Jan Victors, The Anointment of David,
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


1 Samuel 16:1-13
Isaiah 55:8-12

For Younger Missionaries


  • Although Samuel didn’t know whom he would anoint, did the Lord know? Did David’s father suspect which son would become the king of Israel? Did Samuel take time to get to know the sons before he chose the new king?
  • Why are God’s thoughts and ways so much higher than ours? When the rain and snow fall, do we decide where it will go? Should we decide upon whom God’s word should fall?

We Cannot Predict and Should Not Judge

[W]hen we were newlyweds … the missionaries in our ward asked us to make a list of people with whom we could share the gospel. We were to start with those at the top of our list and begin “preparing” them through a twelve-step process. First, we were to invite them to our home for dinner and follow that by going to a cultural event together. The sixth, seventh, and eighth steps were to invite them to church, give them a copy of the Book of Mormon, and ask them to take the missionary discussions. The program culminated in the twelfth step—baptism.

We dutifully made this list, placing those we thought most likely to be interested in the gospel at the top. They looked like “ideal Mormons”—people whose values, such as clean living and commitment to family, mirrored our own. We then began building deeper friendships with them, adding additional social events to our already busy lives. One by one, those we thought might be interested in learning about the gospel declined our invitations when we got to steps six through eight. Our invitations didn’t offend them, but in their own way they told us they were happy in their present approach to religion. After much work over many months, we didn’t find anyone who was interested in learning more about the gospel.

New missionaries were then transferred to our ward. Knowing nothing of our history, they came to our home, unfolded an identical chart on our table, and asked us to make a list of people with whom we could cultivate friendships in preparation to teaching them the gospel. We protested, “We’ve tried this. It took a long time and didn’t work.” We explained that we felt we had honestly tried with everyone we thought was a candidate for hearing the discussions.

Desperate for a referral, the missionaries pleaded, “Don’t you know anyone we could visit?” We gave them the names of four couples we had excluded from our initial list. Among them were the Taylors (names have been changed). We warned that while the elders certainly could knock on the Taylors’ door, it would be a waste of time. Ken had bad feelings about organized religion of any kind. In addition, he was a tough rugby player and a high-volume consumer of ale.

The elders later returned, jubilant. The Taylors had invited them in, listened to the first discussion, and invited them back for the second. We subsequently became close friends with the Taylors as we studied the missionary discussions together. We would never have imagined that they would have had any interest in the gospel.

We learned from this experience that we simply cannot know in advance who will and will not be interested in learning about the Church. We thought we could judge and therefore excluded from our list many people whose lifestyle, habits, or appearance made them seem unlikely candidates. As we reflect upon those who have joined the Church, however, it is clear that few of them would have been on our list of “likely members” when they first encountered the Church.

Many who accept the gospel are troubled or needy (see Alma 32:2–3). Living the gospel transforms them. The only way all people can have the opportunity to choose or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ is for us, without judgment, to invite them to follow the Savior (Clayton M. and Christine Quinn Christensen, “Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Feb. 2005, 36–37).


Member Missionary Work—
A Way of Life


Young David


  • Why does God sometimes call young people to be leaders?
  • Isn’t it interesting that David was tending to the sheep just before he was called? How do you think that might have prepared him to be the king?
  • How can you feed Jesus’ sheep?


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