Monday, May 19, 2008

The RM Homecoming, or the Essence of Preparation

Yesterday at church, we had a Sister RM give her homecoming talk. I know that I have a high standard for talks, and I usually give RM's a pass (seeing as how my homecoming talk left a lot to be desired), but yesterday was...I can't think of a nice enough word to say it...pitiful.

Bless this sister. She went on a mission. I have respect for sisters who go on a mission because they want to go, and they want to serve. I don't have a lot of respect for any missionary (sister or elder) who is "compelled" to go because of social pressures or standards, and I don't have respect for missionaries who go for the wrong reasons. That could be anything from going so their "girlfriend will marry them" to "I couldn't get married." Now while missionaries may not admit this to others, they do have to admit it to themselves. In my humble experience, many times the verbal admission doesn't come, but the admission through their actions and attitudes does show.

But this isn't about missionary work. This is about talks, and preparation, and people who give their homecoming talk and fail to prepare. In my talk, I overprepared. I received emails from my parents that said that the previous two missioanries that gave their homecoming talks were given an average of 45 minutes each. I scrupulously prepared, grabbing President Faust's "What I Want my Son to Know Before he Leaves on a Mission" as well as something my Mission President gave me, "What You Should Take Home from your Mission," which I cannot find a source for. I had stories for every single point, and made sure that I put Christ at the center of those stories.

So what happened on Sunday? I think the sister missionary decided to stand up and tell stories. She might have had a gameplan, but it was very distracting when every story was punctuated by second-guessing and getting off track. It sounded a lot like Marlin in Finding Nemo trying to tell a joke:

I have no problem with stories. As a matter of fact, when it comes to missionary homecomings, I actually prefer it. It helps me to envision my mission, and what I was feeling, as well as inspiring others. Hearing about people embracing Christ and Truth are great testimony builders, and can really set the tone for a great Sunday. But I was kind of embarrassed for her. I think she thought that all she had to do was tell stories and it would be ok.

So what would I recommend to her, if I had the chance to talk?


People want to hear your stories. They do. So sit down, think about what stories you want to tell, and think about what gospel principles you want to encorporate into those stories. Then think about how you want to connect them all.


Make sure you're not telling stories for the sake of telling stories. It makes you sound arrogant and petty ("Look at all the good that I did!!!"). But if you tell stories to show how you learned, if you tell stories to make a point, and if you tell stories with a purpose, you can have a lasting effect. President Monson tells his wonderful stories in a way that you can walk away from it feeling inspired, or feel as though you learned something.

PRACTICE IT OUT (or, if you so please, you could Walk it Out like DJ Unk)

Make sure you know how much information you have, how much time you are expecting, and be flexible enough to know how to improv if you have to. There's nothing worse than sitting through a sacrament meeting that's already over time and the speaker is JUST NOW getting into their swing.

Oh, and by the way Returned Sister Missionary...thank you for your service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

right on bro!