12 Misconceptions About Missionary Work.
Is one of the 12 misconceptions about missionary work holding you back from sharing the Gospel? Here are 12 misconceptions about missionary work. We either tell ourselves these things, or we’ve been told them by others. Once we understand these are misconceptions, we can overcome them, and receive the blessings of sharing the Gospel. And, once we are true member missionaries, we truly will unleash an army that would make hell itself shake in fear.
1st. It’s the missionaries job, not mine.
This is the most common misconception, “It’s not my duty, it’s the missionaries” it has taken hold in the culture and stems from the idea that missionaries do the missionary work. But the doctrine is they are to help us do our missionary work.When I was a missionary, I was talking with a ward mission leader and he asked, “What is your goal in this area Elder Goff?” and I replied, “We are here to help the members in their missionary duties” He replied “That is a nice propaganda line” I replied “That’s the doctrine” he replied “where does it say that?” I told him “April 2008 Elder Bednar.”This Ward Mission leader was humble, and he read the talk, then the following fast Sunday he stood up and bore his testimony about our conversation he then told the congregation (paraphrasing) “It is not propaganda, it is doctrine, I’ve had it wrong my whole life, we’ve all had it wrong, let’s do our duty”
Here is what he read that changed his mind.
“A common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!”
Elder David A. Bednar April 2008
Sharing the Gospel is every members duty.
2nd. We are “helping” the missionaries, in “missionary work”.
When the missionaries ask for help teaching a lesson, or for a ride, we often think to ourselves “Do I have time to help the missionaries?” Often the reply is nope, I am too busy. We should be rethinking this to “Do I have the time to keep my covenants? Do I have time to help hasten Salvation?” or “Do I have time to teach my family I am a disciple of Christ?” When we approach the work of Salvation as a covenanted duty we find added measures of the spirit to help us in all other endeavors of life.
I’ve seen marriages mend, children embrace the gospel, finances turn around, and people and families find greater joy and happiness. Do you want those things? Then, put your shoulder to the wheel of the work of Salvation.
3rd. I must be perfect to share the Gospel, or I am a hypocrite.
No one except Christ is perfect. The thought we must be perfect to share the Gospel comes from Satan. He’s afraid of the good we will do and is trying to stop us. The thought that one should wait to get better before going to the hospital makes no sense. The key with sharing the Gospel, we just need to be trying, and say, “Come with me, as I try to be better”. If we are trying, then the Spirit will validate our words, and we will find chances to share the Gospel, and we will be genuine.
One of the best member missionaries I’ve ever known was a lady named Ruth. She struggled with smoking and drinking and never came to church. We started teaching this lady and she started trying to keep the commandments, she stilled smoked, drank, and rarely came to church, but she was trying. She realized living the Gospel alone is hard, jokingly I said then get your friends to do it also. And she did. She started inviting all of her friends to join with her! From this one less active lady over 15 referrals, and four of her friends were baptized!
“Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.”
Elder Jeffery R. Holland.
4th. I need to know everything about the Gospel.
We must study the scriptures, but you don’t need to be an expert to share the Gospel. When someone asks about the Gospel they want a personal testimony of why you believe, and what you believe. You should know “why” you believe. When it comes to the “what” of the Gospel, the doctrines of the Gospel are vast and can take a life of learning, to just scratch the surface. There is nothing wrong with replying to a question “I don’t know, let me find out. I’ll talk with the missionaries and get back to you” this shows them the missionaries can help answer the “questions of the soul”.In many faiths, questions are discouraged. But, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints questions are encouraged. The Gospel is all encompassing, and because it is so large there is nothing wrong with the fact you’re still learning about the Gospel, we all are! Just keep learning, and sharing.
Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:85
5th. I don’t need to speak, my example is good enough.
On my mission before a district meeting one week, we were in the Relief Society room. I saw on the chalkboard the famous quote “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words” it was from the RS lesson the week before, I shook my head and rewrote it. “Preach the gospel at all times, it’s necessary to use words”. I thought nothing of it, the members did not give many referrals in this ward at the time, and it was a small way for me to vent.
