I served my mission in the 80’s and subsequently lived at the Missionary Training Center where I worked as a resident assistant and also a teacher for a few years.  Although that was many years ago (and it makes me feel old just to think about it), I still remember very well the “commitment pattern” that was such an integral process of missionary work.  The key components of the commitment pattern are 1) prepare others through building relationships of trust, helping them feel and recognize the Spirit, presenting the message, and finding out their level of understanding; 2) invite others to make commitments, and 3) follow up with them to help them keep their commitments.  During each step, in the commitment pattern, it is important to understand and resolve any concerns others may have.

A few months ago during a stake priesthood training meeting, the first 30 minutes of the meeting were spent covering these same concepts from Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel.  Then, we were directed to divide by ward, to discuss the needs of ward members, to split into pairs, to visit people in our ward, and to invite them to do something.  Then we were to return to conclude the meeting.

As it turned out, we went to 4 homes:  at three homes there was no answer, and at the fourth, one of the children answered but the parents were not home.  It reminded me of my mission.  Upon returning, a few people spoke of the wonderful experience they had- that they had felt impressed as to whom to visit, that the people they visited had prayed for such an experience, and that they were able to invite them to do specific things that will be a blessing to them.

Then yesterday, at our ward conference, our bishop spoke about missionary work.  He said he knew that something was missing from his talk, and then he realized that morning that he needed to invite the ward to increase their missionary efforts.

Through all of this, I was impressed that, as much as I love learning about the gospel through reading, the gospel isn’t just meant to be learned- it is meant to be lived.  And although we can and should live the gospel especially in our homes, we also live the gospel through our interactions with others- through serving in our “formal” callings but also through being a true friend and a saint, through seeking for opportunities to serve and bless others.

In my own stewardships, especially in my family, I tend to be too timid.  It is not enough to just discuss the gospel.  I need to first remember the importance of loving others.  And as I love them, I need to be more bold in teaching, testifying, and inviting those for whom I am accountable to make and to keep commitments.  After all, the gospel is all about the process of progression, of making and keeping commitments and covenants.  And as a steward, it is not enough to focus on my own progression- although we each ultimately have our own agency to choose what we will do with our lives, I will have to answer one day for what I did to help others along their way.