I do not like to do missionary work. There. I’ve said it. I know you were all thinking it. Or, most of you, anyway. I do not like to do missionary work. No matter how many times I hear a General Conference talk or Elder’s Quorum lesson, I find myself coming back to the conclusion that I do not like to “do” missionary “work.
Let me explain.
I don’t like the phrase missionary “work”, it sounds like too much effort and it makes people think of something hard or something special that they need to do. I do not believe that we are supposed to do missionary “work”, instead we are supposed to be missionaries. We are supposed to be missionary-minded. We are supposed to share the Gospel naturally as part of our lives, as part of who we are.
When members are asked to “do” missionary “work”, they think they are supposed to go knocking on doors, or stopping people in the streets, or shouting it from the rooftops. And this scares them. This makes them uncomfortable. This makes me uncomfortable. I didn’t enjoy doing it when I was full-time missionary, and I feel like I’ve already done my time, put in my required hours of “doing” missionary work in this way, and now that I’ve returned from my mission, I am done with that. I am retired from “doing” missionary work.
But, we are rightly taught “Every member a missionary” and we rightly believe and feel that we should be doing more in our personal lives to share the gospel with others. The question now becomes, how do we shift our focus away from merely “doing” missionary work or missionary-like activities and more toward becoming a people who naturally and normally share the gospel with others?
Missionary work should not be something extra we do in addition to all of our daily responsibilities and activities. Missionary work is something we do because we love the gospel and the joy that it brings to us and our families and we honestly desire to share the joy with other families and individuals we care for. Love really needs to be the beginning point. I wrote a while ago about the role that Love plays in missionary work, specifically, that ‘perfect love casteth out fear’ especially in missionary work. If we develop a love for the gospel and a love for those we are in contact with, then sharing the gospel becomes natural and instinctive on our part.
I firmly do not believe that we should ‘do’ missionary ‘work’, but rather we need to be missionaries. We need to cultivate in ourselves the traits of missionary-minded members, and we need to find ways to naturally and normally and regularly share the gospel. I love the recent address from Elder Bednar in which he outlined the Church’s new focus on social media and the effort to #ShareGoodness. That is really how simple it can be to share the gospel. The Church creates wonderful digital content and all we need to do is share it. Sharing the Gospel is now literally sharing the Gospel.
There has been a great emphasis lately in the Church on “hastening the work”, in almost all the General Conference talks and Stake Conference talks and lessons, I keep hearing about ” hastening the work” and that we all need to do more than we have been doing. There is a real sense of urgency and the Church is certainly stepping up its game. We need to match that enthusiasm and energy and effort.
It is as simple as sharing a quick message on Facebook, a link on Twitter, or a YouTube video. The Church has done the hard work already, and we just need to be willing to not be ashamed of our belief in and love of the gospel. The gospel needs to be a huge part of our lives, it needs to be so fundamentally ingrained in who we are and what we do that it naturally comes out in our every conversation.
And there is one more thing that helps in keeping the proper perspective. There is a quote on the wall in our meetinghouse from President Uchtdorf, I can’t remember the exact quote but the general idea is that it is not or duty to convert everyone, all we are asked to do is to share the gospel. We cannot force others to accept, we cannot make others join the Church or get baptized. We remember that not even God saves everyone. Many, far too many, of his children use their agency and free will to make choices that take them away from his love. We can expect no better is in our efforts to spread joy and happiness. We are only asked to be open and honest about our love of Christ and his gospel and give as many as possible the opportunity to make choices that will lead them to the same eternal lines and pure happiness that we hope to enjoy.