One of the most important elements to successful communicating as a missionary is an unconventional one: love. Still, this should not come as a shock, for when asked what is the greatest commandment (and therefore the most essential thing we can be doing as people and as missionaries), the Lord answered his apostles:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it. Though shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Elders and sisters both agree that their ability to love those who they communicated with determined their ability to be successful in communicating. When they really develop a love and charity for those they teach, they find it easier to be a good listener and to establish trust. In addition, when the investigator is able to see that the missionaries truly care about them, his or her heart is softened to listening to the messages of the missionaries, and the missionaries will be able to convey their words to an open mind. Love and compassion, then, becomes an indisputable part of being successful in sharing the gospel with others. They further explained that often the best way to express this love was through service.
One elder shared an experience which shows how love expressed through service opened doors to communication that would have otherwise been closed. As a new missionary, he and his companion came across the house of a single woman. They knocked on the door, a dog began barking frantically inside, and the woman answered. Once they had introduced themselves, the woman said she did not want anything to do with them. She began to close the door, when one of the elders said “Okay, thank you, Miss. Even so, is there anything we can help you with today?” The woman paused, shushed the barking dog, and opened the door back up. She invited them to come back three days later to help her with a project. Three days later, the missionaries returned in their service clothes and knocked on the woman’s door. She answered, and took them out back to where she had been working to take out some berry bushes that had taken over the back fence. The missionaries worked alongside her until a few hours later, the bushes had been removed. As they worked, they listened to the woman talk about her life and the recent death of a family member. When the work had been finished, they asked if they could return again to share a message with her. Having gained her trust, she consented, and they returned to teach her about the eternal nature of families and God’s plan for her family. The woman continued to take lessons from the missionaries and was able to draw closer unto Christ.
Christ’s ministry on the earth was one of service. Simultaneous to his teaching of the gospel, we see examples throughout the New Testament of Christ’s selfless life of service. He healed the sick and the afflicted, blessed the children, comforted the grieving, and washed the feet of his apostles. In the Book of Mormon, we see in Alma 17 one of the great missionaries–Ammon–and how he first sought to serve the Kind, then teach him. Surely, this love and service, or charity, was key in softening the king’s heart to listening to the good tidings of the gospel which Ammon sought to share. Moroni 7: 46-47 reads:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail–
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Developing a love for the people of our mission is crucial to our success in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ to His children, for without this pure love of Christ for those we teach, we are “nothing.” But with this love, not only will we be effective messengers of the gospel, but we can know that “it shall be well with [us].”