Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pressure from the Top Down

There was one common theme in every single meeting where my Mission President was present. That common theme was numbers. We were constantly told that we were expected to baptize every single month. We were told that if we weren't baptizing monthly we just needed to have more faith. We were told that when we want to baptize as bad as we want to breathe air we would baptize, and that the best missionaries always baptized monthly. I think my Mission President was trying to inspire us in a similar manner to the theme of this video

I know missionaries who walked away from those meetings feeling inadequate, and some would really get down on themselves. We were told that the work was hastening and that we needed to do better. I would often think about the meetings, and I one time came had the thought that my Mission President was a goal oriented businessman, and that he pressured us because numbers were his way of measuring success, and if we had good numbers it helped him feel good about the mission.

This perspective changed one day. We had just gotten out of a meeting where he had been literally drilling us about numbers. He was extremely intense that day. As me and a few of my mission friends were talking, after the meeting he came up to us and said " Elders I know I might have gone hard on you, but just know that I'm getting a lot of pressure from those above me. " It was in that moment that something clicked for me. I feel I can reasonably assume that the General Authorities put immense pressure on the local leaders. Could it be that the General Authorities interact with local leaders in a harsher way than they come across  in their General Conference talks?

My Mission President told the whole mission at the beginning of the year that the leaders of the mission had set a goal for 805 baptisms. He told us how there was a skype conference call with the Stake Presidents in the area and Elder L Tom Perry. The Stake Presidents set a goal of around 795 baptisms for the area, and Elder Perry told them " The lord is hastening his work and is not pleased with that goal." My companionship and many others were literally doing everything we could. We were being obedient, and learning the scriptures, but the baptisms still didn't come. That's when I started believing that if the lord really expected us to be baptizing every month, then it would be happening. My mission is part of what's led me to think deeply of if god's favor is really with the church.

One Mission Conference my Mission President explained how when President Monson was a Mission President in Canada he raised the baptisms from 500 a year to 1200 because he had faith. He then told us a story of a missionary once calling in on an especially cold day, and saying "President Monson it's -40 degrees please advice." To that President Monson replied " dress warm and don't look at the thermometer." My Mission President then want on to talk about how that's what faith is, and President Monson had incredible faith and that's why his mission improved and he became the great prophet he is today. Some in hearing of this situation would say that it seems more like the story of a businessman whose number one priority is maximum productivity at all costs, and that it was easy for President Monson to say that while he was nice and warm in the comfort of Mission Office or Mission Home. It's up to you to decide how to interpret that. We choose what we believe.

I saw so many missionaries running around and repeating exactly what the Mission President was saying. I saw my Mission President running around and repeating exactly what the brethren were saying. I saw so many missionaries striving for leadership, and they were willing to do whatever it took to obtain it. They were willing to tell on their companions for petty rules to get the Mission President trusting them. When one is a leader in the mission they are looked up to and they feel important. Is it possible that this striving for leadership happens the same after the mission? I'll say at the same time, that I've met leaders who seem like good humble men. My last bishop I had seemed like one of the most christ-like men I had ever met. Is it possible some bishops want to go on to be in Stake Presidencies, Mission Presidencies and more? It's natural to want to feel important, but then again the scriptures teach that the  natural man is an enemy to god. Mosiah 3:19  There's many called to be leaders. but few are chosen, to receive the second comforter and that's because they aspire to the honors of men. D&C 121:35

There's more people leaving the church than there's ever been. With the internet people are finding things out that have been kept from them. They are learning how many leaders of the church have contradicted each other over the years. and  Truth is springing forth out of the earth. Psalms 85:11. We were always told in the Mission that the internet was created for us sharing the gospel. My mission was one of the first to be able to use facebook. Is it possible that the internet has been created so that real truth could come forth? I was discouraged with a lot of my experiences, and things I was finding on the internet. I had felt what the scriptures describe as the " Fruits of the spirit" while  reading the Book of Mormon and learning of Christ, and still believed them to be true. It was Fast Sunday in October of this year that I fasted and prayed to be led to truth. It was the next day on the bus that I sat next to one of my brother's friends ( who never takes the bus at that time) He told me on this bus ride  about the book the Second Comforter and the author. This message is what I felt I was looking for. It's provided me with hope, and makes sense of many of my concerns and experiences.

1 comment:

  1. I had similar experiences on my mission. It is as a missionary that most members briefly come into contact with the corporate nature of church leadership. We have come to a point in our Latter-Day apostasy that we have replaced divine leadership and guidance with corporate strategy and the leadership of the philosophies of men. This bears the fruit of wealth, and international growth, but not the fruits of exaltation and revelation. There are many latter-day saints who think this is a good trade. It puts an end to persecution, allows us to send missionaries around the globe, results in great wealth for the building of fine churches and huge temples, and gives us outward signs of success. So it is all about which fruits you are seeking. Do we want to see the face of God? if we do we must do so a s a persecuted minority without worldly wealth or honors. Or do we want our church to expand to fill the earth and see that as a substitute proof of divine favor? Then with this worldly success we have immediate reward for our labor, and worldly honor. This route brings more tangible results, but is the broad path to death. It is apostasy.