The Fourth Missionary, by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, June 22, 2002. Elder Corbridge beautifully elucidates the only way missionaries can benefit personally from their mission, and explains who they can become and how to achieve it. He encourages all missionaries to “BE THE FOURTH MISSIONARY”!
Occasionally we learn something that has a profound influence in our lives. This can be one of those times. If you understand and become the Fourth Missionary, it will change your life. What I have to say to you is not hard to do, but it will change your life, if you apply it. I promise you that. The characteristics of the Fourth Missionary are among the most important things you will learn while on your mission. If you acquire these characteristics you will be happy, you will have peace of mind, and your knowledge, capacities and talents will expand. If you acquire the characteristics of the Fourth Missionary, godly virtues will become a part of you, and the service that you render will change you.
Missionaries, if you don’t understand what I have to say, or if you don’t apply it, you may live a righteous life, you may do much good, and yet live in quiet frustration and discontent. The good that you do, and the service that you render, will do you little good. The virtues of godliness will not be incorporated into your soul. What I have to say is based in the doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, charity and consecration.
As we talk about the four kinds of missionaries, please understand that I mean no disrespect to the sisters by generally using the masculine pronoun, rather than the awkward form of “he or she.” These principles, of course, apply to all the missionaries regardless of gender.
You have a choice. You can decide what kind of missionary you will be. More importantly, you can choose what kind of person you will become. Do you think about that? Do you think about and plan for who you want to become?
Your life’s greatest work is you.
As you entered the mission field you concluded one phase of life and began another. To this point many of you have had the protection and close support of family and church leaders and teachers. Now you have moved into a new phase of life on your own. You are essentially on your own. From this point on, you are wholly responsible for what you do and most importantly for who you become. For the most part, your life is yet ahead of you. What will you do with it? What will be your greatest work? What will be your most important creation?
I will tell you. Your greatest work; your most important creation is and will ever be you. Brigham Young said: “The greatest and most important labor we have to perform is to cultivate ourselves.” (Journal of Discourses 10:2; Temple and Cosmos, Nibley, Hugh J., p. 392.)
What kind of person will you become? By this I do not mean what role in life will you take. I don’t mean will you be a cowboy, lawyer, surfer, homemaker, engineer, computer programmer, accountant or the like. I do not refer to what kind of car you will drive, what kind of clothes you will wear, what kind of house you will live in, what kind of spouse you will marry or what kind of family you will raise. I mean, when all of that is removed and there you stand alone, who will you be? I mean, you. What personality will you have; what strengths; what knowledge; what character; what emotional state; what presence; what qualities; what virtues? What will you look like? What will you sound like? What will it be like to be around you? Who will you be?
Envision and plan for your greatest work.
We plan many things in life. We each live in a house that was built from a plan. Someone first envisioned the house in his mind and a plan was then put to paper. One of my sons had a poster picture of a Porsche Carrera on his bedroom wall. It is a beautiful creation. The lines and symmetry of its design make it a work of art. That car began somewhere, sometime ago in someone’s head. First, someone saw it in his mind and then put it to paper. Someone envisioned it; then plans were prepared, the work was done, and a beautiful car was created.
Some of you have carefully planned your education. You carefully planned your course selections over these past several years with a view toward college admissions and intended occupations. All of you at some point made a plan to serve a mission, you followed that plan and here you are. Now, hopefully all of you plan the appointments, activities, and goals of each day and week.
Years ago when our children were young we planned a trip to DisneyWorld. I read a book about it. Can you imagine? I read a book about how to get the most out of DisneyWorld! It explained where to go and what to do from minute to minute in order to stand in the shortest lines and not miss a thing during the course of a single day. It was amazing! We packed more nonsense into a single day than what most people experience in a week in the park because we made a good plan and followed it. It worked! We plan many things in life. But have you planned your greatest work? Have you envisioned who you will become? Do you plan for what kind of person you want to become? Can you see in your mind who you want to be? Do you know?
As you consider what kind of person you want to become, what choices do you have? The choices are more limited than what you might think. Here are most of the choices, but overall they are a choice between the qualities of light or the qualities of darkness. Do you want to be powerful or weak? Certain and confident, or afraid and insecure? Comfortable with yourself or arrogant and abrasive? Do you want to be filled with light or darkness? Do you want to have peace or conflict within? Generous or selfish? Influential or inconsequential? Do you want to be free or be a slave? Happy or miserable? Do you want to be kind and loving, or mean and cruel? Honest or dishonest? Do you want to be forgiving or hard and unforgiving? Knowledgeable or ignorant? Do you want to be a person of faith or doubt and fear? Trustworthy or unreliable? Hardworking or lazy? Do you want to be cheerful or despondent? The first of each of these choices is an attribute of light. They are incorporated into your character as you choose to follow Christ.
Dynamic process; always changing
As you consider the question of what kind of person you will become, you must understand the dynamic process of life. You not only can change but you do change all of the time. Sometimes people do not believe this. They excuse their failures and weaknesses by saying: “That’s just the way I am.” “I am just a short-tempered, impatient person.” “I can’t get up in the morning. That’s just the way I am.” “That’s my nature.” Or, “I’m just shy. That’s all. That’s just who I am.” “I am not really a spiritual person.” To believe that weaknesses and deficiencies in your character are unchangeable is to reject the central truth of the plan of salvation. You are not cast in stone. You not only can change but you do change all of the time. You are a dynamic, changing, evolving being. You are always changing. You never stay the same. You cannot stand still.
You are right now the sum total of what you have thought, said, seen, heard, and done. What you think, say, do, hear, and see, causes you to change; to change for good or evil, to become either stronger or weaker, to either internalize the qualities of light or the qualities of darkness. You are responsible for who you are and you are responsible for who you will become. Do you know what kind of person you want to become? Do you see in your mind who you want to be? Do you know?
What manner of men ought ye to be?
Jesus asked a similar question. He said, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” On this particular occasion he was speaking to his Nephite disciples and so he spoke in the male gender, but the question applies to us all, and so, He asks of you, “What manner of men and women ought ye to be?” Then answering His own question he said, “Even as I am.” Jesus Christ not only came to atone for our sins; He also came to show us the way. He is the Way. You not only may become like Him; everything is stacked in your favor to become like Him.
Think of this life as a path on which you never stand still. As you move forward, you incorporate into your being the characteristics and qualities of God. As you move backward you assimilate the qualities of Satan. Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only: to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like Him.
If you were never presented with some advantage to be gained by dishonesty, such as recognition, or money, or a better grade on a test or avoidance of punishment or embarrassment, you could never develop integrity. If no one ever offended you, you could never learn to forgive or internalize mercy. Were you never wearied by the annoying behavior of another or the repeated failures of someone else, you could never become patient. Were you never subjected to the appetites and passions of the physical body for food, for water and for sexual fulfillment you could not develop self-mastery. Without opposition the plan would be frustrated you could not progress and the purpose of life would be unachievable. In short when you choose to follow Christ you move forward and assimilate attributes of light; when you do not, you move backward and acquire attributes of darkness.
Can you see, have you seen, who you want to be? What will happen if you don’t plan? What will happen if you have no vision of who you want to become?
