President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged mission presidents to "lose yourselves in the work so that your lives might be filled with light.
"You husbands and wives must become great exemplars before your missionaries in following this standard," he said. "It is a constant challenge to keep the eye of the missionary on the glory of Him whom he serves."In the June 19 address, President Hinckley also took time to make a personal observation. "I love this great work," he said. "I think perhaps I've had a longer official association with this missionaryT work than any man now living. It was 57 years ago this month when I left for missionary service in the British Isles. Continuously since then I have, in one capacity or another, had some official responsibility for the missionary program of the Church."
He said that some people seem to think missionary work is "part of a lockstep course of personal development, a rite of passage, a finishing school for young men and women." Rather, he said, "A missionary is called to serve . . . to fulfill the divinely given mandate to spread the word of God and build His kingdom on earth.
"Of course there will be personal benefits. These will come in proportion to the degree of selflessness evidenced in our service," he said.
Regarding missionaries' ability to apply themselves to their work, he noted: "This Church is producing men of tremendous quality and accomplishment all over the world. They are being recognized far and wide for their abilities. . . . The roots of their accomplishments in so very many cases are found in the habits they acquired while serving as missionaries."
He counseled leader that "regardless of your vocation, you will never have another opportunity to so directly influence for good the lives of so many young men and women."
Mission presidents should not make missionaries vulnerable to health hazards for the sake of economy, but should watch out for their physical safety. "Practice and teach principles of safety and personal well-being. These young men and women and these older men and women are very precious, extremely precious."
Missionaries and mission presidents should have love as the lodestar of their service, said President Hinckley. "The Son of God came into this world not to condemn the world, but to save it."
He concluded by encouraging the presidents to love all their missionaries, even the few who might be difficult to love.
Mission presidents should "draw near to the Lord at all times, and in all circumstances. This is His work and we cannot do it without Him.
"God will not forsake us if if we come unto Him in faith. He is not sending us out to fail but to succeed."
He cited the scripture, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God will take thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (D&C 112:10.)
"I have seen the manifestation of the fulfillment of that promise," he said.
"There is a joy in this service that can be found nowhere else. May you be blessed now and for the remainder of your lives because of your leadership and love.
"You shall go with our love, and serve backed by our prayers.