There’s one trick that every missionary needs to know. It’s a super awesome secret that the best missionaries figure out pretty early on into their missions. And one I’m going to give you for free! (I know, how kind of me)
Most missionaries learn this skill through some hard times, big trials and ‘rough patches’, which I know you want to avoid. (you really do, I’ve been there).
Before I left on my mission I just didn’t really get this. I thought I was a Pro cause I’d grown up with brothers and sisters and I was the oldest! But until I’d lived with someone 24/7, (and I don’t mean a one night sleep-over with a few mates) I just didn’t get it.
So, my name’s Tom and I founded ‘Mission Geek’. (www.missiongeek.net) Well, after spending the last five years teaching at the Missionary Training Centre in New Zealand I’ve decided to share (I know how kind of me) some of that experience with you guys.
I’ve been named, ‘the MTC Guy’, ‘Mission Man’ and old people still call me ‘Elder’. Though I promise I’m not sad enough to wear my old mission badge and carry around a missionary planner to schedule in dinner-dates. LOL. It’s all Macs and iPhones these days.
So, back to this Trick. Well, it’s pretty simple really. It’s all about ‘Communication’. And I don’t mean ‘texting’. Come on, we’ve all found a way of communicating with people we’d rather not talk to face-to-face. We ‘one-liner’ PM them on FB, Text, iMessage and Viber them back 6 hours later, Snapchat in a group… the list really goes on.
But what when that person is standing right in front of you? He/She is your missionary companion! What happens when they do something that you don’t agree with? Or something that really irritates you? Like a companion who walks really slow, never lets you talk, makes you consistently late or drinks that refreshing can of ice cold drink you were saving in the back of the fridge for weeks.
You can’t just ‘block’ them, hide them from your timeline or ‘thumbs down’ their activities. It’s all face-to-face and that can sometimes be hard. Without talking, these negative feelings towards your companion can churn up and leave you without the spirit.
So, I’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you learn how to avoid some simple communication problems.
1 – Understand
First try and understand that your companion might not have been brought up the same way as you, they might do things differently but get the same result. My mission president always told me. “Take the best and leave the rest”. Their culture, language and food maybe different than yours. But that’s it, it’s different not wrong.
2 – (Like the Missionary Handbook states) Talk openly.
When things are going well, say something. When things are not, say something. No one can read minds. So, say in the moment when you’re not happy. Tell him/her in a nice way that what they are doing is a annoying or destructive. Tell/thank him/her in the moment when they do something productive, kind or have a great idea.
3 – Comp Inventory
At the end of Chapter 8 in PMG there’s a step in weekly planning that is called Companionship Inventory. It’s like the DTR with a GF/BF. It’s where you speak openly about how you feel and make goals. Now, you guys are not a ‘couple’, and a lot of the time you wouldn’t pick this person, your companion to be your best friend. However, you do have to invest something to make it work if you want to be successful in the work. A companion ship inventory is a perfect time to just lift the bonnet and assess how things are running.
PMG says you should do this in your Comp Inventory: “Discuss the strength of your relationship with your companion. Discuss any challenges that may be keeping your companionship from working in unity or from being obedient. Resolve conflicts.”
I would suggest, rather than every week, do it once a night after planning for just 60 seconds. Just to ‘touch base’ and then move on.
4- Actions more than words
Speaking is just 20% of communication. Everyone notices actions. If you and your companion are not close then you just won’t work well together. (notice I didn’t say ‘best friends’ that might be an unrealistic expectation) So, acts of kindness and courtesy go along way in showing someone that you are trying to make it work. It won’t be easy with everyone but it is possible. Pride is the enemy of a fully functioning, productive companionship. Determining who’s right and who’s wrong won’t help you to teach people the gospel.
So, a quick recap.
1 – Understand (their background)
2 – Talk Openly (frequently)
3 – Comp Inventory (every night)
4 – Actions (do stuff for them)
Do your best and you’ll be fine. Good luck and for more mission tips check out www.missiongeek.net or my youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/missionarygeek Like me on FB at www.facebook.com/themissiongeek