This week I received a letter from a dear friend out in the mission field. What a spark it was to my week! In the letter, she asked if I had any advice on how to achieve success. When I write her back, it will be with regret to say that I don’t have any sort of insider tips on how to help people “receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the End.” All I have to offer her is one thing that always makes me want to help others more.
1. Every day I pray that I will work hard and feel the Spirit.
These three things have helped me in my personal life more than any other pattern of living that I have yet experienced. It can be so hard in life, when we are constantly told that others are better, and that we are supposed to live up to other’s expectations and potential, and that if “you ain’t first you’re last,” to see the little successes.
Everyone has different levels of working hard, but we can all do our best to do our best. We can all keep to the tasks we’ve been assigned, whether it be in home, workplace, community, or church assignments. Something that I really admire about President Monson is that he always makes time for others, often on his own leisure time. I am convinced that the secret to enjoying life is working hard at everything you do, and working hard to help others enjoy the journey. President Ezra Taft Benson once said that
“One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for [he will have] all [his] time and talents and interest … centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
This of course is not only true in missionary work. Work is the key to satisfaction in life, in finding meaning in what we do, and in what we do for others. Why would serving others feel so good and be so worthwhile if it cost us nothing? Often our service is as simple as holding a door, a friendly word, or, as Marvin J. Ashton once said, “keeping our mouths shut.” Service on a large scale, such as a citywide food drive, raising money for Haiti, and other large scale activities are the results of hundreds and thousands of simple actions lumped together.
This is where success comes from. It comes from hundreds of decisions, to act and not stand idly by. Success, as I understand it in the Gospel, is to build faith, and help others to do the same. President Eyring once said:
“Now, tonight let us decide together what we are going to do. All of us, whatever our callings may be, face tasks that are beyond our own powers. I do and you do. That’s true from the simple fact that success is to get testimony down into the hearts of people. We can’t make that happen. Even God won’t force that on anyone.
So success requires people we serve to choose to accept the testimony of the Spirit into their hearts. The Spirit is ready. But many people aren’t ready to invite the Spirit. Our task, which is in our power, is to invite the Spirit into our lives so that people we serve will want to have the fruits of the Spirit in their lives—the fruits that they can see in ours.”
So success is not purely based on tangible evidences of our effort, but rather the immeasurable attributes of love, patience, service, and faith. Someone I love changed my life by telling me,
“our [LDS} view of success is far too narrow. It is not just baptisms and confirmations. It is not re-activations and the number of names that have gone through the Temple. It is helping others develop faith unto repentance. Did your family change? Your friends? Yourself? Did you strive to do your best, and give your all? Any answer other than ‘no’ would mean you are a success in God’s eyes.”
Let’s work hard, be happy, and love the results. Let us make sure that our faith in Christ is not based on outcomes, but IS the outcome of whatever happens to us. If we are doing all we can, God will do the rest, even and especially when it seems like there is no success in sight. Answers will come. Miracles will happen. And this miraculous work will go forth!