Journal Keeping

A common topic of discussion on this website, for young women but also for some young men, is figuring out whether or not you should serve a mission. Figuring that out requires knowing how to get answers to your prayers, how to receive and how to understand the spiritual promptings you receive from God. Keeping a journal is one thing that I have done throughout my life that has helped me develop the skill of recognizing the Spirit of God and learning how to interpret the inspiration and revelation he gives me.

As I have kept my journal, particularly of spiritually promoting experiences, I have had an increased number of spiritually experiences. And as I have written down and acted upon the promptings that I think might be from God, I have learned how to better distinguish the personal revelation from God compared to my own desires, feelings, and thoughts. My personal journal keeping has been an important part of my spiritual journey, and I believe it can be a big help to young men and women who are trying to determine God’s will for them.

Journal Keeping Before, During, and After My Mission

elder lopez writing in journal argentina rosario missionPrior to my mission, my journal keeping was sporadic, and when I did write in my journal it was about day to day events in the life of a typical teenager. But a rarely wrote about spiritually significant things. Still it planted the seed of a great habit that would eventually grow into more faithful and faith promoting journaling. During my mission I kept three journals. One was a notebook that I kept with me and in which I wrote about once a week during my mission. The other journal was one that my parents helped keep for me by saving all my weekly letters to home. Third was a bit of a surprise to me when at the end of my mission, my mission president presented me with the letters I had written to him weekly throughout my mission. These journals have been of infinite value to me. I treasure them and have referred to them often as I have told the stories of the people, places, and events of my mission.

As I have gotten older, my journal keeping has evolved and improved. While a week rarely goes by without writing in my journal, I have never been able to accomplish daily writing in it. Though I do make notes, almost on a daily basis, which I later copy into my journal. Whenever I have a profound spiritual promoting, I pull out my mobile phone and write it down in a notes app on my phone. I even do this frequently at Church. Later, when I am in front of my computer, I copy the note into my journal and elaborate on it with more detail. Over the years I have received countless impressions from the spirit and by writing them in my notes app and then putting them in my journal, I remember them better and I am better able to apply these personal teachings from God in my life.

I encourage you to try this method. When a thought comes to your mind and you think it might be a whispering from the Spirit, wherever you are, jot it down on your phone or on a piece of paper. When you have more time or a better opportunity, refer back to that brief note and write it out in more detail in your journal. Elder Richard G. Scott, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave similar advance once when recounting an experience from his life when he attended the lesson from a humble priesthood leader in Mexico City.

“In that environment, strong impressions began to flow to me again. I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life” (To Acquire Spiritual Guidance, Oct 2009).

journal keeping quote from henry b eyringPresident Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church has also often spoken about the importance of keeping a journal. Here’s a personal journal keeping experience that he shared:

“When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.

He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”

I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.” (O Remember, Remember from October 2007 General Conference)

keeping a journal quote from spencer w kimballAnd this is what former LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball said about keeping a journal:

“We urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their antecedents in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives. Your own private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity.

…Your journal is your autobiography, so it should be kept carefully. You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way than those recorded in any other life. There may be a flash of illumination here and a story of faithfulness there; you should truthfully record your real self and not what other people may see in you. Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available.

…Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events (see 3 Nephi 23:6–13).” (The Angels May Quote from It, October 1975 New Era)

Scripture Journals

The scriptures themselves are in large part the journals of the prophets. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma once said this of the scriptural records he was keeping: “And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls” (Alma 37:  8). A journal can do the same for you in your personal life. It can improve your memory, particularly of your blessings from Heaven, and preserve the knowledge you receive from God through His Spirit to aid in the salvation of your soul.

Finishers Wanted

Beginners are many, but enders are few

In 1972, President Thomas S. Monson delivered his classic talk entitled, Finishers Wanted. In that talk, he quoted this famous poem:

Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place and praise
Will always come to the one who stays.
Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it, too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life’s victories after a while.
—Author Unknown

The first two lines of the poem are ones I quote to my children often in regards to chores, school assignments, and other activities. These concepts are also very applicable and important to full-time missionaries.

When I had been in Argentina on my mission for about four months, I remember getting really discouraged one day. I had thoughts of giving up and going home. I was frustrated with the lack of progress in speaking and understanding the Spanish language. I was home sick and longed for the freedom to do the things I wanted to do, as opposed to the very regimented and repetitious daily schedule missionaries follow. And Satan was probably throwing many other doubts into my mind. Thankfully, I snapped out of it by throwing myself more into the work and relying more on the graces of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Overall, missionary work is enjoyable, satisfying, and even fun at times. But it is also work, hard work. And it can be tiresome and discouraging at times. For missionaries to endure to the end of their missions and return home with honor, they will need the discipline and fortitude President Monson spoke about when he said that finishers are wanted in this Church. Here’s his story:

“I paused before the elegant show window of a prestigious furniture store. That which caught and held my attention was not the beautifully designed sofa nor the comfortable-appearing chair that stood at its side. Neither was it the beautiful chandelier positioned overhead. Rather, my eyes rested upon a small sign that had been placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Its message was brief: “Finishers Wanted.”

