‘WE NEED BACKUP SINGERS…’I was thinking late the other night, how cool would it be if we had music indicating for us what hat to put on before stepping into the next challenge. I imagine, prior to assessing a missionary, ‘which conversation do I jump into with this one?’ My personal favorite… ‘Buck up buddy of course it’s hard-we were created to do hard things’, yes I know it doesn’t sound very compassionate but really don’t we often think after we’ve had an elopement this is the way to go? Kaya kong gawin lahat ng mga mahihirap na basay… this is on my office wall. Then thank heavens for the spirit that whispers, ‘shut up Marcia, this is MY son/daughter and listen for 3 minutes’, then the spirit dictates and the softening of my heart begins. Don’t get me wrong, often it’s appropriate to say buck up, but as always, it’s not our call; we are here to represent our Redeemer. Thus, my theme of this month. Visualize for just a second what it would be like if, when one walked in our offices, the ‘Rocky’ theme would play giving us the obvious indicator, yes!, the ‘buck up’ message is great for this one; build trust, a relationship, add some humor and then give it to them! Or if there is someone in great pain and has been a total annoyance because they don’t know how to speak of their true pain a- soft rendition of ‘Be Still My Soul’ played in the background of them entering the room. I really think this would help! Ponder this for just a moment, what if two minutes before seeing your spouse at the end of the day you had ‘heads up music’ to their mood. Don’t tell me that wouldn't be great.
A sweet thought entered into my heart as I stood in Davao with President and Sister Pangan, listening to his missionaries practicing their song for the following day’s conference with President Ardern. Beautiful harmony filled the chapel as they sang ‘Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd’(Hymn#221). For me, the hymns are scripture. I love them, they offer the backup singers! They put to harmony words I may often brush over were I to read them. . As they performed their number for me the music rang in my ears of ‘make me the true under shepherd’.
In Luke 15:4-7 we see the asking of who will be the undershepherd. 1 Peter 5:2-4 answers this for us- “Feed the flock which is among you...willing...of ready mind...being ensamples to the flock.” That’s us!
Continuing with the music theme, Hymn #335 illustrates the calling of the undershepherd:
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
A beautiful reminder of our stewardship and calling as undershepherds. The earnestness of our mission can be felt through the pleading lyrics of this song. It is inspiring.
Accompanying scriptures I've found include: Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-16 “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God…” “Cry repentance to all people…repent”…bring others unto the Savior and how great shall be your joy!”. 1 John 2:10-“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”
In Julie B. Becks Conference talk, in April 2010, I found multiple notes which to me dictate how to BECOME a better under-shepherd. Personal revelation, daily prayer, scripture study, an undershepherd must nurture as Christ nurtured. An undershepherd will align their will with the Father’s; selfless; they are okay with not doing what THEY want to do. Undershepherds prioritize well and correctly; are capable of a great deal. They want to do a great deal; know that they are limited; and they seek the guidance of the Spirit to know what it is the Lord would have them do: talents, service, and free time activities included. I think, perhaps, sometimes we are good at many, many things but could be greater at fewer things.
In addition, Pres. Henry B. Eyring (GC April 2010 A.M.) spoke of ‘Rescuers’—people placed along the way to aid ’The Under-shepherd ‘. “Well done thou good and faithful servant [undershepherd]…you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”
The undershepherd will “cultivate a relationship of listening to the Holy Spirit.” (GC Apr 2010—Schwitzer). Without that spirit I’m lost, 10 out of 10 times I will pick the wrong pep talk for your missionaries.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.” When I wake up in the morning, I make the morning prayer a dedicatory prayer of my day unto the Lord. I do the things that need to be done throughout the day but I must do them unto the Lord because I love the Lord and He has blessed me with a home to dress and clean, food and laundry of plenty, cleaning supplies, indoor plumbing and sanitary conditions, a job, finances to pay off school debt, car debt, and a mortgage- making a regular, daily, routine a celebration of my blessings and a dedication of gratitude unto the Lord. By so doing, each day, we will begin with the blessings of the Spirit in our homes and missions. As we listen we will know what is needed of us, that day, in the Kingdom. We will know what needs to be top in our priorities for the day and how to best execute them. Our stress levels will be better managed be-cause we will be following the Spirit to accomplish necessary tasks. This is how the undershepherd does his/her job.
One last essential component is humility. It is understanding our position and situation with regards to and in relation to Heavenly Father’s. Humble people are not ignorant, nor arrogant. They have a full and complete understanding of their talents and their abilities and they use them to build the Kingdom and do the Lord’s work. They know what they are good at! The difference between the humble and the arrogant is motive and understanding of position. Humble people use the talents, they know they are good at, in ways the Lord prompts them to utilize them. They use their talents to celebrate, honor, and serve the Lord, our God. As I reflect, on second thought, maybe we do have backup singers!
(Taken from our September 2013 Newsletter to Mission Presidents and their wives in the Philippines)