For missionaries, putting on a name tag each morning is more than a style choice; it’s a reminder to serve in the Savior’s way.
“I hope you see it as a badge of honor, a symbol of your sacred assignment and your call,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to more than 1,900 new missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center. “I hope you notice, in particular, the name of Jesus Christ on that name tag. Always honor and respect that holy name through your desires and actions.”
“Let the name on your name tag remind you that just as vital as what you do is who you are — and who you are becoming. The call to represent Jesus Christ and bear witness of His name is an invitation to become more like Him.” Although this lifelong pursuit is filled with both successes and setbacks, “you will succeed, because Jesus Christ is your strength.”
Two Christlike attributes — faith and hope — were the focus of Elder Uchtdorf’s message in the Tuesday, Nov. 7, devotional that was broadcast to all of the Church’s MTCs worldwide. Joined by his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, the Apostle encouraged listeners to share with others their faith after developing it themselves.
Faith as a principle of power
“If you are going to invite someone to do something,” said Elder Uchtdorf, “you need to be willing to do it too. Therefore, every missionary must have, as a first step, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.”
This faith is a principle of power, he said, because “you trust that He will consecrate your efforts, and you repent because you trust that He will cleanse you, forgive you and make you stronger.”
When recognizing that faith produces miracles, “we do not mean that someone thinks intensely about how much he or she believes, and then something magical happens,” said Elder Uchtdorf. “We mean that someone trusts God enough to go forward, take action and do good. That is faith. Doubt and fear are opposed to faith because they stop us from taking action.”
Faith, like muscles in the arm, must be exercised to become strong, otherwise it becomes weak. Righteous living builds faith, which invites the powers of heaven and in turn inspires more righteous living, said Elder Uchtdorf.
However, a faithful person is allowed to have questions. He said: “Faith does not mean that you see clearly how things are going to turn out. Faith means moving forward anyway because you trust Jesus Christ.”
Elder James Sadler, a missionary from Topeka, Kansas, assigned to the Texas Fort Worth Mission, said afterward that the message of dynamic faith leading to miracles stood out to him. “I know my faith can continue to grow and become stronger each and every day by using the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Hope in a pessimistic world
Adjacent to faith is hope, or looking forward to a bright future despite a gloomy and cynical world.
With hope, said Elder Uchtdorf, “you can keep your confidence and optimism and enthusiasm, no matter what is going on around you and in your life — because you have faith in God’s promises, extended through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Heeding Nephi’s invitation to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20), a hopeful person perseveres with patience, said Elder Uchtdorf, “not because he or she is naive or oblivious to the problems in the world. No, the hopeful person has learned to draw strength from our ultimate source of hope, which is Jesus Christ.”
This personal hope doesn’t stop at an individual level. Missionaries, shared Elder Uchtdorf, can “spread that hope to a world that so desperately needs it — a world where too many people have given in to pessimism and despair.”
Elder Jacob Austin, a missionary from West Valley City, Utah, assigned to the Poland Warsaw Mission, said he learned that hope in Christ leads to greater strength through challenges. “If I could have the opportunity to let somebody else experience that to some degree, then the sacrifice is worth it.”
A convert to the Church of Jesus Christ, Sister Uchtdorf encouraged missionaries to share their faith and hope openly, intentionally listen to the Spirit, and find joy in serving God and His children.
“Be courageous,” she said. “Tell those you meet across the world, ‘I believe.’”
Through these courageous efforts, said Sister Uchtdorf, missionaries can also help create a brighter future for the rising generation of the Church.
She said, “Be a light to them. Be a tutor and a friend to the younger generation. This can be a beautiful part of your lives, to help other young people to love the Lord and His work. Help them to prepare to also serve a mission one day.”
“My dear missionaries,” she said, “you are amazing. And you are modern-day miracles for our times.”