When it comes to doing member missionary work, excuses can abound. Here are 10 common excuses and tips to overcome them.
1. I’m no scriptorian: No problem. Suppose your friend asks, "Where in the Bible does it say anything about Joseph Smith?" Even a scholar can’t point to line and verse, but you might bear witness that God loves us enough to call prophets today as he did anciently. Invite your friend to watch general conference. Ask, "Would you like to know what God is saying to the prophets in our day?"
2. I can’t risk a friendship: Some think that talking about religion may ruin a friendship. True friends respect the things we believe. They don’t always agree with us, but genuine friendship doesn’t crumble in the face of living and sharing what we believe.
3. I don’t know anyone who isn't a Mormon: Translation: I’m afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Fair enough, but try it. Not only will you gain new friends; they will gain you.
4. I’m too busy: Time is a matter of choice. What we love, we "make time" for. So the real question is: Do we love God enough to make time for his children? What we have to offer them is precious. We can make time for that.
5. I’m not a full-time missionary: Full-time missionaries do focus their time on teaching and baptizing, but it's everyone's responsibility to share the gospel, whether or not you wear a black name tag. We may be called and released from full-time service, but not from being member missionaries.
6. My neighbors have already heard it: That may be, but the Lord prepares people in their circumstance, not just their location. A death, a birth, a wedding or any of a hundred shifting circumstances can change attitudes and receptivity to weightier matters.
7. My house is...(fill in the blank): A mess, noisy, not conducive to the Spirit? Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "Gospel-sharing homes are very ordinary. It is a way of life. Creating a gospel-sharing home means inviting our friends and neighbors into the ongoing flow of family and church activities" (Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home," Ensign, May, 2006).
If you say prayers at mealtime, yours can be a gospel-sharing home. If your children play with neighbors, yours can be a gospel-sharing home. If you hold family home evening, yours can be a gospel-sharing home.
8. It’s too hard: A few months ago, my wife and I invited the 12 families on our street to a block-watch and paving party. All but three attended. We had a great time. They saw and heard what we stand for in the natural flow of being in our home. We didn’t lose any neighbors, and we gained several friends.
9. I don’t know what to say: When your goal is friendship, you will build relationships of trust. Trusted friends will often approach you about the gospel first. When that happens, you will know from the Holy Ghost what to say.
10. I’m afraid: The first time I dove off a diving board, I was afraid. The second, I was thrilled. Test the water; it’s great.
No earthly reward can match the supernal blessing of eternal life. Like Enos, ours is the blessing "to feel a desire for the welfare of (our) brethren" (Enos 1:9). Who else will carry the words of life to our neighbors? If not us, who? If not now, when?
Ultimately, we have the companionship of the greatest missionary the world has ever known: the Lord Jesus Christ. "And whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law, and teaches law and ethics. A former Phoenix stake president and current high councilor for the QC Chandler Heights Stake, he is active in Interfaith and is a U.S. Air Force veteran.