4 fears keeping you from doing missionary work — and how to overcome them

When it comes to good news like a blockbuster movie, a fun app or a new restaurant, it’s easy to share with friends and family in a heartbeat. 

Why, then, don’t Church members always do the same with the gospel?

The fears and concerns that keep Church members from doing missionary work can be formidable, but not insurmountable, Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, taught in an Ensign College devotional broadcast on Jan. 26. “If we can recognize and identify our concerns, the sources of our doubts, then we can fight them,” he said.

He addressed four of the most common concerns that plague prospective member-missionaries, and how to overcome them.

We don’t have the missionary spirit

Many Church members feel they don’t have the desire or yearning to share the gospel, but it is something they can and must gain. 

“As we become more like the Savior, we will develop the same desire to care for and love one another as He did,” Elder Jackson said. “It’s called empathy, charity and friendship, or, in other words, the missionary spirit. They are one and the same.”

Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, speaks during an Ensign College devotional broadcast on Jan. 26, 2021.
Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, speaks during an Ensign College devotional broadcast on Jan. 26, 2021. Credit: Screenshot

After baptism, Church members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and it is up to them to keep the Spirit with them through obedience.

“Everyone can and should have the missionary spirit. It is a natural byproduct of trying to be like the Savior,” Elder Jackson said.

We are not qualified to be missionaries

The Lord spelled out the qualifications to be a missionary in Doctrine and Covenants 4:5-6: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”

The attributes are similar to being a true friend, which is the key to successful missionary work.

One doesn’t need to be a scriptorian or have a degree in public speaking in order to be a missionary. “What we need, what qualifies us to be effective and competent missionaries is to possess a testimony of the gospel and to live it,” Elder Jackson said.

We don’t know how to be missionaries

Church members already know how to share the gospel, Elder Jackson said. “By living the gospel … we are automatically functioning as missionaries,” he said.

“The most effective way to be a good missionary is through the power of example.”

One way to set an example of the gospel is through sincere service. Christ Himself came to the earth to serve and minister to others. Service is “one of the highest forms of true friendship,” Elder Jackson said.

He suggested smiling at others, greeting new or unfamiliar people at church, making a phone call, inviting someone to an activity or outing, giving a ride to a member or investigator to church and other small acts of service. 

Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, speaks during an Ensign College devotional broadcast on Jan. 26, 2021.
Elder William K. Jackson, General Authority Seventy, speaks during an Ensign College devotional broadcast on Jan. 26, 2021. Credit: Screenshot

Church members can be completely sincere when extolling the virtues of the restored Church of Jesus Christ because it is true.

“Just live the gospel, love our neighbors and create opportunities for the Spirit to touch another soul,” Elder Jackson said. “Love, share and invite. Practice what we preach. Nothing could or should be more natural.”

We don’t want to offend or alienate our friends or family members

“Sharing, especially something genuinely special to you, done sincerely, will never offend a true friend,” Elder Jackson said.

How does he know this? He shared a few experiences he had meeting members of other faiths — a Jewish rabbi, a Jain temple priest and a young Muslim man. Each of these people shared something sacred and special with Elder Jackson and his family. The rabbi shared a Hanukkah feast, the Jain priest gave a small stone statue of one of his gods, and the Muslim man gave a copy of the Quran.

“Was I or my family members offended by these people? Did their sharing with me those things most dear to them make me angry?” Elder Jackson asked. “Not in the least. I was flattered. I felt special. A bond was formed that will never be broken.

“We should take note of their willingness to share with others not of their faith, and go and do likewise.”

Church members have not been called to convert the whole world — just to share and help the Savior by exposing people to the truth, he said. “We create opportunities for the Spirit to influence others and touch hearts so that they can make up their own minds. That is how the Savior taught.”

There are many beautiful teachings of the restored Church to share with others, along with the wonderful gift of the Book of Mormon.

Missionary work is not so hard or all that scary, Elder Jackson said. “It’s just serving and loving those around us. It is being a good friend. It is being Christian and creating opportunities for the Spirit, who has been given the assignment of doing all the heavy lifting. Loving, sharing and inviting in a normal and natural way.”

Church members have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “It is our obligation and our great privilege to share it in so many different ways.”