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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Guest Post: My 2 Years of Inactivity

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LDS EQ President grew up in the church but far away from the bubble land of Utah. He has lived in both big wards and small branches. He likes to do things by the book, in this case Handbook 2, but takes great joy in playing loose with some of those definitions. While perfectly polite and cordial in outward appearances, his inner thoughts are judging you left and right. His biggest life accomplishment outside of his wife and two kids: avoiding Utah except for the two months spent in the MTC. LDSEQP tweets via @ldseqpres.

Photo by Bobby McKay

I want to share a personal experience with you: I was practically inactive for the span of two years at one point in my life. Strange, I know. Elders Quorum Presidents are never inactive, let alone for two years. Here's the real kicker though: I was on my mission at the time.

Let me explain. I first want to point out that I was not a lazy missionary who did not obey the rules and this is why I was inactive. It was the exact opposite in fact. I worked hard on my mission and obeyed every rule the best I could. I always woke up at 6:30 a.m. on the dot and always did my study time with gusto (I cannot say the same for a companion or two of mine, though). I was inactive, though, because of my diligence in complying with mission rules.

Now, my mission had a lot of rules ... a lot. We couldn't be in a member's home (apart from lunch) for more than 15 minutes unless an investigator was present. There was no dinner time, just lunch (more the culture rather than the mission). We had to have 50 contacts per day and 50 lessons per week. During weeks of sacrifice (which were every 6 months or so) you got up at 5:30 a.m., left the house by 6:00 a.m., contacted 50 people in an hour, returned home to study for an hour, then went right back to work the rest of the day without stop.

Let me say that last part again: without stop. We did not eat breakfast for 30 minutes at home. We did not stop and eat lunch for an hour. We were instructed to do these things while walking and still working. By the end of the week your average number of hours worked went from ~75 to ~105. And I loved every minute of it. In retrospect of course. At the time I was too tired to even know what the Book of Mormon was.

So where does the inactivity come in? It's right here: one of our rules was to leave the house each Sunday morning two hours prior to the start of church services. This time was spent waking up investigators and making sure they got to church (acceptable given the culture). However, our Mission President worked with the stakes and districts within the mission to have the 3-hour block changed so Sacrament meeting was last. So each service started with RS\Priesthood, then Sunday School, then Sacrament. This is where it gets interesting, so pay attention: we were told NOT to attend those first two hours so we could use the additional time to bring investigators to church.

I know what you're thinking. I thought the same thing. What the heck!? Just wait, its get better. We were then instructed by our Mission President that following the passing of the sacrament, if we did not have at least 5 investigators present, we were to then leave the meeting to try and get more people to come to church. So each week during the normal 3-hour block during those two years, I averaged 15 minutes of church. Just enough to take the sacrament and go (because come on, who can get 5 investigators every week?).

Here was the rationale: the sacrament was the most important thing we do during the week and is the main reason we go to church. So you can't miss that. Everything else? Extra, unneeded sustenance for a missionary. After all, we're studying two hours per day, right? Plus we're out testifying and preaching all day, everyday. We were faith in action!

I guess someone said something to the Mission President once, though, because he addressed it in Zone Conference. He said: "You all have the rest of your lives to be members of the church, but only two years to be full-time missionaries." I bought it hook, line, and sinker. I believed it wholeheartedly. I still do, in fact. I recognize it as revelation that our Mission President received on how to have the mission set up for that specific period of time. And it worked. We had great success. And yes, I was always felt spiritually strengthened ... even if I could've been considered inactive.

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