- Proclaiming the gospel is not an activity in which we periodically and temporarily engage. And our labors as missionaries certainly are not confined to the short period of time devoted to full-time missionary service in our youth or in our mature years. Rather, the obligation to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is inherent in the oath and covenant of the priesthood into which we enter. Missionary work essentially is a priesthood responsibility, and all of us who hold the priesthood are the Lord’s authorized servants on the earth and are missionaries at all times and in all places—and we always will be. Our very identity as holders of the priesthood and the seed of Abraham is in large measure defined by the responsibility to proclaim the gospel.
A Frequently Asked Question
- One of the questions I am asked most frequently by young men is this: “What can I do to prepare most effectively to serve as a full-time missionary?”
- In our customary Church vocabulary, we often speak of going to church, going to the temple, and going on a mission. Let me be so bold as to suggest that our rather routine emphasis on going misses the mark. The issue is not going to church; rather, the issue is worshipping and renewing covenants as we attend church. The issue is not going to or through the temple; rather, the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The issue is not going on a mission; rather, the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. It is possible for a young man to go on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the Church needs.
The Principle of Becoming
- In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.
In order to start to become a missionary, you have to actively do things that missionaries do. For example:
- You can increase in your desire to serve God, and you can begin to think as missionaries think, to read what missionaries read, to pray as missionaries pray, and to feel what missionaries feel. You can avoid the worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw, and you can grow in confidence in recognizing and responding to spiritual promptings. Line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you can gradually become the missionary you hope to be and the missionary the Savior expects.
Elder Bednar says that the reason we are to be missionaries is related to the covenant the Lord made with Abraham in the Old Testament. Abraham was promised a posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea. When we are baptized, we are adopted into the seed of Abraham. This gives us the possibility of gaining eternal life but comes with obligations that we will help others to be adopted into the seed of Abraham through baptism.
The Seed of Abraham
- The process of becoming a missionary is directly related to understanding who we are as the seed of Abraham.
- Abraham was promised a great posterity and that the nations of the earth would be blessed through that posterity.
- Abraham’s faithful heirs would have the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the priesthood. Thus, the phrase “bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” refers to the responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to invite all to receive by proper priesthood authority the ordinances of salvation. Truly, great responsibility rests upon the seed of Abraham in these latter days.
Elder Bednar ends with explaining what our obligation is as members of the church. We are to invite everyone to come unto Christ. The process of becoming a missionary will make this easy to do. If we have done the preparatory work to prepare, we will be able to share the gospel message when the time is right.
- My beloved brethren, you and I, today and always, are to bless all peoples in all the nations of the earth. You and I, today and always, are to bear witness of Jesus Christ and declare the message of the Restoration. You and I, today and always, are to invite all to receive the ordinances of salvation. Proclaiming the gospel is not a part-time priesthood obligation. It is not simply an activity in which we engage for a limited time or an assignment we must complete as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, missionary work is a manifestation of our spiritual identity and heritage. We were foreordained in the premortal existence and born into mortality to fulfill the covenant and promise God made to Abraham. We are here upon the earth at this time to magnify the priesthood and to preach the gospel. That is who we are, and that is why we are here—today and always.
- You may enjoy music, athletics, or be mechanically inclined, and someday you may work in a trade or a profession or in the arts. As important as such activities and occupations can be, they do not define who we are. First and foremost, we are spiritual beings.
I like the idea that we have to become missionaries instead of going on a mission. I take that a little further when I think of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and not just being a follower of Jesus Christ. I think this talks gives a little more meaning to that idea. Our responsibility is to become something more than we are. Alone, we are not able to do that. But with Christ, we are able to become everything that Lord wants and expects. How grateful I am to not be on this journal to discipleship alone.