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Years after I returned from my mission in Frankfurt, Germany, I found myself sitting across from the Director of Sales over a company in Seattle. I was fresh out of college and probably was on the lowest rung of the pool of candidates applying for the position with my Bachelors degree in German vs. all the other Business degree applicants along with their work experience.
In fact, the only relevant experience I had was my experience as a Mormon missionary. I had hesitated to include that on my resume, but since it was the only thing close to sales, I included it. Little did I know that would be what set me apart from the crowd and got me hired.
The hiring manager asked me a series of in depth questions about my mission. He asked me about how I handled my daily routine, how I organized my days. He asked me how I measured success and reported. I matter of factly told him about getting up early around 5:30 a.m. and working out, studying scriptures and the language and culture and then planning on areas to “market” to through door knocking, street contacting, and providing service.
When he asked me about my success, I paused. While I was on my mission, many missionaries thought success was only measured by how many people they baptized. In Germany, baptisms were few and far between. In fact, I only actually baptized one person personally and taught about 5 others who eventually were baptized after I left. I had learned on my mission that while baptism was a goal, I had learned that there are many factors out of my control. I learned to do my best and good things will happen. If it is a baptism, then great! However, if a person is only ready to commit to praying, or reading scriptures, then it is important to celebrate that as well. Even if no one listens at all, the personal relationship with God gained by sacrificing is priceless.
I knew that if I shared with him all of that, he probably wouldn’t hire me, but I did share with him how I felt that never losing sight of the goal was most important. I shared with him one occasion when I was the leader of a group of 10 missionaries, or a District. All of the missionaries were very discouraged, and it was up to me to lead them towards a positive attitude again. I did this through never slacking, listening to their needs, and working hard to stay positive. Over time, they all decided to change their attitudes and while baptisms didn’t flow, there were other smaller miracles that occured.
I went on to discuss how I kept track of “numbers” such as how many lessons I taught, areas we had visited, people who were interested, etc. I also shared with him how we worked with each person individually to help them overcome self-doubt and concerns to find God.
After our conversation was over, he reached out his hand to me and shook it saying “Congratulations, Elder! You’re hired!”
Little did I know that my experience as a Mormon missionary laid the ground work for a very successful career so far in sales. At that job over the course of a few years, I became recognized in the region and nation for my success and even became a national sales trainer for newly hired salespeople from around the country.
My next job in B2B sales was structured even more like my mission in that I had to create business from a brand new territory with corporate clients. Once again, I used the skills learned on my mission and became the top sales person in the nation for 3 years in a row.
Although being a salesman is difficult and there is definitely quite a bit of rejection, I can definitely say that it is nothing compared to being a Mormon Missionary in Germany. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my experience as a Mormon missionary not only shaped me spiritually, but in my career as well.
To all missionaries who may be struggling, or who will struggle out there, my advice is this: Hang in there. Good things will happen as you keep praying and relying on the Lord. Forget about the number of baptisms and just focus on the small things each day. Keep in mind that you are probably doing the hardest sales job in the world, but with the Lord’s help all things are possible. Who knows? It may turn into a career for you down the road!
In Sunday School the other week we had a great lesson on the new “I’m a Mormon” campaign coming to the Seattle area, where we live. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is showing commercials and using other media opportunities to show videos of Mormon members. Part of the reason for this is due to a poll that was taken a little while back that revealed how the general public views Mormons. The results of the poll, which were given to us from the Church missionary department, reveal the following:
The US population views Mormons as being:
- Family Oriented (44%)
- Cultish (39%)
- Controlling (38%)
- Conservative (38%)
- Secrative (28%)
- Dedicated (27%)
- Anti-Gay (24%)
- Sexist (20%)
- Weird (20%)
- Pushy (9%)
As the results of the survey were shown, gasps were heard around the crowd when things like “secrative”, “weird”, “cultish”, “controlling” and “pushy” came up. Some people asked: “How could anyone think we are any of these things?”
To be honest, I can see how many people view us this way. Examples include: no one is allowed in temples and not much is said to the public of what goes on in the temple. I’ve heard Mormons, like Donny Osmond, publicly state that it is “sacred” not “secret”, but what the heck does that mean? The sacrament is sacred and everyone is welcome there.
I’ve also heard people talk about how Mormons tend to stick together and not reach out to their neighbors. I can see how people would feel we’re cultish that way, along with the temple thing again.
If a newcomer looks at the stands at General Conference and any Mormon congregation, they see only men up on the stand and men run the church. “But the women have Relief Society!” we’re quick to say. However, men do run the church.
On my mission, I do recall seeing missionaries on occasion stick their foot in the door of a person when they were trying to shut it on them. I also witnessed an Elder run someone down on the sidewalk practically knocking them out trying to give them a Book of Mormon. If this isn’t pushy, I don’t know what is!
With the statistics in mind and I’m sure many more examples that support the evidence found in the survey, the Mormon leaders are launching the “I’m a Mormon” campaign to show that Mormons can be normal people and still live a virtuous life. If you haven’t taken the time to watch any of the clips, I recommend doing so by clicking here. I was actually very impressed with some of the Mormons who were featured.