The store had need of those persons who possessed the talent and the skill to make ready for final sale the expensive furniture that the firm manufactured and sold. “Finishers Wanted.” The words remained with me as I returned to the pressing activities of the day.

In life, as in business, there has always been a need for those persons who could be called finishers. Their ranks are few, their opportunities many, their contributions great.

From the very beginning to the present time, a fundamental question remains to be answered by each who runs the race of life. Shall I falter or shall I finish? On the answer await the blessings of joy and happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. …we sympathize with those who falter. We honor those who finish.”

President Monson goes on, in his talk, to highlight the Old Testament prophet Job, who did not falter under intense trials and persecution. Job became a finisher. He mentions the New Testament Apostle Paul, who at the conclusion of his ministry said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7.) Like Job, Paul was a finisher. Then, ultimately, he brings up the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Says President Monson, “though Jesus was tempted by the evil one, yet he resisted. Though he was hated, yet he loved. Though he was betrayed, yet he triumphed.” At the end of his mortal life, Jesus prayed to the Father, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17: 4.)

In his Finishers Wanted talk, President Monson addresses specifically the subject of a missionary who wanted to leave the mission field and go home early. It happened when he was serving as a mission president in Canada. Here is the story:

“[A missionary] came to me in utter despair. He had made his decision to leave the mission field when but at the halfway mark. His bags were packed, his return ticket purchased. He came by to bid me farewell. We talked; we listened; we prayed. There remained hidden the actual reason for his decision to quit.

As we arose from our knees in the quiet of my office, the missionary began to weep. Flexing the muscle in his strong right arm, he blurted out, “This is my problem. All through school my muscle power qualified me for honors in football and track, but my mental power was neglected. President Monson, I’m ashamed of my school record. It reveals that ‘with effort’ I have the capacity to read at but the level of the fourth grade. I can’t even read the Book of Mormon. How then can I understand its contents and teach others its truths?”

The silence of the room was broken by my young nine-year-old son, who, without knocking, opened the door and, with surprise, apologetically said, “Excuse me. I just wanted to put this book back on the shelf.”

He handed me the book. Its title: A Child’s Story of the Book of Mormon, by Dr. Deta P. Neeley. I turned to the foreword and read these words: “This book has been written with a scientifically controlled vocabulary to the level of the fourth grade.” A sincere prayer from an honest heart had been dramatically answered.

My missionary accepted the challenge to read the book. Half laughing, half crying, he declared, “It will be good to read something I can understand.” Clouds of despair were dispelled by the sunshine of hope. He completed an honorable mission. He became a finisher.

…I pray humbly that each one of us may be a finisher in the race of life and thus qualify for that precious prize: eternal life with our Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom. I testify that God lives, that this is his work, and ask that each may follow the example of his Son, a true finisher.”

May the missionaries of today and tomorrow follow the example of the the prophets of old who endured enormous trials and tribulations and endured with faith to the end. And most especially, let us rely on the power of the Savior, and His Atonement, follow his example and finish the work God has called us to do. “Missionary work is difficult. It will tax your energies. It will strain your capacity. It will demand your best effort—frequently, a second effort. Remember, the race goeth “not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” (Eccl. 9:11)—but to him who endures to the end. Determine to— Stick to your task till it sticks to you.” – President Monson, The Army of the Lord, April 1979.

monson quote missionary work hard stick to it

Mission Prep Quotes from April 2016 Gen Conf

Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good, by President Henry B. Eyring

go and serve“The first thing you must commit to do is to go and serve, knowing that you do not go alone. When you go to comfort and serve anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before you. Now, as the returned missionaries here tonight will tell you, that doesn’t mean that every person behind every door is prepared to welcome you or that every person you try to serve will thank you. But the Lord will go before your face to prepare the way.”

Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood? by Elder Gary E. Stevenson

“My young brothers and sisters, you may not realize it, but the keys of the gathering of Israel, restored by Moses, enable missionary work in our dispensation. Consider the full-time missionary force of approximately 75,000 laboring in the field under the direction of these keys. With this in mind, remember it is never too early for you to prepare for missionary service. In For the Strength of Youth, we read, “Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, … work diligently to prepare yourself to represent the Lord as a missionary.” Young women can prepare also, but you “are not under the same mandate to serve.” All of your preparation, however, whether you serve as a full-time missionary or not, will accrue lifelong benefits to you as a member missionary.”

Standing with the Leaders of the Church by Elder Ronald A. Rasband

come serve amission“You too will have your many moments to respond to frequent invitations to “come unto Christ.” Isn’t that what this mortal life is all about? The call may be to come rescue a family member; come serve a mission; come back to church; come to the holy temple; and, as we have recently heard from our wonderful youth in the Face to Face event, come, please help me answer my question. In due time, each one of us will hear the call “Come home.””

The Greatest Leaders Are the Greatest Followers by Stephen W. Owen

“Isn’t it inspiring to see how a seemingly ordinary young man can accomplish great things through priesthood service, even when he feels inadequate? I recently learned that this young elder has received a mission call and will enter the missionary training center next month. I believe he will lead many souls to Christ because he has learned how to follow Christ in his priesthood service.”

find, teach, and baptize familiesEternal Families by President Henry B. Eyring
“What can the young elder do to help in the creation of eternal families? He may be about to go into the mission field. He can pray with all his heart that he will be able to find, teach, and baptize families.”

