Become Like Peter and “Fear Not,” Instructs President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
- Young missionaries are often like the Apostle Peter.
- They feel inadequate but are eager to work as hard as they can without ever thinking that they will grow weak or discouraged.
- Like Peter, they will be imperfect in their eagerness to serve, but they can learn to “fear not.”
“We all start out a little rough, but with some polishing and refining, with an ever-growing conviction of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can become an effective instrument in bringing souls unto Christ.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
In his instruction to new mission presidents and their wives, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf offered simple, timeless counsel: fear not, for God is with you.
The Second Counselor in the First Presidency focused his June 27 remarks on the life of Peter, a humble fisherman who overcome fear and human weakness through his faith in the Lord.
“When I look at you, or our young missionaries around the world, I often think of the Apostle Peter,” he said. “In my mind’s eye I can even see Peter with a missionary badge on his chest, this badge of honor our missionaries wear proudly today throughout the world.”
Peter probably seemed an unlikely candidate to be Christ’s chief disciple—even to himself. He was an unschooled fisherman who felt deeply his own inadequacy.
“Falling down at the Master’s knees, he said, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ Who among us cannot relate, from time to time, to Peter’s self-doubt?”
But the Savior’s response to Peter, and to all He calls, is simple: “Fear not.”
While serving with the mortal Christ, Peter displayed both boldness and fear. Such could also be said of the missionaries serving today across the globe. It was Peter who, following his Master’s lead, walked on water. And it was Peter who became frightened by the boisterous wind and began to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me.”
“The Lord did save him, and as Peter followed Jesus he continued to show remarkable courage, mixed with a good measure of human weakness,” said President Uchtdorf. “He was always willing to take risks, to open his mouth and say what was in his heart. At times this led to blunders, but more often it led to precious learning experiences not available to those who held back.”
Still, Peter would, as foretold, surrender to fear and deny even knowing the Lord. He immediately agonized over his betrayal and weakness. “Perhaps he overestimated his own ability to withstand opposition. Perhaps he underestimated the severity of the trial of which the Savior warned him. Perhaps he simply needed to learn to trust himself a little less and trust the Lord a little more.”
But Jesus knew Peter’s heart, he said. The Lord never failed to extend a saving hand to Peter “every time his eagerness outpaced his abilities.”
Peter’s all-too-human characteristics are often found in the missionaries.
“They arrive in the mission field brimming with confidence—in themselves, in the Lord, and in their mission president. They are ready to baptize the entire city, starting with whoever opens the first door they knock on. They will walk on water if you tell them there’s a golden investigator on the other side of the lake. And they are quite certain that they will never, ever get discouraged or tired or fearful.”
Until they do.
“Because lurking beneath their confidence and zeal are human imperfections, inexperience, and fear,” said President Uchtdorf. “And if they are to become the kind of disciples, the kind of leaders the Lord expects, they will need to face and overcome those weaknesses, just as we all must in our individual journey of discipleship.”
Peter’s pattern offers hope, President Uchtdorf explained. His moments of weakness are not the end of his story. Peter’s personal witness of the resurrected Savior transformed him into the rock-solid leader of Christ’s Church.
When Peter came to fully understand the Lord’s divine nature and His gospel, he overcame all fear and doubt.
“He would face ridicule, hatred, and humiliation, and many more threats, but he would never deny his testimony of the living God. He feared no man. Nothing kept him from fulfilling his mission to raise his voice as a … witness of his Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The Lord’s missionaries have, in Peter-like fashion, accepted a sacred call to represent the Lord and spread the happy news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Every day of your mission you and your missionaries are faced with choices similar to Peter’s: What kind of witness will you be? A powerful testimony of the living Christ transformed Peter into a witness who literally changed the world.
“A testimony of the living Christ has the potential and power to do the same for every servant of the Lord, for every missionary, for everyone, and especially for those who proclaim and teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
President Uchtdorf invited the mission presidents and their wives to see their missionaries in the same way the Lord saw Peter.
“We all start out a little rough, but with some polishing and refining, with an ever-growing conviction of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can become an effective instrument in bringing souls unto Christ.”
President Uchtdorf ended by assuring his listeners of the Lord’s love for them. “He cares about you. He cares about each and every one of your missionaries. He hears your prayers in whatever language they are spoken and He knows the silent, unspoken prayers of your heart. …
“As you dedicate your work and will to Him and put your worries and fears in His hands, He will make you a great and fearless witness of Him, of His gospel, and of His Church. He will make you great missionaries.”