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Does your missionary struggle to feel successful? This idea in Steve Young’s new book will help

I believe reading this book will help missionaries have a better mission experience, which will ultimately impact the rest of their lives.

I just finished reading Steve Young’s new book, The Law of Love in Action, and friends—it’s incredible. Moving stories, unique gospel insights, and inspiring ideas. The book has it all.

But the part that moved me the most was chapter 12 on missionary work. Why? Because I wish I’d understood the law of love before I served a mission.

I, like all missionaries, wanted to help people be baptized. And I don’t think I wanted that for selfish reasons—I wanted it because I thought that was the point of being a missionary: to baptize people. And if I didn’t do that, then I obviously wasn’t successful, right?

Sure, Preach My Gospel says that “success as a missionary is determined primarily by your desire and commitment.” But when baptisms are so celebrated and talked about at every missionary training event, I found it hard to really believe that statement. My mindset (unfortunately) was often: “Yeah, yeah, your desires and commitment matter. But baptisms—that’s what God really wants and expects from you.” That line of thinking occasionally led me to feel anxious and disappointed as a missionary.

What Steve Young explains, however, may have alleviated some of those feelings.

In fact, I believe understanding the law of love as explained in this book will lead missionaries to be happier and have a better mission experience, which will ultimately impact the rest of their lives. Why? Steve’s explanation will help missionaries really believe what is written in Preach My Gospel about how their success is defined.

First off, we need to understand the law of love as Steve defines it: loving as God loves, seeking another’s healing, expecting nothing in return. To let that law transform their mission experience, missionaries need to understand the purpose of obedience.

“The sole purpose of obedience,” Steve writes, “is to build an intimate relationship with God by doing what God has invited us to do—not a transaction, not for credit, not to be compared with others. The point is … an intimate relationship with God.”

So as a missionary, the primary motivation for being obedient to the commandments and mission rules should not be so that people will get baptized. I am obedient because I want an intimate relationship with God. That’s an important difference.

Steve then goes on to our next important point: “Then we need to go about God’s healing work and look around us for those we have been sent to heal. Even Lehi didn’t just sit under the tree and keep eating. He looked around for his family after he had eaten the fruit.”

From that, we learn that missionaries invite others to heal by partaking of God’s love. They are active and purposeful in inviting, knowing it is God’s work to do the actual healing.

Now all of this doesn’t mean that tracking statistics and setting goals are bad things. In The Law of Love in Action, a former mission leader wrote, “To ask a missionary to completely step out of the world of measurable missionary work is impossible. It’s just not how it’s done. At the same time, in all our training, and throughout Preach My Gospel (starting in Chapter 1), it’s clear that a missionary’s success is not tied to key indicators: not in our record keeping or in our hearts.”

She also added, “When teaching interested people, if someone joins the Church, great. If they don’t join the Church, great. Our job is to invite.” Then later she gives this powerful statement: “None of this is transactional. None of it.”

In other words, the law of love teaches missionaries to serve to seek another’s healing, expecting nothing in return—not even baptisms. This is not like a transaction at the grocery store where I hand over the money, and in return, I’m given food. Instead, I hand over my obedience because I want to deepen my relationship with God and because I desire to help others. Full stop. That’s it!

“When we leave transaction behind, we come to inspiration that brings a spirit of abundance,” Steve says.

That is what we want for our missionaries—an abundance of reassurance of the Lord’s love for and approval of them.

A missionary named Sister DaKotah Barclay wrote Steve to tell him how understanding the law of love transformed her mission experience:

“After being on my mission about a year, I was stuck … . I was following rules. We were hitting our goals. I could talk to people just fine. I had a good companion. Why was I not ‘feeling it’?

“After prayer and reflection, I determined that I was feeling alone. What an interesting idea. I was stuck with my companion 24/7; how could I ever feel alone? I realized that because I felt lonely, I was not feeling loved, and therefore was not loving our friends (investigators) or truly loving my companion. Every interaction I had was transactional. What is the correct gospel principle to address their concern so I can ‘solve their problem’? What is the information I need from them? What can they do for me?

“There was no true feeling of love in my communication with others. What a sad reality, but I am grateful the Spirit of God brought it to my awareness. Now I love people by wondering what I could do to heal. How can my testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ help them feel healed?

“My love for others has been elevated and more consecrated. The feelings of loneliness I’d once had dissipated as I improved my interactions with others, and I have never felt more joy and peace.”

I believe what Sister Barclay experienced can be true for all full-time missionaries.

“All this sounds like the kind of missionary work that Jesus did: loving, serving, healing, and inviting. Missionary work doesn’t have to be transactional. … The law of love transforms the mission experience, elevating the work and polishing the missionary. Love—just love,” Steve says, concluding the chapter on missionary work.

There is so much more to be learned about the law of love, like how it helps full-time missionaries and the rest of us experience joy. Learn more in Law of Love in Action by Steve Young, available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com.

▶ You may also like: Join the easiest book club studying The Law of Love in Action

The Law of Love in Action

The law of love: loving as God loves, seeking another’s healing, expecting nothing in return. It’s a lot to ask. How can we apply such a law to life’s challenges—from the smallest daily offenses to seemingly insurmountable sources of pain, like abuse, infidelity, or war? Building on his best-selling book The Law of Love, Steve Young explores the depth and breadth of how others practice living the law of love. Stories include a grandpa at a family reunion, a journalist visiting a prison before a big football game, a father with a temper, and more. In every situation of life, the law of love is undefeated. Available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com.

▶ You may also like: Identical twins called to serve in neighboring missions: “It was better than we could’ve hoped for”

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