The Holy Ghost by Elder Robert D. Hales

“The Holy Ghost provides personal revelation to help us make major life decisions about such things as education, missions, careers, marriage, children, where we will live with our families, and so on. In these matters, Heavenly Father expects us to use our agency, study the situation out in our minds according to gospel principles, and bring a decision to Him in prayer.”

“In early 2005, I was guided to prepare a general conference message about senior missionary couples. Following the conference, a brother recounted: “As we listened to conference, … immediately the Spirit of the Lord touched my very soul. … There was no mistaking the message for me and for my sweetheart. We were to serve a mission, and the time was now. When I … looked at my wife, I realized that she had received the very same impressions from the Spirit.” What had brought this strong simultaneous response? The Holy Ghost.”

Opposition in All Things by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“God rarely infringes on the agency of any of His children by intervening against some for the relief of others. But He does ease the burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them, as He did for Alma’s people in the land of Helam (see Mosiah 24:13–15). He does not prevent all disasters, but He does answer our prayers to turn them aside, as He did with the uniquely powerful cyclone that threatened to prevent the dedication of the temple in Fiji; or He does blunt their effects, as He did with the terrorist bombing that took so many lives in the Brussels airport but only injured our four missionaries.”

The Power of Godliness by Elder Kent F. Richards

“In many temples, temple presidents are welcoming newly called and endowed missionaries, young men and women, to serve for just a short time as ordinance workers before going to the MTC. These young people are not only blessed to serve, but “they enhance the beauty and spirit for all serving in the temple.””

Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The author of Hebrews warned us of this when he wrote, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” That post-illumination affliction can come in many ways, and it can come to all of us. Surely every missionary who has ever served soon realized that life in the field wasn’t going to be quite like the rarefied atmosphere of the missionary training center.”

Obey with Exactness

mormon missionaries talking to a womanThe success of a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is largely measured by their ability to find, teach, baptize, and confirm new members and to help them become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Mormon missionaries are generally young, they are mostly independent, companionships of two working alone each day in their assigned area, and therefore, a strict daily schedule and an exhaustive handbook of rules has been developed to help them be successful in reaching those goals. As missionaries obey with exactness, they will have the Lord’s Spirit more fully and they will be guided to the success the Lord desires for them.

Obedience is an Act of Faith

The mission rules and schedule can only help missionaries if they are obeyed. This is why missionaries hear repeated talks and lessons about the importance and blessings of obedience. And to drill in the point, missionaries are often taught about exact obedience, a phrase which comes from the Book of Mormon prophet Helaman in this recounting of the 2,000 stripling warriors. Said Helaman: “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21). And we know that due to their faith, bravery, and their exact obedience, though they fought in many battles, none of these 2,060 young men lost their lives.

This is what the Church teaches missionaries in the Preach My Gospel (PMG) study guide: “As a missionary, you are expected to keep the commandments willingly, to obey mission rules, and to follow the counsel of your leaders. Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Strive to be obedient to the Lord, the living prophet, and your mission president” (PMG p. 122).

Blessings of Obedience

I had the importance and blessings of obedience with exactness reinforce in me during my mission from the time I was in the MTC. As a result of an excellent lesson from an MTC teacher, I set a goal that stayed with me throughout my mission to work hard, obey, and love others. I was also lucky enough to have a great trainer in my first mission area who taught me through word and deed to keep the mission schedule and all the missionary rules and we were blessed with much success. In another area in my mission, I learned the importance of exact obedience when, even though it was difficult, we left our apartment on time in the morning, and if we hadn’t, we would not have met Juan Carlos Lopez, who was converted and baptized. I know that the success I had as a missionary was a result of my efforts to be obedient to the commandments and the mission rules.

Great blessings is what the Lord has said we can expect from obedience to His commandments. In fact, the Lord has said that any blessing we receive from Him is a result of obeying the heavenly law that it is based upon. It’s in D&C 130: 20-21 “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

Speaking to missionaries, Elder L. Tom Perry spoke of the blessings servants of the Lord can expect when they are obedient to mission rules. “The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds an armor around you of protection and safety from the temptations that beset you as you proceed through mortality” (Elder L. Tom Perry, “Called to Serve”, May 1991).

Joseph Smith was Taught to Obey with Exactness

Joseph Smith was taught by the Angel Moroni of the importance of exact obedience. The follow story is related by the Prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith:

“On the twenty-second of September, 1824, Joseph again visited the place where he found the plates the year previous; and supposing at this time that the only thing required, in order to possess them until the time for their translation, was to be able to keep the commandments of God—and he firmly believed he could keep every commandment which had been given him—he fully expected to carry them home with him. Therefore, having arrived at the place, and uncovering the plates, he put forth his hand and took them up, but, as he was taking them hence, the unhappy thought darted through his mind that probably there was something else in the box besides the plates, which would be of some pecuniary advantage to him. So, in the moment of excitement, he laid them down very carefully, for the purpose of covering the box, lest some one might happen to pass that way and get whatever there might be remaining in it. After covering it, he turned round to take the Record again, but behold it was gone, and where, he knew not, neither did he know the means by which it had been taken from him.

