I like surprises (good ones), and I hope the topic of this article surprises you. When you first read “how to feel energized all the time,” I’m guessing your first thought is that this is some kind of nutritional pitch.
But it has nothing to do with a product you can buy. It has to do with that magical, elevating experience we’ve all had, when we are mentally and emotionally “in the zone,” clicking along. Writers know it well; it’s when the words are flowing and they are transported into their books, living and breathing with their characters. Teachers know it, too. They can feel their words reaching the target, penetrating the minds of their students. Inventors and mathematicians experience it as they approach a breakthrough. Musicians know the feeling as they immerse themselves in a flawless performance. Really anyone can identify those delicious moments in life when everything is falling into place and you’re riding the wave.
But, sooner or later, it evaporates. Our feet touch the ground again and we are back in reality, struggling with challenges. Wouldn’t it be great if every one of us could feel that mesmerizing rush of clarity and joy all the time?
I’ve found a way. It’s to have a missionary mindset. Whenever I’ve maintained that purpose, I find both enthusiasm and serenity. I know some people who recoil at the idea of sharing the gospel, even though they personally love it and believe it. They’re scared they’ll offend someone, be too pushy, or get rejected. If you hesitate when it comes to missionary work, please allow me to help you over those hurdles so you can enjoy being in the zone every single day. Here’s my formula:
Pray for opportunities. Don’t just tack this onto your prayers; have earnest prayers about this specifically. Volunteer to be useful to the Lord, and ask for your path to cross that of someone who is sincerely seeking truth in their life. Tell your Heavenly Father where you’re going and what you plan to do if you meet such a person. Not only does this involve God in your efforts more specifically, but it commits you to your own plan. When you make your day about missionary work, something changes and every single task, every errand, every encounter becomes charged with meaning.
Prepare. I’ve told you in previous articles that I buy handbags with a zippered pocket large enough to hold a copy of the Book of Mormon. I write my testimony in the front of the book, and I carry pass-along cards as well. You may want to customize this to suit your own situation, but be ready to share what you love.
Wear the name. Just as full-time missionaries wear a tag, a constant reminder that they will give their full focus to their work, remember that you have taken the name of Christ upon yourself every time you’ve taken the Sacrament (“…that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son” D&C 20:77). As you go about your day, imagine wearing a tag that shows whom you represent.
Be humble. Too many people are worried they aren’t scriptorians and they don’t have all the answers. But the only answer you need is that Christ’s original gospel has been completely restored. An eight-year-old can do this. In fact, this very humility will penetrate another’s heart more than sophisticated arguments and “proofs” ever could.
Feel love for others. Few things warm us more than realizing that someone genuinely cares about us. If you’re irritable, judgmental, or self-absorbed, you won’t be able to focus on loving someone else. Even if we’re hurried it can block our ability to see one another as children of God, brothers and sisters. Find that sincere caring in your heart, and your genuine love will come through. Such a person is never pushy or overbearing. Rather, you are offering friendship. Real friendship that doesn’t depend upon their answer. You just care. You just love them. Period.
Mention your faith. Some call it “changing the conversation.” It’s bringing up your religion in casual conversation. Look for ways you can share who you are. Being LDS is a gigantic part of our identity, and there’s always a way to let others know you’re a Latter-day Saint. When a clerk asks me what I did last weekend, I’m eager to share an insight from church, a baptism, or another event. When people talk about children, you can mention Scouting, Young Women, missions, church education, or Seminary. When they ask what you do for a living, also share how you volunteer at church.
Be yourself. Missionary work is not only for the gregarious. In fact, many people respond best to someone who is more soft-spoken. The key is to be real. Every personality will click with someone else. Let God match you up with people who will respond best to your own distinct style, and stop worrying that you have to be different than you are.
Respect their faith. Truth is sprinkled throughout the world. There are wonderful people in wonderful sects doing wonderful work. Always honor the tender feelings of their own hearts, the special relationship with the Savior they may have already established, and the journey each one is taking. Twenty years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ““Let me say that we appreciate the truth in all churches and the good which they do. We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it. That is the spirit of this work. That is the essence of our missionary service.”
Know that sharing is enough. If you invite someone to learn more, if you share the joy this gospel has brought to you, if you express real loving concern for another, that is enough. Some will want to learn more (and how they can be as happy and confident as you are), but others just aren’t ready. That’s okay. Planting a seed is okay.
A member once said to me, “But what if I get rejected?” Okay, you are not proposing marriage. You are not even asking this person to follow you on Instagram or Facebook. You are giving them something. And I will be honest: I have never once offered a Book of Mormon to someone I’ve been chatting with, and had them turn it down. In fact, they are clearly stunned and grateful that I would give them a book, when I just met them. They take it with appreciation and you can almost see the realization in their eyes that this is something sacred to me. They show respect.
Obviously you would not offer the Book of Mormon to someone who seems uninterested, but someone who has shown curiosity and an open mind. There are so many people who are searching for truth, “but know not where to find it.” When we offer ourselves to God as volunteers to help people make that connection, we get God’s help. And maybe that’s the key word—to be a connector. We connect them with missionaries who can then take over the teaching. Perhaps that takes some of the pressure off—realizing that all we need to do is open one door for them.
After you’ve had an opportunity to share a copy of the Book of Mormon, you will keep that “in the zone” feeling for a long time. It’s as if God is showering you with contentment and approval. It’s a good time to pray your thanks for his trust in you, that he would allow another of his children to cross your path. Your gratitude, and thus your happiness, will be overflowing. And tomorrow, you’ll want to feel exactly the same way.
Perfect for Mother’s Day– Hilton’s new LDS novel, Golden, is available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.
Janet MillerMay 4, 2018
Joni, thank you for this article. I'm one of those people who quail at the thought of being a member-missionary - until now. Your ideas on preparing and sharing are inspiring. I'll start today when I go out.
Jay SMay 3, 2018
One issue with your great article is missionary WORK should not be. It should be missionary joy, surge, energy, boost, etc.