This month marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Preach My Gospel to missionaries. Since that time all members have been encouraged to read and study the missionary manual. In honor of the anniversary, I selected 10 of the best self-improvement activities for 10 years of Preach My Gospel.
Each activity can be used for family home evening, church lessons, or personal study. While these activities are designed for missionaries, everyone can use them for self-evaluation and personal growth.
10. Evaluate Your Personal Study
Below is a rating system to act as a personal inventory of your scripture study. Though some of the statements veer toward the obvious “I fall asleep as I study,” most of them require honest self-reflection. Most of the questions are relevant to non-missionaries, but you may need to find a way to apply a few to your personal spiritual activities.
Rate yourself on the following (1=never, 3=some of the time, and 5=almost always).
- I think about the people I am teaching when I study
- Throughout the day I think about what I studied in the morning.
- As I study, ideas come to my mind that have not occurred to me before.
- I record spiritual impressions and ideas in an appropriate place.
- I fall asleep as I study.
- I look forward to personal study.
- I look forward to companion study.
Review your responses. What are you doing well? Do you wish any of your responses were different? Set one or two goals that will improve the quality of your study.
9. Strengthen Testimony Through the Book of Mormon
Chapter five of Preach My Gospel teaches an approach to resolving concerns that brings most points of faith back to the question of whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, which can be determined by gaining a testimony of The Book of Mormon.
Learning to anchor our testimony can help us as we learn to walk by faith. And help us strengthen others who may waver. To read more about how to use The Book of Mormon to respond to objections you can read page 108-109 in Preach My Gospel.
In your study journal, write down how you would refer to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon to respond to the following objections or concerns:
- “I don’t believe that God speaks to people anymore.”
- “I believe that I can worship God in my own way rather than through some organized religion.”
- “Why must I give up drinking wine with my meals if I join your church?”
- “Why do I need religion?”
8. Question Your Use of Time
Preach My Gospel devotes an entire chapter to helping missionaries take personal inventory of the way they use their time. One activity in particular is super helpful to everyone — not just missionaries. But to apply it to your life, rather than just listing proselyting activities, list everything you’ve done, and instead of asking if it influenced key indicators ask if it helped you reach your personal goals.
In your study journal, list every proselyting activity you have done in the past three days. For each activity, determine if it influenced one of the key indicators. If it did, write yes beside it. If it did not, write no. For each activity with a yes describe how it had an impact. For each activity with a no, decide why you did it and whether you will continue to do the activity in the future. Discuss your list with your companion, and explain why you marked some activities yes and some activities no. Discuss which activities you may need to stop doing.
7. Gauge the Quality of Your Prayers
Taking prayer for granted can be easy. But how often do we honestly look at what our prayers contain and set goals to improve them? This activity forces us to evaluate how we communicate with our Father in Heaven.
Using the following scale, privately evaluate your prayers. In your study journal, write answers to questions like these: Where would you place yourself on this scale? Where would you like to be on this scale? How are you going to change?
6. Make Changes to Personal Behaviors
Changing deeply ingrained behaviors can be very difficult. Some life-long members of the Church have never had to make radical changes to their behavior. This activity can help members develop more empathy for those who have to make major changes to join the Church. And it’s an opportunity for self-improvement as well.
Think of some habit you have–something you do frequently, without thinking, such as cracking your knuckles, adjusting your glasses, eating too much, or sleeping too late. Now try to go one day without doing it once. When you succeed, try to go a whole week without doing it. Discuss your experience with your companion. Then try to imagine how much harder it is for an investigator to conquer an addiction such as tobacco or alcohol abuse.
5. Discover your Blessings
It’s easy to think of commandments as things you have to do. When that happens, we forget the whys or the true purpose of the commandments. Well, this activity can completely flip your perspective around. To understand the blessings, first begin reading through the list of commandments from lesson 4.
For each commandment in this lesson, list the scriptural promises the Lord makes to those who keep the commandment. Record in your study journal the promises that have been realized in your life.
4. Thesaurus Up Your Testimony
One of the phrases we hear the most during testimony meetings is “I know.” Preach My Gospel challenges us to understand what that phrase really means, and what other phrases may better express our actual meaning. If nothing else this activity will give the first Sunday of the month a little more variety.
The passages below are examples of bearing testimony. Read each of the questions and scriptures. Write your answers in your study journal.
In these verses, of what do the apostles and prophets testify?
