Dear Elders and Sisters,
During our most recent round of interviews, I was struck by something that one of our missionaries said to me. She commented that she wished there was less gossip in the mission. As we discussed her impressions she noted that there seems to be a spirit of competition and a tendency to judge other missionaries. Many of our missionaries are high achievers, accustomed to doing well in school and learning things easily. There is an almost natural tendency for our foreign missionaries to compare and compete as to who speaks Chinese most fluently. Another common source of comparison are positions of leadership, ranging from senior companion to AP. If we watch and aspire to such assignments, we will become crippled with pride, which is Satan’s tool to undermine us. Pride will prevent us from humbly following our Master’s example, being servant to all. Such pride can cause us to become unhappy or discouraged with our current assignment and lead us to aspire to positions, authority and the honors of men.
If we are not careful, every transfer can be a source of gossip. When you receive a new assignment, do you look forward to a new start, and afford one to your companion? Or is it difficult for you to avoid finding out from other missionaries what they know about your new companion? How might starting out each new companionship with pre-conceived ideas hinder companionship unity? I have recently seen some great examples of missionaries in our mission who have overlooked the obvious outward flaws and imperfections of their companions and instead focused on the inner goodness and eternal worth that is only visible to those who possess the gift of charity. I have been amazed to observe the kindness, patience and brotherly love exhibited by these missionaries and the noticeable effect it has had on their companions. These missionaries are truly becoming disciples of Christ and learning to see others as He sees them.
Some time ago a missionary who made a few regrettable choices near the end of his mission subsequently found himself in an embarrassing and unfortunate circumstance. We have all been in similar situations at some time in our lives. I tried to handle this situation in a way that would not draw attention to anyone. A few months later, after the missionary had returned home honorably, another missionary boldly asked his former companion, “Did he really do [such and such]?” I was so pleased to hear that the former companion responded, “I really don’t think we should talk about this!” In Proverbs we read, “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Pro. 11:13).
As we seek to be more consecrated missionaries, let us put aside all gossip, comparisons, and competition, and focus on serving others with all of our hearts. Let our hearts not be divided by envy or comparison. Let us follow the example of the Savior, who taught, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).
Mentor of Champions