Two ways to evolve
There are two ways of evolving: deliberately and accidentally. You can either decide who you want to become and deliberately work toward that end, or you can just go with the flow and become whatever life makes of you. If you go with the flow, you will become whatever the fickle circumstances and forces of life and society will make of you, whatever is currently considered to be popular or “in”, whatever is easiest. But whatever you become accidentally, it will not be the full measure of your potential. Not nearly. You will become just someone, somewhere in the middle.
There are four kinds of missionaries. The way of the Fourth Missionary is the only way to become more like Jesus Christ. The way of the Fourth Missionary is the only way to light, intelligence, strength, capacity, peace, contentment, grace, knowledge, power, happiness, mercy, joy, and every other good thing.
The First Missionary
Characteristics of the First Missionary:
He is disobedient and dishonest.
He does only what he wants to do.
He does not complete his mission.
Consequences that await the First Missionary:
He is either sent home or returns home at his own insistence.
The good he would have otherwise done goes undone (no fruit).
He does not have the Spirit. He is left to himself.
He forgoes development.He feels shame and misery.
His suffers impairment of faith.
Hard to fit in.
Inactivity or unproductive activity.
He Is not changed by his mission.
* He is disobedient and dishonest — The First Missionary is disobedient. He does not keep the commandments of God, much less the mission rules.
* He does what he wants to do — He generally does what he wants to do. He likes the idea that he is independent and does things his own way. He thinks that the obedient missionaries are weak. He sees himself as a bit of a rebel, his own man, a free-thinker, and he likes the idea that he is not like the others.
* Sent home or returns home at his insistence — The First Missionary does not complete his mission. He fails. He either is sent home because of his disobedience, or he returns home at his own insistence.
* The good he would have otherwise accomplished, goes undone — The good that this missionary could have accomplished goes undone, at least by him. The fruit of his service is not harvested, at least by him. Those who would have been changed by his service, go unchanged, at least by him.
* Forgoes the personal development that he otherwise would have experienced — Remember that I said to think of this life as a path on which you never stand still. As you move forward, you incorporate into your being the characteristics and qualities of God. As you move backward you assimilate the qualities of Satan. The first missionary goes backward. How foolish! He moves in the wrong direction. He forgoes the light, knowledge, strength, intelligence and virtues that would otherwise have been his, and instead develops the qualities of darkness.
* Experiences shame and misery — He may think that the good life awaits his return, but when he returns there is only shame and misery to greet him.
* Suffers impairment of faith — The First Missionary cannot have faith. Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures of Faith that three things are necessary in order for a person to draw down into his life this power that we call faith. “First, the idea that (God) actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.” The First Missionary cannot have faith because although he may correctly believe in God, he cannot believe in himself. He cannot know “that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to God’s will,” because it isn’t. As a result he cannot exercise faith anymore than Laman and Lemuel could. That is why, when Nephi asked Laman and Lemuel if they had inquired of the Lord, they responded, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us (2 Nephi 15:8,9).” Do you know what? They were right. Not that the Lord refused them; rather they could not have the faith sufficient to get an answer because they did not know and could not know that the course they were pursuing was pleasing to God, because it wasn’t. They were going in the wrong direction. Do you understand that if you are not doing what the Lord would have you do, you cannot believe in yourself; you cannot believe that you are worthy to receive God’s help and guidance in your life? You cannot have faith to pull down the blessings of heaven into your life. The First Missionary cannot have faith. Not because he does not believe in God; rather because he cannot believe in himself.
* He does not fit in; experiences inactivity or diminished activity in Church — After this missionary returns home, he feels like he does not fit in. It is hard for him to remain active in the Church. Every sacrament meeting that involves a missionary, coming or going, he is reminded of and haunted by his failure. He feels like he does not measure up and that he never will. He typically becomes inactive, or is relatively unproductive in his involvement in the Church because of his lack of faith- because he does not believe in himself.
* He does not have the Spirit. He is left to himself — This is the worst consequence of all! There is nothing more important in life than to have the Spirit of God. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift available to mankind in this life. It is the power by which you are sanctified and changed to become like God. It is the fountain and the only source of power, light, intelligence, hope, love, joy, peace, comfort, knowledge, confidence, clarity and every other good gift. In this life there is no prize of greater worth, there is no gem of greater value, there is no vault that guards a more valuable possession. All of the wealth of the world combined is dust and dirt in comparison to this supernal gift made available to every last woman, man and child who is obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. It is available to everyone. Not everyone has it, but it is available to all. Consequently, there is no greater loss and there is no man so poor as the man without the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. There is no darkness so dark, as for the man who once enlightened, offends the Spirit and is then left to himself. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:38). How foolish! How stupid! How sad, to have the prize of prizes, the riches of riches, and then trade it away for smoke and mirrors, and baubles and beads on the gaming table of life! “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose the gift and power on which depends the development of his soul and character? And what is there of sufficient value that he may get in exchange for his soul? What? Nothing. Nothing!
The Second Missionary
Characteristics of the Second Missionary:
He is disobedient.
He does only what he wants to do.
He serves his entire mission.
His frame of mind is to do what he wants without getting caught.
He is dishonest.
Consequences that await the Second Missionary:
The good he would have otherwise done goes undone (no fruit).
He does not have the Spirit. He is left to himself.
Regret and misery.
Impairment of faith.
He is not changed by mission.
* Disobedient — Like the First, the Second Missionary is also disobedient. He does not keep the commandments of God, or the mission rules.
* He does what he wants to do — He also does what he wants to do.
* His frame of mind is to do what he wants without getting caught. He is dishonest — The frame of mind of the Second Missionary is to do whatever he wants provided he does not get caught. His objective is to dodge, hide and cover-up. He is dishonest. “And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works.” (2 Nephi 27:27).
* Serves the entire term of his mission — Although the Second Missionary is disobedient, he makes it to the end of his mission without being sent home, or without going home at his own insistence.
* The good he would have otherwise done, goes undone — This missionary is ineffective. The good that this missionary could otherwise have done, goes undone, because he is not worthy of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, and without the Spirit he can do no good. The fruit of his service is not harvested, at least not by him. Those who would have been changed by his service, go unchanged, at least by him. Not only is he not effective, he is counterproductive. Whenever the mission president makes assignments he has to think who can baby-sit this Elder now? Who can keep him in line? He assigns the weak missionary with a stronger missionary hoping that the weaker one will rise to the level of the other. But what do you think, usually happens? Over time they adjust to each other and they meet somewhere in the middle. Unconsciously they make a deal. They strike an unconscious compromise of mediocrity. It is a rare missionary who is not eventually worn down somewhat by the complaining, the lack of faith and focus, and the constant negativism of the Second Missionary.
