(An Experience Brother Featherstone had while serving as Mission President, dealing with a missionary with poor self-esteem, coming from a troubled family background. Brother Featherstone came from such a background himself, so understands.)
We lose much of value and precious time when we let our troubled family affect our service and utility. One missionary I knew was a wonderful young man. However, every time I received a weekly letter it stated the same thing: “President, I don’t like myself. I haven’t liked myself since I was in the 4th grade.” (I have often wondered what happened to him in the fourth grade.)
He said he did not know how his companion or the missionaries in the district could like him. He thought negatively about himself the whole day—every day.
Finally, during one personal interview with him, I said, “Elder, you are the supreme egotist. How dare you think about yourself all the time! I know your experiences have been negative, but you do not have a right to spend the two years you have committed to the Lord to think about yourself. From this time on, I want you to think about the Lord and others—investigators, missionaries, members, your family—but not about yourself.”
I was pretty forceful with him. Now that may not have been an appropriate way to approach his problem, but it worked. He stopped thinking about himself and went on to become a great zone leader. A short time after I counseled with him, in his weekly letter he said, “President Featherstone, you have saved my very life.”
Adult children of troubled families do not have a right to endlessly think about themselves. It is a type of supreme selfishness.
Vaughn J. Featherstone, excerpt from his book "More Purity Give Me", 1991, p. 39