Family and Friends,
Last week we had the wonderful and interesting privilege of doing inspections with President Amaya and the Assistants Elder Rounds and Elder Curriden. As leaders we have a copy of the keys of every house in the zone and from time to time we show up unannounced in the morning to see if they are being obedient and to make sure they are taking good care of the house. Frankly, I've never been a big fan of doing inspections mostly because of what my dad taught me about not trying to be a police officer for your missionaries and I prefer to follow Joseph Smith's advice of teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves. My dad taught me that it is much better to just motivate your missionaries and be a good example to them and love them and catch them doing good things and compliment them instead of trying to trying to always catch them doing something bad and lecture them about it. He's right. And there are definitely many leaders who sadly haven't learned that and they fall victim to pride (D&C 121:34-40).
However, occasionally when done with the proper amount of humility, maturity, and the correct perspective and trusting but verifying and wanting to help them not hurt them or make them feel bad... inspections can be important, wonderful, and necessary. Thus we went and inspected all of the houses with that attitude and it was awesome. There was one house where four missionaries lived and the week before President asked us to decided out of three of them had who we recommended as the new district leader (our other district leader is a zone leader now and very well prepared I might add). It was a tough decision and we took some time to think it through because two of them had a lot more time in the mission, had been district leaders before, and were very dynamic outgoing and talented. The other missionary had less time and is a little shy but he is super obedient, pure, loving, happy, a great teacher, and really has a great spirit about him. Despite that he was a little shy and had less time on the mission we both felt that he was the right choice and we told President. Therefore, when we arrived at their house at 7:58 to do inspections what we found brought a calm reassurance to my heart and I knew the Lord had inspired us to make the right choice. Two of the missionaries were scrambling to get their ties on and get to their desks. One missionary was just barely coming out of the shower. And the humble and obedient missionary that we had recommended as district leader was completely dressed, knelt down praying at his desk, and had a serene and peaceful spirit about him. It was awesome. The difference in power and spirit between those missionaries was palpable.
The other missionaries received a loving but firm correction to improve and the obedient missionary received a big hug, big smile, and a big congratulations from President Amaya. I couldn't help but smile and think of what it'll be like when the Lord comes unannounced...how will he find us? Obedience really does have its rewards.
There was a missionary who arrived in our zone a few months ago discouraged, disobedient, and a little lazy but WOW has he had a drastic change. You can truly see more light radiating in his eyes these days. We were persistent, loving, and patient with him and he has a great companion to help him and he has improved and transformed into a loving, happy, upbeat, obedient, smart, hardworking, direct, bold, brave, and wonderful missionary. I know that one of the keys was that when he first got here we didn't get frustrated or give up on him and just classify him as a problematic and disobedient missionary and that was the end of it. Instead, we saw the potential he had inside and saw what he could become and helped him reach it. And when we arrived at their house unannounced early in the morning it brought a big smile to my face to find them both dressed, alert, diligently studying, and with the house clean...not perfect... but clean. Its wonderful to see what a change people can have :)
Lots of leaders in the mission spend their time looking all over for tips and keys for success and they ignore or undervalue or forget to study and apply the divine guidance given by the First Presidency. Often times in my personal study or in my free time while in the bathroom or waiting for a baptismal interview, etc. I'll pull out my Missionary Handbook and go over the leadership section. I highly recommend it. I would like to cite a few pearls of wisdom on leadership from the Missionary Handbook page 60, "A leader helps other missionaries most when they feel a leader´s love. They should feel that a leader is motivated by a sincere concern for their welfare, not by his or her own interests." This is one of the most important and perhaps most underrated aspects of successful leadership. Everyone knows that you have to be strong, smart, efficient, have results, and reach the goal. But they often forget that if you just focus on the results and walk over people to get them then you won't have happy people nor will you likely have good results. Remember the following from the Missionary Handbook page 57, "A missionary leader must be an effective administrator in keeping order and carrying out the work of the mission. A leader's most important influence, however, comes through ministering to others in harmony with the Savior's teachings and example." You have to pray for them all by name everyday and really watch out for them and care for them and love them. Be willing to go the extra mile. If there is a companionship that is really discouraged and struggling be willing to go to their house listen to them, let them vent, love, give them kind advice with scriptures and PMG, and give them a blessing each one to improve and strengthen them and they will LOVE you for it and know and feel that you are there to help and serve them not just to use them to have better results for your own selfish reasons. When they feel that they will follow you out of love and respect not out of fear or for obligation and thus they will trust you and won't question your motives and they'll work better. Thus you will have happy people and happy results :)