How strongly do they believe what they are saying? How can you tell that they are convinced of the truth?
When you say, “I know that _______________ is true,” what do you mean? What other words can you use to convey your convictions?
3. Recognize How You Feel the Spirit
Some members of the Church struggle to know when they are feeling the Spirit. This is a difficult problem to resolve because everyone feels the Spirit differently.
So Preach My Gospel compiled every scripture that describes what feeling the Holy Ghost feels like. So while this isn’t an activity per se, it is an amazing compilation of feelings that may help us to better recognize when we have felt the Spirit in our lives, and recognize it again in the future.
Study the following table. Think of times when you have experienced any of the feelings, thoughts, or impressions described in the passage below. As you study and gain experience, add other passages to this list. Think of how you can use these principles to help others feel and recognize the Spirit.
D&C 6:23; 11:12–14; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22–23 Gives feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, and hope. D&C 8:2–3 Gives ideas in the mind, feelings in the heart. D&C 128:1 Occupies the mind and presses on the feelings. Joseph Smith—History 1:11–12 Helps scriptures have strong effect. D&C 9:8–9 Gives good feelings to teach if something is true. Alma 32:28; D&C 6:14–15; 1 Corinthians 2:9–11 Enlightens the mind. Alma 19:6 Replaces darkness with light. Mosiah 5:2–5 Strengthens the desire to avoid evil and obey the commandments. John 14:26 Teaches truth and brings it to remembrance. John 14:27 Gives feelings of peace and comfort. John 16:13 Guides to truth and shows things to come. Moroni 10:5 Reveals truth. D&C 45:57 Guides and protects from deception. 2 Nephi 31:18; D&C 20:27; John 16:14 Glorifies and bears record of God the Father and Jesus Christ. D&C 42:16; 84:85; 100:5–8; Luke 12:11–12 Guides the words of humble teachers. John 16:8 Recognizes and corrects sin. Moroni 10:8–17; D&C 46:8–26; 1 Corinthians 12 Gives gifts of the Spirit. Alma 10:17; 12:3; 18:16, 20, 32, 35; D&C 63:41 Helps to perceive or discern the thoughts of others. D&C 46:30; 50:29–30 Tells what to pray for. 2 Nephi 32:1–5; D&C 28:15 Tells what to do. 1 Nephi 10:22; Alma 18:35 Helps the righteous speak with power and authority. D&C 21:9; 100:8; John 15:26 Testifies of the truth. 2 Nephi 31:17; Alma 13:12; 3 Nephi 27:20 Sanctifies and brings remission of sins. 1 Nephi 2:16–17; 2 Nephi 33:1; Alma 24:8 Carries truth to the heart of the listener. 1 Nephi 1:1–3; Exodus 31:3–5 Enhances skills and abilities. 1 Nephi 7:15; 2 Nephi 28:1; 32:7; Alma 14:11; Mormon 3:16; Ether 12:2 Constrains (impels forward) or restrains (holds back). D&C 50:13–22 Edifies both teacher and students. D&C 88:3; John 14:26 Gives comfort.
2. Extra! Extra!
This activity reminds me of some of my favorite assignments from grade school. While this focuses on how the restoration is big news that should be shared, the activity could be repeated with other major events such as the fall, atonement, or resurrection.
Imagine that you are going to write an article about the message of the Restoration for a local newspaper. In your study journal write a title that describes the central message. Then record your thoughts and feelings about this message, including how understanding it better has changed the way you live and the way you view the world around you.
1. Becoming Like Christ
When I first received Preach My Gospel this activity, from Chapter 6 stood out to me. It took up an entire page, and looked like a game. Once I got started though, this attribute questionnaire forced some real honest personal reflection. I have done it many times since then and each time have found places in my life for improvement.
Read each item below carefully. Decide how true that statement is about you, and choose the most appropriate response from the response key. Write your response to each item in your study journal. Spiritual growth is a gradual process, and no one is perfect, so you should expect to rate yourself better on some items than on others.
