INTRODUCTION: Part of the information sent to prospective missionaries is a list of needed clothing, supplies, and incidentals. The Missionary Department is appropriately concerned that missionaries arrive in the field properly equipped for the service they are expected to render.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gives us a comprehensive list of the things his servants will really need. These are not the sort of things that can be purchased with cash or a credit card. These are qualities that can only be procured by diligent and prayerful effort.
If you are teaching this lesson, consider a suitcase filled with word strips containing (or objects suggesting) the words and phrases below. One at a time they could be withdrawn and discussed with your class or your family.
1. “SERVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIGHT, MIND AND STRENGTH”
The kind of service the Lord requires is specified with remarkable clarity here. No half-hearted endeavor will meet the Savior’s expectations. Here are the first few qualities and attitudes to be place in our bags as we go forth to serve the Lord:
A. All your heart (4:2): Our hearts are sometimes like unconquered territories, unwilling to submit completely to the rule of the rightful King. Most of us have surrendered most of our lives to his rule, but we often maintain nearly hidden outposts of rebellion, areas of disobedience or selfishness that we have been unwilling to pay the price to conquer. We must offer all of our hearts to the Savior if we mean to serve him perfectly.
B. All your might (4:2): This suggests me to hard work with a divine purpose.
I have asked mission presidents in many parts of the world this question: ‘How many missionaries do you have in your mission who are really spiritual and also lazy?’ There isn’t one in all the world. Laziness and spirituality don’t go together. The most spiritual people I know are also some of the hardest working people I have ever met.
So if you want to increase your level of spirituality, work hard. Magnify your callings within the Church. Really work! (Joe J. Christensen, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 59)
C. All your mind (4:2): The Lord has promised to give us revelation by telling us in our hearts and in our minds (see D&C 8:2) what we ought to do. Thus we must serve him thoughtfully. Revelation comes to those who study and ponder and prepare. In addition, we must not allow ourselves to be distracted from the requirements of our calling.
D. All our strength (4:2): This reminds me that Nephi the son of Helaman was praised for serving with “unwearyingness.”
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:4-5, emphasis added)
E. Desires (4:3) This is the fourth of the preliminary items to be packed in our “service” bags. Perhaps it should be the first. So many times you and I have been called to serve in positions and places for which we knew we were unqualified. But the Lord never cares about that. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he knew nothing about dividing seas or building tabernacles. What he had was a desire to serve God. We must have a great desire to serve and and proceed with a perfect confidence that the Lord will sustain us in our efforts.
2. PREPARE TO SERVE THE LORD
A marvelous work requires marvelous workers. The Lord needs servants—men and women—who will see the work through. In verse 5 of D&C 4, the Lord presents those attributes that will qualify us for the work.
A. Faith (4:5): Faith as used here is the shortened form of the statement “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” We must have faith in him, in his work and in his promises. These qualities, beginning with faith, are those that enable us “be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4-5). With that nature inside of us, we can serve with great faith in the assistance of the Lord.
B. Hope (4:5): Elder Maxwell said,
Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20). [“Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ:” C.R., Elder Neal A. Maxwell (October 1998)]
We are willing to labor, even labor without a clear perception of the good we might be doing, because we hope that in the end, we and those for whom we labor will have something better than we have now.
C. Charity (4:5): Charity is a gift of the Spirit for all who are true followers of Christ and who seek it prayerfully with all their hearts (see Moroni 7:48).
D. Love (4:5): I wonder if perhaps, in the absence of charity, which is “the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47), we can serve with love in a less pure form while we seek to develop the charity. Any kind of real love will assist the work.
E. An eye single to the glory of God (4:5): No hidden motives and secret agendas are permitted in this service. We cannot serve properly with an eye partially fixed on our own glory, hoping for the honors of men and the things of the world. Remember what Moroni said to Joseph about this:
I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father's family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them. (JSBH 1:46, emphasis added)
But there are other qualities that we must remember in our service.