90985_000_010Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
I know the Church is true, but I’m very shy and I’m not a good student. I can’t imagine myself memorizing scriptures or learning a foreign language. The thought of knocking on doors or teaching discussions absolutely terrifies me. How could I ever be a missionary?
Missionaries come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and personalities and with different talents. Some come into the mission field with friendly, confident personalities; others are shy. Some have been good students in school; others haven’t. Some have participated in sports, while others have avoided athletics.
This variety in missionaries is needed to reach all the people in the world. You may be able to reach particular people in the mission field when others might not.
Also, being shy isn’t the worst thing in the world. Moses was shy. When the Lord called Moses to bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses felt totally inadequate. He said: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”
The Lord answered him: “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (see Ex. 4:10–12).
Jeremiah was shy too. When the Lord called him, he said, “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.”
The Lord answered Jeremiah, “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (see Jer. 1:6–8).
People do not join the Church because of the great persuasive arguments of the missionaries. They join the Church because they are touched by the influence of the Holy Ghost, which the missionaries have in great abundance if they are faithful. You can bring that powerful influence with you on your mission. It is more effective than anything else to touch people’s lives.
Besides, why do you suppose the Lord sends inexperienced young men and women into the mission field? Why doesn’t he send only the most learned and bold to teach his gospel? Because more than anything else he needs his missionaries to be humble and prayerful.
“I give unto men weakness,” the Lord has said, “that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
That’s a promise from the Lord to you. If you are humble and have faith and work hard on your mission, he will make weaknesses become strengths. You will not be the same person when you return from your mission as you were when you left. Moses developed in the service of God. Jeremiah changed as he served with all his heart, might, and strength. You will change too in ways which will bless you for the rest of your life.
The Lord needed Moses and Jeremiah even though they both felt inadequate. The Lord needed a fourteen-year-old boy with very little formal education by the name of Joseph Smith. The Lord needed the 2,000 sons of Helaman who had never fought before but had faith that the Lord would bless them. The Lord needed the young shepherd boy David to fight a giant named Goliath.
And also, the Lord needs you.
Study, pray, and keep your thoughts on a mission. At first it will be hard, but the Lord will help you. Don’t worry about being able to learn. This will all happen as you grow through seminary and individual study. When you can’t achieve something by yourself, just do your best and the Lord will help you. Don’t let your shyness be an obstacle either. Just make sure your testimony grows, and the rest of you will follow. And always ask for help from our Father in Heaven.
Heber Carrasco, 17 Cuzco, Peru
I understand exactly how you feel. I’ve asked myself the same question. But as I thought about this, I went to the scriptures. In Doctrine and Covenants 31:3 [D&C 31:3] it says: “Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.” This scripture really helped me answer this question. I feel all our fears will be easier to overcome with the help of our Heavenly Father.
Judi Sweeney, 17 Agawam, Massachusetts
It isn’t a question of what you can do, but of what God can do. He is all powerful. I know that when we make the effort to develop an ability that contributes to the growth of his work, he blesses us in our efforts. I too had many doubts and insecurities when I began my mission. Many times I didn’t know what to say at the door. I was speechless. My companion had to speak for me. But I began to exert myself, to push myself. This is the key. It is true that there are certain things in life that we cannot learn except by putting them into practice. There are manuals that teach swimming, but until a person jumps into the water, he will never swim. And so it is with the work of God. If we truly want to do it, our Father in Heaven will bless us. I know this to be true.
Elder Garcia, 20 Venezuela Caracas Mission
Your shyness doesn’t have to be stumbling block. Remember that when Moses was called he wasn’t perfect, either. He didn’t think he was capable of performing the mission he had been assigned. But with God’s help, Moses succeeded. I know that you too can have the help of God if you really want to preach the gospel. You don’t need to be a great speaker or a great scholar. What you need is the desire to serve. Trust in the Lord, and in those moments when your own talents are not enough, the Spirit will put words in your mouth with which you can communicate your message.
Norah Beltran, 18 La Paz, Bolivia
You can pray and ask God to help you have the courage and boldness to teach others. You can talk to returned missionaries and ask them to help you prepare to serve a mission. You can talk to your nonmember friends about the gospel and share your testimony with them, and in fast and testimony meeting or any other chances you may have. The more yon bear your testimony, the easier it will be when you go on your mission. Read the scriptures and perhaps it will help you to take notes and write what the scriptures you read were about. If you can’t memorize scriptures, keep index cards on some of the most important scriptures. And remember, going on a mission will help you overcome your shyness. When someone needs help, don’t wait for them to ask for it. Offer your services.
Kelly Ovitt, 13 Southampton, Massachusetts