“So You’re Going on a Mission!” Sell the product September 14, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
Tags: books, christianity, Evangelists, missionaries, Mormons, religion, self-help, stupidity
Continuing the series on the 1968 guidebook for prospective missionaries:
Chapter 13, Proselyting Care
(I still continue to find it very weird that this book says “proselyting” instead of “proselytizing” as most people do.)
So, we’ve been through chapters of advice on manners and laundry and packing and cooking, and all kinds of things that missionaries need to do, but we have finally come to the loooong chapter about the primary activity that the missionaries are supposed to do: sell the product.
Now, if you remember, right at the start the guidebook said it was not going address details of theology. So this chapter is about motivation and salesmanship. And as usual, there’s a mix of actual practical advice (like learn from people that have already been doing this, or be patient, or tolerant of a less motivated companion,) but also some really over-the-top instructions.
So what helpful advice does our guidebook have? It starts out this way:
“If you want to have a successful mission you must start out successfully. The magic formula is successful W O R K. Just as it is true that no one has yet devised a method for getting wheat out of straw except by threshing it, so it is true that no one has yet devised a method for baptizing people into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without meeting with them and converting them. Such a supreme accomplishment is impossible for a missionary who is easygoing or lazy, sitting in his room all or part of the day, or indulging in too much social activity. The Lord has never said his work would be easy; he has promised that if you work, you’ll be happy doing what you came to do, while if you don’t, you’ll be nothing but miserable.” (pg 113)
So, right off the focus is work ethic, work makes you happy, don’t goof off. Relaxing too much will make you unhappy. What else does our author have to say about this work?
“Are you a cheerful happy friendly person who can smile and keep a song in your heart even though slapped down periodically by discouragement? … Remember a cheerful person is not one who has no problem; rather he is one who has made a habit not to wear his problems on his face nor reveal them in his tone of voice.” (pg 114)
“Can you jump in with both feet and forget yourself, your clothes, dates, friends at home, and personal pleasures, devoting yourself to your one purpose of fulfilling and honorable forceful mission?” (pg 114)
“HINT: If you don’t get going and do your job well, the whole district suffers.” (pg 115)
“Can you work as though the success of the whole mission depended on you but pray and have faith as though it all depended on the Lord?” (pg 115)
“Missionary work is a team effort from the mission president down to the greenest missionary. Success within the team rests solidly on respect for authority. … Obey their rules. Keep them whether you think they are important or not — even little ones.” (pg 115)
This is sounding more and more like a creepy cult. Don’t show how you feel, smile all the time, forget your own life, obey authority, and everybody else is depending on your doing this. Yeesh.
And you know how impossibly upbeat and smiley Mormon missionaries always are?
“Hallmarks of success as listed in the handbook of the Central Atlantic States Mission are:
- Be affirmative in your thinking and speech. Avoid negative words and phrases: “if,” “I hope,” “I’ll try,” and “I’ll do my best.” Say instead “I’ll do it.”
- Look people in the eye.
- Be enthusiastic.”
What about relaxation?
“…in order to be happy and productive in one’s work he must not do it all the time. Because this is true, missionaries are given time off each week to enjoy a change of pace. … This does not mean, however, that you should ever pass up an opportunity to present the gospel message. …. Every time you need toothpaste, purchase it at a different store and then, even though it is your diversion day, ask the Golden Questions.” (pg 116)
So a missionary needs to relax, but at the same time he’s never supposed to totally relax.
Some other great bits:
“Just because you have been ordained to teach the gospel doesn’t qualify you to tell people how to solve all their daily problems. In the mission field as at home humility is always the supreme Christian virtue” (pg 114)
So knock on people’s doors, tell them their religion is completely wrong, tell them that they have to stop believing what they believe and start believing what you believe, but be humble!
“As Henry Ford preached all his life, ‘Whether a man says he can or he can’t, that man is right.’ “(pg 117)
Right. Which is why you meet so many people who can fly.
“If you take your clothes to a laundromat, memorize and review scriptures while your clothes are washing.” (pg 118)
“You can waste time reading cheap books, going to shows, getting together too often with other elders to eat or visit, going sightseeing every few days, socializing regularly at certain members’ homes, staying in your apartment for hours at a time performing accumulated trivial tasks, or shopping around every spare moment looking at cameras, tape recorders, radios, etc. But again, what have you gained?” (pg 120)
Living your real life, that’s what you’ve gained, instead of wasting it trying to sell dogma.
“It has been said that even the most miserable-looking crow has a hunch he’ll look like a peacock and sing like a nightingale some day.” (pg 121)
“Discouragement is Satan’s most useful tool. He uses it to pry inside your consciousness. Once inside and in control, he can use you in whatever way pleases him.” (pg 120)
Satan? This is the first mention I’ve heard of Satan in this book; I wasn’t aware that Mormons made a big deal out of the Satan thing.
“Have you ever stopped to think that even Christ didn’t convert everyone?” (pg 121)
Because apparently there are some things that are just too difficult for an omnipotent god.
“The Lord knows which people are ready to accept the gospel, because it is up to you to find them.” (pg 122)
Because even though you pray to god and ask him to tell you things, he’s not going to tell you anything that’s actually useful.
But, to be fair, there was one part in this chapter that I really did like, an example about quarry workers:
“When someone asked the first worker what he was doing he answered, “I’m cutting stone.” The second worker when asked the same question said, “I’m carving a lintel.” The third quarry worker replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” (pg 117)
That’s a good example about perspective, which I might apply to help with motivation in tasks that are a small part of a worthwhile endeavor. Unlike preaching.