Earning the Promised Rewards

Called to Serve

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Some Marvelous Rewards have been Promised...

Some marvelous rewards have been promised by the Lord to those who "fail not to continue faithful in all things" (D&C 84:80). These rewards are available to every missionary who is willing to pay the price; they are not automatic.

Far too many young men and women have the mistaken idea that just being in the mission field for eighteen or twenty-four months constitutes serving an honorable mission. Anyone can be away from home for two years, but only the diligent can serve an honorable mission. This entire book has been dedicated to offering advice to help you diligently serve a mission. If you distinguish yourself as an outstanding missionary, what is in it for you?

The great missionary section, Doctrine and Covenants 4, promises that whosoever "thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul" (D&C 4:4). Not bad for starters: you will not perish, and you will bring salvation to your soul.

If you have served with the Christlike characteristics listed in Doctrine and Covenants 4, you are well on your way to making those characteristics part of you. You have developed faith—for without faith it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6). You have learned to have hope in Christ and his infinite atonement and hope in your ability to live the gospel well enough to qualify to participate in the great events incident to the Second Coming. You have also developed a hope that through continued obedience, you can qualify for exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

As you have forgotten yourself, you find yourself loving more intensely those you are serving. All thoughts of personal comfort and convenience are gone. You focus on helping your beloved investigators, even if it costs you a great deal personally. This unselfish love is charity.

The overwhelming gratitude you feel for having been chosen to aid the Savior in "bring[ing) to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39) helps you realize that your love of God increases as you serve him. That love enriches everyone you meet. You no longer have a self-serving attitude or a desire to embarrass or hurt anyone; your whole life and attitude have changed as you have learned to love. You have learned how to focus on spiritual things. Bringing souls to Christ is more important to you than food and drink.

A sense of urgency has helped you through the tough times. Time becomes a valuable commodity that just seems to slip away. These five characteristics were necessary just to qualify you for the work. The characteristics that separate the outstanding missionaries from those who are just "there" are found in Doctrine and Covenants 4:6.

The Lord urges us to constantly remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence.

As you focus on these qualities during your eighteen months or two years of your mission, you will notice that it is easier to get answers to prayers, to feel the Spirit with you constantly, to be more tolerant of those who are struggling, and to be more positive in the face of over- whelming odds. In fact, the characteristics listed in Doctrine and Covenants 4:6 sound very much like those outlined by Peter in 2 Peter 1:1-10 as prerequisite to making your calling and election sure. I don't think that the similarities in the lists are coincidental.

You will be doing for eighteen months or two years what Christ did during his ministry. His reward was exaltation. Why should yours be any less!

You may feel that your past has caused you to start a mission with two strikes against you. Maybe that is why the Lord revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith that "nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you" (D&C 62:3; emphasis added). What a reward for faithfully bearing your testimony to members, nonmembers, and other missionaries.

Thomas B. Marsh, an early missionary for the Church, experienced his share of problems with his family, as the Lord indicated: "Behold, you have had many afflictions because of your family" (D&C 31:2).

Later in that same section the Lord gives a promise that is applicable to us as well: "Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live" (verse 5). Put the Lord to the test and see if he does not bless and prosper your family for your diligent service. Let him bless them in his own time and in his own way and according to his own will (see D&C 88:68).

You may serve under less-than-ideal circumstances. In fact, just getting a good meal or a decent shower or place to sleep may be a near impossibility. At times you may think a mission is too great of a sacrifice to make. Again, you should remember what the Lord revealed through the Prophet: "Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac" (D&C 132:50).

What are you willing to do to ensure that past transgressions are eternally erased from your record!

The Lord promised faithful missionaries: "Any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst" (D&C 84:80).

Think of it! If you serve faithfully, you will not be weary in mind— you may be dog tired, but your mind will be clear and alert. You will not be darkened in mind, body, limb, or joint. Satan will not have control over your mind or body. He may work you over a little, but he will not have power to permanently slow you down.

For some of you elders, the next part may have a great amount of appeal: "a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed." Because missions come at a critical time when some young men lose a lot of hair, you can be comforted that heaven has given you a great deal of notice! I presume the intent of this phrase is to show how closely attended we are by unseen beings who are eager and willing to help whenever needed. In fact, a little later in the same section, the Lord promises: "Whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88). Think of having the Savior constantly near you and angels around to bear you up and keep you going. Not bad company for the diligent missionary!

The opposition you will face as a diligent servant of the Lord would make the normal young man or woman cower in fear. You will have a notable absence of fear because the Lord has promised, "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you—there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper" (D&C 71:9). Of course, that does not excuse you from using common sense and avoiding dangerous situations. But it does mean that when you have done all you can do, divine help will protect you until your work on the earth is finished.

Promises made to faithful missionaries are not limited to the Doctrine and Covenants. In Mark 10:28-30, the Apostle Peter asks what's in it for missionaries who have given up everything for missionary service. The Savior's answer is sure and unwavering: "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."

You can see what tremendous blessings are promised to those who serve the Lord faithfully not only for eighteen months or two years but also ever after-they receive the divine promise that their lives will be enriched one hundred times over.

On your mission you will learn the great lessons of life. That is a given. But the price tag for learning is much lower in the mission than when you are actually married. Since, according to some, a well-served mission is equivalent to fifty years of normal service in the Church, as a young father or mother you will be as prepared for marriage as you would have been if you were an aged grandmother or grandfather. I am very glad that I learned about interpersonal relationships from my experiences with missionary companions before our children arrived. It has made marriage and family life very enjoyable.

As the second coming of Christ approaches, we tend to worry about how we will fare. Doctrine and Covenants 75:16 promises missionaries, "He who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day." We shall overcome all things—what a marvelous blessing! Those nagging problems we are still struggling with will eventually be overcome. In addition to being "lifted up" at the Second Coming, the Lord further promises that we will participate with him in those sacred events: "You shall be filled with joy and gladness; and know this, that in the day of judgment you shall be judges of that house, and condemn them" (verse 21). He speaks specifically of those people who have rejected the missionaries' message.

The problem with beginning a chapter like this one is that on almost every page of the scriptures is another promise that the Lord makes to those who are willing to forsake the world and live the gospel. To those who forsake family and loved ones to aid him in saving souls, the Lord says: I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught (D&C 76:5-9).

Missionaries who take the time to ponder the lessons they learned in their missions and who strive to apply those lessons in their lives will realize that they have been enriched in countless ways. When you add the eternal perspective, nothing you can do in time or eternity will bring a higher return on your time investment than a well-served mission. How shortsighted and foolish are those who decide they can't afford to take time out of work or schooling to serve a mission. They will learn, probably too late, how wrong they were. Maybe we can help a few realize their mistake before it is too late.

What a thrilling experience you will have. You have waited for thousands, if not millions, of years for this very hour. Your preparation period, which extends far into the premortal past, is over. "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come" (D&C 31:3). You are earning for yourself and your descendants eternal glory. Now is your time to serve. Serve with honor!

Taken from the book: Serve with Honor, 1995, by Randy Bott, former mission President in Fresno, Calif., now teaching Missionary Preparation classes at BYU.