Menu

‘Let love be the motivator in your missionary service,’ says President Johnson to Provo MTC

‘You will be joy-filled missionaries, distinct from the world, when love of God and your neighbor drives your missionary efforts,’ says President Camille N. Johnson to training missionaries

In the decade of 2009 to 2019, every member of President Camille N. Johnson’s immediate family served a full-time mission. These missions — including her call to serve with her husband, Brother Douglas R. Johnson, as mission leaders in the Peru Arequipa Mission — became “a remarkable time of spiritual growth in our family” as they learned two lessons: how to love God and how to love their neighbors.

“That, upon reflection, is why our family’s decade of missionary service was life-changing, because each of us found the Savior, relied upon the Savior and loved Him in a more profound way than we ever had before,” said President Johnson, Relief Society general president. “And loving Him, we loved our neighbors and friends from Samoa to Ecuador to Italy and Peru.”

President Camille N. Johnson standing at a pulpit and holding her hands in the shape of a heart.
President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president, makes a heart symbol with her hands following a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Speaking to missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center on Dec. 12, President Johnson shared that strength in missionary work comes from loving God and others, seeking spiritual instruction through revelation and finding Christ in temple worship. Brother Johnson gave brief remarks as well, testifying that obedience brings miracles.

President Johnson said, “You will be joy-filled missionaries, distinct from the world, when love of God and your neighbor drives your missionary efforts.”

A missionary wearing a white shirt and tie, standing up and speaking into a microphone.
A missionary gives an answer to the question “How have you felt the love of God this week?” during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Love leads to service

Servants of the Lord are motivated by the love of God and the opportunity to share that love with those around them.

“We show our love for Him by loving and serving our neighbor with ‘heart, might, mind and strength’ (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2),” said President Johnson. “So, sisters and elders, let love be the motivator in your missionary service.”

As missionaries feel the love of God, they are impelled to partner with Him to provide relief to others, she said.

“When we’re deliberate in looking for the love of God, we recognize that He is showering us with His love every single day. When we recognize His love for us, we love Him purely in return and are possessed of that attribute of charity.”

Loving the One who “first loved us” (1 John 4:19) allows missionaries to strengthen relationships with both those they serve and with Heavenly Father. President Johnson said, “I am confident you will love the people you have been called to serve, and in loving them, you will want to give them the opportunity for a covenant relationship with God.”

President Camille N. Johnson speaking at a pulpit to a large congregation of missionaries.
President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president, speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Seeking spiritual instruction

A missionary call to serve, she said, is the result of revelation. It’s a call that starts with a missionary’s decision to serve and an assignment by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, acting with the authorization of the President of the Church. 

“All of that has come through revelation — your own, linked to the revelation of a member of the Twelve, linked to the Prophet,” she said. “It is magnificent to be a part of that revelation chain.”

President Camille N. Johnson standing at a pulpit and pointing forward.
President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president, points to a missionary to have him answer the question “How have you felt the love of God this week?” during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Just as a missionary calling comes by revelation, missionaries can be led by the Spirit as they receive revelation. President Johnson said that in a mission experience, “you can cultivate your ability to recognize and understand the Spirit. So, I invite you to ask in your prayers for the Spirit to manifest Himself in a way you can recognize and understand.”

She warned against “analysis paralysis,” or worrying whether an idea is a prompting from the Spirit or a personal thought and consequently being hesitant to move forward.

“Don’t do that to yourself,” President Johnson encouraged. “Be worthy of the Spirit, and get to work. Start down the road. If the Lord needs you in another direction, He’ll figure out a way to turn you around if you are humble, teachable and obedient.”

President Camille N. Johnson speaking at a pulpit to a large congregation of missionaries.
President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president, speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Finding Christ in temple worship

She shared a quote from Church President Russell M. Nelson, who said, “Everything taught in the temple, through instruction and through the Spirit, increases our understanding of Jesus Christ.”

In response to the Prophet’s insight, President Johnson has tried “to see Jesus Christ in every ordinance, in every action, in our temple clothing. ... Let your incoming to the temple be focused on Him. Then, as you leave the temple and keep the covenants you have made there, you will have access to His priesthood power.”

One access to priesthood power is the ability endowed members have of wearing the temple garment. Endowed members who wear the temple garment as instructed show they “are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).

The garment, said President Johnson, is a daily physical reminder of one’s covenant relationship with God.

“Each day, when we dress in the temple garment, we have a sweet opportunity to reflect on the Savior, how He lived, what He has done for us and how He wants us to live.” She continued, “Wearing the temple garment is evidence of our choice to be chosen to participate in the King’s wedding feast” (see Matthew 22:1-10).

Brother Douglas R. Johnson wearing a suit and tie and speaking from a pulpit at the Provo MTC.
Brother Douglas R. Johnson — husband of President Camille N. Johnson, Relief Society general president — speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

‘Miracles in the evening’

While serving as mission leaders, President and Brother Johnson had a motto in their mission: “Obedience in the morning, diligence in the afternoon, miracles in the evening.”

“Knowing about miracles that can come from diligence and obedience changed me for the rest of my life,” said Brother Johnson.

He promised that each missionary will have opportunities to see those miracles. He said, “Heavenly Father is not going to put you out here and not let you have that opportunity to remember your mission with fondness and the joy that you had when you saw the miracles come.”

Related Story
Relief Society and Primary general presidents share the light of the Savior in Philippines ministry
Miracles have not ceased, Elder Rasband tells missionaries at Provo MTC during devotional held on a day of ‘gratitude and thanksgiving’
Today is President Johnson’s birthday. Here are 9 of her quotes from the past year
Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed

See how YSAs have gathered around the world from Cambodia to Africa.

Speaking to more than 100 gathered in the Church History Museum auditorium, Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy, explored several key historic events of Church history to show a pattern of continued revelation in the restoration of the gospel.

Elder Andersen teaches elementary school students about family, President Lund tells ‘outcast’ young men that the Lord has blessings for them, Sister Wright posts about ‘seeing’ others.

In the Church News video "Nauvoo Exodus," leaders and those in historic Nauvoo, Illinois, remember early Church members as they make the mile-long walk down Parley Street to the Mississippi River.

BYU Women's Conference has announced its 2024 keynote speakers. Young women and their leaders are invited to join a Wednesday evening event.

These new mission presidents and companions have been called to serve by the First Presidency. They will begin their service in July.