I forgot to erase what I did. When Sunday morning came around the Ward Council started and about 10 minutes in, the RS president noticed the quote had changed, and said, “Someone changed my quote”. My trainer looked at me. I was nervous as the Bishop read the new quote out loud. A discussion started “Do we need to use words to Preach the Gospel?” for the next 20 minutes that became the topic of Ward Council. They talked about how actions are good, but we need to combine our actions with words and invitations. It was a mini miracle. The doctrine was settled with this verse.
….the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.
Doctrine and Covenants 71:1
Things in this ward changed, and we started to have miracles and referrals. Baptisms and Temple trips followed. We must live the Gospel, but to share it, we must use words.
Far too often we judge our efforts on results. We ask missionaries “How many people did you baptize?” We should not judge efforts based on results. You never know the effect of your efforts, after all, Abinadi did not baptize anyone, but look what fruits his labors produced! He did not see the fruits in this life.President Wilkey (my mission president) would often tell us “In this mission the average is nine positive contacts with the church before they will be baptized” You might be the first or the seventh, some of you will be the ninth, but everyone plays a role, and without the first, third, and eight, the ninth would not have success.In finding there is one rule of success, did you try to share the Gospel? If you did, you’re successful. We cannot control the agency of others, we can’t base our efforts on their actions. We can base it off our actions. On my mission we had something called “Invitations to learn” or “ITL’s”. It was to remind us that our effort was to talk, reach out and share. It was up to them if they listened, accepted, and acted upon it.
In this battle for the souls of men, our effort is what we need to focus on, not numbers, and not quota’s or results.
“Many of the things you can count, do not count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf April
7th. I am an RM I’ve done my missionary work.
There is a tragic thought among returning missionaries. “I’ve done my duty, it is time to return home to real life” If that is your thought, you missed one of the most important lessons of your mission. And, like Peter, you’ve returned to your nets.
The lesson? Not just to be good people, but to “follow Christ”, and help others find, and follow him. You have already covenanted to “feed His sheep” forever. I learned this lesson when I heard these words from Elder Holland, it changed my life forever. (below is the final eight minutes of the talk, I highly recommend you listen to it, and the whole talk. If you don’t have the time to listen below are the paragraphs that affected me the most.)
“You need to decide tonight whether you’re on a course that’s committed to the idea that you really do love God. You really do love the Savior. And if you do, and I know you do, and I pray you do, and we’ll all do this together, we’ll all march into the future together, but when you do, and when you say that and when you believe that then you’re call is to feed His sheep, forever.
Now, can you understand why you must never and may never and can never come back? It will never be the same again. Peter, you can’t go home. You can’t go back to fish. You can’t go back to Galilee. You can’t go back to boats. It’s over. It is a new life, a new day, a new time. This Mission marks that hour in your life. You cannot go back. And if you do, you will break my heart, and you will break the heart of God himself. If you turn your back on the gospel of Jesus Christ, which you have pledged your life, or, at least, these next two years or eighteen months, to teach. But my point is that it isn’t just eighteen months, and it isn’t just two years. And I stand here at 49 years and counting, and say, I pray that it’s never ever over for me. And I pray that it’s never ever over for you.
And if you are ever tempted on your Mission, or after, to leave this faith, or commit a transgression, or to walk away from the covenants you’ve made, and the honesty of your heart – not assuming that you’re going to be perfect, and knowing that we’re all going to have to repent every day of our lives about something – but your course needs to be true. You need to stay the course. You need to see it through. You can’t go back. You’ve left your nets, and you’re going to feed sheep. You’re going to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, for time and eternity.
Boy, that’s weighty to put on the shoulders of a 19-year-old sitting in Provo, Utah. Or a 21-year-old, or whatever you are. But that’s what this adds up to be. “Do you love me? Well then, feed my sheep. And do it forever.”
8th. I’m too busy to do missionary work
God has given us the whole day, and He asks us to do many things. We must learn the balancing act of life. The talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks Good, Better, and Best is a good reference. Sharing the Gospel does not take long, and if you’re living right, and praying for opportunities you will find them, and they will be worth every minute they cost.
