Don't Wait for Others to Make You Successful 


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Assume Some Responsibility

Some teenagers grew up expecting someone else to do things for them. For example, if a Sunday School class was boring, it was the teacher's fault. If there was no life at a Church dance, it was someone else's fault. If you weren't having fun living, it was as if someone else was supposed to do something for you.

Unfortunately, too many missionaries carry this same childish attitude with them into their missions. However, you must realize that no one can pave the way for you. If you want life to be fun and interesting, you must assume some responsibility. Likewise, if you are not enjoying your mission, take charge of the situation and make appropriate changes.

Your companion may exhibit a rather negative attitude about the mission and life in general. In this situation it is tempting to take a deep breath, roll your eyes, and just wait until transfers. But remember, every day that you allow your companion to smother your enthusiasm is one less day you will serve your mission the way you want. What can you do about his or her negative attitude? Generally, it is difficult to be around an optimistic person and maintain a sullen, depressed attitude. The first thing you can do is to be the kind of missionary you want to be in spite of your companion's sour attitude.

Next, you can reason with your companion and perhaps learn why he or she is that way. The possibilities are endless: low self-esteem, a troubled home, a struggling testimony. Before you write your companion off, try to find out what is wrong.

Depressed people are not happy people, and their lives are miserable. If your companion has been able to identify what is wrong, he or she may not know what to do about it. Be a supportive companion and tactfully give some good practical advice—it may give your companion new hope. It's all too easy for some missionaries to rigidly state, "I'm not here to baby-sit my companion. If he has a problem, then it's his problem." Unfortunately, your companion's problems become your problems. After you have talked through the problem, make some positive plans for overcoming the problem. Don't dwell on the problem—an approach used by too many depressed people. Look for the positive in every situation, though sometimes it is very difficult. When people are depressed, everything seems dark. To them there is no evident way out! If you wait for the mission president to visit with your companion, you may waste a lot of valuable time.

When faced with obstacles seemingly too large to handle, many people choose the easy way out by doing nothing to try to surmount them or by complaining. Neither reaction does any good. No matter what the situation or problem, you have three options: (1) not let it bother you, (2) complain about it and let it affect the quality of your mission, or (3) evaluate the situation and do something about it.

If you choose to do nothing or complain, you stand the chance of ruining your attitude toward your mission. All the adversary has to do is keep you in touch with those who are likewise negative, contrary, or unsupportive. If your life can be controlled simply by keeping the wrong kinds of people around you, your trying to wait out the situation could have very negative implications. If you decide to do something, the very worst you can do is fail, and things will remain the same as before.

If you are afraid of hard work, the world will be a pretty bleak place to live. No one is assigned to smooth the way for you. If you want a smooth road, plan on smoothing it out yourself.

If you adopt a "can do" attitude, most of the problems become little more than irritations. Over the past three years, I have witnessed astounding results when missionaries decided they didn't like the way things were going and decided to make a difference. Despised companions became best of friends, unsupportive wards became the most desirable places in the mission to serve, and apartments formerly labeled "Outer Darkness" became pleasant abodes. But only you can make the difference.

Sometimes determining that you cannot change things and then not letting them bother you may be the only mature decision. You may wish that the weather was not so cold or hot, dry or wet, windy or calm, or whatever. Unless there is a truly pressing need expedient in the eyes of the Lord, he surely is not going to alter the weather to suit your particular whim.

On a more practical note, you may not like the way the mission president chooses leaders in the mission—yet that may be the style of leadership most sensible and comfortable to him. It may not be right or wrong, good or bad, just different. Allowing that difference to sour your attitude will cut you off from spiritual experiences. Choosing leaders is part of his stewardship, so why not be content to magnify your own calling? Try not to become upset when the president magnifies his. When you become a leader, you will want to do things in ways that feel right to you, without having to worry whether every other person agrees with your philosophy.

Be careful in making changes that you believe need to be made. Some things you desire are just a matter of personal preference. Remember that everyone has a right to his or her own personal likes
and dislikes. Trying to impose your personal desires on others gives the impression that you are the only one who is important, and that immediately labels you as selfish. Learning the difference between
right and wrong and your personal likes and dislikes takes some practice. Learning the balance between being too passive and too aggressive will take time but will be rewarding in the future.

Determining whether things can and ought to be changed is a talent that will bless you forever. There is a time to lead and a time to be led. There is a time to change and a time to leave things alone. There is a time to motivate and solve problems and a time to seek for more experienced help. Happy is the missionary who learns to discern when each of these times are.

Taken from the Book:  Serve With Honor, by Randy Bott, 1995