____1. I believe in Christ and accept Him as my Savior. (2 Nephi 25:29)
____2. I feel confident that God loves me. (1 Nephi 11:17)
____3. I trust the Savior enough to accept His will and do whatever He asks. (1 Nephi 3:7)
____4. I firmly believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can be forgiven of all my sins. (Enos 1:5–8)
____5. I have enough faith in Christ to obtain answers to my prayers. (Mosiah 27:14)
____6. I think about the Savior during the day and remember what He has done for me. (D&C 20:77, 79)
____7. I have the faith necessary to help make good things happen in my life or the lives of others. (Ether 12:12)
____8. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. (Moroni 10:3–5)
____9. I have enough faith in Christ to accomplish anything He wants me to do—even miracles, if necessary. (Moroni 7:33)
____10. One of my greatest desires is to inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom of God. (Moroni 7:41)
____11. I am confident that I will have a happy and successful mission. (D&C 31:3–5)
____12. I feel peaceful and optimistic about the future. (D&C 59:23)
____13. I firmly believe that someday I will dwell with God and become like Him. (Ether 12:4)
Charity and Love____14. I feel a sincere desire for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people. (Mosiah 28:3)
____15. When I pray, I ask for charity—the pure love of Christ. (Moroni 7:47–48)
____16. I try to understand others’ feelings and see their point of view. (Jude 1:22)
____17. I forgive others who have offended or wronged me. (Ephesians 4:32)
____18. I try to help others when they are struggling or discouraged. (Mosiah 18:9)
____19. When appropriate, I tell others that I love them and care about them. (Luke 7:12–15)
____20. I look for opportunities to serve other people. (Mosiah 2:17)
____21. I say positive things about others. (D&C 42:27)
____22. I am kind and patient with others, even when they are hard to get along with. (Moroni 7:45)
____23. I find joy in others’ achievements. (Alma 17:2–4)
Virtue____24. I am clean and pure in heart. (Psalm 24:3–4)
____25. I have no desire to do evil but to do good. (Mosiah 5:2)
____26. I am dependable—I do what I say I will do. (Alma 53:20)
____27. I focus on righteous, uplifting thoughts and put unwholesome thoughts out of my mind. (D&C 121:45)
____28. I repent of my sins and strive to overcome my weaknesses. (D&C 49:26–28)
____29. I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. (D&C 11:12–13)
Knowledge____30. I feel confident in my understanding of gospel doctrines and principles. (Ether 3:19–20)
____31. I study the scriptures daily. (John 5:39)
____32. I earnestly seek to understand the truth and find answers to my questions. (D&C 6:7)
____33. I receive knowledge and guidance through the Spirit. (1 Nephi 4:6)
____34. I love and cherish the doctrines and principles of the gospel. (2 Nephi 4:15)
Patience____35. I wait patiently for the blessings and promises of the Lord to be fulfilled. (2 Nephi 10:17)
____36. I am able to wait for things without getting upset or frustrated. (Romans 8:25)
____37. I am patient and long-suffering with the challenges of being a missionary. (Alma 17:11)
____38. I am patient with the faults and weaknesses of others. (Romans 15:1)
____39. I am patient with myself and rely on the Lord as I work to overcome my weaknesses. (Ether 12:27)
____40. I face adversity and afflictions calmly and hopefully. (Alma 34:40–41)
Humility____41. I am meek and lowly in heart. (Matthew 11:29)
____42. I rely on the Lord for help. (Alma 26:12)
____43. I am sincerely grateful for the blessings I have received from the Lord. (Alma 7:23)
____44. My prayers are earnest and sincere. (Enos 1:4)
____45. I appreciate direction from my leaders or teachers. (2 Nephi 9:28)
____46. I strive to be submissive to the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. (Mosiah 24:15)
Diligence____47. I work effectively, even when I’m not under pressure or close supervision. (D&C 58:26–27)
____48. I focus my efforts on the most important things. (Matthew 23:23)
____49. I have a personal prayer at least twice a day. (Alma 34:18–27)
____50. I focus my thoughts on my calling as a missionary. (D&C 4:2, 5)
____51. I set goals and plan regularly. (D&C 88:119)
____52. I work hard until the job is completed successfully. (D&C 10:4)
____53. I find joy and satisfaction in my work. (Alma 36:24–25)
Obedience____54. When I pray, I ask for strength to resist temptation and to do what is right. (3 Nephi 18:15)
____55. I keep the required commandments to be worthy of a temple recommend. (D&C 97:8)
____56. I willingly obey the mission rules and follow the counsel of my leaders. (Hebrews 13:17)____57. I strive to live in accordance with the laws and principles of the gospel. (D&C 41:5)
These activities can be great for class, family home evening, or personal study. I hope you enjoy them as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of this wonderful resource.