Personal Sacrifice

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Randy Bott

Missionaries sacrifice time, studies, money, careers, sports, talents, family, and friends for a specified amount of time for a higher calling—to teach the world that Jesus is the Christ, that his Church is restored, that Joseph Smith was his prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the Lord's witness, and that there is a living prophet today. When missionaries arrive in the field, additional personal sacrifices are required of them. Their living accommodations are usually inadequate. Often they have to learn a new language and adapt to a new environment as challenging cultures arethrust upon them. Those who travel to the far south or north may find that even the climates are changed. Such "sacrifices" are commonplace in the mission field.

Listing these numerous sacrifices may imply that the entire mission experience is destined to be a self-sacrificing, joyless existence. While a missionary may feel exactly this way some days, the consensus of virtually all missionaries is that these so-called sacrifices bring forth innumerable blessings. Even the most trying days are considered worthy material for personal diaries. Cold showers, boardinghouses with fleas, and beds without mattresses are all taken in stride as a higher object of devotion takes precedence.

The Lord has said: "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Matthew 19:29.

To develop in them obedience, patience, and long-suffering, the Lord has required unusual personal sacrifices of some. The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of his own tribulations in earnest supplication to his Father (D&C 121:1-7). Job's trials, Abraham's test, and President Spencer W. Kimball's physical afflictions are but a few additional examples.

The Lord gave us the supreme example at Gethsemane. Was that an easy task to accomplish? It was hard enough that the Lord cried out as he fell upon his face, praying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39.)

In speaking of that great and last sacrifice, Amulek said: "For it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another." (Alma 34:10-11.)

That holy infinite sacrifice provoked immense suffering, "which suffering," reports the Lord, "caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink." (D&C 19:18.)

The suffering at Gethsemane required great sacrifice.
The suffering on the cross required great sacrifice.
The suffering at Liberty Jail required great sacrifice.

The persecution of the Saints in the early history of the Church represented great sacrifice on their part. How much sacrifice should be required of today's missionary? Is it too much of a sacrifice for him to get out of bed on time? Is it too much of a sacrifice for him to be out working on time? Is it too much of a sacrifice for him to be efficient in his day-to-day labors

The Lord gave 100 percent in his atonement. Can missionaries give a 100 percent effort for two years of their lives?

President Ronald Loveland at a mission conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 1980, told of a missionary who had worked himself to utter exhaustion. When his companion tried to persuade him to go back to the apartment to rest, that he had done enough for one day, he said, "The Lord needs to know that I was serious when I said yes to my mission call." Was his sacrifice listened to from on high? It must have been. Today that missionary is a General Authority of the Church. The Lord knows that he is valiant

The moving force for any missionary is his willingness to sacrifice a comfortable way of life to yield to a more holy purpose in order to effectively teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sacrifice of this nature brings forth blessings. Even though the level of sacrifice required generally of today's missionaries cannot be compared to that of old, it is still sacrifice. Today's missionaries sacrifice by daily doing those things which are difficult but important. Today's sacrifice requires consistent effort with an eye single to the glory of our Heavenly Father. Today's sacrifice requires a continual concern on the part of the missionaries to grow into perfection, an attitude that the status quo is unacceptable an unquenchable desire to live the mission to its fullest.

Elder Victors came into the mission field unprepared. His pre-mission life was filled with mistakes and sadness. He had the wrong kinds of friends, the wrong motives, and the wrong habits. Before entering the mission field, he had failed to fully confess his sins. The only really good thing was that he had finally decided to change, and he was now willing to make the sacrifice to do so. The road back was not easy. He had much repenting to do, but he was determined to do it

At first mission life was not easy. There were rules that were incompatible with his personal desires. What did he do? He sacrificed his desires. For example, prior to the mission he loved rock music. When he arrived in the mission field he sacrificed rock music for something better—talks with the Lord. He also was plagued with a physical problem. An old football back injury caused daily pain and sleepless nights. Month after month he sacrificed, gritted his teeth, and kept going

Little by little his sacrifice started paying off. He made innocent mistakes, not completely understanding mission life, but some very special companions sacrificed some of their time to love and nurture him along until he could overcome his past. Soon he was made senior companion. Again there were some mistakes. With each mistake there was more personal sacrifice so that he did not make the same mistake again. He sacrificed his comfortable old way of life and replaced it with eternal values. Next he was made district leader. His district soared. He soon became the leading baptizer in the mission, not for a week or a month, but month after month. His personal sacrifice was received by the Lord, and the Lord poured forth blessings abundantly. It was no surprise to anyone when Elder Victors was called to be assistant to the president. The single outstanding characteristic of Elder's success was his understanding that personal sacrifice in doing the Lord's work brings forth blessings. He returned home from his mission a godlike man. The change was total. The principle of sacrifice was the changing agent.

There was another missionary who came into the field much better prepared and qualified than was Elder Victors. The difference was in his attitude relative to personal sacrifice. This elder was determined that he would not make any personal sacrifices during the mission. He would be a missionary, but he was not going to sacrifice anything. He liked his life-style and was determined that he would not change

His mission was one of continued contention and misunderstanding. Because of his rebellious attitude he could not have the Spirit with him. And his rebellious attitude was a result of his determination to not sacrifice anything for his mission. He did not understand the law; therefore, the blessing pertaining to that law did not come forth. In spite of the fact that everyone tried to help him, he regressed. His personal commitment not to "change" had limited his progress. By the time he left the mission field, he was notably less spiritual and more immature than when he had entered—all because he did not understand the law of personal sacrifice

Missionaries are to eliminate their weaknesses by replacing them with strengths. Personal sacrifice to do that brings forth blessings. It is one of God's laws. Let it work for you.

From the book: Serve with Honor, by Randy Bott, 1995