* He does not have the Spirit. He is left unto himself — As with the First Missionary, the most horrific consequence of all is the alienation of the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost. Everything depends on getting and keeping the Spirit of God in your life. The Second Missionary, like the First, foolishly rejects the gifts and power of God by his disobedience. Why? What is he thinking? What good will come from this? “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33). The Second Missionary not only is disobedient, but he covers his sins. He covers up; he hides. He has excuses and blames others. He is not honest and as a result, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved and withdraws. “…But when we undertake to cover our sins…the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold ere he is aware, he is left unto himself…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121: 36-37). You do not want to be left to yourself. You do not want to be alone. The Spirit of the Lord is grieved and withdraws not only whenever you cover your own sins but also when you are aware of the disobedience of other missionaries and you say and do nothing about it, thinking that it is not your problem; that it is none of your business. That is rubbish. It is a cop-out. It is your problem and it is your business. Every missionary is jointly accountable for every other missionary within the sphere of his influence, to help and lift him. Every missionary also has an impact on the overall level of the mission, and the more obedient the mission as a whole the greater the power and blessings the mission will enjoy as a whole. When you do nothing, when you say nothing, you “cover” for them. You may not think of it that way, but that is what it is. You may think, “I won’t be a ‘rat’”, but the truth is, when you cover for them, you become part of the cover-up, part of the problem, part of the lie. The Spirit of the Lord is grieved and withdraws from you as well even though you were not the disobedient one. Look at the verse again. The Lord did not say: “…when you undertake to cover your sins…” rather “…when we undertake to cover our sins…the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold ere he is aware, he is left unto himself…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121: 36- 37). Emphasis added.) In the Book of Mormon this human dynamic to cover for others is called “secret combinations”. Secret combinations develop in one of two ways: explicitly or implicitly. An explicit combination is when someone says, “Look, I won’t tell if you don’t. Ok?” “Ok.” They expressly form a secret dishonest, dirty agreement. An implicit combination happens when one missionary becomes aware of the disobedience of another, but says and does nothing about it. If this happens an unspoken culture of hide-the-ball, and cover-up develops and spreads rapidly throughout the mission. The mission then lacks integrity and the powers of heaven withdraw. Integrity is huge. It is very important. Two zone leaders hauled a TV and DVD player into their apartment and watched several movies: “Jason Meets Freddy Cruger”, “The Ring” and “Terminator II”. They were zone leaders, and they sat in the apartment watching movies! Two of the movies were rated R. A year later I found out about it. They were both long gone home. I was upset and disappointed for three reasons. First, I was upset and disappointed because of their disobedience. Second, I was upset and disappointed, because other missionaries who lived in the same apartment did nothing about it. I should have known immediately, not a year later. Those other missionaries did not watch the movies, thinking “those Elders are nuts, but its not my problem, and I am not going to be a rat.” They covered just like the two zone leaders and the consequences insofar as the Spirit of the Lord is concerned were the same. The consequences were devastating. Ere they were aware, they were left unto themselves. Third, I was upset and disappointed, because I had recently given a favorable recommendation to the Missionary Training Center regarding the employment of one of the two zone leaders. I had to contact the Missionary Training Center and retract my recommendation. He didn’t get the job. I will do almost anything for you, but I will not cover for you. Integrity, being honest, is huge. It is a big deal. It is extremely important. The powers of heaven will not respond to or be controlled by one who is not true. Covering and hiding are dishonest. Without integrity there is nothing. Missionaries who say “President, I’m sorry but I messed up and I want to make it right” go up, not down in my esteem. We can deal with almost anything so long as we are dealing with the truth. It is the lie, the covering that is so highly destructive. It may be that the most blistering rebukes in all of scripture are the things which Jesus said about hypocrisy to hypocrites, such as: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:27-28). The Lord can help you deal with almost anything so long as you are dealing with the truth. Be true.
* Forgoes the personal development that he otherwise would have experienced — Like the First, the Second Missionary goes backward. He moves foolishly in the wrong direction. He foolishly forgoes the light, knowledge, strength, intelligence and virtues that otherwise would have been his, and instead he assimilates the qualities of darkness. What is he thinking?
* Regret — Although the Second Missionary completes his mission, he fails as well. True, he does not have the public shame the First Missionary has, but he is ashamed in his heart. He looks back on two years of service with regret. The legacy of his mission is regret. He gives two years of his life in exchange for what? Regret. What is he thinking? What a bad bargain!
* Misery — The Second Missionary is miserable. As Alma taught his son Corianton, “…wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10) Not now, not ever. It cannot be. The Second Missionary is miserable and will always be so, until he chooses to turn around and move in the opposite direction.
* Impairment of faith — The Second Missionary cannot have faith anymore than the First. He cannot know “that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to God’s will” because it isn’t. If you are not doing what the Lord would have you do, you cannot believe in yourself; you cannot believe that you are worthy to receive God’s help and guidance in your life. You cannot have faith to pull down the blessings of heaven into your life. The Second Missionary cannot have faith. Not because he does not believe in God; rather, because he does not believe in himself.
* Does not benefit personally from mission — This missionary does little good and does not benefit from his mission even though he makes it to the end. He drags down his companions and other missionaries around him. He wastes his time and the time of those who have to tend to him. The First and Second Missionaries require most of the time and attention of the mission president and mission leaders, and yet benefit the least from it.
The Third Missionary.
Characteristics of the Third Missionary:
Obedient and worthy.
Does his duty.
Serves faithfully, but withholds his heart.
He does what the Lord wants, but still desires to do what he wants.
He sacrifices his will for the Lord’s will.
He may strive to be the best.
He measures success by comparison.
His frame of mind is to not cross the line.
Consequences/blessings that await the Third Missionary:
Does great good (fruit).
Enjoys the Spirit.
Conforms his behavior.
Frustration and discontent.
Gains little or no knowledge.
Is not significantly changed by his mission.
* Obedient and worthy — The Third Missionary is obedient and faithful. He is worthy.
* Does his duty; serves faithfully, but withholds in his heart — Among those who are obedient, there are two ways to live the gospel, or to serve in the Church: the hard way and the easy way. These two ways are represented by the Third and Fourth Missionaries. In the end, the way of the Fourth Missionary is actually easier. The hard way is the way of the Third Missionary. He lives the gospel, and serves in the Church, with what I call the “bite-the-bullet” approach, the “grin-and-bear-it” or “gut-it-out” approach. He is obedient and he does what he is supposed to do. He does his duty. He gets through it and then, at long last, he gets about doing what he wants to do. That is the Third Missionary. The Lord has admonished: “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” (Doctrine and Covenantes 4:2). The Third Missionary serves only with his might and strength, but he withholds his heart and mind.
* He does what the Lord wants him to do, but he wants to do what he wants to do — The Third Missionary does what he is supposed to do, but he doesn’t like it, because he wants to get through with what he is supposed to do, so he can get about doing what he wants to do. He does what the Lord wants him to do, but in his heart he remains focused on what he wants to do. In his head and in his heart, he withholds. In his head and in his heart he is not true. He is conflicted. He is frustrated that the gospel and the Church are forever calling on him to do things that he does not want to do. There is a constant tension, a constant conflict internally, between what he wants to do and what the Lord wants him to do. There is a constant struggle between the natural man and his divine nature. He gives his time, energy, and talents to the work well enough, but he does not give himself. He does not give his head, or his heart.
* Sacrifices his will for the Lord’s will — The Third Missionary admirably sacrifices his will for the Lord’s will.
