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.  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, sister trainer leader, zone leader or assistant 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, have 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.  One possible reason for the change could be that he/she has been moved into a city with a companion who is more familiar with the area.  The missionary who has the most time in an area is typically the senior companion because he/she knows the people and places.  

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 who is not called to serve in 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 she or he can best minister.  That "call to minister" can move their opportunities to serve in leadership back farther than normal or prempt them completely.  I promise they are needed even more in this assignment than as a STL, DL etc....  

7- A missionary currently serving in a leadership position can be moved into a new area and asked to continue in that assignment in the new zone.  Perhaps he/she is there to serve with a new ZL or STL who 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 his or her 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. 

Sorella Allen

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