Resources for Managing Spiritual Demands

“Resources for Managing Spiritual Demands,” Adjusting to Missionary Life (2013), 45–49


Among missionaries, a common reaction to excessive stress is to question the strength of their testimony or the truthfulness of the gospel. This struggle often stems from a lack of resources to deal with excessive stress rather than a lack of testimony. If you have such difficulties, try the suggestions below that seem right to you. Also refer to the “General Principles for Managing Stress” section on pages 17–22 for additional ideas.

A

Learning to Strengthen My Testimony

  • Realize that questions are healthy. Joseph Smith received many revelations in response to honest questions. Scriptures, teachers, and reason can help with some questions, but only the Spirit can confirm that God is real, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Church is true.

  • Understand what faith is. To have faith is to trust the Lord’s perfect goodness, love, wisdom, and fairness, even though we do not perfectly understand. Alma teaches that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). You do not need “perfect knowledge” to have faith. Study Alma 32 for help in building your faith. (See Preach My Gospel, 116–17.)

  • Be patient. Time and experience will help you make sense of some things that are confusing now. Remember Nephi’s assertion: “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). Build on what you know by the Spirit to be true about God. (See Preach My Gospel, 120.)

  • Keep the commandments. We gain trust in the Lord when we learn by experience the value of His teachings. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

B

Learning to Repent

  • Be honest with your mission president. If you need to repent of serious sins you have not dealt with, talk to your mission president openly and honestly. He will help you make these things right.

  • Forgive yourself after repentance. If you have repented and still feel guilt and shame, remember we all regret past sins and mistakes. Trust that Christ’s Atonement is sufficient, even for you. Remember that repentance is not just the backup plan. Repentance is the plan of happiness for every person. Make sure the things you worry about most are things that really matter (for example, the progress of your investigators), not simply matters of personal pride (like what others think of you).

    elder missionary praying
  • Understand the role of confession. If you feel a need to confess less serious sins or to confess repeatedly, even after priesthood leaders have assured you that your confession is sufficient, you are probably taking confession too far. Continuing to feel regret and sadness about past sins is normal and does not mean you need to confess again. Distract yourself from such thoughts with other activities, and make the deliberate choice to believe in the Lord’s forgiveness. Ignore the temptation to become anxious or ashamed.

  • Talk to your mission president if you continue to struggle.

C

Learning to Pray Meaningfully

  • Try praying out loud, even if only in a whisper. Try preparing for prayer by writing your questions or concerns. Visualize the Lord nearby. Ask God what you can do for Him today; then act on ideas that come to mind. On occasion use your prayer only to thank God for the many good things with which He has blessed you.

  • Study “Pray with Faith” in Preach My Gospel. This section, found on pages 93–95, provides suggestions on prayer.

D

Learning to Love the Scriptures

  • Pray specifically for help understanding and enjoying the scriptures. Use some of your study time to write your feelings and reactions, what you learn, or spiritual impressions you receive.

  • Review “Study Ideas and Suggestions” in Preach My Gospel. This section, found on pages 22–25, gives suggestions for more rewarding scripture study.

E

Learning to Rely on the Spirit

  • Practice with patience. Learning to recognize the voice of the Spirit is much like learning a language—it takes practice, patience, humility, and a willingness to learn from mistakes without giving up.

  • Learn from general conferences. For ideas on how to cultivate personal revelation, study general conference addresses on this topic.

  • Study Preach My Gospel. Pages 96–99 contain additional suggestions and insights on recognizing and relying on the Spirit.