* Measures his success by comparison to others — This missionary generally measures his success by recognition and comparisons of his performance in relation to others. He may even strive to be the best missionary in the mission, better than everyone else, but he wonders why people don’t acknowledge and reward his service and sacrifice more.
* His frame of mind is to not cross the line — The Third Missionary thinks that there is a line that divides right and wrong. The standard of his life, the basis for his decisions is: “Is it wrong?” That’s the question he asks himself. “Is it wrong? If it is, then I won’t do it.” He doesn’t want to cross the line. He is particularly focused on the mission rules. He is obedient, and that is wonderful. He is a good missionary. He walks the line that divides good and bad, in the middle of the road.
* Does great good. Fruitful missionary — The Third Missionary is a successful missionary as measured by the transformation that occurs in the lives of other people. By his service and sacrifice the Lord accomplishes His purposes and lives are changed. People are baptized as a result of his labors.
* Enjoys the Spirit of the Lord — He is blessed with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost that others may be blessed. He receives the Spirit to find and teach with convincing power those who are prepared to accept the gospel. But although he is given power to bless others, that same Spirit does not in turn prove to have much effect upon him personally.
* Changes his behavior — While the Third Missionary changes his behavior, his character or nature does not change. He pushes, crams and squeezes his conduct into the mission mold. But while he adapts his behavior to conform to the rules of the mission and to the commandments of God, his nature or character and desires remain the same. The characteristics of godliness do not become more a part of him. He is not changed to become more like the Lord. At the end of his mission he is basically the same person.
* Frustration. Discontent — Although the Third Missionary is obedient, he is frustrated, discontented and at times resentful, because of the internal conflict between what he wants to do and what he is supposed to do. He is like a person described by the Christian author C.S. Lewis, who is honest and dutifully pays his taxes hoping that there will be enough money left over for him to live on and use as he wants afterward. “As long as we are thinking that way, one or other of two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, ́live for others’ but always in a discontented, grumbling way- always wondering why the others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself.” (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, p. 167) Contentment, peace of mind and happiness are always just out of reach, ahead of him. All the while he labors he thinks and wishes that things could be the way they used to be, snow boarding or wake boarding, hanging out with his friends, or girlfriend, or driving his car back home, instead of tracting along a hot and dusty street at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Little does he know that things can’t be, and will never be, the way they used to be. Life is always changing; it never stays the same. All the while he labors he thinks that he will be happy and content when he is transferred, or when he gets a new companion, or when P-day comes, or when he is made a senior companion, or district leader, or particularly when he completes his mission and returns home. He thinks that he will be happy when he can get done with what he is supposed to do and finally do what he wants to do. Little does he know that actually he is choosing to never be happy at all, because the Lord will never leave him alone unless he walks away. The Lord will never leave you alone. If you want to go your own way, do it your way, if you want to avoid demands upon your time and energy that conflict with what you want, just give up now. If you do not want to be challenged and called upon to do things that you do not want to do, sometimes things that you strongly do not want to do, walk away from the well of living water, stop going, stop serving, pass into the oblivion of inactivity in the Lord’s kingdom, because the Lord will never leave you alone unless you walk away. And by walking away you reject Him. He will often tell you to do things that you will not want to do, and almost always that will happen through the Church that He organized, not to vex you but to change you. If you allow it, He will stretch you and pull you, in ways that you will not want to be stretched and pulled and would not if left to your own devises. The only way to avoid that is to run away and try to hide in the oblivion and stupor of inactivity.
* Gains little or no knowledge — Alma also said that those who “harden their hearts” learn very little. “And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” (Alma 12:11; emphasis added.) Although the Third Missionary does the Lord’s will, his heart is hardened against it. As a result he learns little. It is not that God necessarily withholds knowledge from the Third Missionary; rather it is that so long as he fights against the Lord in his heart, he is not in a condition to receive it.
* Does not benefit personally from his mission — Here is the heart of the matter. Here is what you must understand. Although the Third Missionary does great good, the good that he does, does not benefit him personally. How can this be? This curious phenomenon of not benefiting personally from one’s service and sacrifice is described in some of the most beautiful and profound passages of scripture. Turn to 1 Corinthians 13. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” These beautiful passages of scripture seem to say that even if one has great capacities, gifts and talents, such as the gift of eloquence, the gift of prophesy, the gifts of knowledge and faith, and yet if his heart is not right, if he does not have charity, he is nothing. Moses saw God face to face, experienced His presence, saw the workmanship of God’s hands, felt and witnessed His greatness and glory, and when it was all over, he said, “Now; for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed (Moses 1:10; emphasis added.).” Could it be that in comparison to the greatness and glory of God, Moses saw that man in his weakness is nothing? Mormon described this same condition of spirit when he described many of the Nephite people living at the time of Christ’s birth, “Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, and they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. O how great is the nothingness of the children of men…” (Helaman 12:6,7; emphasis added.) Ammon said, “…I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things…” (Alma 26:12; emphasis added) The Lord also revealed to Joseph Smith, that without faith, hope, and charity we can do nothing. “And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can do nothing.” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:19; emphasis added) More importantly, these verses in Corinthians that speak of “charity” say that even if you give all of your goods to feed the poor, even if you give your body to be burned, lay down your life for the truth, if your heart is not right, you will not profit by it. Good will be done, the poor will be fed, and the truth defended, but the good that you do, will do you no good, unless your heart is right, unless you have charity. Probably no one has taught this sobering truth more clearly than Moroni. He said: “For behold, God hath said a man being evil (heart) cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift (two years of service), or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.” (Moroni 7: 6-9; emphasis added. See also Moroni 10:4). This is kind of discouraging news! How can this be? Surely this can’t really be true. Aren’t we to be judged by our works, and if our works are good, will there not be blessings poured out upon us? Isn’t that a basic tenet of the gospel? The answers to these questions are to be found in understanding what it means to “profit” from our good works and what is the central blessing of mortality. The purpose and central blessing of life is change. It is to be changed to become more like Jesus Christ. It is to incorporate into your character, the qualities of His character. It is to move from one degree of intelligence and capacity to the next, and from there to the next, until you see God face to face and know Him as He knows you. From the