Greater faith in missions comes when ‘higher love’ blends with ‘higher expectations’, Elder Andersen teaches

Missions, missionaries and missionary work prosper “when they are led with high love and high expectations — all leading to greater faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

That was the seasoned counsel shared Thursday, June 24, at the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

 “The Savior has shown us how to genuinely help those we love,” he said. “Our Heavenly Father will respond to our greater faith in His Son by blessing us with His miracles.” 

Elder Andersen began his remarks to the new mission presidents and their wives by noting that 32 years had passed since he and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, started their own mission assignment together in Bordeaux, France.

“Kathy and I remember with amazing clarity the powerful spiritual feelings of the days just prior to starting our mission and the first days following our arrival. We are delighted that you will have these unforgettable memories as well.”

The scriptures, he added, will “come alive” in new ways as the newly called mission leaders begin their respective assignments together.

Elder Andersen then taught that success in missionary work depends upon linking  “higher expectations” to “higher love.” 

Elder Neil L. Andersen shares message on building relationships with missionaries and increasing faith during his June 24, 2021, address at the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders.
Elder Neil L. Andersen shares message on building relationships with missionaries and increasing faith during his June 24, 2021, address at the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

If a mission pursues high expectations without higher love, the result will be missionaries consumed with goals and achievement — but with insufficient personal caring and love.

“This can lead to numerical results, but without true repentance or conversion,” he said. “Without sufficient love, we can find at times dishonesty in reporting and insincerity in missionaries’ connection with you, their mission leaders.”

Conversely, “higher love” in a mission without expectations to “reach out with faith in Jesus Christ ” results in fewer spiritual goals and little stretching. “We have love and friendship but with fewer miracles,” he said.

But a mission that develops a culture of higher love and higher expectations, he promised, finds more trust in the Savior, more sincere finding, more prayerful goals, more spiritual power and more miracles.

“As we follow the example of the Savior, we can better magnify our love, our expectations, and our missionaries’ faith in Jesus Christ, causing a greater flood of miracles.”

Leading the missionaries with Christlike love

Elder Andersen testified that divinely guided love can “ignite in your missionaries” a desire to increase their faith. When mission leaders magnify their love for their elders and sisters, their faith in Christ is simultaneously magnified.

“Your influence will begin in your first meeting,” he said. “You will love them to the end, but you will feel a powerful love from the very beginning. Plan enough time for your first interview. Listen. Take notes. Personal information about a missionary’s parents, siblings, motivations, fears, and strength of testimony will be critical to future revelation. 

“Through your mission, you will come to discern the hearts and minds of each missionary. The revelation you will receive in helping your missionaries will be undeniable.”

During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ met people where He found them and then invited them to greater faith. He combined His love and His personal invitations.

For example, in the account of the Savior and the rich young ruler, Christ invited the young man to even greater faith by giving up all he possessed and following Him. 

“Even though this young man did not accept the Savior’s invitation and went away sorrowful, Jesus was not hesitant to invite him to be more than he was,” said Elder Andersen. “Sadly, the young man missed the opportunity of having a close, personal relationship with the Savior of the World.”

In another insightful moment from the New Testament, a woman caught in adultery was brought before the Savior. Again, the Lord met her where she was, and then invited her to “Go, and sin no more.”

In each case, taught Elder Andersen, “the Savior had expectations and direction measured for the specific individual. Yet in each case, those expectations invited greater faith and trust in God.”

Finally, when Jesus healed the man who was blind from birth, He also prepared and invited the man to grow in his faith in the Lord.

“Once again, we see that Jesus met this noble man where he was, realizing his specific need. Here, however, we are taught that as the man expanded his faith and capacity, the Savior raised His expectations. The blind man first saw Jesus as a man, then as a prophet, and then as the Son of God.”

Through his own experiences, Elder Andersen has learned that following the Savior’s pattern of “combining love and expectations” always blesses lives, strengthens faith and leads to miracles.

Elder Andersen then shared experiences from his own missionary service in Bordeaux, France, that boosted his own faith and love for those he served. Each missionary, he learned, is unique. Mission leaders should develop different goals and expectations for each individual elder or sister.

“In guiding your missionaries, you will find that you need, at times, to correct them and help them reset their course,” he said. “How do you correct a missionary in the Savior’s way? You certainly don’t allow yourself to raise your voice in anger. You stay humble and prayerful, listening for the promptings of the Holy Ghost on what to say and how to say it. 

“You build a personal relationship of love so you can correct the missionary by showing personal disappointment, rehearsing the standards the Lord requires, and, at times, soliciting the help of other missionaries, priesthood leaders, and, at times, their parents.”

Faith-centered goals move missions forward

Elder Andersen counseled the new mission leaders to establish and work toward baptismal goals.

“In my opinion, monthly mission baptismal goals, along with daily and weekly goals, are very important,” he said “They help our missionaries to stay on their knees, pleading for miracles. They help them to work hard, challenge those whom they are teaching and to engage themselves with all their hearts.”

Remember, goals and greater faith in the Savior — reflected in higher expectations — move a mission forward. “There is a power that can cause those things that should happen, to happen. It can cause a soul that is dormant to awaken unto God. Faith is power.”

Wherever the new mission leaders are called to serve, their missionaries will be teaching repentance and inviting all to come unto Christ. Faith, assured Elder Andersen, brings miracles.

“Your mission might be in France or in the DR Congo, and your baptismal results will differ widely, but seeing someone become truly converted, and enter into the kingdom of God, and remain faithful, can be life changing.”