During January, I studied missionary experiences in the Book of Mormon, including the following stories:
- The mission of the sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites (Mosiah 28, Alma 17-22, Alma 26).
- Abinadi’s discussion with King Noah and his priests (Mosiah 12-13), and Alma’s subsequent preaching to the people at the waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18).
- Alma the Younger’s mission to the Zoramites (Alma 31, 35) and to the Ammonihahites (Alma 8).
- Nephi and Lehi’s mission to the Lamanites (Helaman 5) and Nephi’s subsequent preaching in Zarahemla (Helaman 7, 10-11).
- Samuel the Lamanite’s visit to Zarahemla (Helaman 13).
- Nephi’s teaching after the sign of the Savior’s birth (3 Nephi 7).
- Mormon’s attempts to teach his people (Mormon 3, Moroni 7).
I identified the following principles which have been helpful to me in my own personal efforts to share the gospel:
- To be effective missionaries, we need a knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, and we need to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. This will enable us to teach “according to the word and power of God.”
- Scripture study, prayer, and fasting help us to understand gospel principles and to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which can enable us to teach with power.
- We need to put effort into our prayers. God can not only provide us with missionary opportunities but can also help us to recognize those opportunities and have the courage to take advantage of them.
- When we remember and acknowledge how much God has blessed us, we are motivated to share the gospel with others.
- When we recognize the infinite worth of the people around us, we will be motivated to share the gospel with them.
- When we see others making mistakes, we should be sad, not vindictive, aloof, or resentful.
The Work of the Lord
- We can have confidence that God will help us do His work.
- People who seem unlikely to be interested in the gospel may actually be receptive. We need to resist the temptation to predict who is likely to listen. Instead, we should share and invite with optimism and without judgment.
- God may also choose unlikely people to teach His gospel to others.
The Holy Ghost
- We should seek for personal revelation from God.
- The Spirit of the Lord will give us knowledge and power as we teach.
- We need to act on the promptings we receive, not second-guess them. Particularly when we’re told to do something hard (like talk to someone who has previously rejected us), it is important that we exercise our faith and obey.
Principles for Effective Teaching
- Effective gospel teachers have confidence in the power of the word of God. They recognize the importance of sharing their personal testimonies of the doctrines of the gospel, and they realize that great blessings can come to people who are willing to believe in their words.
- When introducing new concepts to other people, it’s helpful to affirm common beliefs and to build on principles they already understand and believe.
- Our example of living the gospel, including showing love for others, may be more impactful than the words we speak.
- We need to share the gospel with the people closest to us, our own family and friends. They may listen to us more than to someone they don’t know.
- Gratitude is a prerequisite for being willing to receive messages from God.
- We must be willing to abandon our sins and submit our will to God’s.
- Our invitations are more likely to be well-received if we extend them with confidence and optimism.
- It is important to take advantage of opportunities to teach and invite when they present themselves.
Diligence and Patience
- We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by cynics.
- When people are not receptive to our message, we can try different approaches, but we must not stop trying. We need to avoid becoming discouraged when our attempts to share gospel principles are not well received
- We must work hard and resist the temptation to slow down or give up when we are tired.
- We need to be patient with the people we teach and remember that learning takes time.
Strengthening New Converts
- The church can be a refuge for people who have accepted the gospel, especially when their family and friends are not supportive of their faith.