dawning of time there has never been a people as blessed as we are blessed with volumes of scripture. And yet none of it makes any difference unless it gets inside of you. All of it is only ink on pieces of paper bound together in leather; it has no intrinsic value, unless it becomes you. The purpose and essential blessing of life is to be changed to become more like the Lord, to realize the full measure of your potential. This process of change, this process of evolving, becoming, is the object of the gospel. Change is the design of faith in Christ, repentance and baptism. Redemptive change happens by the power of the Holy Ghost. But it happens only if and when your heart is right. It happens only if you do not fight against God. It happens only if you unconditionally surrender your will to the Lord. Maybe more than anyone, Alma had much to say about the relationship between the heart, good works and prosperity. Alma explained to his son Corianton what he called “the law of restoration.” He said that if your works are good and the desires of your hearts are good, you will be “restored to that which is good,” or in other words you will “profit” as Paul said, or benefit from the good that you do. “And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption— raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other– The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.”(Alma 41:3-6). Again Alma said: “…for I know that he (God) granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life, yea, I know that he alloteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction…he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.” (Alma 29:4-5). In these verses Alma essentially says that you will get what you want. If you want a “mess of pottage” then that is all you will get. If you want light, intelligence, strength, capacity, peace, contentment, grace, knowledge, power, happiness, mercy, joy and every other good thing, then you may have those too. It is up to you. Whatever you want. You cannot be spiritually changed against your will. It is contrary to agency. It is also contrary to the nature of things. It just can’t happen. Alma also said to Corianton: “And now my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say in a carnal state…they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?” (Alma 41:11,12; ). Don’t misunderstand Alma’s language. Don’t misunderstand his use of the word “nature”. Don’t think that “nature” means the way you are forevermore. That is a vicious and false doctrine. It is contrary to the true doctrine of hope. The truth is that our nature can change. That is what this is all about. You may permit the Lord to change your nature if you give yourself to Him and to His work. He cannot work on what he does not have, and He cannot have you, unless you give yourself to Him. As Alma says, happiness is the product of righteous works and righteous desires, desiring to do what the Lord would have you do. If your secret, heartfelt desires are rather to do what you want to do, rather than what the Lord wants for you, you will not be happy, and you will not profit from even your good works, because you will be in a state that is “contrary to the nature of happiness”. You cannot be in a condition or state that is opposite to your nature. You can’t be in a state of happiness, whether now or in the eternities, if you don’t want to do the things that lead to happiness, even if you do those very things. Do you hear this? You can’t be happy if you don’t want to do the things that lead to happiness, even if you do those very things. Mormon recorded that the more humble part of the people in the day of Helaman and his sons, Nephi and Lehi: “…did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:35; emphasis added.) Do you see, how important the desires of your heart are? You can do the very things that should produce happiness, but if you are all the time fighting them within, if you are all the time wishing, and hoping and wanting to do your own thing, you will not be happy, because your state, your frame of mind, will not be conducive to happiness. Your frame of mind will be conflicted, contrary to the nature of happiness, and it will be for you as though you never did those good things at all. Your world is in your head. Get your head right and your heart will follow and you will be right. Another example of this same principle is found in Section 58 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 29: “But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.” (Emphasis added.) Again, one might think this a bit odd. Here is one who does what he is commanded to do. He is after all, obedient, and yet he is damned. Why? Primarily, because his heart is not right. He thinks his way is better, and so he has a doubtful heart, and he is damned. Does “damned” mean condemned to hell? No, it means that he does not progress. He is not changed to become more like the Lord because his heart is not right. As Paul said his good works “…profit him nothing.” In a similar vein Paul also taught in 2 Corinthians 9:6,7: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7. Every man according as he proposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” I remember when I first came across this scripture. It must have been a bad day, or worse yet maybe my heart was in a bad way. I remember thinking, “Oh man! It is not enough that I give and give, but now I have to smile when I do it, or it’s not any good? What’s next? Life blood?” That is how Missionary Number 3 thinks. Resistance and then resentment. Why does God love and want us to become cheerful givers? Is it that He doesn’t want any grumps in His house? No, it isn’t that He wants a house of happy campers. Rather it is that you cannot be changed to become like him against your will. It comes as no surprise that the disobedient missionaries, the First and Second Missionaries, are not changed. It is not surprising that they do not incorporate into their character, the qualities of godliness. But it may be surprising and even disturbing that the Third Missionary does not change either. After all, he is faithful and obedient. The Third Missionary is valiant and does much good. But do you see that in his head and in his heart he fights God, just like the First and Second Missionaries do? It isn’t that God withholds this great blessing of change from the First, Second and Third Missionaries. Rather it is that they refuse to accept it. They cannot be spiritually changed against their will. It is contrary to the law of agency, free choice. We must willing choose the Lord. It must be your choice. That is why is says “Come follow me.” Alma also said to Corianton, that we may partake of the waters of life freely and be satisfied, if we choose to, but if we don’t want it we will not be compelled to drink. “Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come…” (Alma 42:27) It is up to you. You cannot be changed to become more like God, if within your heart you fight against God; if within your heart you resist, resent and hold fast to what you rather would do.
The Fourth Missionary.
Characteristics of the FOURTH Missionary:
He is totally obedient and worthy.
He surrenders all to the Lord.
He consecrates himself to the work and to the Lord.
He displays Christ-like charity.
He is a disciple of Christ.
He measures success from within, not by comparison.
His dominant desire is to do only what the Lord wants him to do.
His frame of mind is faith in Christ, to do what Jesus would do.
Blessings that await the Fourth Missionary:
Does great good (fruit).
Enjoys the Spirit
His very nature is changed.
He is content and happy.
He gains great knowledge.
He is redeemed.
He benefits immensely from and is changed by mission.
As we begin to talk about the differences between the Fourth Missionary and the others it is important that you not put him on a high pedestal. It is important that you not think of him as nearly perfect, just short of exaltation. It is important that you not think the characteristics of this missionary are beyond your reach. It is absolutely critical that you know, you can be the Fourth Missionary. In fact, the way of the Fourth Missionary is in the end, easier. He is not perfect. He has weakness. He struggles; he has his times of sorrow, disappointment and discouragement too. He is a lot like the Third Missionary. There really is only one small difference between the two. But although the difference is slight, the consequences are enormous.
* Obedient and worthy — Like the Third Missionary, he is obedient and worthy.
