Monday, June 9, 2014

President's Weekly Letters #91

Culture of Higher Expectations
In 1829 the Lord reveled to Oliver Cowdery through the Prophet Joseph Smith the solemn statement:  “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith…” (DC 8:10)  I have struggled to understand the relationship between belief, faith and expectations and how they affect your missionary work.

In the mid 60’s, I was a freshman at Millard High School in Fillmore, Utah.  About that time the American Basketball Association (ABA) was being formed to compete with the well-established NBA. The ABA had a more wide open flashy style of offensive play.  It introduced the 3 point shot, used a colorful red, white and blue ball and pioneered the now popular slam dunk contest at its all-star games.  My future basketball coach at Millard High School took advantage of this opportunity provided by the ABA.

He bought the team full length warm-up suits which were unusual in that day.  Before each game he waited until the opposing team was doing warm up drills on the floor.  He would signal the student band to start up a fast fight song and then the Millard team would run single file, full speed onto the floor with Bruce Beckstrand leading the procession dribbling an ABA ball.  He would stuff the ball to his elbows in the basket on the empty end of the floor and the Millard team would energetically do lay-up drills.  Guess what the other team did?  They stopped warming up and stood and watched Millard with the red, white and blue ball, sharp warm-up outfits and a guy that athletically dunks the ball.  The coach for the opposing team would invariably tell his team to get back to warming up and reassure them that they could beat that Millard team.  But, you could see it in the players’ worried looks, they knew they could not win; they had seen the Millard swagger.  They could see and feel Millard’s expectation of winning. 

Belief is mentally maintaining a premise or concept in your mind to be true.  In the church and on a mission, your belief should be confidence and trust in Jesus Christ.

When you do something about your belief or you act on your belief, we call that work.  When that happens, belief, by definition, becomes faith.  Simply stated, you may believe in many things but when you start doing something, motivated by that belief, it becomes faith.  You can believe in:  the moving of a mountain, the Book of Mormon, tithing, the church, missionary work, achieving your goal for baptizing, etc.  When you start digging at the mountain it is faith.  When you read the Book of Mormon and live by its precepts you have faith.  When you pay tithing you have faith.  If your belief motivates you to attend church you have faith.  If you go on a mission you have faith.  If you perform missionary work to baptize, you have faith to baptize.

Based on this, we have 152 missionaries in the Belgium Netherlands Mission who have faith.  You are all faithful by virtue of the fact that, motivated by your belief, you are here and you are doing the work.  So why does baptisms and missionary success not apply equally to all missionaries?  There are probably many reasons for individual lack of success, but I believe in general, faithful missionaries with higher expectations will realize more desired blessings than faithful missionaries with lower expectations.  Expectation is the swagger, the confidence, the sureness or coolness that the Apostil Paul had (or Colby Bryant).  I believe miracles will follow if you capture that attitude in a humble way.

For example, the member Facebook project just started functioning earlier this year.  The Easter Campaign was the first Facebook project and was run even before 3 of the 4 stakes were organized or had called social media specialists in the Wards and Branches.  The campaign consisted of an offer on the Country Communication Facebook page for a free DVD, Finding Faith in Christ, for those who filled out and returned an order.  The mission office immediately mailed the DVD and sent missionaries to call on those who ordered.  After 30 days the results were:

  • Total Referrals, Easter Campaign       545
  • Contacted as of 12 May 2014                        259      (Will equal the Total)
  • Positive at Contact                             98        (38% of Contacted)
  • New Investigators                               48        (49% Positive at Contact or 19%                                                                               of Total Contacted)
  • Baptismal Dates                                 5         
  • “Share” on member Facebook page    81
  • Referrals from Member “Share”         78

We are training right now to improve our door approaches to achieve better penetration, than 49% Positive at Contact, so we should be able to leave a short message in most of the homes where a DVD was ordered.

But, since the campaign started, I have noticed an amazing improvement in our results:
  • Baptisms are up.
  • Finding interested people is up.  Frequently when you look up a referral you find a potential who was not a referral.
  • Teaching pools and lessons taught are up
  • Enthusiasm is up.  There is something to look forward to instead of just “door to door” or street contacting.  You travel to a referral, you do contacting while going there and you are confident you will teach the referral while you are there.  You have more HOPE.
The only thing that has changed is your attitude; your expectations – the moment to moment optimism, enthusiasm, fun and love for the work of missionaries.  Your swagger; it is UP!

Here is the way I see it.  You set baptism goals and teaching goals and finding goals, etc.  You believe that Jesus Christ has the power to help you realize these goals.  You work hard to achieve your goals, so by definition you have faith in Jesus Christ and faith you will attain success.  But when you add to that, higher expectations, things start happening, achievement increases and the journey becomes more rewarding. 

In the phrase, “Faith in Every Footstep,” too often we focus on the ‘faith’ to achieve goals instead of focusing on the ‘footsteps’ which are living each moment with high expectations.  Consider the following quote from one of the all-time great women professional tennis players Martina Navratilova, “The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”  The goal is nice to win but the day to day higher expectations are where it is at.

And, why not have a culture of higher expectations?  We are promised as was Joshua who filled the shoes of, the prophet of all prophets, Moses:

7-9 Only be thou strong and very courageous...that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest… for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success… Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
(Joshua 1:7-9)
President Robinson

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