“At this, as a natural consequence, he was much alarmed. He kneeled down and asked the Lord why the Record had been taken from him; upon which the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him that he had not done as he had been commanded, for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.

“In the moment of excitement, Joseph was overcome by the powers of darkness, and forgot the injunction that was laid upon him. Having some further conversation with the angel, on this occasion, Joseph was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as he had done before. He immediately reached forth his hand to take them, but instead of getting them, as he anticipated, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered, the angel was gone, and he arose and returned to the house, weeping for grief and disappointment.” Chapter 18, History of Joseph Smith By His Mother

joseph smith when lord commands do itThrough this, and many other experiences throughout his early life, Joseph learned the importance of obeying with exactness. In fact, he made obedience his motto. Said he, “I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it” (History of the Church, 2:170).

Follow the Spirit with Exactness

In conclusion, please know that as a missionary and throughout your life, perhaps the most important commandments from God are the ones you receive through the Holy Ghost. It is, then, equally important to obey the promptings of the Spirit with exactness, which is a principle recently taught by President Russell M. Nelson. He said, “My first recommendation is to learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness. I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!” (Becoming True Millennials).

Preparing to Receive the Melchizedek Priesthood

One of the requirements to serve a mission is for young men to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood which John Taylor, third President of the Church, called “simply the power of God.” (from The Gospel Kingdom by G. Homer Durham) Receiving the priesthood, therefore, is not something to be taken lightly, and all young men should do their duty to prepare beforehand. Four things that all young men can do to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood are:

  • Gain a testimony of the restoration of the priesthood
  • Receive and magnify the preparatory priesthood
  • Study the scriptures, including the oath and covenant of the priesthood and the duties of an elder
  • Learn how to perform priesthood ordinances

Gain a testimony of the restoration of the priesthood

priesthood restoration statueOn May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods on the banks of the Susquehanna River and prayed to God with questions about the ordinance of baptism. Their prayer was answered and the resurrected John the Baptist, the same who had baptized Jesus Christ, appeared, laid his hands on their hands, and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. Some weeks later, Peter James and John, all resurrected beings, came to Joseph Smith and ordained him and Oliver to the higher, Melchizedek Priesthood. (On a side note, the Church recently opened a Priesthood Restoration visitors center in the spot where the Aaronic Priesthood restoration occurred.)

Having a testimony, or receiving your own spiritual witness, that these priesthood restoration events really happened is an important part of preparing to receive the priesthood. It is through the priesthood that the Lord does his work, blesses mankind, and administers the ordinances that will seal them up to eternal life. It is a privilege and a blessing to hold the priesthood, and it is also a calling to serve. Missionary work is an inherent part of the duties of priesthood holders. Gain a testimony that the priesthood of God has been restored and you will also know that the Lord will give you the power to accomplish His work.

Receive and Magnify the Preparatory Priesthood

In the church, there are two priesthoods, or rather, two major divisions in the priesthood. The first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood and “the second priesthood is called the Priesthood of Aaron, because it was conferred upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations. Why it is called the lesser priesthood is because it is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.” (D&C 107)

The Aaronic Priesthood is often called the preparatory priesthood because it gives young men the opportunity to perform services that will prepare them to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, to serve a full-time mission, and to continue in lifelong service to the Lord. President Henry B. Eyring, in his October 2014 talk titled The Preparatory Priesthood, said “the time we are given to serve in the Aaronic Priesthood is an opportunity to prepare us to learn how to give crucial help to others.” Young men who are preparing to go on a mission should take seriously their duties in the Aaronic Priesthood and seek to magnify that calling to prepare themselves for the Melchizedek Priesthood and full-time missionary service.

Study the Scriptures

In the same Henry B. Eyring talk referenced above, he said “the scriptures are so important to prepare us in the priesthood. They are filled with examples. I feel as if I can see Alma following the angel’s command and then hurrying back to teach the wicked people in Ammonihah who had rejected him. I can feel the cold in the jail cell when the Prophet Joseph was told by God to take courage and that he was watched over. With those scripture pictures in mind, we can be prepared to endure in our service when it seems hard.”

Studying the scriptures is an important part of preparing to receive the priesthood. The Church’s seminary program, with it’s focus on learning the scriptures, is a great thing for future missionaries to be a part of. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma has a great discussion of the priesthood in Alma Chapter 13. The Doctrine and Covenants is full of important scriptures about the priesthood. One in particular that you’ll want to study is D&C 84, in which the Lord describes the oath and covenant of the priesthood:

“For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God… And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” (D&C 84:33-34, 39-40)

Other scriptures you’ll want to focus on are ones that outline specific duties of the offices of the priesthood. Young male future missionaries, who know they will need to be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder, can read what the Lord has said are the duties of an Elder in D&C 20:38–45, D&C 42:44, D&C 46:2, D&C 107:11–12, and elsewhere in the scriptures.