* Total and unconditional surrender — Unlike the Third Missionary, the way of the Fourth Missionary is what I call “unconditional surrender”. In addition to giving his time, talents and energy to the Lord, the Fourth Missionary gives himself. He gives his will to the Lord. He surrenders all of his desires, his dreams, his ambitions, his wishes to the Lord. In his heart and in his head he lets go of what he wants to do. His wants to do the Lords will. Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, the Lord says to us: “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man, but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather, I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, p.167). Let me be clear that I am not talking just about giving up evil desires, but rather all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams, whether good or evil. All of it together. For example, I desire to provide for my family; I want to be with my sons when they get married; I would like to be with my parents in their last years; I like snow skiing and water skiing. I enjoy rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering; I enjoy being with my family; I like being the teacher’s quorum advisor; but I am called to serve a mission. These are all good desires. You have other desires equally good or better. The Third Missionary gives up doing those things. The Fourth Missionary gives them up in his head and in his heart as well. It isn’t that he stops caring about those things; he just doesn’t dwell on them. His mind and heart are focused on other things. His wants, his wishes, his dreams are overcome and swallowed up by his predominant desire to fulfill the wants, the wishes and dreams of the Lord for him. This doesn’t mean that the Fourth Missionary abandons his dreams altogether. It doesn’t mean that the only course for him to follow is to serve a mission and then teach seminary all his life, although that is a noble profession. He may still go to college and then to medical school; he may still perfect a back flip on the snowboard; he may still play on a college athletic team; he may still return and marry his girlfriend, but not now. He boxes up all of those plans, wishes, wants and desires and puts them on a shelf in his closet at home with all of his clothes and other things. When he returns he will unpack all of the boxes. He will find that some of the clothes he doesn’t want anymore, and he will give them away. When he unpacks the box of his wants, wishes, dreams and desires he may find that there are also some of those he doesn’t want anymore either. As in all good things, Jesus showed the way of the Fourth Missionary. (Matt. 26:39) “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (John 4:34) Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (John 5:30) “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 6:38) “ For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (3 Ne. 27:13) “Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you-that I came unto the world to do the will of the father, because my Father sent me.” This way, the Lord’s way, is in the end, easier. It is easier to give yourself to Him, to surrender your will to His, than it is to fight the fight within. It is easier to give yourself to Him, than it is to wrestle in your heart and soul between what you want and what the Lord wants, between the natural man and your divine nature. Now don’t freak out about this. Don’t think that I am teaching you some grand, higher law that only the most elect of the most elect can live. If you believe that, you believe a false doctrine. The doctrine of Christ is the doctrine of faith and hope. You can do this. You can shift from the Third Missionary to the Fourth Missionary. It is as easy as changing your mind, because that is where it’s at. If you’re not happy, if you are frustrated or resentful, look inside. It is within you. Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is within you.” It is in your head and in your heart. It starts in your head and then your heart follows. You need only say to the Lord in your head and in your prayers “I give up. I surrender. I won’t fight anymore. Here it is. Here are my desires. Here is my will. I want only to do what you want me to do. That’s enough for me. That’s all I want, because it is the only intelligent thing to do.” The truth is that it doesn’t take eons of time to do this. Our nature, our hearts, our desires can be changed almost immediately upon the attainment of knowledge. Our nature can change almost immediately as we come to understand true doctrine. In this instance, as you come to understand that the only way to light, intelligence, strength, capacity, peace, contentment, grace, knowledge, power, happiness, mercy, joy, and every other good thing, is to follow Christ, then you will want to follow Him because it is the only intelligent thing to do. Not because you are a saint, not to please your parents, not because you are better then others, rather, because it is the only intelligent thing to do. When you understand that, then you will forget about yourself, and your will, and your desires will be to do the Lord’s will, because everything else and anything else is nuts.
* Consecrates himself — The Fourth Missionary lives the law of consecration. There are those who give of their means, their time and talents, and then there are others who give themselves. They give their heart. They give their will. Sacrifice, it seems to me, is the first, consecration, less common, is the second. Sacrifice implies doing one thing at the expense of another thing that has equal or maybe greater appeal. One “bites-the-bullet” and sacrifices his time and talents, his girlfriend, concerts, friends, cars, education, television, movies, music and even gum for two years. The Fourth Missionary understands that, as King Benjamin taught, the Lord is never in our debt. He knows that God always blesses us many times more than the measure of what we give. Jesus said, a hundred times more. “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 eternal life. (Matt.19:29).” For the missionary who understands the benefit of this bargain, there is nothing of equal or greater appeal than to do the Lords will. Everything pales by comparison. There is for him, therefore, really no sacrifice, no other viable choice, only free will, intelligent giving, only consecration. The voice of Christ said to the Nephite people: “O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if you will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.” (3 Ne. 10:6). In the end, your heart and your will is all that you have to give that the Lord does not already have. If you give your time, two years, and your strength, you give only that which He grants to you with each beat of your heart and each breath that you draw. If you dedicate your gifts and talents, you only return to Him what He already has given to you. If you pay tithing you only return to Him a tenth of what He has already given to you. Everything that you have to give to the Lord, has its origin in Him, except one thing: your will. He does not have your heart, nor your mind, unless you give them to him. It is the only gift you have to offer that He does not already have. And so when you give yourself, you truly give Him everything. Jesus spoke of this matter of giving or consecrating yourself in different words. He spoke of losing yourself. He said: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:25-26). The Fourth Missionary is the only one who can lose himself in the work, because he forgets his own concerns, he lets go of what he wants. When he lets go he then is free to think of others. He is the only one who does not count the cost. He doesn’t itemize and total all that he has left behind to serve a mission. He does not count the cost. He forgets about it. He forgets himself. He loses himself. On one occasion after I received the call to be a mission president, I was thinking about the consequences of the call. I started to think about the financial consequences, leaving my sons behind, my mother and father in poor health, the impact on my law practice, the consequences regarding our family and our home, and the prospect of leaving behind rock climbing and skiing and other passions, and the impression came to me, actually the words came to me, “don’t count the cost.” The Fourth Missionary doesn’t count the cost. However great the cost it is never very much in comparison to the return.
* Charity — Another way to say this is that the Fourth Missionary has charity. Don’t think that charity means money that we pay to help the poor. The quality of charity is described at times as “unconditional love” or “the love of Christ”. Let’s return to 1 Corinthians 13 to better understand what charity is. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” The Fourth Missionary, the one who has charity, “seeketh not (his) own”. He does not seek to do his own (thing). He doesn’t envy. That means he is content with what he has and what he is doing. He does not envy or wish to be somewhere else, doing some other thing. “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11. When I was a child, I spake as a child (probably selfish), I understood as a child, I thought as a child (thinking only about my selfish interests): but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. ” Seek for this gift and quality of charity. Work for it. Pray for it. Moroni said: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.” Moroni 7:48)
* Disciple of Christ — Jesus said that this single quality of charity is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) As part of the restoration the Lord revealed the calling and the mission of the Twelve and charged Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to find these twelve disciples and said: “And by their desires and their works you shall know them.” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:38) The Third Missionary is a faithful laborer in Christ’s work. The Fourth Missionary is a disciple of Christ.
* His measure of success comes from within — This missionary strives to be a faithful representative of Jesus Christ. He measures his success by the peace that comes in his heart from time to time, when he can honestly say, “I am doing my best. I have a lot of weaknesses and a lot to learn. But I am withholding nothing from the Lord. I am serving with all of my might, mind, heart and strength. I am faithful and giving it all I have to give.” At the end of his service this missionary wants to look back over his two years, and be able to say to himself and to the Lord, “I have no regrets; I did my best.” The Fourth Missionary does not so aspire to become a “great” missionary; rather he aspires to be a “servant”. He knows that “greatness” implies his performances in relation to others. He knows that the critical measure is his conduct in relation to his own abilities and in comparison to his past performance. While he fully understands and does not resent the need for statistics, numbers and measurements, he is not motivated by the praise or recognition of men. He is motivated by his desire to give himself and all that he is and has, to the Lord and to his work however that may compare with others. He knows that Jesus taught his disciples who at times aspired to the honors of men, that “whosoever will be great among you…shall be servant of all.” He said: “For even the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-44)
* His dominant desire is to do what the Lord wants him to do — The Fourth Missionary’s dominant desire is to do what the Lord wants him to do. But don’t think that this one is always filled with the Spirit and ready to rush headlong into what the Lord would have him do. Don’t think that he is always whistling a happy tune, skipping down the road, looking for yet another door to slam in his face. There are times when he doesn’t like it either; there are times when he doesn’t want to go either. He gets tired and discouraged too. The sun and the rain beat down upon him just like the other three. Don’t think that just because you may be discouraged or because you may not want to go either, that you are, therefore, not the Fourth Missionary. Lehi said: “For it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things.” (2 Ne 2:11) Life is hard at times, and missions are hard, for the Fourth Missionary as well as for the first three. Elder Holland teaches that a great swimmer once said when asked his secret of success, “I kick when I don’t want to kick, and I stroke when I don’t want to stroke.” Like the First, Second and Third Missionaries there are times when the Fourth Missionary doesn’t want to kick and doesn’t want to stroke either. The Third Missionary will kick and stroke because it is his duty, and he will resent it. The Fourth Missionary will kick and stroke because he knows it is the only intelligent thing to do. Even Jesus the One perfect One, prayed: “Father let this cup pass from me…” There were things that He too did not want to do. Those desires that He “…even God, the greatest of all…might not drink the bitter cup and shrink…” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18) did not diminish Him; in fact, they made Him greater, “the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.” (Mosiah 15:7).
