Carrying the gospel to the world is one hundred percent about missionary work. But missionary work is far more than just what the full-time missionaries do. In this lesson President Benson provides us with many good points on how to become the kind of people the Lord can use to teach the rest of His children about their one and only path home.
President Benson said, “The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world, my brethren and sisters.” It doesn’t matter what religion or ideology a person lives by, if they want to solve the problems of the world and find personal joy in their place in the world, they need the gospel of Christ. It solves our problems by the Spirit changing us from the inside out, and teaching us to live as God lives.
President Benson says that the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth (through missionary work) “is our first duty and our great opportunity.” Our responsibility is likened to leaven used to make bread. Leaven is what causes bread dough to rise and develop air bubbles so the bread is light and fluffy, and hence, edible. We are to be like that leaven in our neighborhoods and communities. As we mix with our fellow citizens we influence them to do good, encouraging goodness wherever we can. Because of this influence, the Spirit can work with an entire community to ready them for the gospel message when they hear it.
None of us are exempt from the requirements of missionary work. It is not only a matter of covenant that we do it, but it is also a supreme privilege that the Lord would include us in the saving of His children, our brothers and sisters. This is something we should be rejoicing in the opportunity to do. Our station in life, our financial abilities, nor our educational attainments have any bearing on our need to do missionary work. The responsibility is the same for everyone.
Sometimes we think of member missionaries as those people or couples who are called by the Bishop to help in fellowshipping or going on splits with the full-time missionaries in the ward. But the truth of the matter is that every member of the Church, in effect, already has this call.
Missionary work done by members is the “most fruitful” form of missionary work. It is a key to our individual growth in the gospel. It will raise the spirituality in any ward where the members take this responsibility seriously. “The Lord will sustain members in their missionary responsibility if they just have the faith to try.”
Section 2 of the lesson concludes with this quote from President Benson on our need to all be missionaries to our neighbors:
The Lord expects it of us. It is not enough just to be members in the Church and go to sacrament meeting, pay our tithing, support the welfare program. That is all good—but that is not enough. The Lord expects us to be missionaries, to live the gospel—yes, wholly, and to help to build up His kingdom.
Did you get the message of that last sentence? We aren’t living the gospel wholly or completely unless we are helping to build up His kingdom. That means that many of us have only been partially living the gospel and only partially keeping the commandments - mainly the parts that are easiest to keep.
Proper Use of the Book of Mormon
Here are some quotes about the importance of using the Book of Mormon in our missionary work. These are so well worded that I couldn’t bring myself to paraphrase them.
“Combined with the Spirit of the Lord, the Book of Mormon is the greatest tool which God has given us to convert the world. If we are to have the harvest of souls, we must use the instrument which God has designed for the task—the Book of Mormon.”
“... reading the Book of Mormon is one of the greatest persuaders to get us on missions.”
In other words, if we want our youth serving missions then we need to have them reading the Book of Mormon from an early age, and on a regular basis. They need to have a burning testimony of its truthfulness. They need to know the stories and the basic doctrine that book contains. They need to be accustomed to bearing their testimony to others.
“The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use in our missionary work. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ. All other things are secondary.”
“We must not forget that the Lord Himself provided the Book of Mormon as His chief witness. The Book of Mormon is still our most powerful missionary tool.”
4 Steps for Successful Missionary Work
The following four steps are outlined by President Benson in the lesson.
We cannot teach and convert without the Spirit, since it is the Spirit that does the converting. All we can do is teach and bear testimony. The rest is up to Him. But we have to keep our lives clean from sin in order to have the Spirit with us when we bear testimony. The power of our testimonies will stop in mid air without the Spirit to take it and convey it into the hearts of those who listen to us. This requires personal purity on our part.
Only the Spirit can convert a soul. If we want to have the Spirit with us to have power in our testimonies, we need to be humble, teachable, and seeking His guidance. This is not our work, but the Lord’s. It can only be done the Lord’s way, and to do that we need to be prepared to follow the directions of our teacher and mentor, the Holy Ghost. He will show us all things we need to do in the work of saving our Father’s children.
Love for the People
In order to touch the lives of others as the Savior touched lives, we need to learn to love those whom we serve. When we serve others it needs to be for the joy of serving, not because we think we can get a baptism out of them or a statistic off our checklist. People know when you are being sincere, and if there is any hint of being disingenuous, they will turn you off and boot you out of their home. The gospel is one of love. We need to have the welfare of the family we are talking to in the front of our mind and heart. If they do not accept the gospel that should in no way affect our love for them.
People do not generally come to our homes or chapels seeking the gospel of Christ. We need to go to them. We need to be with them in their homes, in their community meetings, in their organizations, and in all public places. This takes time and commitment. But when we have had a good gospel discussion, and we see a glimmer of eternal hope light up in someone’s eyes, all fatigue and exertion, and time away from home spent, melts away into bliss. There is true joy in missionary work.
Kelly likes to keep the gospel simple. For more of his articles and lesson helps go to his website, http://mormonbasics.com.