Whether you are a returned missionary or not, as an LDS you are a missionary for life. A member missionary. However, your role is different as a “civilian saint” and sometimes it helps to have some pointers after you take off the name tag. Here are six.
Editors Note: The intent of this article is based off of principles that are found in Elder Clayton Christensen’s book The Power of Everyday Missionaries. This book, (along with a book by Gary Lawrence about how Americans perceive Mormons) has completely changed the way I think about missionary work, and applying these principles, has changed my life.
1. Have More Non-Preachy Positive Interaction with People
Members get so discouraged with “doing” missionary work because they think that they have to go knock doors with missionaries and get their friends, family or neighbors to say: “Yes I will be baptized.” Well, I think it is much easier than this. Just do things like this guy, and people will start asking you questions:
I also love this Prezi by a ward mission leader in Texas.
Recap of the Prezi (if you didn’t watch). People need to go through stages (below) of knowing about Mormons. When you grow up in Utah, it can sometimes be hard to know that there are people who have never even heard of Mormons before. I met three of these people while on my honeymoon, two Christians, one Jew. They were all in stage one of these six stages:
Just be genuine friends with people who aren’t members of our faith. Be normal and treat them normal.
2. Call Yourself on a Mission.
The Lord asks us to be agents to act and not be acted upon (D&C 58:26-28). I strongly believe that the Lord desires for us to become the creators of our circumstances instead of the creatures carried by circumstance. Many wait for a call to do missionary work or believe that they are not expected to do missionary work unless they have a calling to do so. This is not so. We must be brave enough to become “entrepreneurs in Zion.” [2. See The Power of Everyday Missionaries.] I’m not talking about ward bake sales. I’m talking about making missionary work a part of every calling you have, especially when you aren’t a full-time missionary.
Hasten the work. Become entrepreneurs in zion.
3. Just Be Friends
I know I just talked about this above, but this is so important that it needs to be talked about twice.
I love the story published in CNN about three men who became friends while at Oxford. One was a Jewish Rabbi, one was a Black Christian Mayor and the other a Mormon. This story inspires me to be friends with those who are not of my faith. Not because I want to convert them to my religion, but because I like them as a person and I believe we can all co-exist in the same space, while believing different things. In the end, this is the only way missionary work can happen. People have to know that you care about them. When they know you care about them, then they will naturally be more interested in you and your beliefs. Just like you will be truly interested in them and their beliefs. Then you will have real connection with good people, and the truth will always stand on its own. [3. See more about being friends in the book on pp. 27-28]
4. Be a Saint at Work.
I love that Clayton Christensen, (who was awarded the number one management thinker in the world, is a Harvard Business School professor and the author of the New York Times best selling book How Will You Measure Your Life?), has “Beliefs” as the second tab on his website! What an amazing example!
If you only share the gospel outside of work this will greatly decrease the influence you can have. Most people spend most of their waking hours at work. And if you pray about it, there will be opportunities to open your mouth at work about your beliefs. If you are being a genuine Latter-day Saint at work, (even if you don’t ever tell anyone who works with you) they will always wonder:
- Why you don’t drink coffee in the mornings.
- Why you don’t drink alcohol at company parties.
- Why you took this job instead of another one (that would have made you work on Sunday).
- Why 10% of your paycheck goes to charity in the form of tithing.
- Why your family matters to you so much.
- Why there is a picture of you and your spouse outside that white granite stone building on your wedding day.
- Why you don’t like to carry on when people are telling dirty jokes.
- Why you have a link to your beliefs on your personal website or blog.
- Why your LinkedIn profile includes some sort of reference to unpaid voluntary church service (your mission)
- Why (when you could just bluff the data) you are completely honest about the profitability of a product line you manage, even if that means you will get a major pay cut or even have to find work elsewhere.
- Why you read that blue hard-bound book during your lunch break.
- Why it just feels good to be around you.
- Why you seem to just have a light in your eyes.
- Why you are such a genuinely happy person.
If we are Saints at work, people will be asking these questions in their head. Some will ask you out loud if they ever get a chance. Make it easy for them. Be bold about it when you feel inspired to share.
I promise this…
No working relationship will be seriously injured by talking about that which gives you hope and fuels your ambition.
I also promise likewise…
No working relationship (or any relationship) will last you if you don’t openly live what you believe.
Either way you go, it will always catch up to you. The application of this principle has completely changed my life. It will change yours as well.
5. Ask for Help.
Some people have everything they will ever need financially and are more educated than most of the world will ever be. In their minds, they don’t need help from anyone, let alone a couple of teenage Mormons without a degree or a profession, who happen to have name tags. And why would they ever want to accept an invitation to be helped or taught by missionaries or by us? They will never need help. What they DO need is to be needed. That is where we can ask them for help. These people have been blessed in many ways and have the ability to help others with their knowledge, skills, or even their money. Why not ask for their help? Here are some ideas:
- Ask them to participate in a career night with the young men and young women in the ward to explain how they got to where they are.
- Ask someone to help you teach a primary lesson about the Good Samaritan and why it is good to be like this.
- Ask them to review a religious blog post on your personal blog intended for the public before you publicize it to the world. Tell them that you need an “outsiders perspective” so that you make sure it sounds okay to someone outside of your faith.
- Explain to them about the law of the fast and read Isaiah 58:6-12 with them. Tell them about a special situation of someone in your family or ward who is struggling (with a terminal disease or a financial disaster or even a natural disaster somewhere in the world) and invite them to join with you in a special fast for the needs of these people.
- After the fast, tell them about the system of fast offerings and how the funds that are given from people in this community go to helping those who don’t have enough in that same area.
If we just give people a chance to help and to be needed, they will feel the Spirit. They will feel very good about themselves, and they will have a desire to give even more.
People give. No matter how wealthy or educated, people need to be needed. Let them help. Let them give.
In 2013, 64.5 million adults volunteered 7.9 billion hours of service, worth an estimated value of $175 billion, and the top volunteer area was religious. [4. From the National Philanthropic Trust Statistical Report]
Ask for help.
In case you weren’t convinced by LDS.net’s video above, here are 4 reasons why online missionary work is crucial and over 100 things you can do to get involved doing online missionary work right now.
These are things that thousands of people are asking Google instead of asking God. Be a part of the conversation. [5. The above screenshot was taken in June of 2013] You can do so much online right now. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 1 hour. All day. Spread good online.
1. Have More Non-Preachy Positive Interaction
2. Call Yourself on a Mission
3. Just Be Friends
4. Be a Saint at Work
5. Ask for Help
6. Do Online Missionary Work
Be a member missionary. Rethink success. Rethink missionary work. The moment you seriously commit to being an everyday member missionary, your life will change forever.