On a thread last year at BCC entitled Coming Clean, Mark Brown daringly confessed to the entire Bloggernacle that he invented his mission numbers reports. His bold revelation transported me straight back to a dark, sweltering night in the dark, sweltering center of my mission. I had recently become senior companion, and while my first couple of ZLs had accepted our numbers as representative of our best efforts and delivered encouragement rather than condemnation, our new ZL, who had just ascended from junior companion with a death grip on his own personal scepter of self-righteousness, was subjecting us to the first real numbers pressure I’d ever experienced. The Sunday-night ritual of calling numbers in was becoming distinctly unpleasant; the ZL was constantly critical of the weekly results we had to report, unwittingly heaping discouragement on me during what was already, for me, a very difficult time, one of the lowest of my mission.
After I got off the phone from one particularly disagreeable conversation, my companion told me that when she had been in the MTC a returned-missionary gym teacher had confessed, in a private conversation, to finally having given up and having started filling out false number reports. In the second-hand account I got of the gym teacher’s decision process, she had said something like this: Maybe it was dishonest, but it got mission leadership off of our backs and allowed us to get on with the work.
I was certainly then in a position to understand the blessed relief that might accompany telling people exactly what they wanted to hear. But I can’t remember that my companion and I discussed it much further. We never falsified our reports, and to judge from the censure our ZL continued to deliver, our numbers remained unacceptable. But in missions as in life all things pass.
I never heard of anyone falsifying reports in my mission (which doesn’t mean anything; I’ve never been very good at tapping organizational grapevines), but I’ve been surprised at how many such accounts I’ve heard since. Those of you who served missions, what was your experience in this regard? Did you ever falsify reports? If so, did you feel guilty about it? Did you see others falsify them? What was your view of it then? What’s your view of it now?
- 29 May 2009