* His frame of mind is faith in Christ, to do what Jesus would do — Remember that the Third Missionary asks, “Is it wrong?” He tries not to cross the line, but as a result walks somewhere in the middle. The Fourth Missionary strives to ask a different question. He asks: “What would Jesus do?” As a result he walks a ways away from the line. It is not because he is a “goodie-goodie”, rather because he is smart. He does not go with the crowd. He is not in the middle. He knows that the purpose of life is to remember the Lord always, to follow the Lord, to learn to do what He would do, say what He would say and eventually think as He thinks. He knows that there will be three kingdoms, and that one of those kingdoms will be in the middle. He knows that those who attain to the highest kingdom will be those who are “valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ”. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:79). Remember, there are two ways of evolving: deliberately and accidentally. You can either decide who you want to become and deliberately work toward that end, or you can just go with the flow and become whatever life makes of you. In that event, you will become whatever the fickle circumstances and forces of life and society will make of you, whatever is currently considered to be popular or “in”, whatever is easiest. But whatever you become haphazardly, it will not be nearly the full measure of your potential. You will become just someone, somewhere in the middle. One evening some years ago I was listening to a radio-talk show as I was driving home from work. The host was belittling both President Hinckley and what President Hinckley had said a few nights before about the subject of “pornography” while speaking to a group of young-adult members of the Church. The host argued that pornography has no appreciable effect on people, that it does not cause abusers to become abusers, rapists to become rapists or murderers to become murderers anymore than reading the phone directory would have. These people, according to him, had a screw loose somewhere, some latent defect, which predisposed them to horrific actions, and were not the product of pornography. I called in and they put me on the air. The host asked my first name and invited me to comment. The conversation evolved like this: “My name is Larry. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church do not have any corner on goodness. There are good people and people with problems everywhere, in every religion and walk of life. I have served in leadership positions in the Church as a bishop and I am now serving as a stake president. As a result I have had the sad experience of trying to help a people who did terrible things. People who abuse others and people who are unfaithful to their spouses. While my experience is not as broad as the whole-wide world, in all of those many instances of perversion, pornography was always, in every case, a factor. In every case they said that pornography contributed to their aberrant behavior that did such damage to other people as well as to themselves.” He was not impressed and repeated his latent defect theory and that people are no more moved to bad acts by reading pornography than reading the dictionary. I said: “There is something else you need to understand. Members of the Church acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the literal Son of God, the Savior of the world; they also acknowledge Him as the Way, the example set before all mankind. The name of the Church bears His name.” He then cut me off, and said: “I don’t want to have a religious discussion on the air.” “No, you can’t say that. You were belittling and criticizing the President of the Church and ridiculing what he said to members of the Church while counseling them about religious matters and principles, in a religious meeting. You can’t now say, that you don’t want to have a religious discussion. You see, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you are talking about the wrong issue. For them the issue is not whether pornography will make of you a monster, rather, the question is: ‘Is it something Jesus would do.’ That’s the issue.” “Well, Jesus never talked about pornography, now did He?” “Yes, He did.” “No, He did not.” “Yes, He did.” “Alright, what did He say.” “He said, ‘Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”(Matthew 5:27-28). “Yeah, well, I’ve got to go to a commercial break” and he hung up. That is the central question of life: “What would Jesus do?” The first principle of the gospel is not faith, rather faith in Christ. Why is it faith in Christ? Because, He is the Way. There is no other way to be saved; there is no other way to be changed. No principle has been more clearly stated throughout time, than that one. There is no other means, no other name, no other Way. Only one Way. Think on Him. Do as He would do. That is why your heart beats. That is why you draw breath. Here again, don’t think that the Fourth Missionary is perfect in any of this. This is the hardest part of all. He is prone to forget the Lord, but he struggles to remember. He wants to remember. He tries and tries some more. He strives to discipline himself to “remember Him always” as he covenants to do each time he partakes of the Sacrament.
* Does great good, is a fruitful missionary — Like the Third Missionary the Fourth Missionary is a successful missionary as measured by the transformation that occurs in the lives of other people. Like the Third, people are baptized as a result of his labors, new members are nourished, and other members become more actively involved.
* Enjoys the Spirit of the Lord — Like the Third Missionary, the Fourth Missionary is blessed with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, to find and teach with convincing power those who are prepared to accept the gospel.
* His nature is changed — Like the Third Missionary, the Fourth Missionary adapts his behavior to conform to the rules of the mission and to the commandments of God. But, unlike the Third Missionary, the Fourth Missionary’s nature, his character, is changed. He becomes a different person. He was good when he started and he is better when he ends.
* Contentment and happiness — Unlike the Third Missionary the Fourth Missionary is content, happy, and from time to time, experiences profound joy. He is at peace with what he is doing and who he is despite his weaknesses and failures.
* Gains great knowledge — Unlike the Third Missionary, profound knowledge is given to the Fourth Missionary. Alma said: “…and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.” (Alma 12:10)
* This missionary is redeemed — In Alma 12:34-36, Alma teaches that if you repent and if your heart is right you will be redeemed through the atonement of Christ. “Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. 35. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest. 36. And now, my brethren, behold I say into you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord…” Moroni said: “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity. And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope. And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh of iniquity. And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me. (Moroni 10:20-23) Amaleki lived in the bridge of time between Enos and King Benjamin. He recorded only 8 verses that are recorded in the Book of Omni. Summoning up a lifetime of experience he said to give your whole soul to the Lord: “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.” (Omni 1:26) As I said before, the Lord admonished: “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that you serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 (Also Doctrine and Covenants 6, 11-14). The Third Missionary serves only with his might and strength, but he withholds his heart and mind. The Fourth Missionary serves with all his heart and mind in addition to his might and strength. As a result he is forgiven of his sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Nephi said: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.”
