03452_000_011Some missionaries are successful no matter where they serve. The secret is to set a good example.
Some areas of a mission just seem to blossom when certain missionaries are sent there, and this happens wherever they go. Interest of the members increases, and everyone seems to “catch the spirit,” and before long baptisms increase.
Just what is it that these missionaries have or do that brings about this happy phenomenon? I think I came very close to discovering the answer to this question when I received the following letter while serving as a mission president in the Arizona Holbrook Mission.
“Dear Brother Lynn,
“I have been meaning to write to you for some time now and let you know how blessed the members here in Durango are to have Sister Brown and Sister Poss working here. By their dedication and examples, they have done more for the attitude of the members toward missionary work than all the sermons in the world. They are so busy teaching people they don’t have time to come for dinner!
“In the five years we’ve lived here, Durango has just about been dead as far as missionary work goes. We’ve had elders come to our house and tell us how hard this area is. But whatever these sisters have, it has turned everything around. They keep saying it’s the members, but it’s these two special sisters. They have touched our hearts and changed our lives, not by spending time in our homes but by working their hearts out. We have really come to love them.
“Yesterday was their P-day, and they used my washer and dryer to do their laundry. While they were here, they baked a cake for a dinner my husband and I were having for a nonmember friend whom we told about the Church and gave a Book of Mormon to, just last night. It was the first time ever that I have had the courage to do that. (They baked the cake for me because I’m in a wheelchair and unable to do it.) So if they inspire me to become involved in missionary work, they are doing miracles.
“I just wanted you to know how hard they work to keep the rules and do things right. Yesterday was the second or third time they have been in our home in the months they’ve been here, so it isn’t because they’ve spent time with us that we feel this way. They love Heavenly Father’s children. You can feel that love when they welcome you to church on Sunday. I know they are teaching the gospel with the pure love of Christ. That’s what has made the difference. I was thinking this morning that if every missionary in the field, elder or sister, filled their missions the way these two are, the Church would experience incredible growth.
“I’m certainly a better person for having met these young women and seeing their dedication. You could talk to anyone in the wards here, and they would tell you the same thing. I wish I could write to their parents to let them know how we feel. But the sisters wouldn’t give me their addresses, so I can’t brag about them. They don’t feel like they’re special. But they are, and I wanted you to know we think so.
“Roberta and Gene Shirley”
So many of life’s challenges can be met, and gentle persuasion exerted by showing the way through our own good example. Negatively expressed, it may be stated as an old sage once observed, “Sonny, you can’t lead where you ain’t a goin’.” Maybe we can’t, but we can lead where we are going and in so doing bring eternal blessings into our own lives and the lives of many others.
It was the Master Teacher who, with his perfect example, showed us the way with these simple words, “Follow me” (see Matt. 4:19).