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YW Lesson 20 (Manual 3): Understanding a Missionary’s Responsibilities (p. 72)

Posted by joespencer on July 12, 2008

[My wife wrote up some notes for the YW lesson she’ll be teaching this week, and she is probably planning on having me post these every other week or so for whosever benefit. – Joe]

Hello! I am learning more and more deeply that there is no one right “plan” for a lesson (no more than the one-and-only person to marry!) But here is one idea for any of you who may be teaching this YW lesson.


Begin by showing the talk “Becoming a Missionary” by Elder Bednar in the October 2005 Priesthood Session of Conference. I am going to show about 5 minutes (depending on time and class mood!), beginning with the section “The Seed of Abraham.” Here is the transcription:

The Seed of Abraham

The heirs of all the promises and covenants made by God to Abraham are referred to as the seed of Abraham (see Bible Dictionary, “Seed of Abraham,” 771). These blessings are obtained only by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Brethren, the process of becoming a missionary is directly related to understanding who we are as the seed of Abraham.

Abraham was a great prophet who desired righteousness and was obedient to all of the commandments he received from God, including the command to offer as a sacrifice his precious son, Isaac. Because of his steadfastness and obedience, Abraham is often referred to as the father of the faithful, and Heavenly Father established a covenant with and promised great blessings to Abraham and his posterity:

“Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:16–18).

Thus, Abraham was promised a great posterity and that the nations of the earth would be blessed through that posterity.

How are the nations of the earth blessed through the seed of Abraham? The answer to this important question is found in the book of Abraham:

“And I will make of thee [Abraham] a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

“And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father” (Abraham 2:9–10).

We learn in these verses that Abraham’s faithful heirs would have the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the priesthood. Thus, the phrase “bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” refers to the responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to invite all to receive by proper priesthood authority the ordinances of salvation. Truly, great responsibility rests upon the seed of Abraham in these latter days.

How do these promises and blessings relate to us today? Either by literal lineage or adoption, every man and boy within the sound of my voice tonight is a rightful heir to the promises made by God to Abraham. We are the seed of Abraham. One of the primary reasons we receive a patriarchal blessing is to help us more fully understand who we are as the posterity of Abraham and to recognize the responsibility that rests upon us.

At this point, you are ready to go in several different directions. The talk, I hope, will open up a space for a good discussion.

For example:

-What does missionary work have to do with the Priesthood?

-How many of you have guy friends who will be 19 in the next few years? What can you do to help them prepare? Or, what do you think girls might do to make it hard to serve a mission? (Their own insights will be most interesting. In addition, the manual does use a quotation by Ezra Taft Benson that talks about this.)

-Why is it important to be of the seed of Abraham? (for us, or for those we want the missionaries to teach)

-Who was Abraham?

-What if a girl wants to serve a mission? What is her relationship to the Priesthood? (This may take a good deal of thought on the teacher’s part before you ask the class.)

-Here is a list of rules that missionaries agree to keep. (See list in manual.) Why would the Lord want missionaries to live a strict life? In light of the Abrahamic Covenant, how would you feel if missionaries mostly played and didn’t stay focused?

-What can you do to help missionaries?

-Consider this question: What does it mean to lose our lives to find them? The manual uses this quotation by Gordon B. Hinckley: “We all like comfort; yet industry is at the heart of missionary work. This has not changed since the time of the Savior. He said, ‘… whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s the same shall save it.’ (Mark 8:35.) That is particularly true with missionary work. The greatest challenge has always been to go before the Lord in prayer and ask for strength and capacity and direction, and then go out and go to work. The Lord has declared: ‘If therefore thine eye be single [to my glory], thy whole body shall be full of light.’ (Matt. 6:22.) If a missionary works with an eye single to the glory of God, then the darkness goes out, the darkness of laziness, the darkness of sin, the darkness of procrastination, the darkness of fear, and these are all factors that influence missionary work” (Brian Kelly, “A Visit with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley,” p. 31).

-What would NOT help current missionaries stay fully focused? What do members do that make it hard for missionaries to lose themselves in His service?

-The manual talks about member-missionary relationships under the heading Members Can Help Missionaries to Be Effective (in the “Question and chalkboard discussion” section.)

I plan to fill the majority of the time with discussion. The young women in my laurel class will certainly have some questions, as well as some interesting answers.

To close, I like to draw together as much of the comments as I can into one unified point that I can bear testimony to, and close by testifying in the name of Jesus Christ.

5 Responses to “YW Lesson 20 (Manual 3): Understanding a Missionary’s Responsibilities (p. 72)”

  1. BrianJ said

    -What if a girl wants to serve a mission? What is her relationship to the Priesthood?

    Talking with my wife about this lately, I have discovered a profound disconnectedness between women and the priesthood. A teacher could make a HUGE impact on young women by focusing on your question above. (And by “focus” I don’t mean, “ask it at the beginning and then move on,” I mean “grab that tiger by the tail and hold on!!”)

  2. KS said

    I put this question on my list because I didn’t understand it very well when I was a teenager. I had some vague notion that girls who were “really spiritual” went on missions. When I was 20 I began doing some reading and pondering, and only then did I learn that missionary work was a priesthood responsibility – hence, it was fine for women to go, but that it was not their responsibility, per se. For me, that was a great comfort – it was up to me, and not a command to go or to stay home.
    If I were to answer this question myself, I would say that all members have a responsiblity to support the Priesthood. Going on a misson, therefore, is ONE way a sister could support the Priesthood. Sisters, then, are welcome to serve, but not obligated in any way.

  3. KS said

    By the way, I just found a blog dedicated to Young Women lessons. Click here for another take on the lesson.

  4. jeans said

    Thanks for posting on this – I have your blog on my Bloglines feed and it’s nice to see a YW lesson now and then. There is lots of room for more thoughtful discussion on those lessons. I agree that this lesson, partly by being so outdated, disregards women’s contribution to full-time missionary work, and that a responsive YW teacher can make all the difference in departing – sensitively – from the material to provide what her own class needs to hear.

    KS, I’m curious about why you decided to focus on Abraham, his covenant, and the idea of spiritual adoption as the gateway into your discussion about missionary work. It’s just an interesting starting point and I wish you’d elaborate on why that one.

  5. KS said

    Partly, I chose this focus on Abraham because we just spent a month discussing the temple. We talked about the promises of Abraham in our last lesson (Heritage). So we were talking about the promise to have seed till the last day and what that meant for us – that we have a responsibilty to teach our kids and seal up all the families of the earth… We really try to get to the WHY behind these lessons. So for us this was a perfect segway.
    But besides that.. I chose it because it really IS the reason we do missionary work!! and I wanted the girls to understand that. All the talk of rules etc are good to discuss, but without a clear vision it becomes trivial. But in this context, treating missionaries appropriately becomes very very important!!! That’s my take on things anyway. :)

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