At work, I have a friend, Roseanne (names have been changed), who cleans our hallway and offices. Currently, she has some personal challenges and misses a lot of work. Patrice, a mutual friend who cleans when Roseanne is gone, is a person of strong faith and has asked me to pray for Roseanne. We’ve had some great talks, and at the end, she always reminds me of the need to keep Roseanne in our prayers. The other day, as Patrice and I talked, I felt strongly that I should tell her that I was a Mormon. Given her classic Christian faith traditions, I immediately rejected the thought, knowing that it would not end well. I again felt prompted to mention my Mormon faith, and after arguing with myself (“This REALLY will NOT end well!”), I concluded that this was in truth a prompting from a celestial source and that I should follow it. I said, “Patrice, I’ll be glad to continue praying. You know, as a Mormon, my family has an active daily prayer life, and I’ll surely keep Roseanne in my prayers.”
Patrice’s face fell, and she ended the conversation abruptly. My first thought: I had been right – It did not end well. My second thought, influenced I believe by the Holy Ghost: “Of course, it did not end well, and this is exactly what Patrice needed. You have blown a fuse in her mind. You have fried her spiritual circuits. But after a time, her circuits will heal, and she’ll replace the blown fuse. She must deal with this in order to listen more fully sometime later. Give her time.”
And indeed, it took some time. Patrice no longer spoke to me, and when I saw her, her face would fall, and she would look away from me. After a month of this, I wondered whether she would ever in this life replace the busted fuse. But after about six weeks, she has now just recently started to talk to me again, as if nothing had ever happened. She’s on the way to healing, and I hope that eventually she may be in a position to listen to a friend about the Church of Jesus Christ (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
My main point has nothing to do with Roseanne or Patrice. It has to do with what we consider success or failure in our missionary experiences. The Lord’s measures of success and our own often are not the same. As Harvard Business School innovation expert Clay Christensen teaches us in his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries, we are a successful missionary when we communicate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. As far as God is concerned, a positive or negative response to what we teach does not influence the quality of the experience; the reaction of our conversation partner(s) is independent of our success. The quality of the experience is determined by how we follow the promptings that we receive. I have learned for myself that this is true.
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Photo, “Burnt-out Fuse”—www .videojug.com/film/how-to-replace-a-blown-fuse
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