15 August, 2018

Answers - About Mission Leadership

Dear Parents  .... especially moms...

What great missionaries you have sent to serve the Lord in the Italy Milan Mission.  Thank you!

As a mom of four missionary sons, I remember being anxious for them to "progress" in their experiences and become leaders among their fellow missionaries.  After all - I had raised "good boys" and knew of their capabilities.  As a mom I also experienced a few frustrations, but for the most part I was content.  Since being on "this end" I have learned a few things I was not aware of before.  Here is information you might be interested in:

1- A missionarie's primary focus is serving as a missionary. This is what they are set apart to do.  We try to avoid the concept of  "climbing a ladder".  They are called to be a missionary and that is their greatest and most important duty... always.  Ladders are made by men - not God.

2- Mission leadership - much like ward/stake leadership - functions to keep the organization orderly.  This is how information, trainings and encouragement are passed to every missionary throughout the mission.  It is the Lord's way.  "Mine house is an house of order".  It is not a corporate concept.  There is not increase in pay or even blessings.  Leadership opportunity is simply necessary for the Lord's work to move forward in an orderly way.

3- Whomever is asked to become a senior companion, trainer, district leader or zone leader is given this assignment for "a period of time".  That time can be disrupted by the need for president to move a missionary to another area or to give him the assignment to train.  The time for service can also be disrupted by closing an apartment, becoming a training missionary in another city, or adjusting a set of missionaries that are struggling, health problems, etc... the "reason list" is long.  They are never demoted to being "simply a missionary".  Missionary work is their primary sacred responsibility. 

4- A "seasoned" missionary can become a junior companion at any time in his/her mission, even though he/she has previously served as a DL, ZL, STL or whatever.  That means only one thing... that he/she has been moved into a city with a companion that is more familiar with the area.  The missionary that has the most time in an area is typically the senior companion because he/she knows the people and places.  There may be exceptions of course.  Exceptions happen.  That is normal as well.

5- A zone leader, when released, may serve as a district leader (or junior companion) some time later.  That is not a demotion.  It is serving like we do in the wards.  i.e. a released bishop may be called to be YM president next, or in the nursery.  We just do what we are asked.  It is ALL important.

6- A missionary that is not called to serve with a leadership assignment is not a "bad missionary". I promise they are not even "overlooked".  Each missionary has come with his or her individual talents and they might be "on an assignment" that they are not even aware of.  There are  many needs in a mission and the president is inspired to place each missionary where they can best minister.  That "call to minister" can move their opportunities to serve in leadership back farther than normal.  I promise they are needed even more in this assignment than as a STL, DL etc....  

7- A missionary can be moved into an area and asked to be a zone leader in their new zone.  Perhaps he/she is there to serve with a new ZL or STL that needs training on the responsibilities at hand.  There are many "perhaps".  When "the ladder" idea is removed from our thinking we are able to return to the concept that this is a "temporary assignment" and we just need to work hard at what we are here to do... "preach repentance and baptize converts."  (PMG)

8- If your missionary is serving with a particularly challenging companion please know that your son or daughter is deemed capable of carrying this extra load.  Give them the extra love and support they might need. They are being entrusted.

9- The mission president wears a sacred mantle and holds keys for the work.  It is a very real thing.  He dearly loves each missionary and has their best interest in mind.  He reads (and responds to) their letters each week.  He knows of their talents and concerns and fasts and prays for them.  He is greatly interested in their spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health and is available to visit in person or via phone any time when needed.  He is also happy to visit with parents if concerns arise.  I testify that he is inspired on behalf of your missionary. 
                                                                          *****

Many years ago, our very capable son served in his Spanish-speaking mission as a  junior companion for 16 months.  That is a long time to be a junior comp.  I couldn't understand why and was a greatly frustrated mother.  He had always been diligent in anything he undertook and was ready to work hard.  I felt like he was being overlooked.  He simply assumed there was more for him to learn as a junior companion.  He was just happy to serve.  Our older son assured me that his mission president was inspired.  (Admittedly, I wasn't so sure....)  Many years later I asked him about it and he commented,  "Well mom, we had some older missionaries that couldn't speak the language...  That was my job."  I finally understood.  He enjoyed a wonderful mission.  His personal experience and the value of his mission wasn't compromised because of that situation.  It is a great treasure in his life and he looks back on his service with reverence.

I wish someone had explained to me back then the points I have listed above.  Hopefully you can enjoy this precious season of service as your missionary blesses the lives of the people here.  Thank you for your willingness to support your missionary in this sacred work.  We love and adore each and every one. 

Sincerely,
Sorella Allen

4 comments:

  1. I appreciate your thoughtful explanations and insights and for courageously verbalizing them in written form.

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  2. I was surprised to hear from a sister missionary here in the Germany Frankfurt Mission that JC and SC don't excist anymore. Which makes sense considering the fact that "their main purpose is to serve as missionaries" and as such they are all equal. The sister said she likes it because now no one needs to feel less worthy than the other. She was happy because it helpes them to feel equal and work in unison with one another.

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    1. That isn't church wide - just an approach of her individual mission. We do still use the term, but, like I stated above. it is a term indicating who has been in an area the longest (regardless of time in the mission) so the Sr missionary will naturally have the knowledge of how to get around and who the members and investigators are. We teach meekness... which is the ability to learn from others regardless of seniority or talents, and teaching by the Spirit... which is the real reason a person is converted. Missions are great vehicles to prepare for the rest of their lives. Thank you for your input.

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  3. loved this post. Thank you for serving!

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