As our son has served in various leadership roles throughout his mission, he has reached out for guidance and counsel from his father, who taught in the MTC for several years following his own mission.
This article is for our son—a compilation of his father’s counsel, mixed with his mother’s insights.
An Assignment to Lead Is Temporary
Remember it is service that defines you, not a temporary leadership title.
Each day, touch the one. This is a unique opportunity to truly love and bless the individual.
What wonderful advice this is for each of us as we serve! Whether it’s to keep us grounded so our heads don’t become swollen with pride at our opportunity to serve in a certain capacity; or whether it’s to give us hope that, “This too shall pass.”
Because a calling of leadership is temporary, our chance to maximize its opportunities to serve is limited! Take advantage of every opportunity to lift and bless those you serve. You will become aware of opportunities to serve because of your access through leadership—use these opportunities. Don’t let an opportunity to show love to someone pass you by!
A missionary is called to be a missionary. Any leadership opportunities while serving a mission are ‘assignments,’ not callings. This distinction emphasizes where a missionary’s focus needs to be: on moving the Kingdom of God forward!
Have Joy in Service
Have a sense of humor. Take the work seriously, but not yourself!
“Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.
The Lord’s plan is a plan of happiness. The way will be lighter, the worries will be fewer, the confrontations will be less difficult if we cultivate a spirit of happiness.”
-President Gordon B. Hinckley
President Hinckley was a wonderful example of someone who took his service to the Lord and others very seriously, yet he did not let life weigh him down!
Remember the spiritual fundamentals.
Those you lead need to know that they can depend on you to consistently uphold the values you teach. A leader needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Consistency also relates to your demeanor. Are you consistently someone who is kind and trustworthy? Does your countenance show humility and a desire to serve God? If, at one moment, you are kind, but stress causes you to be unkind, those you serve with may become afraid to come to you during a time of difficulty. Master yourself to be consistent in your behaviors, regardless of your circumstances.
Lead as The Savior Does
Learn something from each person you serve. Follow their suggestions. Lean on your companion for counsel. Allow him opportunities to grow; he will do likewise for you.
Get to know the people you serve.
Love the people and missionaries where they are.
We need to keep in mind that great leaders throughout the scriptures, like King Benjamin, focused their lives not on their power over others—but on their service to others.
Our Savior, the Lord of Lord and King of Kings, lived humbly and served constantly. Jesus Christ did not demand respect during His lifetime from those He led. Our Savior loved those He led. He called them His friends. They followed where He led because of their love for Him.
I have not met my Savior in this life. Yet, through intimate experiences with His Spirit, I know He knows me. He loves me—even perfectly knowing my flaws—and always wants what is best for me. If those we serve genuinely feel our love for them and know that our counsel comes from a place of love and a desire only for their welfare, will they not want to heed our guidance?
In return for our Savior’s great love, each of us, of our own free will, humbly gives him our bowed knees and bent heads every day in gratitude for His love. We follow our Savior because He loves us. He leads us through his love for us.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.