So the question is do you think the “I’m a Mormon” campaign will help change how people view members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)?
A more important question behind that one is do you think that if people see Mormons as similar to them, that it will lead them to accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
An article entitled “Almost Everyone’s Doing It” in Relevant magazine includes a poll that shows 80% of Evangelical singles admit to having pre-marital sex. What was even more surprising was another poll in the article showed that 65% of women who have abortions in the US identify themselves as Christian, but that’s a side topic.
The article goes on to try and determine what the reason is for such high pre-martial sexual relationships in Christians such as the influence from media, peer pressure, and how the average age of people getting married has gone up from the early 20’s to the late 20’s and it is just too hard to wait that long.
Out of curiosity, I thought I would look for statistics on LDS or Mormon singles. The only official study I found was from 20 years ago that stated 58% of LDS single women admit to having pre-marital sex. Since that study is pretty old and only relevant for LDS women, I would assume that if you threw men into the study and fast-forwarded it 20 years the statistics would be close to the same or maybe higher than the most recent study previously cited.
I definitely understand how hard it can be to wait to have sex until after marriage. I remember hanging out with a bunch of LDS guys one night when I was single. At the time, I was probably around 28 or 29. The topic of sex came up and as it turned out, me and one other guy were the only ones who hadn’t had sex yet. Even though I didn’t have sex before I was married, I was approached on quite a few occasions at the LDS school, BYU and (at the time) Rick’s College. Therefore, the results of this study do not surprise me.
I think there are many factors involved in why the amount of single Christians are having more pre-marital sex. From my experience as a single throughout all my 20’s and into my 30’s, I will share what I observed.
First, as humans, and especially in our 20’s, we have a very strong desire for sex. I went to Mormon schools where almost everyone was in the same age deomographic and the hormones are running high.
Next, there is pressure either blatantly, or subliminally through media in the form of books, magazines, movies, music, etc. to be sexual. If we just “go with the flow” so to speak and not turn off the media when we see it, or worse yet, seek it out, then it is no wonder that we at some point act on the thoughts that are in our head.
Next, I do think the later age of getting married does have relevance. Back in our parents’ day, they were married on average in their early 20’s. That is nearly 10 years younger and therfore, 10 years longer our generation has to wait.
Finally, I think many LDS Christians that I have seen feel they can sin now and repent later. This is a whole other topic of discussion, but to keep it short and simple, this way of thinking is damning to our souls and our society.
The question then, is how can we overturn or correct these statistics? Personally, I think an emphasis needs to really be placed on having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we have that relationship, we’ll do all we can to stay close with Him. Even with that relationship, it is difficult to turn away, but personally I know that when you are in a situation where you can choose sex or choose God, God will give you strength to walk away.
Why do you think pre-marital sex is on the rise for Christians and what do you think needs to happen in order to bring those statistics down?
While preparing to teach this week’s Sunday School lesson in 2 Corinthians, I came across a talk given by Paul Johnson, one of the Mormon Seventy, entitled “More Than Conquerors Through Him that Loved Us“. There were a few lines in the talk that stood out to me, which I will quote:
At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. And no one is exempt, especially not Saints striving to do what’s right.
A pattern in the scriptures and in life shows that many times the darkest, most dangerous tests immediately precede remarkable events and tremendous growth. “After much tribulation come the blessings.”
As I read this, I immediately reflected on my own personal trials I’ve experienced so far in my life. For me, the most difficult trial I’ve had so far has been overcoming addictions, anxiety, and depression, which I’ve written about here and here. In this post, I won’t spend any more time reflecting on the trial, rather, I will discuss the blessings that came after the trial.
Although I struggled with the issues for about 15 years, the most severe part of my trial lasted about 2 1/2 years as I struggled to overcome various problems partly caused from things I did and also from things that other people did that were out of my control.
However, as I made progress and felt the Lord’s hand guide me through the way, I came to trust in Him completely and believed that as long as I followed Him, everything would work out for my own good. Deep down, my deepest desire was to have a healthy relationship with a good woman, but if the Lord thought it would be best not to have that, I was fine with that because I had seen what trying to do things on my own had brought me over the past 15 years.
Over time, God granted me peace of mind and spirit. With that came confidence in my relationship with God and also with myself. I grew to love who I was and feel gratitude in hy heart. Shortly after the most sever part of my trial was over, God granted me the greatest blessing in my life other than the gospel: my wife. It came unexpected, but I thank the Lord every day for the blessing that she has been in my life. With her in my life, I feel that I have been able to come even closer to God as we grow in love for each other each day as we raise our family to the Lord.
I know that my trials are different than others’ trials and what appears to be a trial for one person would not be a big deal for another. The tendency is for people to not share trials, but this online format can provide a good place to share experiences and perhaps receive some insight. I have learned that sharing experiences helps build faith and helps us get through the trial. If you have an experience you would like to share about overcoming a trial and the blessings you received from the Lord afterwards, or if you are currently going through a trial and need some help, please share.
The day I wrote this article, I came across an amazing story of a young Cambodian boy whose father was captured and killed that escaped with his mother to the U.S. and was able to overcome issues with drugs and gangs to find God and also earn his PhD. See below: