There is a lot of excitement about men and women being able to serve full time missions at an earlier age. Along with the many who can’t wait to get out there and knock on doors, there are some who think, “Should I Serve a Mission? What if I’m not sure I want to serve?” Many aren’t comfortable sharing their honest feelings, and others either want to bag the idea altogether, or head out to the MTC reluctantly, and with feelings of quiet concern.
What if you aren’t sure you want to serve a mission? It’s okay. This is a big step, even if you’ve been preparing your whole life for this moment. Questions, fears, and worries may arise. Frequently, people wonder if they are truly worthy to serve a mission, if they can handle being away from home, or if now is the time for them to go.
If you feel as though you aren’t ready, or not sure if you should serve a mission, I can share one story with you that may calm your nerves and allow you to move forward with more assurance. It comes from Elder Stephen Oveson, of the Quorum of the Seventy:
“We learned a beautiful lesson about consecration from one of the assistants to the president in our mission. A decision had been made that one of our missionaries needed to be sent home early from his mission. He had been disobedient on several occasions despite counseling, contracts, and repeated warnings. The airplane ticket had been purchased, and the appropriate approvals were obtained from the South America South Area Presidency and the Missionary Department to send this missionary home.
When the assistants brought the missionary in for his final interview, he protested loudly and tearfully that he did not want to go home. He promised to improve and said he would sign yet another contract. In desperation, President Oveson called the two assistants and Sister Oveson into his office and asked the elder to wait outside while the possible courses of action were discussed. Sister Oveson, somewhat out of patience with the situation, believed that sending him home was the only reasonable thing to do. “If he is allowed to stay,” she maintained, “the other missionaries might think that obedience is not important.”
One of the assistants said, “I have to agree with Hermana Oveson. I don’t think we really have a choice.”
When President Oveson asked the other assistant for his opinion, the assistant said, “I see much good in this elder. President, if you will let me go back out into the field, I will take him for my companion for the rest of my mission. I will take responsibility for him and help him to become a loving and obedient missionary.”
We all had tears in our eyes by the time this elder finished his remarks. We could not believe that anyone could be so loving and caring, especially a 20-year-old missionary. The decision was made to do as he requested. He found it exceedingly difficult at first, but slowly his junior companion learned a great deal from him and became a trustworthy missionary. When the senior companion went home, his companion stayed to finish his mission, becoming in time a senior companion and a trainer before he was honorably released. The follow-up to this true experience is that this once-wayward elder has since married and been sealed in the temple. He and his wife now have a son. They are active in the Church and are helping to build the kingdom. What a difference a consecrated, Christ-like person made in the life of this missionary and his future family!” (Personal Consecration, Elder Stephen B. Oveson, Ensign, September 2005.)
Are you the kind of person who has the compassion to see the good in another -even when they haven’t yet seen it for themselves? If so, there might be more souls for you to help than those investigators you teach!
Are you feeling like you might want to serve, yet you wonder if you can “hold down the fort” and lock into the mission rules, guidelines, and schedule? If you prepare to go with a willing heart and a mind to continually improve, the Lord may have just the right mission president and companion waiting to help build and strengthen you.
If you feel it is not right, then wait. Work with your bishop and your stake president. Plead for insights and direction from Father in Heaven, through the Holy Ghost. And then? Then, you can go forward knowing that your choice has been the right one for you.
With prayer, reasonably thinking through the challenges that arise in your mind, and with support of those who love you, you can make the right choice. And most choose to head out with their two pair of shoes, suits or dresses, and scriptures, ready for their adventure!
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a songwriter, author, and speaker who has spent more than two decades teaching youth and adults with positive messages and motivational themes. Whether through music, books, columns, or standing in front of people, she loves the heart-to-heart connection. You can find Vickey online at her website, Goodness Matters, or on the Goodness Matters Facebook page.