Each week as missionaries write letters, they often include questions. Rather than answer the questions one by one, President Eaton creates a Q&A document and sends it to all the missionaries. That way if others have the same question they can receive the answer as well. Here is a sampling of questions and answers from this month.
1. What advice do you have for someone who struggles with feeling confident in oneself?
I think true confidence in oneself is really confidence in Christ--"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philip. 4:13). It's this kind of confidence that protects us from pride because we acknowledge our dependence upon the Lord. Begin by increasing your faith that this is true. Look for examples in your life when the Lord has helped you with something in the past, and pray that He will increase your faith (Mark 9:24) that He will help you in the future. Then take steps forward to the edge of your comfort zone with a prayer in your heart. As you put forth a concerted effort to recognize His hand each day in even small ways and write those experiences down, you will discover a pattern and your faith, and thus your confidence, will grow.
2. On a spiritual level, how do I stay humble? I have been ridiculously humbled by God and I want to avoid that experience because honestly it stinks! So I'm trying to figure out how to stay humble to avoid large humbling events from God? Any talks or scriptures on how to preserve humility once it's reached?
In the Saturday morning session of general conference, Elder Snow spoke about humility. That may be a good talk to review when it becomes available. Among others, he quoted President Spencer W. Kimball teaching, “How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one's self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer.” (To see the full talk from President Kimball, you can go to http://www.nauvoo.com/library/kimball-humility.html.) One of my goals from conference is to say one prayer each day where I simply express gratitude and ask for nothing. I am hopeful that this will help me better remember the Giver of all good things and be less like the goldfish Elder Maxwell has described, “congratulating [myself] on [my] self-sufficiency, never mind the food pellets or changes of water.” I’m sure you can find more and better things to study, but this can get you started.
3. I know awhile back you gave us a cool insight on "plates or no plates" I forgot how you modeled it, I just remember it being super cool. If it be possible could I get an outline on that?
Here’s something along those lines from Elder Tad Callister in his talk, “The Book of Mormon—a Book from God”:4. I've been praying for charity daily and reading about it in the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel, but I'm still struggling. What can I do to increase my love for those around me? I almost feel ashamed for asking, because I feel like I've been applying what prophets, apostles, and other church leaders have suggested, but nothing seems to be changing.
That is the genius of the Book of Mormon—there is no middle ground. It is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud. This book does not merely claim to be a moral treatise or theological commentary or collection of insightful writings. It claims to be the word of God—every sentence, every verse, every page. Joseph Smith declared that an angel of God directed him to gold plates, which contained the writings of prophets in ancient America, and that he translated those plates by divine powers. If that story is true, then the Book of Mormon is holy scripture, just as it professes to be; if not, it is a sophisticated but, nonetheless, diabolical hoax. C. S. Lewis spoke of a similar dilemma faced by someone who must choose whether to accept or reject the Savior’s divinity—where there is likewise no middle ground: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. … You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. … But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”2Likewise, we must make a simple choice with the Book of Mormon: it is either of God or the devil. There is no other option.
I probably don't have more to add than what you've already studied. Maybe you have grown more in this area than you realize. The thing that helps me the most is to try to understand other's circumstances and feelings. This is difficult because we are somewhat limited in our understanding of others by our own experiences. As I was studying the New Testament, I came across an interesting scripture that I hadn’t noticed before in Hebrews 10:24—"And let us consider (footnote: understand) one another to provoke (1828 Dictionary: to move, incite, stir up) unto love and to good works." There is something about understanding one another that moves us to love one another as well.5. While studying D&C 4, I was wondering what exactly it means to have your "eye single to the glory of God"? All of the other attributes were pretty easy to understand, but I was just wondering what your interpretation of that missionary quality is?
This same concept is repeated in Adjusting to Missionary Life on p. 38. This section deals with managing social demands and there is a portion that gives suggestions on how to develop love for others. The third bullet point advises us to ask questions about the lives, beliefs, and experiences of those you meet until their behavior makes more sense to you. When we can see from another’s perspective, we gain understanding which moves us to love.
Closely related is another bullet on this page—gaining understanding by praying for the gift of charity, specifically asking for eyes to see others as God sees them. Sometimes we don’t know the right questions to ask or maybe the person we are trying to understand is closed, shy, or private about their life and experiences. When we see others as they truly are—spiritual sons and daughters of infinite worth to God—we act differently toward them. We have more compassion.
I encourage you to continue to seek for this spiritual gift. I don't think it is an on-off switch type of gift but more like a dimmer switch that can grow brighter gradually. Each year I am continually seeking to receive and develop this gift.
The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary has many definitions for glory—words like brightness, splendor, magnificence, and praise. When I look at the phrase in context—an eye single to the glory of God—I think the definition that best fits may be “that which brings honor.” The imagery of the word “eye” seems to indicate our focus, what we see. Maybe the phrase “an eye single to the glory of God” means that we should focus on that which brings honor to God.
Well what is it that brings honor to God? According to Moses 1:39, it is bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. This is exactly what missionaries do as they help people enter into gospel covenants. Alma, a great Book of Mormon missionary, declares this as his glory as well in Alma 29:9. He says, “. . .[T]his is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”
One other potential meaning of this phrase is to remind us that our motives must be pure and our desires only for the glory of God and not our own glory. Nephi taught that the Lord “commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29). What John the Baptist said of the Savior is true for all of us who try to bring others to the Savior: “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Elder Robert D. Hales warned seminary teachers against this particular hazard, which applies to missionaries just as much: “one of the greatest mistakes is when teachers turn the students to themselves rather than to the Lord. . . . There is nothing more dangerous than when a student turns his or her love and attention to the teacher the same way a convert sometimes does to a missionary rather than to the Lord. And then if the teacher or missionary leaves or conducts his life contrary to the teachings of the gospel, the student is devastated. His testimony falters. His faith is destroyed. The really great teacher is careful to have the students turn themselves to the Lord.”