January 2013 Visiting Teaching Message: Missionary Work
January 03, 2013
"We must develop the capacity to see [people] not as they are at present but as they may become." -Thomas S. Monson
January Visiting Teaching Message:
Latter-day Saints are sent forth “to labor in [the Lord’s] vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (D&C 138:56), which includes missionary work. We don’t need a formal mission call to share the gospel. Others whose lives will be blessed by the gospel surround us, and as we prepare ourselves, the Lord will use us. Visiting teachers can embrace their spiritual responsibilities and help “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
When the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society in 1842, he said that the women were not only to look after the poor but also to save souls.1 This is still our purpose.
Supplement: read the following story from President Thomas S. Monson's October 2012 address, "See Others as They May Become":
During the 1940s and 1950s, an American prison warden, Clinton Duffy, was well known for his efforts to rehabilitate the men in his prison. Said one critic, “You should know that leopards don’t change their spots!”
Replied Warden Duffy, “You should know I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.” . . .
Back in the year 1961, a worldwide conference was held for mission presidents, and every mission president in the Church was brought to Salt Lake City for those meetings. I came to Salt Lake City from my mission in Toronto, Canada.
In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”
The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”
Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”
We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way.