Learn How to and Perform Priesthood Ordinances

confirmation priesthood ordinanceMissionaries are called upon to administer many priesthood ordinances like passing the sacrament, and performing baptisms and confirmations. Additionally, many missionaries are also asked to perform ordinances such as the laying on of hand to heal the sick, consecrating oil, conferring the priesthood, ordaining someone to a priesthood office,  giving blessings of comfort, and other ordinances.

All of these ordinances are sacred acts performed by the authority of the priesthood and should be conducted in a dignified manner. In order to accomplish that, young men should be taught how to do these ordinances and be given the experience of actually doing them whenever possible. Of course, all brethren who perform ordinances and blessings should prepare themselves by living worthily and striving to be guided by the Holy Spirit. You can also refer to the Church’s Handbook 2 or the Family Guidebook for more detailed information and instructions on performing priesthood ordinances and blessings.

Doing these things will help young men be better prepared to receive the higher priesthood and help them be better prepared to magnify their calling unto the Lord.

Related Article: Young men must be 18 years old to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood

Preparing for the Temple

Of all the things we do in the church, there is nothing more worthy of our preparation than temple worship. The topic of preparing for the temple is especially applicable for soon-to-be missionaries, as all full-time Mormon missionaries go to the temple to receive their endowment prior to entering the MTC to begin their missionary service.

Scripture study, prayer, righteous desires, and complete worthiness are among the best things you can do for preparation as first-time temple attenders, as well as all who enter the temple. Those going to the temple for the first time should also consider taking the Church Temple Preparation (called Endowed from on High) from your ward or stake. The Church pamphlet called Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple is also a great resource to anyone attending the temple. That pamphlet states:

“What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple.”

In my 20 years of attending the holy temple, the Spirit of the Lord has taught me many things. Many of those things are sacred and personal and should not be shared publicly, but many things I have learned can be shared and consist of blessings and knowledge within the grasp of all. What I have come to know is that the temple is

  1. A Place of Prayer
  2. A House of Wholeness
  3. A Sacrament of Symbols

As you understand these principles about the temple, I believe you will be more prepared for the experiences you will have in the temple and you will get greater blessings from your temple worship.

Place of Prayer

House of the Lord inscribed on the gila valley lds templeFirst, the temple is a place of prayer. Inscribed on each LDS temple is the phrase: “The House of the Lord.” The temple is literally the Lord’s House. There is no place on earth where you can be closer to God, figuratively or literally, than in His temple. As such, it is an ideal place to approach God in prayer. In fact, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the temple is referred to as a “house of prayer” (see D&C 88:119 and 109:8).

When you are facing difficult decisions or tough challenges in your life, I encourage you to go to the temple and pray. If you cannot yet enter the temple, that’s okay. You can still go to the temple grounds, feel close to God, and ponder the things of eternity. In a previous stake, I worked in a calling closely with the stake president. When he dealings with individuals with disciplinary issues that prevented them from going inside the temple, he still encouraged them to attend the temple grounds on a regular basis. He felt, and I agree, that the temple grounds, which are quiet and beautifully landscaped, will help draw people’s thoughts and desires toward God. And if the outside of the temple is a good place to approach God in prayer, just think how good the inside of the temple is.

Prayer, in the scriptures, is often linked together with fasting, and the temple is also referred to as a “house of fasting.” At one point in my life, I was earnestly praying for a new job. I had been searching for a new job for many months, and I was getting very little traction. Then I read D&C 88:119 which calls the temple a house of fasting, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me in an unmistakable fashion. The Spirit reminded me that I had never in my life gone to the temple while fasting. If the temple is a house of fasting, I thought, I better attend while fasting, and I immediately made plans to do so. A few days later, I fasted and went to the temple and in the days that followed I received an outpouring of the blessings I sought. All of a sudden, I was getting dozens of requests for job interviews and before I knew it, I have several good leads and landed a great new job. This blessing was clearly a result of combining fasting and prayer and temple worship and strengthened my testimony of this principle.

President Thomas S. Monson, in his biography, To the Rescue, tells a story of fasting and prayer in the temple:

“[President Spencer W. Kimball] underwent open-heart surgery in 1972; the Apostles were in the temple that day, fasting, and they were “filled with hopeful anxiety” as they waited for word. When the phone rang, President Harold B. Lee left the room to take the call. “President Lee was a master at masking his feelings, and he walked back into the room as somber as he could be. He said, ‘That was Brother Nelson [speaking of President Kimball’s heart surgeon, Dr. Russell M. Nelson]. Spencer is off the pump!’” [Then] Elder Monson’s journal entry at the end of the day was tender: “We all smiled and said a prayer of thanksgiving.” (Chapter 24 of “To the Rescue”)

Truman G. Madsen once said:

“[My] testimony of the restored temple is that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ yearn not to widen that gap but to close it. In the house of the Lord we may come to Him in light, in closeness, and in holy embrace. He promises in latter-day revelation: “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house” (D&C 110:7).” (The Temple and the Mysteries of Godliness By Truman G. Madsen)

Not only do we leave our worldly clothes behind us at the temple in exchange for uniform, white clothing, but we also leave behind the cares of the world when we enter the temple. As you pray, the Lord will communicate to you about what really matters, eternally speaking. I have often gone to the temple in prayer and not received answers. Better stated, it’s not that I didn’t receive answers, it’s that my worries were the cares of the world. God, in his eternal perspective, knows what is really important and cares most about our eternal well-being and returning to his presence in the Celestial Kingdom. If answers to prayers are hard to come by, don’t confuse God’s eternal perspective with divine indifference.

