What President M. Russell Ballard taught his son about being a ‘diligent missionary’

Some may have assumed that missionary work could not continue during the pandemic. Not only has it continued, but many missions report having more success during 2020 than in 2019. 

 Despite challenges, our missionaries have been diligent.

 As young men recite the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Theme, they say: “I will prepare to become a diligent missionary, loyal husband, and loving father by being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Brother Craig B. Ballard, Young Men general board member
Brother Craig B. Ballard, Young Men general board member Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The best and most diligent missionaries are first and foremost true disciples of Jesus Christ. The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus, meaning learner or follower. Our Savior modeled being a disciple by being diligent and obedient in all that He did. Thus, He “increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). 

To become a true disciple of Christ we should be diligent and consistent in our efforts to learn, understand and do His will. Youth can become true disciples and prepare to be diligent missionaries using the Children and Youth Program

 As they keep the commandments and are consistent and purposeful in scripture study and personal prayer, they are doing Children and Youth. As they actively participate in “Come, Follow Me” study at home, church and in seminary, they are doing Children and Youth. As young men faithfully fulfill priesthood assignments, they are doing Children and Youth.

 Young people so engaged will learn the truth of the Lord’s words when He said, “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30).

 What does it mean to become a diligent missionary? 

Diligence can be defined as consistent, valiant effort, especially in serving the Lord and obeying His word. 

When I was a young missionary serving in Japan, I was assigned with my trainer to open a new area that had not seen missionaries for many years. We diligently got up every morning and followed the missionary guidelines. Every day we would knock on doors, talk to people on the street and do anything we could think of to find somebody who was willing to listen to our message.  

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

After four months of effort, we had still not taught a full lesson to anybody. I was discouraged and wrote a letter to my father, President M. Russell Ballard, who now serves as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, saying that I was not sure I was doing any good and that I didn’t feel like I was a successful missionary.  

My father wrote me a letter that I will never forget:  

”Son, being a successful missionary has less to do with how many people you baptize and more to do with your commitment to and love of the Lord.  

“Keep following the rules, be diligent and continue to work hard. If you can report to the Lord in your prayers each night before you go to bed that you did your best to be obedient and diligent and to work hard you will feel of His love and acceptance of your efforts. As you do that every day for the entirety of your mission, you will come to know and love your Savior like never before.”

I recommitted myself to doing the best that I could to be diligent and obedient — and it was not long before things began to change and we began to see success in our efforts. More important, I did come to know and love the Savior as my father promised.

Youth who strive to be true disciples of Christ by being diligent and obedient can feel His love and influence in their lives today. 

Youth filled with the love of God make powerful missionaries! As we all strive to be true disciples now, the Lord will bless us in our desires to be diligent missionaries.

Sharing the gospel will become a natural part of who we are — pandemic or no pandemic.