4 Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.
5 For so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth me that they have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.
6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
Near the end of the Nephite civilization, following several military losses, Mormon wrote a letter to his son Moroni. At the beginning of the letter, he expresses his frustration at his inability to share the gospel with the other Nephites. He’s tried different approaches. When he’s blunt, they get angry. When he tries to be less direct, they ignore him. Nothing seems to work. But he’s telling Moroni this not to discourage him, but to urge him to keep trying. “Let us labor diligently,” he says, “for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation, for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay.”
Ezra Taft Benson emphasized to full-time missionaries the importance of diligence and persistence:
I have often said that one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.
We must not give Satan an opportunity to discourage us. Here again, work is the answer. Missionary work brings joy, optimism, and happiness (“Keys to Successful Member-Missionary Work,” Ensign, September 1990).
Today, in my attempts to share the gospel with others, I will follow Mormon’s example. When an experience teaching or inviting others doesn’t go as well as I had hoped, I will not stop trying. I will vary my approach as needed, but I will not give up. I will continue to work at being an effective missionary.