Being A Representative
Learning to be a representative of Christ can be tricky. It isn’t like there is a manual for this kind of thing, but learning the principles found in Preach My Gospel will help a lot.
Being a representative of Christ is hard to picture. How would He behave in this situation or that situation. Hmmm, hard to tell. But think about how the Apostles behave. When they are treated kindly, do they just take the compliments in stride, knowing they deserve them? Do they accept the kind invitations to dinner and sit in the best spots like it is due to them? Of course not. The Apostles express gratitude in every way. They are kind and generous to others, they recognize when others are giving up something so that they can have it instead, and they always express their gratitude. Many missionaries have been called to very poor areas where the people literally give them all that they have. If a missionary has come from America, especially, they can easily miss the sacrifices others make on their behalf. Learn to be sensitive to what the members and others do for the missionaries.
Having an attitude of gratitude is so important for a missionary, no matter where you serve. How do the missionaries you respect the most talk? Do they gripe about how hot it is? Do they complain that they had to walk in the rain or tract in uncomfortable shoes? NO! The best missionaries, the ones people look up to the most are those who find a reason to be thankful for all that they experience. They exercise patience in adversity and thank people for their overwhelming generosity, and many people in and out of the Church are very generous when it comes to missionaries.
As a missionary I found that many good Christians would treat me like an honored guest in their home, just because they believed I came in Christ’s place. It had nothing to do with the fact that I really did, they would have treated any missionary from any faith that way. How much more appropriate that the real representative of Christ be gracious and grateful for all things at all times. Sometimes it is difficult, but cultivating a grateful attitude will help you immensely with keeping the Spirit with you. The Spirit doesn’t like a grouch any more than your mother does.
Learning to represent Christ is something that takes practice and forgiveness. The forgiveness is primarily for yourself, as it is you who will most often mess it up. Learn to be patient with yourself as you learn how to represent the Lord on His official business. Be patient with others and grateful for what people do for you. Learn to express thankfulness, and have an attitude of appreciation for the work others do. This takes practice, because sometimes the members move more slowly than you think they should. Think ahead. You will be in their shoes in just a couple of years, with school, work, and relationships on your mind too. Remember that the Lord is being as patient with you as He is with them.