On Purpose, Discipleship, Influence, and Success
Preach My Gospel, written primarily for full-time missionaries, says a missionary’s 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.” Sounds good—and I agree. But I wonder if that is really the purpose of just missionaries or if it shouldn’t have much broader application. Isn’t that the purpose of a disciple?
The Savior was speaking to twelve special disciples when he admonished them to continue to minister to people who were struggling. He said, “unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
This scripture indicates a special relationship between these disciples and Jesus—but perhaps that same relationship extends—or should extend—to all disciples. Disciples are to minister to individuals in a way that help them come to the Savior. He is clearly the one who will—and the only one who truly can—heal them. Nevertheless, disciples may “be the means” of bringing the patients to the physician.
Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, Nephi addresses a similar topic. Speaking of the Savior, he says, “Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.”
“His people” are to “persuade” others—all others, in fact—to come partake of the “free” salvation he offers. Note that persuasion is cited as an important attribute for exercising priesthood power. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;…” Note also that the invitation, or rather, commandment, to persuade others toward the Savior is intended for “his people,” a reference that seems to encompass more than just full-time missionaries or special disciples.
On a related note, we also learn from Preach My Gospel how to measure success. “Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.” Or in other words, your success is measured, not by the choices other people make, but by the commitment you and I have (and, I’m sure, exhibit) toward pursuing our purpose of inviting others to come to the Savior.
Encouraging people to come to the Savior is the goal. Our level of sincere commitment and resulting effort to so doing is the measure of our success. Influence should be sought and exercised—in the Savior’s kind, loving, respectful way, of course. Like wealth, influence is a good thing if used the right way, but unlike wealth, we are specifically commanded to acquire and use it.