November 10, 2012 by FHElessons
In the first part of the lesson, we talked mostly about specific things to do to gain a testimony, be worthy, make and keep covenants, and draw close to the Lord in preparation for a mission. In the second part of the lesson, we talked about characteristics to strive for during your mission that will make you a better missionary – obedience, true love, and fearlessness. Now I would like to discuss 3 different aspects of attitude that will make missionaries more successful and fulfilled. As you know from previous parts of this lesson, I asked for advice from some friends and family members who have previously served full-time missions.
Bruce P tells us: Our attitude about what we believe makes a huge difference about how others receive the message.
1. Don’t Get Discouraged!
Alma 56:17 tells us that the addition of the 2,000 young men to the Nephite army brought the rest of the army “much joy.” Verse 19 tells us that because these young men chose to join the army, all were preserved. In Alma 56:50-54, the army of Antipus would have fallen were it not for the help of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors. And Alma 57:22 tells us that victory in the defense of Cumeni was owed to Helaman’s army of young men.
What do all these verses say to you? They tell me that although the Army of Helaman was comprised entirely of young men who had never before seen battle, their help was real, and it was needed.
Why did you choose to serve a mission? Wasn’t it because you, like the Stripling Warriors, wanted to add your aid to the fight? You wanted to do something real and needed? You wanted to go out and make a difference, serving the Lord by helping to share His truths with others and by adding your strength to His army which fights against Satan’s forces? As a missionary, although all of you are young, all of your help is real and needed. You can make a difference. The battle will be won because of your aid.
In reference to the 2,000 warriors, Alma 57:19 says, “They did administer death to all who opposed them.” Like them, you can prevail against all who oppose the Lord.
One former full-time missionary (who is now serving as a mission president’s wife), gave me quite a bit of advice to share about discouragement. Here is some of what she said:
Melinda A.: “Missionary work is hard. Each of us has different gifts and talents and some of those gifts help to make the work of missionaries more natural. But even for those individuals who are natural extroverts, or those who are good communicators, or those who can easily learn and memorize scriptures and their references, or those who are good listeners and are able to understand what others are feeling or concerned about, missionary work is still hard. As a result every missionary has times when he or she feels discouraged, inadequate, or not equal to the task. I believe missionary work is designed to be difficult, because the difficulty humbles us and draws us closer to the Lord. It puts us in a position to learn and grow, to become what the Lord needs and expects from us.
“Remember that at times this process will be painful and difficult, but the Lord is concerned with the end result and He has the power to bring you to where He needs you to be. Also, in general, growth comes slowly, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” (2 Ne. 28:30) Don’t allow Satan to inhibit your growth with discouragement. Have faith that the power of the atonement can and will change you as you study and seek for guidance.
“Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking that you can’t be successful because of mistakes you have made in your past. The Lord doesn’t care about the mistakes we have made of which we have repented. He only cares about where your heart is now.”
2. Learn to Put Your Trust in God and Rely on Him.
We talked in Part 1 about the most famous part of the story of the Stripling Warriors – the part where they recount to Helaman how they did not fear death because their mothers told them that if they trusted in God, He would deliver them (Alma 56:47-48). Were they able to maintain this complete trust in their Maker throughout their service in the army? What was the result?
Alma 56:56 – Their first battle. They had never fought before, and the fighting was fierce. Yet not one of them fell. This verse says they fought with the strength of God and frightened their enemy!
Alma 57:25-26 – After a few more battles. 1,000 of their fellow soldiers are killed. 200 of them have fainted because of loss of blood and all of them have received many wounds (so they definitely were not standing on the sidelines – they were in the thick of things). Miraculously, not one of them perished. Miraculously, all 2,060 (they have now been joined by 60 of their younger siblings) were spared while 1,000 of their older, stronger, and more experience companions have fallen. And then verse 26 gives the reason why: “because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.”
These verses also tell missionaries today what is required to be successful: Trust in the Lord. Believe in His power. Do not doubt.
Alma 58:10-12 – The battles continue. This time we are told how the Stripling Warriors “poured out their souls in prayer” asking for strength and deliverance. They also asked to retain their cities (remember that we compared the cities these armies were defending to people taught by missionaries today). The Lord promises to deliver them and also grants them peace and increased faith. Because of this, these young men take courage and increase their determination.
When you are out in the mission field, and when you maybe get a little worried or scared or discouraged, remember these stories about the Stripling Warriors. Pour out your soul to God. He is mighty to save. With Him nothing is impossible. He can keep you safe; He can grant you success; He can lift up your heart and give you increased courage, determination and faith! Never forget it!
