Mission leaders who become transformed by the Savior through their preparation and Christlike service can lead their missionaries through a similar transformation extending well beyond full-time mission service.
“As you are transformed by the Savior, you will help the missionaries to do and become the same,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “As they are transformed by Christ, they will love, share, invite and help God’s children to come unto Jesus Christ and his divine Church here on the earth. They will find and teach them the doctrine of Christ: to believe more fully in the Redeemer of the world, repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, become disciples of Christ and endure to the end.
“Few things will help the missionaries fulfill their missionary purpose more fully than finding and experiencing Christ as the center of their mission and their life. Doing so will bring great joy to their souls.”
Concluding a three-year assignment as chair of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council, Elder Uchtdorf spoke in the June 24 morning session in the Conference Center Theater.
With the COVID-19 pandemic well into its second year of limiting gatherings and travel, the annual seminar was again livestreamed across the world to new mission presidents and their companions — this year to 109 couples watching remotely who will begin their three-year service next month.
The new leaders will be serving in one of the 22 missions across 14 U.S. states or 87 missions headquartered in 49 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
Elder Uchtdorf reminded the new mission leaders of President Russell M. Nelson’s emphasis on the gathering of Israel, the work to which they have been called.
“There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important,” President Nelson taught in the June 2018 Worldwide Youth Devotional. “There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing. This [work] should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to Earth.”
Acknowledging that the new mission leaders had been prepared for their calls throughout their lives and even before in premortal settings (see Jeremiah 1:5), Elder Uchtdorf listed their specific preparations since most received their calls at the first of the year.
- Becoming familiar with the missionary purpose, “Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Work” and a number of handbooks, including “Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ,” the Mission President’s Handbook and its updates, “Adjusting to Missionary Life” and “Safeguards for Using Technology.”
- Meeting several times a month with a mentor.
- Watching videos and reviewing materials regarding missionary health and safety.
- Learning from 35 podcasts covering topics ranging from the Book of Mormon to mental health.
- Participating in several pre-field meetings and webinars on online finding, teaching and other topics.
- Meeting with a Missionary Department finance representative regarding housing, moving, schools and taxes, and meeting with the Travel Department to arrange visas and flights.
- And settling home, work and family affairs.
‘The most worth unto you’
In a revelation to 26-year-old John Whitmer, the Lord said: “For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you” (Doctrine and Covenants 15:4).
Given all the preparations, training and areas of emphasis, both mission leaders and missionaries may wonder what is of most worth unto them, Elder Uchtdorf said.
Priorities change depending on the situation, such as missionary safety in the face of a natural or man-made disaster.
He then offered “a long view” of what it means to be a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.
“I believe that if the Lord is asked the question, ‘What is of most worth unto me?’ He might keep it very simple and might respond, ‘Let Me be your Mentor. Deepen your faith in Me. Learn of Me. Trust Me. Fear not. I am with you always.’ ”
Talk of Christ
Elder Uchtdorf taught that mission leaders should talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, prophesy of Christ and write of Christ so that the missionaries, local members and leaders, and the people encountered will know that you care and “to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (see 2 Nephi 25:26).
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It is natural, with time and efforts dedicated to the work of salvation, that leaders will deepen their faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ, he said.
“There will be times when you will drop to your knees seeking help, direction and inspiration because there is no other person you can to turn to. That is exactly where you need to go. … The Lord will refine your senses, your compassion, your love for God and His children — if you let Him.”
Love, share and invite
Elder Uchtdorf personalized the principles of love, share and invite in hopes of helping the new leaders deepen their love for Christ during the next three years.
“As you focus on strengthening your relationships with the Savior, you will want to appropriately share your spiritual journey with the missionaries in various settings — not by putting the spotlight on yourself but by directing the light upon Jesus Christ. He is at the center of your mission and the missionaries’ mission. He is at the center of His work. He is the center of our sacred temples. And He is the center of our lives.”
Missionaries will learn the importance of deepening their commitment and experience with the Savior by observing and learning from their leaders, Elder Uchtdorf said. The missionaries then will naturally draw upon their own experiences in deepening their faith, hope and love in Christ to teach those they meet.
“As you focus on Him, the Lord will multiply and bless your efforts and your work, and your service will be perfected in Him, as promised the in the scriptures.”
One way to experience the continuing transformation of the missionaries through Jesus Christ is by helping them to provide Christlike service, said Elder Uchtdorf, encouraging the leaders to serve with the missionaries, members and leaders in communities and church units.
“Our missionaries serve because they love the Lord and love their neighbors without expecting a reward or recognition. But be assured, the Lord always blesses our missionaries for doing His will.”
He highlighted two of many blessings that stem from service — that missionaries will feel they are part of a greater cause and that their service will create people’s interest in who they are, why they are there and what their real motives are.