In the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided virtual training to new mission leaders scattered worldwide through online streaming broadcasts June 26-27.
Follow excerpts from a few other talks given by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 2020 Virtual Mission Leadership Seminar.
President Eyring at Mission Leadership Seminar: Never alone in the Lord’s work
Speaking June 26 at the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, the second counselor in the First Presidency noted that the scores of couples participating in the annual gathering come from a variety of experiences and circumstances. Their new callings can be overwhelming. They have eternal consequences.
“You may have times when you wonder if the call you have is beyond you,” said President Eyring with trademark tenderness. “I have had such moments, and I have learned how important it is to banish them quickly. If you let them linger, they grow and then your power to serve diminishes. That will be as much a danger for your missionaries as it is for you and for me.”
Whenever facing bouts of self-doubt while laboring “in a call from the Lord that appeared far beyond me,” President Eyring said he has been lifted by an impression in his mind and heart.
“It is this simple fact: You and your missionaries are never alone in the Lord’s work.”
Teaching from Jacob 5, President Eyring said the allegory of the olive tree is a reminder of the joy to be found laboring alongside the Lord of the vineyard. Together, they enjoy the blessed fruit of their labor.
“I have felt that joy often, and so have you,” he said. “And I have seen with the eyes of faith not only that I did not work alone but also that the Lord and other servants were generous beyond measure to let me share in the joy for my small efforts.”
The certain assurance that one is qualified for a sacred calling comes from the Lord, he added. “It is not what we have done that matters. It is how our hearts have been changed through our faithful obedience. And only God knows that.”
Only the Lord is a sure source of this assurance: Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
“The accolade we most need is to know that by serving Him faithfully, we have become more like Him.
“That understanding could shape the praise you give your missionaries. You will praise them more for what they are becoming than for what they have done. You will help them recognize their character growth. You will tell them how what they have done has allowed you to discern in them what God has helped them to become.”
President Ballard at Mission Leadership Seminar: Why preaching the gospel is the ‘most important duty’
On the 176th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, President M. Russell Ballard honored the Prophet and his brother, celebrated the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and emphasized the importance of missionary work.
“One obligation that flows from the Restoration of the gospel is our responsibility to share it with others,” said the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “In a sermon given in April 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, ‘After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.’ ”
Speaking during the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, President Ballard addressed the topic, “Behold, the Field Is White Already to Harvest.”
“Today is June 27, which always brings to our minds the traumatic event in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in the lives of the Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith family,” said President Ballard.
President Ballard’s great-grandfather, Joseph F. Smith, was just 5 years old when his father, Hyrum, and Uncle Joseph were murdered in the Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844. He would later say he learned of his father’s death on a “misty, foggy morning” when everything looked “dark and gloomy and dismal.”
The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were taken to the Mansion House in Nauvoo, where the family could view them.
“On the following day, the Saints passed through the Mansion House to pay respect to the martyrs,” said President Ballard. “Joseph F. never forgot the moment his mother lifted him up to see his dear father and his beloved Uncle Joseph one last time.”
Elder Bednar at Mission Leadership Seminar: ‘Repent and Come Unto Him’
Speaking of repentance and remission of sins at the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, cited the first recorded statements spoken to by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in the New Testament
In Matthew 3:2, John the Baptism proclaimed, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And in verse 17 of the next chapter, Jesus begins to preach with nearly the identical line, “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Said Elder Bednar: “Please notice that the first word spoken by John as recorded in the New Testament is repent. … Again, notice that repent is the first recorded word of the Savior’s public ministry.”
Elder Bednar highlighted a similar phrase found in the earliest revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation” (6:9).
“The sequences of sacred events in the scriptures, in the Lord’s restored Church and in our personal lives often is instructive,” he said. “Studying and pondering sequences can invite deeper spiritual understanding and additional inspiration.”
Elder Andersen at Mission Leadership Seminar: Unity and reassurance for life-changing assignments
“I witness that [the Savior] knows you, that He loves you, and that He desires to bless you as you begin this important chapter of your life,” said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
It was the Savior, said Elder Andersen, who, prior to His suffering in Gethsemane and His crucifixion, prayed for all “which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21).
The unity enjoyed by Elder Andersen and his fellow Brethren in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles helps them discern the Lord’s will for His Church. As Joseph Smith taught: “By union of feeling we obtain power with God.”
Elder Andersen referenced the Savior’s words to His apostles found in John 17: 22: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”
One interpretation of that glory, said Elder Andersen, “is the authority and the keys He gave to them. Through the Lord’s ordained servants, His glory, His authority, has been given to you. Your ability to garner the trust and lift the work is not just in your past experience and training, it is in your setting apart, it is in your keys. Use that authority, those keys that have been given you to bless the members as they find their way in sharing the gospel.”
Such “union of feeling,” added Elder Andersen in his remarks to 135 couples from 17 nations gathering virtually, is utilized to obtain the power of God. “We seek this in our marriage, our family, with the members of the Church and with the missionaries.”
President Oaks at Mission Leadership Seminar: ‘Sacrifices suitable to our own circumstances’
Mission leaders worldwide are presiding over missionaries “whose variety is unique in Church history” because of the extraordinary releases, reassignments and adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their sacrifices underscore “the spirit of missionary work,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
“During the two centuries since the First Vision, the sacrifices involved in major disruptions, shifting locations and changing assignments of Latter-day Saints have been a constant — not an exception,” he said.
Speaking to 135 couples participating in the streamed 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, President Oaks acknowledged that today’s missionaries have chosen to humbly and willingly accept the will of the Lord in whatever circumstance.
“That is the spirit of missionary work in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “The central message of that gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and His suffering for our repented sins.”
Mission leaders are to teach that “rock foundation,” as labeled by the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, to their missionaries and assure it is central to their teaching and testimony, President Oaks said.
“Our Savior’s willing sacrifice is the example that guides us forward along the covenant path. As members and missionaries, we follow that example by sacrifices suitable to our own circumstances.”
President Cordon at Mission Leadership Seminar: A building pattern for missionary work
Missionary service has long been a defining element of President Bonnie H. Cordon’s life. Besides serving her own full-time mission to Portugal, she watched as her parents, Harold and Carol Hillam, served together when her father presided over a mission. Later, she served alongside her mission president husband, Derek Cordon, in the Brazil Curitiba Mission.
“Missionary work is some of the sweetest and most heart-changing work in the Kingdom of God,” she said on June 27 at the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar. “I may not be able to tell you the exact number of baptisms Derek and I had in our combined years as full-time missionaries, but I could talk to you for hours about the people. That is the joy of missionary service.
“For the rest of your life, the names and faces of members and missionaries will be engraved on your heart. Your ability to love and the sheer number of people you love will grow exponentially.”
Missionary work, she added, is about much more than baptizing new members — it is about nurturing lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. “We rejoice when they choose to be baptized, but nothing compares to the whole-souled gratitude when these faithful converts remain firm in the faith of Christ.”
Retaining those new members — along with the missionaries who teach them — in the gospel for generations to come is the true measure of success.
A 30-foot retaining wall borders President Cordon’s home in Bountiful, Utah. That physical structure, with its secured foundation and reinforced layers, is symbolic of what it means to build something designed to withstand life’s storms and daily wear and tear. It is built with an eye toward future strength.
So, asked President Cordon, what happens when this same building pattern is applied to missionary work?
“We begin with a firm foundation, anchored in our Savior, Jesus Christ. We secure that foundation and each layer of growth with steadfast relationships. We build by inviting those we teach to be active contributors in the work — now. Line upon line, brick by brick, we let them know they are needed and that they belong.”