Monday, October 20, 2014

The Art of Persuasion

Well hey there, pday. 

I learned a lot this week. Particularly a lot about leadership. 

I went on an exchange with the lovely Sister Clark this week. We had a lot of cool experiences together. The first night she was here, we had like 6 investigators come to mutual and then we went to the gas station and some random man paid for us to get soda! Then at 9:15pm we pulled into our driveway and couldn't find the phone or my ipad! So then we had to zoom back to the gas station and try to find them. Still not having found the ipad, we made it home with barely anytime to spare (we HAVE to be in by 9:30) only to find it was right behind Sister Clark's seat in the car! That is SO something that would happen to me, lol. 

We were able to find a family to teach the next day (we've been praying for one), and we had a lady call us because someone she knew had referred her to us. Cool, right?? We also had our eyes opened to things we need to improve on. Part of going on an exchange means that I get to help train the other sister. I really don't know how to do this, nor do I feel confident or comfortable in telling another sister what she needs to improve on. Heavenly Father and I have been discussing this a lot lately, so He provided me with some good opportunities to try to give correction. 

Doctrine and Covenants 121 (about leadership) has been a big emphasis of my studies lately. In verse 41 it says: "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [or by virtue of a leadership calling], only by persuasion, long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness..." . The list continues, but the first quality listed is the one I have been focusing on. It is persuasion.

When I think about "persuading" a person, I often think of it in a negative light. Like when my mom would try to persuade me to eat those little green lima beans you heat up in the microwave or like when I would try to persuade my sister to let me borrow her shoes. Yet as I have searched the scriptures, I have found many instances where prophets and disciples such as Nephi, Jarom, Mormon, Moroni, and Paul speak of persuasion as if it is our sacred duty. And really, it is. 

No wait, I don't mean it's our sacred duty to try to coerce others into eating vegetables or letting us wear their clothes, Moroni in Ether 8:26 explains; "Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved". 

So my question is, how do you "persuade" someone without coming across as sneaky, dictative, or a high school counselor? 

During our district meeting this week, we sisters started noticing that some of the Elders weren't being very obedient in their conduct. One sister tried to correct them, but that only made the Elder she had directed her comment towards defensive and embarrassed. Seeing as they didn't have a very strong testimony of why they needed to be obedient, they were going to need some persuading. In the leadership handbook the first thing it tells you about persuasion is to give loving direction instead of trying to control with authority. Throughout that district meeting, I found myself being filled with gratitude for those Elders because they have a desire to serve Heavenly Father. Instead of getting more and more bothered by the way they did things, I instead thought about how each of these young men had chosen to give up two years of their life to go to the middle of No-where, Kentucky and try to persuade people to follow their Savior.  Maybe things weren't being done perfectly, but I realized that becoming authoritative and condescending was NOT going to help the situation. The only way we were going to persuade them was if we showed charity. As if to prove the point of what was already going through my mind, one Elder shared a story about how President Andersen had recently corrected him using charity. It went something like this: "Hey Elder come here for a second, can you do something for me? Could you cut down your sideburns? First off, I'm extremely jealous you can even grow them, but secondly, I just want the members to see you for the great missionary you really are, and I also want you to have the blessings that come from obedience". That Elder right away shaved down his sideburns, no shame or defense necessary, and now he is forever impacted by the Christlike correction his mission president gave him. 

After that district meeting, Sister Cotton and I talked a lot about how we can better give correction. Specifically while we go on exchanges and work with the sisters in our zone.  We talked about the different things we did to help our sisters while on exchanges, and what seemed to work and what didn't seem to work. We soon found that the best way to persuade is to help our sisters see the blessings that come from putting any given principle into action.  According to the leadership handbook, this is done by example and testimony. Let me tell you, this method works wonders! 

When speaking with Brother Archuleta last night, he told us that we are now more committed to be like the Savior than we have ever been before, thus, all the things that are holding us back  become much clearer. As a sister training leader, my eyes are much more open to what we as sisters in this zone aren't perfect in. It's my duty to not try to force them into perfection, but to guide them by persuasion. As we go on exchanges and help them see the results of obedience and diligence, they will feel the joy and see the miracles and ultimately change themselves into better and better missionaries! 

It's so cool, because this method of leadership really contrasts with the way the world says to do it.  Elder Vaughn J Featherstone promulgates: "To lead people by persuasion is a holy order of God. Persuasion suggests a regeneration, a change of heart, conviction, or renewal. Persuasion brings those we are leading to the same level of understanding that we have. It does not force people against their will but helps willing disciples to change; thus, the will of the persuader and the will of the persuaded become one". 

That made me think how Heavenly Father is the ultimate persuader, even persuading his only begotten to do his will and sacrifice himself for all mankind. I know that as we apply the principle of persuasion into our individual callings, we will see dramatic results in those we work with. Whether this is as a missionary, a mission president, a manager, or even a mother! 

Okay so before I go further, I'm sure you're freaking out about the afore mentioned name. Yup, Brother DAVID ARCHULETA came to our mission last night!! OH man, it was spectacular. We got to do a sort of "Q and A" session with him, and he sang some of his favorite hymns for us. 

Circled: David Archuleta visits, sings and talks with Nashville missionaries. Sister close, yet so far away!

Mission President and Sister Andersen with David Archuleta

Don't you wish your mission was as cool as mine? ;)  ***Don't I wish I knew if Jennifer got to shake his hand?!****

Now for a funny story: 
So a couple of hilariously tragic things have happened in just the course of a few days. 
Since we don't have a ton of miles availabe to us on our car allotment, we are trying to do better about biking. One day we got this grand notion that we were going to bike 5000 light years away and try to find some people we had never met before. We ended up taking the wrong road, and got pretty lost. But hey, that means we get to go ask for directions and maybe get some new investigators! After braving the scary dogs on the front porches, we got some directions. I just couldn't stop laughing at how ridiculous we looked as we went up and down these monster hills both wearing long unattractive skirts (short cute ones are a no-go for biking), had NO makeup on, had crazy helmet/wind hair and totally looked like we were trying to be pilgrims or something. Exhausted, ugly, sore, and just trying to find the right house, Heavenly Father decided to be funnier and so a bird projectile pooped all over my companions hand. Then later we were at the church planning for the week and Sister Cotton left to go to the bathroom. A few minutes later I hear her calling my name. I go over and find that the bathroom is flooding and their is toilet water spraying everywhere! We go over to the stall that is attempting to release the bracket and try to plug up the holes that are spewing water everywhere. "It's not working!!" Sister Cotton exclaimed. We tried to turn off the water but to no avail. I ran out of the bathroom, drenched, and called the church mechanic. He gave us directions about what to do and so slowly but surely we were able to get the toilet under control. Covered in toilet water, and slightly humiliated, we decided to go to a frozen yogurt place over by walmart for dinner. Guess what? I took the wrong freeway entrance and went in the complete opposite direction! Not wanting to waste miles and time going all the way back, we decided to just visit all of the names in our area book that lived over there. Basically, no body was home and we met the biggest spider I have met in my life and then we went home and went to bed. hahaha. 

Don't worry, I still love being a missionary! No one could persuade me otherwise! ;)

Sister Hochstrasser

P.S If you haven't read the Book of Mormon yet, you should, it will seriously change your life. 

P.P.S And if you haven't had a coconut Popsicle yet, you should try that, too. It will also change your life. 
Write to me!!
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Drive Suite 190
Brentwood, TN  37027 (just choose the Tennessee Nashville Mission and the letter will get forwarded to me!)

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