Yesterday we posted about Elder Bowen promising “in the name of Jesus Christ” that if missionaries did what he said then “[the] mission DOUBLE in baptism.” I sure this is NOT something he should have promised, let alone “in the name of Jesus Christ”. An argument could be made he was taking the Lord’s name in vain making such a baseless promise in Christ’s name.
The post reminded me of all the posts in the post we’ve done on the culture and emphasis on the mission and in the Church around “exact obedience” (see here, here, here, here, and here). I wanted to do a quick search to see if missionaries are still writing about and reporting on “exact obedience” in their missions. And guess what! They are. Below are a few recent posts by missionaries about “exact obedience.” The last quote oozes cognitive dissonance. I plan to do a post in the next week or so reflecting on one message in the scriptures is the tragedy that results from exact obedience. Enjoy.
- “As for my companion, sometimes he doesn’t want to wake up until 7:40! I’ve tried talking to him about the importance of exact obedience in all things. It’s hard because I grew up in a house where we were always on time to everything…EVERYTHING!!! I hate being late to things…some mornings I want to rip the sheets off from him!!!” (LINK)
- “God expects exact obedience and exact repentance. No more more no less. Life gets hectic, but that edge where miracles occur, that’s where I want to be for the rest of my life.” (LINK)
- “My new missionary is Elder Bills. He’s such a stud… I love him so much and he’s a hard worker! When he got here we had a good discussion on the importance of exact obedience and the blessings that come because of it and are loving being together. He understands how to work and is okay with tracting quite a bit, which I love! Because tracting is the bomb!” (LINK)
- “We had zone meeting this week and our zone leaders extended a challenge to us called a 30 day fast and feast. So for the next 30 days I will be taking some of my bad habits, or traits that I want to change and fasting on them, and just exercising exact obedience. I am super excited for this! I know the Lord will help me in my righteous endeavors and I am so glad I have Collins to help me — she is my anchor in this and I am hers in her goals. ” (LINK)
- “A lot of our investigators have been busy at work. I’m grateful for these challenges because it increases my desire to work harder and strive to obtain the spirit. I know that through exact obedience miracles are wrought. The challenge at hand is great but it’s always possible. I always keep in mind that God wants His children to listen and accept our message a lot more than we do. After all He is our Father in Heaven.” (LINK)
- “I love you very very very much and I hope you have a wonderful year, it will be filled with tender mercies and miracles! Blessings come to those who are obedient, but miracles happen to those who have exact obedience.” (LINK)
- “We spent New Year´s in Piura, and got to see a bunch of missionaries and President. Pres talked to us about the importance of exact obedience. I liked that he said that when we choose not to be obedient, we are choosing that we love something else more than God. When we sleep in a little bit, it is because we love our sleep more than God, etc. It was an awesome reminder of our purpose as missionaries. We are here because we love Him and want to serve Him. Me voy a esforzar a ser mas obediente en todo!” (LINK)
At least one missionary gets that people go overboard with the obedience rhetoric (kind of):
Well, Elder Jensen is getting transferred. He leaves tomorrow. He’s been waiting for this for a long time. In my time with Elder Jensen, I’ve learned a lot about exact obedience vs. disobedience. As I mentioned, some missionaries take being obedient to missionary rules to the extreme. They treat it like the military. They say “If you’re not exactly obedient, you won’t baptize.” Missionaries like that look at other missionaries like Elders White or Jensen, who know how to have fun on a mission, and label them as “disobedient”. The funny thing is, missionaries who are “disobedient” baptize way more than the missionaries who are “obedient.” Elder White baptized 20 people on his mission. As I’ve thought about this subject I’ve come to a conclusion as to why “disobedient” missionaries get more baptisms than prideful “obedient” missionaries. People like people who are likable. If you’re a stickler for rules and look down on others because you observed their “disobedience” once, that will show when you’re teaching someone. On the other hand, if you’re a likable person who knows how to have fun, but still follows mission rules, that will show and the investigators will like you. I’ve heard more stories about prideful “obedient” missionaries scaring investigators off than baptizing them.
I could go on about obedience vs. disobedience for a long time. It’s a subject that’s always hot in the mission field among other missionaries. There’s every kind of missionary possible out here. Obedience is important and you should strive to be exactly obedient. But in the mission field, it can get hard to define “exact obedience” when you’ve got every kind of missionary giving every interpretation of the rules. This is a subject I can talk a lot more about in person. It’s hard to put into words. I’m going to miss Elder Jensen when he’s gone. We had a lot of fun times but we still worked as hard as we could.