There is no place on the earth where we can get closer to God and no place better to pray and receive answers to prayer than in the House of the Lord. The Temple truly is a place of prayer.

House of Wholeness

Second, the temple is a house of wholeness. By wholeness, I mean the temple is a place where the complete and full gospel is presented. The temple is all-encompassing of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is the center of all we do in His Church. All the things we do in the Church, all ordinances, all programs, and all teachings ultimately lead to the temple. Missionary work, Sunday services, family history work, and all other programs of the Church have the ultimate design to help families go to the temple and receive the ordinances there.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught this principle when he said that “missionary work is only the beginning” of the gathering of Israel.  He said, “the fulfillment, the consummation, of those blessings comes as those who have entered the waters of baptism perfect their lives to the point that they may enter the holy temple. Receiving an endowment there seals members of the Church to the Abrahamic covenant” (Thanks for the Covenant, Nov 22, 1988).

The ancient American prophet Nephi also taught this principle in 2 Nephi chapter 31 when he said:

“For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; …And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:17-20)

Receiving the higher ordinances of the temple and keeping those covenants is a key part of what Nephi described as pressing forward after baptism. The path we start at baptism is not complete until we also go to the temple.

Elder David A. Bednar, in a general conference address in May 2009, explained that “the baptismal covenant clearly contemplates a future event or events and looks forward to the temple.” Quoting Elder Neal A. Maxwell in this talk, he said, “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple.”

Elder John A. Widtsoe, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of the wholeness of the temple when he said:

“The temple ordinances encompass the whole plan of salvation, as taught from time to time by the leaders of the Church, and elucidate matters difficult of understanding. There is no warping or twisting in fitting the temple teachings into the great scheme of salvation. The philosophical completeness of the endowment is one of the great arguments for the veracity of the temple ordinances. Moreover, this completeness of survey and expounding of the Gospel plan, makes temple worship one of the most effective methods of refreshing the memory concerning the whole structure of the gospel. (John A. Widtsoe, “Temple Worship,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12 [April 1921]: 58.)

In the temple, we are taught about the creation of the earth, the fall of mankind, and the plan of salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Those doctrines are both central to the gospel and all-encompassing of God’s plan. As we understand that the centrality of the temple and the complete wholeness of the gospel teachings presented there, then we will be better prepared to attend the temple and receive the blessings promised there. Only in the temple can we reach our full potential.

Sacrament of Symbols

salt lake mormon templeLastly, the temple is a sacrament of symbols. By sacrament, I mean the generic sense of the word in which a sacrament is an ordinance. Many Christian churches have sacraments or ordinances such as baptism and partaking of the Lord ’s Supper. We have those ordinances as well in our church, but in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we also know about higher ordinances that only can take place in the temple. Sacraments, or ordinances, are an important part of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through the ordinances of the gospel that the power of godliness is revealed (see D&C 84:20).

In the early days of the restored Church, the Lord explained that the purpose of the building temples was to reveal ordinances. “And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; for I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.” (D&C 124:40–41.)

Through the ordinances of the gospel, we make covenants or promises to God and he, in turn, promises us certain blessings. We know that the purpose of life as stated in Abraham 3:25 is for God to see if we will do the things he commands us to do. Through the covenants of the temple, God will see if we will do the things we have promised to do.

The temple and the ordinances that take place inside are rich in symbolism and meaning. If you have seen any one of our temples at night, fully lit, you get a glimpse of the symbolism. The temple stands out in the darkness and shines for a long distance. It is symbolic of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to shine light upon a world that seems to be sinking further and further into spiritual darkness. Many other gospel truths are referred to in the temple through symbols and not necessarily spelled out. It is up to you to study and ponder and pray and come to know what these things mean. The Spirit will be your teacher.

Elder John A. Widtsoe once said, “We live in a world of symbols. No man or woman can come out of the temple endowed as he should be, unless he has seen, beyond the symbol, the mighty realities for which the symbols stand. (“Temple Worship,” page 62.)

The Church’s “Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple” pamphlet says:

“The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will be only partly understood. Return again and again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known.”

One of the ways the Lord loves to teach us is through symbols, stories, patterns, examples, etc. When the Savior was on the earth, he frequently taught through stories, parables, and the pattern of his own life. In the ordinances of the gospel we find those symbols and patterns. In D&C 52:14 the Lord says, “I will give unto a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.” And what is the pattern? He answers that question in the following verse: “The same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.”

