“We Are Never Alone in the Lord’s Work,” Says Elder Eyring
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, offered a message intended to help others eliminate self-doubt during the Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24.
“You are never alone in the Lord’s work,” he said. “We who are called of God know that is true, but we sometimes feel and act as if that fact was not a practical and hourly reality in our service in the kingdom of God.”
Speaking Monday morning, President Eyring said he understands that the new mission presidents and their wives have or will have moments when they feel overwhelmed.
“If we could feel the reality of what it means to be called into the vineyard to labor with Him, He could replace our self-doubt with courage to go forward,” he said.
President Eyring said only the Father, His Beloved Son, and the Holy Ghost can provide the assurance Latter-day Saints all need to go forward boldly in service. “It is not what we have done that matters,” he said. “It is how our hearts have been changed through our faithful obedience. And only God knows that.”
President Eyring said everyone feels some satisfaction and assurance from being told he or she did well. But, he added, only God knows a person’s heart.
“There is only one audience I can trust perfectly,” he said. “Only God is a sure source of the accolade ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21). And the accolade we need is to know that by serving Him faithfully we have become more like Him.”
President Eyring said that knowledge will shape the praise mission presidents give their missionaries. “You will tend to praise them more for what they are becoming than for what they have done,” he said. “You will help them recognize their growth in character. You will note how what they have done has helped you discern in them what God has helped them to become.”
President Eyring said the most certain evidence of approval is that the Lord trusts His children by sending the Spirit to testify, guide, and help them in the harvest. “I find that only comes after prayer, searching scriptures and the words of living prophets, exact obedience, love of others, humbly listening for the Spirit, and long and painful labor.”
President Eyring said he wished the process took less effort and the approval came more quickly. “I wish the harvest was easy and that the Holy Ghost was given just for the asking. … The Holy Ghost comes as we try to give our all. And it is the Holy Ghost who both cleanses us and conveys the Lord’s approval.”
New mission presidents take notes during a training session June 24. Photo by Christina Smith.
The characteristics of a fully qualified servant of the Lord describe the power to work with and influence other people, he said. “They include at least these five: temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, charity, and humility. That is because we are never alone in the Lord’s service. We always work with our Master, and we serve others.”
President Eyring told the mission presidents and their wives that they will be teachers. “You are obligated to help your missionaries grow in their capacity to teach others, especially their contacts. They must grow ever better in creating faith in God as they teach. That will require teaching by the Spirit in a way that the Spirit can touch hearts and bring a powerful commitment to repent.
“That is teaching of a high order in a secular world that denies in large part that there is a God or that there is sin for which we are accountable. The missionaries must do more than convince doubters. They must soften hearts enough to allow the Holy Ghost to testify.”
President Eyring offered one suggestion for successful teachers: “It is that they labor in faith to feel the true love of God for the student,” he said.
“Each word in that idea matters. It takes faith in the Savior that He loves every student enough to have paid the price of his or her sins. With some of the people your missionaries will teach, that will take great faith. It will require the labor of prayer and scripture study to get that faith and feel that love. It takes more than a feeling of sympathy. It may require asking the contact to make commitments to do hard things.”
Teaching, he added, is just one of the ways Latter-day Saints labor with and for others in our missionary service. “But all of those labors must spring from the love of God to be effective. … Our task is to do our best to let the Lord bring that lofty standard into the daily lives of our missionaries, into our own, and into the hearts of the members who the Lord invites to serve with us in the vineyard.”
President Eyring said his suggestions stem from two observations: “First, the love of God does beget love. And second, successful mission presidents use a variety of ways to engender that love in those they try to influence. Personal example seems to me to be more effective than words. But it only is powerful if what they do springs from what they have become.”