It is important to remember other than raising your family, the work of salvation is the most important thing you could do. And, participating in the work of salvation is one of the best things you can do for your family. And, if you want an eternal family you need to keep your covenants, and you’ve covenanted to help in the hastening of salvation.
9th. God won’t answer my prayers.
Missionaries always ask people, “will you pray for opportunities to share the gospel?”. When I returned from my mission I casually prayed for “opportunities” they never came. Back in April (of 2015) I was thinking about it. God answers all faithful prayers right? I need to pray with faith, and real intent! I started praying “Father, please, bless me with an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone tomorrow, bless me with a chance to bear my testimony or to help them” as I am writing this it is the middle of May. I’ve been blessed with “opportunities” to share the Gospel with many people, bearing testimonies, I’ve been able to help give out 5+ copies of the Book of Mormon, I’ve given three referrals to the missionaries of people who agreed to meet with them. Every one of these “opportunities” came from God, in answer to a plea to have a chance to share the Gospel.
God answers prayers, pray for opportunities to share the Gospel! Then, share your experiences with others to inspire their faith! And, encourage them to pray for experiences!
10th. I live in Utah, there is no one to share the Gospel with.
There is work to do in ever part of the vineyard. There is no exception clause in the command to share the Gospel. Every area of the vineyard has work to do, sometimes it just takes a different face. President Benson gave us 5 things we can do to fulfill “Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel”
- “You can live the principles of the gospel.”
- “We can prepare our sons to serve missions.”
- “We can financially support the missionary program.”
- “We can introduce our friends and neighbors to the missionaries.”
- “We can participate in missionary service by preparing for and serving a mission.”
Each of us can be doing, at least, one of these 5 things no matter our circumstances. Even if it is just the first one, live the gospel, serve others, love them like Christ loves them, sometimes that is the perfect way to be an emissary of Christ, is to be there for them.
Also, Home Teaching is missionary work!
“Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.”
Harold B. Lee
11th. None of my friends are ready.
Let me reply with a short story from my mission.
The lesson after dinner had just ended, and then the question everyone knew was coming was asked, “Has a name come into your mind?”. “Yes” replied the member. “But, they’re not ready”. The missionaries replied “The Spirit is telling you they’re ready” “Ok, it is my friend Glenn”…
Fast forward the member shared the Gospel with their friend who was “Not ready” they accepted it, were baptized and, this friend shared the story with us. He said, “I am the friend who was not ready, I stand before you today, asking you not to judge, but to let the Spirit guide” The man at the time was functioning as the 2nd councilor in my mission presidency. He told us “We don’t know who is ready, the Spirit does”.
I am thankful that member followed the Spirit to share the Gospel with their friend. I learned so much from President Goodrich.
12th. If I share the Gospel, I could “lose” my friends.
This is the largest fear members have. I love this friend, I don’t want to ruin my friendship. Out of love for that friend, fast and pray for the Spirit to direct you in sharing the Gospel with them. And, if you follow the Spirit, and that friend gets mad at you. You will need to ask yourself. Do I love God or man? Do I follow God or man? Always act out of love, help them FEEL your love, and the most offense will be avoided.
In closing, the work of Salvation is the mission of the church. In April of 1982, President Spencer W Kimball addressed the mission of the church.
“The mission of the Church is threefold:
First, to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
Secondly, to perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
Thirdly, to redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth. (See Ensign, May 1981, p. 5.)
All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) I renew that declaration today.”
~President Spencer W Kimball
Let us evaluate our life, and efforts to aid in the work of salvation. Hasten Salvation is not a buffet table, it is not something where we choose what we like, and ignore the part that is hard. All three phases of salvation we’ve already covenanted to do, evaluate your efforts and recommit to do better, set goals in all three areas. Let us rise up and be a covenant-keeping people. Let us engage in the work of Salvation! It is hard. I’ve had to change my life, but following Christ, and feeding His sheep is worth every effort.