Study the ordinances of the gospel, including those recorded in the scriptures such as the Savior’s baptism, Alma baptizing Helam, the last supper of Jesus with his apostles, and Abraham receiving the priesthood. As you come to understand these ordinances and the deep meaning behind them you will come to a better understanding of the temple and you will be more prepared to receive the blessings of temple worship.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that the temple is a place of prayer, a house of wholeness, and a sacrament of symbols. The temple has the power to transforms individuals from unworthy telestial beings, to sons and daughters of God, worthily of the Celestial glory. Any and all efforts you make to prepare and enter the Holy Temple are well worth the sacrifice.

I testify of our Savior Jesus Christ lives. Through his infinite and eternal Atonement he died and was resurrected that we too may live again and be brought back to live with our Heaven Father. I know that Our Savior leads our church today through living prophets who hold the keys of the priesthood and temple ordinances. As we worthily participate in temple ordinances, we will be blessed in this life and blessed with eternal life.

President Monson on the Divine Inspiration of Every Mission Call

President Thomas S. Monson has testified that divine inspiration attends each and every missionary assignment. He has said, “Too numerous to mention are the many instances where a particular call proved providential. This I know—divine inspiration attends such sacred assignments. We, with you, acknowledge the truth stated so simply in the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work’ (D&C 4:3).” (See April 1979 General Conference talk titled, The Army of the Lord)

The following story  illustrates the principle of divine inspiration attending every missionary call and appears in President Monson’s biography, To the Rescue (see chapter 26):

“While attending a stake conference in Paris, France, Elder Monson indicated, as he often does, that he would like to hear from one of the missionaries. As he looked toward the back of the hall, he saw a tall young elder whom he recognized as a son of some friends of the Monsons. He called him forward. As the missionary spoke, Elder Monson seemed to see in his mind a picture of Heber J. Grant in a Japanese garden, the same painting that was produced as a cover for a pamphlet about this famed Church President. He didn’t tell anyone about the experience and even wondered what it meant, assuming that it may have been triggered by his knowledge that President Grant was this elder’s great-grandfather. When Elder Monson returned to Salt Lake City, he looked up the missionary’s parents to give them a report on their son. He learned that another son had just turned in his missionary papers. As Elder Monson later reviewed that missionary’s application, he knew why he had received the strong impression concerning President Grant. He changed the young missionary’s assignment to Tokyo—the city and land where his great-grandfather, Heber J. Grant, had opened the work. Not only did the missionary serve in the land so significant to the family, he was present for the dedication of the Japan Tokyo Temple, an occasion, Elder Monson knew, that would have pleased his great-grandfather immensely.”

Also in President Monson’s biography is the story of when he was again in a missionary assignment meeting and he returned several times to the mission assignment of one young man because he didn’t feel right about it. Finally, President Monson asked on of the Seventies who was assisting him to read to him the entire file of the young man. This time they noticed something they had missed in their initial review–“the young man had learned Spanish ‘at his mother’s knee.’ Elder Monson assigned him to a Spanish-speaking mission, and the Spirit said, ‘Yes.’ ‘It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom,’ Elder Monson has said, ‘and yet have time to provide the inspiration on the call of a single missionary.'”
inspiration of call of missionary monson

President Monson has viewed tens of thousands of missionary applications while in the process of issuing an equal number of mission calls. Again quoting from his biography, President Monson has said, “Many are the faith-promoting experiences which have occurred in the assignment of missionaries. I so testify. Hardly an assignment day goes by when we don’t have it evidenced that our Heavenly Father has, in an unusual way, prompted us to send particular missionaries to serve in locations, only to learn that this has fulfilled their earnest prayers and, in many instances, the wishes and hopes of their families” (see chapter 26 of To the Rescue).

Transferred Are Also Inspired 

Not only are mission assignments inspired, but President Monson has taught that the transfers conducted by mission presidents are also inspired. Speaking at mission president seminar in 2011, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of this experience:

I recall, as a mission president in Canada [1959-1962], looking at our list of missionaries and feeling the definite inspiration to move one young man from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario. . . . The impression came so strongly that I made the transfer. The next week when I received a letter from his companion, tears came to my eyes when I read: “President Monson, I know you were inspired in sending Elder Smith to us in Welland. We are teaching ten Italian-speaking families whose English skills are limited. In my heart I had been praying for a companion who could speak Italian. You found the only missionary in the mission who spoke Italian.” I thought to myself as I read that line, “I knew nothing about whether or not that boy spoke Italian.” With a name like Smith, you don’t think he is going to speak Italian. I was unaware that his mother was Italian and that she had taught the boy to speak in her native tongue. By listening to the Spirit and transferring him, he was able to carry the gospel to those Italian families in Welland.” (see Missionary Work is Founded on the Doctrine of Christ)

Cost to Get Ready to Go on a Mission

Suitcases by Mandy JansenOne question that has come up often from readers is how much do missionaries need to have saved to buy clothes, suit cases, and other gear (dresses, suits, shoes, socks, garments, pajamas, toiletries, winter coat, sheets, etc.) before going on their mission. These purchases are in addition to the monthly cost of an LDS mission, but similarly must be paid for by the missionaries, and their families, themselves.