* Benefits immensely from mission — Unlike the Third Missionary, the Fourth Missionary profits immeasurably from his mission. Unlike the Third, the good that the Fourth Missionary does benefits him greatly. Unlike the Third, he is changed. The qualities of godliness are incorporated into his character. The virtues of mercy, integrity, spirituality, humility, kindness, virtue, diligence, patience, and love become more than principles; they become attributes of his own character. Do you see that only in losing yourself, may you find yourself; only by enriching others, may you be enriched; only by giving, may you receive; only in surrendering, may you become free? This may be what King Benjamin was referring to when he said that without exception when you keep Gods commandments you are immediately blessed. “…all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if you would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.***he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him…” (Mosiah 2:22-24). Similarly Amulek said: …if you will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought unto you.” (Alma 34:31). How is it that we are immediately blessed for our obedience? Generally we think that blessings are realized only over time. The prophet Ether said: “…ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6). Another example of how time, diligence, and patience play a role in realizing the fruit of our labors is found in the teachings of Alma about the seed (Alma 32). Here Alma compared the gospel to a seed and said that we can realize the fruit or benefit of that seed only after a season of caring and nourishing the seed. (Alma 32). Moses said that the people of Enoch were exalted “in process of time” (Moses 7: 21). How then are you blessed immediately for your obedience? The answer is that there are blessings and then there are blessings. Some blessings you wait for; others are immediate and invariable. One way that you are immediately blessed is that you are changed, and change may be the greatest blessing of all. You are the sum total of all that you think, say, see, hear, feel and do in this life and before. You change immediately with each good thought, each good act; every good word changes you for better. When you willingly obey the principles of the gospel, you are changed by the Spirit of God to become incrementally more like Him. The degree of change with each small act of obedience may be small, but it is real and immediate. The full, cumulative and perfect realization of this process of change or sanctification happens only over time, but make no mistake that you are always changing, and that the effects of your obedience are immediate, whether for better or for worse, depending upon the voice you chose to follow. The United States Army says; “Be all that you can be”. But neither the Army nor you knows all that you can be. The Lord says: “Let me make of you all that you can be.” As measured by men’s standards Army Rangers are impressive, but compared with what the Lord can make of you, compared to the realization of your divine potential, they truly are nothing. The realization of your amazing, astounding, and true potential happens only in the hands of the Lord. But you and only you can place yourselves in those masterful, loving hands. Just give it up. Surrender your will to Him. Unconditionally. Withhold nothing. Turn it all over to him; all of your desires, wishes, ambitions, dreams and hopes. Be true and faithful in your head and in your heart, not just in your behavior. Trust in Him. Trust Him who knows all things. Trust Him who has all power. Trust Him whose love for you is perfect. Trust Him, who alone suffered, paid and atoned for your sins, and for your weaknesses as well. Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurably more than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary man; He will create a God. I think that President David O. McKay once said something like this: “The greatest battles you will ever fight will be within the silent chambers of your heart.” That is the battleground between what you want and what the Lord wants. If you surrender, if the Lord wins, you win also. If you win, if your will prevails, you and the Lord both lose. The only way to win is to lose. Lose yourself in the Lord’s work, and you will win beyond your wildest imaginations, for “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Conclusion: So, do you see that the question is not only “are you obedient?” nor is it only, “are you worthy?” Rather, the central question, the critical question is “who are you, and who are you becoming?” In the parable of the ten virgins five are prepared and enter the Lord’s presence and five do not. Why does the Lord choose to use the metaphor of “virgins” in this particular parable? Why not ten maids, or ten servants? Why virgins? It is the only time that He employs the characterization of “virgins” in a parable. Is there a reason? What does virginity imply? Purity. There were ten worthy, pure maidens and yet five did not enter His presence, despite their worthiness. Why not? He said to them: “Verily I say unto you, ye know me not.” (New Testament | Matthew 25:12, JST)
Do not misunderstand; obedience and worthiness are crucial, absolutely essential. Worthiness or purity is a quality of godliness, but it is only one quality of godliness. It is not the whole of it. The question may not be merely “are you worthy, pure and clean?” It may not be only “have you been forgiven of your sins?” It may not even be only “were you obedient?” The central question is more likely to be: “Who are you?” Who are you and who are you becoming? You are wholly responsible for what you see, hear, say, think and do. As a result you are solely responsible for who you are and who you will become. Who are you now and who are you becoming? Who will you be, when you die? The purpose of this life is to change to become more like Christ. It is to incorporate into your being His qualities. The scriptures, the Church and the restoration, the ministry and atonement of Jesus Christ make no difference unless they get inside of you. Unless they become a part of you. Again, don’t think that you can’t do this. Often we are deceived to think that the gospel is harder than what it is. Life is hard, not the gospel. You can do what I have explained to you today. Do you hear that? You can. If you don’t, it will only be because you chose not to, not because you can’t, not because it is too hard. The way of the Fourth Missionary is actually the easiest way. This way is free of frustration. It opens the heart to the Lord, and His power then flows freely without compulsion or constraint. There is no aspect of the gospel of Christ that is beyond your capacity. Not nearly. There is nothing about what I have said that you cannot do. You not only can be changed to become more like Christ, the whole of the plan of salvation is designed in favor of your success. The plan of salvation is not a level playing field. It favors you. It favors not only your success but also the success of each and every one of God’s children. Everything has been organized to maximize your opportunity to succeed. If you think you cannot be the Fourth Missionary you do not understand the doctrine. Alma was absolutely right when he said: “…it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass (Liahona), which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land…O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way…see that ye look to God and live…” (Alma 37:45-47) Jesus said: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) It is easier to walk with the Lord than it is to labor against Him. Speaking of the righteous Lamanites living at the time of Christ, Mormon says: “And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.”
Now, a word of caution. The Fourth Missionary is not a fanatic. He does not try to be truer than true. He does not think himself to be better than others. He does not view himself as an elite member of the Lord’s army. On the contrary he becomes increasing aware of his many weaknesses, he becomes increasing humble, while at the same time he grows in faith and stature before God. He experiences what the Lord said: “And if men come unto me I will show them their weakness.” (Ether 12:27) Just stay on the path. Give yourself to the Lord and lose yourself in His work. You will do great good, and the good that you do, will bless, change and benefit you, forevermore. Now, I have this last question for you. The Second, Third and Fourth Missionaries, all give two years of their lives. They all give equally their time and energy. They all eat the same food. They all face the same challenges and encounter the same fears. They all sleep in the same quarters. They all walk the same dusty roads in the heat of the afternoon. The wind and the rain chill and soak them all the same. They all leave behind girlfriends, and sports, and school and everything that was or could have been for these two years. They all conclude their missions. They all go back and speak in sacrament meeting and go on with their lives. My question is this: Why do all of that and not benefit personally by it? Why? Do you see that I am not talking about obedience; rather I am talking to you about intelligence. I am telling you that there is only one intelligent way to serve a mission; that will bless, and benefit, and change, and uplift, and empower, and ennoble you; your life, your spirit, your character, you. That is the way of the Fourth Missionary. It is the only intelligent way to go.
Now you know. Now you can choose. It is up to you. Serving as the First or Second Missionaries is not acceptable. I expect you to be at least Number Three. If you are smart you will choose to be Number Four. If I have an army of #3 Missionaries I will look like a successful mission president. I could go home to a ticker tape parade along South Temple Street with throngs of people lining the streets, chanting my name in praise and wonder, but in truth, in my heart I would know that I failed. I do not just want you to look like a disciple of Christ; I want you to be a disciple of Christ. My primary mission is you. My focus is you. My concern is your happiness, and I know that neither the First, Second, or Third Missionary is happy and content, nor can he be. You need to be the Fourth Missionary, not for me, but for you. It is the only intelligent thing to do. It is up to you.