13 ways to make a good mission great

By Brian Stutzman

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 22 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Elder Jose Medrano, from Carson City, Nev., left, Elder Samuel Lopez Mayta from New Hampshire, and Elder Carlos Barboza, from Magna, Utah, practice teaching the gospel to a volunteer in January 2012 at the Missionary Training Center for LDS missionaries in Provo.

Tom Smart, Deseret News archive

Enlarge photo»

Every week, hundreds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin full-time missions. Everyone who volunteers is blessed. Those who apply themselves to true discipleship of the Lord Jesus Christ and serve faithfully have exceptional life-changing experiences.

There are many who serve “good” missions and then there are some who serve “great” missions. Here are 13 suggestions that can change a good Mormon mission into a great mission.

1. Start clean. You can’t fake worthiness. If you need to clear up something with your church leaders, do it before you begin your service. This will take courage (which is another attribute of a great missionary). Your bishop or branch president is a loving servant of God filled with kindness and compassion. As you repent, the Spirit can be with you as you begin your missionary service (see "We are All Enlisted," by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2011).

2. Get in shape and start healthy. The work can require walking or bicycling long distances. Having an exhausted body at the end of the day can magnify even the slightest setback or rejection. Walk, bike or run regularly during the months preceding your service. If you have physical, mental or emotional issues, it is best to resolve them before you start your service (see "How to Prepare to be a Good Missionary," Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, March 2007).

3. Begin with proper expectations. The Lord has called you on a mission, not a vacation. A mission is filled with long days of finding and teaching people. It is wonderfully rewarding but takes energy, time and work. It is called missionary "work" for a reason. It requires focusing on your mission and leaving the world of friends, education, sports and hobbies behind for a period of time. Missions require sacrifice, suffering and a Christlike attitude. The price can seem high at times but the rewards are worth it. A mission is one of those things that you will get far more out of than you put into it. Some of the rewards will be near-term, but the most important ones will be long-term.

4. Obedience is key. Your inspired mission president and other LDS Church leaders have established mission rules and guidelines. To be effective as a missionary and to have the Spirit of the Lord, you must follow them. If you happen to have a companion who is not as committed as you, seek ways to still remain personally obedient. Your mission leaders trust you to do the right things. It is far more important to be trusted than to be popular with others. One of my companions once told me to “be a blessing, not a blister” to the mission president and the mission leadership.

5. You must have the Spirit. Indeed, if you dont have the Spirit "ye shall not teach." (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:14) Your obedience, faithfulness and worthiness will entitle you to have the Spirit of the Lord with you to guide you and to testify to your investigators the truths you teach. Seek after the Spirit. Study and learn and invite the Holy Ghost to be with you. Remember the Spirit is easily offended and will not be with you if you disobey your mission’s rules. Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve, teaches "Please recognize that while your teaching as a missionary may be persuasive, only the Spirit converts" (see "Raising the Bar," by Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2007).)

6. You must study. To effectively teach you must be prepared spiritually and intellectually. Make the most of your study time. Guard this precious part of your day. An effective teacher knows the material. Gaining a strong testimony requires study and prayer. Don’t ever sleep through your companionship or personal study time. You will receive the equivalent of a college-level education pertaining to the scriptures and the gospel if you use your study time properly.

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