chosen, received lessons, prepared, called and ordained before you were born to serve as mission presidents and mission leaders.”

‘A great missionary revelation’

Elder Uchtdorf drew attention to section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants — “a great missionary revelation” — and had participants follow along in their scriptures while video clips showed several new mission presidents and companions reading the section’s seven verses.

Doctrine and Covenants section 4.
Doctrine and Covenants section 4. Credit: Sydney Walker

He invited the new mission leaders to liken the section to themselves — and to help their missionaries do the same — by becoming familiar with it, quoting it frequently and applying it.

The Apostle reviewed key phrases from section 4:

  • Verse 2 — “Embarking in the service of God” speaks directly to missionaries and mission leaders, he said, asking them to allow the following phrase — “see that ye serve [God] with all your heart, might, mind and strength” — to sink deeply into their hearts.
  • Verse 4 — The oft-quoted missionary verse outlines for mission leaders and missionaries the expected outcome of their service, Elder Uchtdorf said. “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, [they] that thrusteth in [their sickles] with [their] might, the same layeth up in store that [they] perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to [their souls].”
  • Verses 5 and 6 — These verses contain words that should permeate the hearts and minds of those in missionary service, he said, listing faith, hope, charity and love, an eye single to the glory of God, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility and diligence.

“As you ponder on these words, they become second nature to all of your thinking and behavior during your missions. The same is true for your missionaries.”

  • Verse 7 — Calling it the capstone verse, Elder Uchtdorf underscored the phrase “ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”and equated it to James 1:5, which prompted Joseph Smith in 1820 to experience the First Vision. He encouraged new mission leaders to join with their missionaries in likening this verse to themselves throughout their service and lives.

And, he added with emphasis, “It confirms again you are never alone in this work.”

Chosen and prepared

He reminded the new mission presidents and companions that they have been chosen and prepared to guide, lead and bless their missionaries in both inspired and inspiring ways, “that they too will never feel alone.”

In conclusion, Elder Uchtdorf offered “my blessing of peace, comfort, wisdom, joy, happiness and excitement for the mission you have been prepared to serve — prepared before you were born.

“Please always remember: You are never alone!”