Tuesday, May 27, 2008

President Thomas S. Monson's Key to Being A Good Missionary

This past week a member of the Deseret News staff Jason Swenson sat down with President Thomas S. Monson and ask him a few questions he had on his mind. Swenson brought out an important point that "there are tens of thousands of Aaronic Priesthood-age young men in the Church today. It would be impossible for President Monson to interview each individually." Swenson asked President Monson if he could sit down with each young man face-to-face what would he say.

Swenson said that "President Monson would likely share with each boy the same counsel he offered to his missionaries decades ago when he was a mission president in Canada."

President Monson responded to Swenson what he has said many times in the past when asked the same question and which is a title of one of his publications, "I'd tell them to be their very best. Be the best of which you are capable in all things."

Be your best self! What does that mean? What is a single missionaries best?

In my mind it means you measure yourself by yourself. It is really an open-ended thing decided by each missionary himself or herself. I think the litmus test is found in the many conversations, and blog posts that I read that only the individual missionary knows himself or herself for sure. No one else can tell you be it the mission president, another companion, your parents, stake president or your investigators. This really is a matter between the missionary and the Lord. Many missionaries tell you they felt their missions were worthwhile and others feel they wasted their time. But there is a deeper question here than was your mission a success. President Monson has hit the nail on the head when he says be the best you are capable. There is a distinction between do the best and be the best. It deals with outcome. It becomes a part of you and has to do with a state of being rather than just a series of objectives on the way to the outcome to be your very best.

It reminds me of a stupid thing we used to do in the Ragusa area in the Italy Rome Mission. We would all clasp hands like in a football huddle and we would chant "Lets Go Out and Really Go Just Like Parley Brig and Joe." As we broke hands I would say to myself every time we did it I am not good as those men but what can I do today to preach the gospel and then I would make a few suggestions to my companion as we went out on to Via Giovanni Mele and walked across the bridge to go tracting. My best in Italy was different than my best in Canada. There are a lot of factors that go in to being the best missionary.

With a little self-reflection I think we can determine if we are the best of which we are capable as missionaries. We can ask ourselves for me personally knowing my knowledge of the gospel, my psychological make-up, my relationship with my companions and mission president and my investigators, was I the best I was capable of being. This question has nothing to do with numbers or did you baptize people it has to do with what kind of person did you become. Of course you can't separate whether or not your best effort included baptizing people but it something deeper. To me it is a simple as asking yourself Yes or No. Am I a better person for having served a mission and did I do my best. Then take it to the Lord. If you come away feeling that you have then you should feel a sense of accomplishment. I could do a poll asking people to answer the question yes or no. I believe many of us would say no but I might be surprised. What do you think President Monson meant by this statement blog readers?

1 comment:

S.Faux said...

Thanks, Dr. B.

I like the distinction between doing your best versus being the best. As a 19-year old, I think I was a particularly inadequate missionary. I wanted to serve the Lord, but I was terrible with memorized dialogues, I was not particularly skilled with people, and I had a lot to learn in the spiritual domain. The mission had more impact on me than the other way around.

All I can say, is that more than 35 years later, I still draw upon lessons I learned as a missionary. I am a line upon line kind of guy -- slow as a snail, but at least I am moving forward. I cannot BE the best, but with grace, the enabling power, and a lot of help from others, maybe I can do my best. I try.

Thanks for the positive thoughts.