Here is your advice on this subject:
Brian A.: Trust the Savior, not the crutches of the world. Too many missionaries end up with emotional problems that affect the work because they rely on their music, video games, parents, friends, sins, etc. to relieve stress. Instead, future missionaries need to understand the Atonement and rely on the Savior’s grace (see the Bible Dictionary for a definition of grace).
Bruce P.: Trust in the Lord. Trust the promptings of the Spirit and obey them immediately. Do not hesitate or rationalize.
Melinda A.: Don’t worry about what your mission president or the other missionaries think of you, just worry about what the Lord desires of you. Don’t worry about becoming a district leader, zone leader, or assistant. Let the Lord use you the way He needs you.
Mormonmissionprep.com: Elder Hugh B. Brown told how his mother helped him to rely on the Lord during his mission in England. She said to him as he left: “ ‘Hugh, my son, do you remember when you were a little boy you often had bad dreams, nightmares, and you called out to me as I was sleeping in the next room: “Mother, Mother, are you there?” Do you remember I always said, “Yes, my son, I’m here. Just turn over and go to sleep. Everything is all right.” ’ She said, ‘My boy, five thousand miles must now separate us, across a continent and an ocean. You are not going to have bad dreams only at night, but many times, in the daytime, you are going to want to call for help and comfort. Son, when you are beset with difficulties, when you meet temptation, when you are confused and don’t know where to go, call out and say, “Father, are you there?” ’ She said, ‘My boy, I promise you He will always answer and you need not fear’ ” (The Abundant Life , 202–3).
More than any other lesson we learn from the Stripling Warriors, I think this may be the most important. Learn to trust the Lord. Learn to rely on Him. Go to Him for comfort, for guidance, for encouragement. Share your joys and your sorrows with Him. He will be there for you. He loves you and has all power. He can succor you, strengthen you, and give you peace.
3. Have fun!
Above is a picture of my husband with a couple of his fellow missionaries many years ago. They actually don’t look like they’re having much fun in this picture. But I can tell you that my hubby not only works hard but he plays hard! He has told us many funny stories about crazy things he and his fellow missionaries did while serving their missions. I’m sure you’ll come home with a book full of your own hilarious mission tales.
As for the Stripling Warriors, we don’t really have any stories of them having fun. I’m not sure how much fun you can really have while out in a battle for your lives. Perhaps there were a few pranks pulled or some songs around the campfire. Maybe they did laugh while hunting wild turkeys for dinner or send the 60 new recruits on a snipe hunt. Who knows? But Alma 58:40 is the end of their story as we know it, and it leaves us with a summary of their attitudes throughout the whole ordeal: “But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.”
As for your mission, I hope you will make the best of your time and continue to keep a positive attitude throughout. Here is your final bit of advice:
Christopher L.: Two years is but a blink of an eye. Don’t squander a single minute of that precious time.
Amanda C.: Enjoy it! There are days that the mission seems like it lasts forever, but when you look back on it, it will feel that the time flew by. Enjoy every second of it.
Bruce P.: Have fun! Enjoy your areas. Learn all you can about the region you’re serving in. People want to feel special, and this is a great way!
Melinda A.: A mission is the only time in your life when you will have the opportunity to focus solely on the Gospel without other distractions. Please take advantage of this time. Learn as much as you possibly can and then share yourself and what you learn with the people with whom you are working. If you will do this, you will be a great missionary.
And lastly, I really LOVE this advice from Melinda A.: If you look at the great missionaries in the scriptures, it is interesting to note that none of them that I have studied are called for 18 months or two years. Almost without exception, once they are called, they are missionaries for the rest of their lives. Most of them do have many converts, but some, like Aaron, seem to go many years before converting anyone, and others, like Abinadi, may not even know that they had a convert. From this I learned that the formal mission we may be called on is just a small but important part of a lifelong pursuit. Think of your mission as the MTC of your life-long mission as a follower of Christ and a bearer of His Gospel.
Well, between these 3 lesson parts, there has been A LOT of advice. I hope it will be helpful to you who are preparing your children for missionary work and to you who are preparing yourself for a mission. Mostly, I hope it will be helpful to my own children and my nieces and nephews. A while ago I gave an extended family home evening lesson to them all about how they are like the Stripling Warriors – faithful, strong, courageous, active, and true – how they, like the warriors, can strengthen each other and trust in the Lord for guidance and help. Looking at them, I can see a great army for good – one that will go out into the world and change it for the better. I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish!
We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we will be the Lord’s missionaries
To bring the world his truth.