For some time now (several months at least) I have been feeling like I should go back and study Preach My Gospel. There were things I needed to review and remember, habits from my mission that I should re-establish, and a focus on conversion that I hope to preserve as I teach in my family. But things kept coming up that separated me from my copies of the book (I have at least 3!), and I admittedly didn't pursue it as I should have. So of course John and I just received a calling that requires us to use it.
It reminds me of the biography of Elder Russel M. Nelson. Some time before his call to the Twelve, he felt impressed that he should learn how to play the organ and that he should get up extra early (you know, because as a surgeon he didn't get up early enough) to study the scriptures more thoroughly. He followed the Spirit and did both. And sure enough the call came, and he has been the organist during the meetings of the Twelve since then. Of course I didn't learn my lesson from the biography like I should have, but I finally did dig through our boxes to find a clean, new copy (#4?) of Preach My Gospel, and I've got some catching up to do.
After feeling a little bit stung and a lot inspired by Elder Arden's talk on using time wisely, I jumped to Chapter 8 this evening. A lot of the chapter focuses specifically on the key indicators for missionary work, and I was inclined to skip over it because it doesn't apply directly to me or my current callings (not to mention that I had gone over these hundreds and hundreds of times on the mission). But the first paragraphs of the chapter reminded me how the principles that apply to missionary work apply to all facets of our life. It doesn't even require that much creativity. Here they are, with my ideas added in:
You are assigned to do the Lord's work in a specific area [my home and family, my visiting teach-ees, my ward]. He wants you to watch over your area with love and great care. Your purpose is to help others come unto Him through baptism and confirmation [and temple covenants, and persisting in the gospel].
Do all you can to leave your area stronger than you found it. Meaningful goals and careful planning will help you accomplish what the Lord requires of you. As you care for the people in your assigned area, you will account to Him and to your mission leaders [my husband, my Relief Society Leaders, other ward leaders].
Your missionary call letter [patriarchal blessing, Church manuals of instruction, priesthood blessings, counsel when set apart, temple covenants, the scriptures] states: 'You will also be expected to devote all your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs [law of consecration]. As you do these things the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of the truth. We place in you our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you meet your responsibilities in fulfilling this sacred assignment.' This chapter will help you know how goal setting, planning, and accountability can help many people [my own children!, all who surround me] receive the restored gospel.
Stung again! So being thus inspired, I started thinking about what key indicators I should consider in my current callings. For more counsel on how all members should use Preach My Gospel, go here. Back to PMG (Preach my Gospel):
Perhaps you have wondered which of your many duties are the most important. To be able to answer this question, you must understand your purpose and know how effective use of time can help you fulfill this purpose.
And here is the missionary statement of purpose:
Your purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
This really isn't far from my purpose and calling. But I think one word is a bit narrow and another too broad for me as a wife/mom/VT/ward missionary/regular Church member.
The first word is invite. The missionaries do the inviting. They find and teach and challenge and baptize. But it is up to the rest of us to do the rest of the work. For example, I do need to invite my children to come unto Christ. But as a parent I have a responsibility that goes beyond inviting; it includes providing and preparing and often even proscribing and enforcing. So my key indicators need to be a bit more broad in their overarching objectives.
The second word is others. Not surprisingly, this word is a bit broad for my current callings. I do have a duty to everyone I meet (all my neighbors!), but I have been called to carry out a deeper and more focused work for specific people (my husband and children, people I visit teach, new members who need to be nurtured). So my personal key indicators need to reflect that the majority of my work is with a few important people.
I won't share my personal key indicators here (they're not formed yet, this post is already too long, and they will be different for everyone), but the important part of this study for me was reevaluating my purpose and considering what daily activities will contribute most to that purpose and what I should eliminate. It's something I think we all could do more often.