While the needs of ever mission and missionary are different, making it difficult to estimate these costs with exactness, many future missionaries would benefit from a ball-park estimate of how much to expect to spend to get ready to go on their mission. So I reached out to several families in my stake who had recently sent missionaries out and I asked them how much it cost to get ready to go on a mission. The responses varied from $1,000 to over $3,000.

One mother replied who has sent two daughters on missions. She estimated that with the purchase of temple garments, clothing, suitcases, and other things, they probably spent close to $1,000. She feels like, based on helping some nephews getting ready to go mission, that it’s probably less expensive to send out sister missionaries than elders, primarily because suits are more expensive than dresses. Of course, she notes, there are a lot of variables depending on where they go to serve. She also had some advice for parents and future missionaries–get things for the mission along the way during their teenage years, like the missionary reference library and some items of clothing,  so you don’t have to buy everything at once.

One father who has sent two sons on missions, said that each time it was around $1,500 for clothes, suitcases, bedding, etc. He remarked, though, that neither son had to buy a bike and that could have easily pushed the cost to $2,000 or more. You see, costs of getting ready to go on a mission, including clothes and equipment such as bikes, will vary depending on the specific mission needs and requirements. Some missions in the US and elsewhere even require the missionaries to buy technology such as an iPad (which they get to keep at the end of their mission).

Another mother responded who’s son went to Argentina. She kept detailed records of the costs because she has three more sons to send on missions in the coming years. His mission required two suits plus full winter gear, but she also bought him a few additional items, such as extra shoes, spending about $1,600 total on clothes alone. Additionally, she spent a couple hundred dollars on a camera and supplies for it, a couple hundred on luggage, and several hundred on toiletries and other miscellaneous items (power converter, laundry bag, shoe shining, towels, sheets, watch, messenger bag, journal, first aid kit, etc.). Then there were the costs of his Visa and Passport, and this particular son wears contacts and so there was also the cost of a two year supply of contact lenses. The grand total for getting this son ready to go on his mission was about $3,200.

So as you see, the cost to get ready to go on a mission can greatly vary. How much will you need to save? It’s had to say exactly, so if I were you, I’d err on the conservative side and save at least a couple thousand dollars. Good luck!

P.S. To calculate how much money you’ll need to save for your mission, please check out our mission savings calculator.

8 Stories: Missionary Exhibit at Temple Square

8 stories missionary exhibit temple squareA new missionary-themed exhibit was recently opened at the North Visitors’ Center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The exhibit explains how the teachings of Jesus Christ and missionary service affect the individuals who go on a mission, their families, and people they serve in their mission area.

A room is dedicated to this exhibit where guests can view eight short films, each about 8 minutes long, that explore the real life experiences of eight members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served full-time missions.

8 stories missionary exhibit insideThe films feature 2 women and 6 men from all over the world who served their mission in San Diego, California: Tevita Tuituu, Jon Hepworth, Steve Bott, Janet Zaldivar, Alex Murray, J. Tyler Christensen, Laura Voyles, and Mike Moreno.

The films talks about each one of these missionaries, their life before their mission, and the things that made them decide to serve. Each film then spends a few minutes sharing meaningful experiences they had during their mission and finishes by showing the missionaries returning home and talks about the effect that serving a mission has had on their life.

8 stories missionary exhibit inside2If you live in the Salt Lake area or if you come to Utah to visit, please make time to go see this exhibit. Especially if you have young men or young women considering a mission and unsure if they should go or not, please go see these films. They’ll feel the Spirit of God and it will no doubt increase their desire to serve as full-time missionaries.

Top 10 Reasons the LDS Church Participates in Boy Scouts

Summary: This is a list of the top 10 reasons why the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts and how those ten reasons also make Scouting a great missionary preparation tool. 

boy scout silhouetteDespite being “deeply troubled” by recent rule changes made by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Executive Board to allow openly gay leaders, the LDS Church issued a statement this week saying the Church “will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA.” They said they have received assurances from the BSA that Church sponsored Scouting units will continue to be able “to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values.”

The First Presidency of the Church further stated that:

“As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.”

All this news about the Boy Scouts has caused me to once again reflect on how Scouting prepares young men for missionary service. In preparing for this year’s Friends of Scouting fund raising drive in my stake, I came across this article from the Utah National Parks Council of the BSA on Why Scouting Matters to LDS Church Leaders. I found the article quite interesting, particularly the results of the survey of local Church leaders regarding why they feel the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts.

The questions posed to the survey respondents was: what is the  most important outcome of Scouting? Here are the top ten responses according to the research conducted by Rushford Lee, owner of Research Emotion Design (RED), in the aforementioned article:

10. Learn to serve others

Boy Scouts teaches duty to God and country and the importance or serving in our communities. Scout “service projects” are a core part of the Scouting program, including the boys’ capstone Eagle Project. Mormon missionary service is also all about service. Our common vernacular of “serving” a mission is exactly right, a mission is a two-year act of service to God, the Church, and the people in the area where a missionary goes.

9. Provide young men with good role models

From his research, Lee explained, “Our young men need heroes to look up to. They need role models in their lives, at home and as they grow. Our goal [in the Boy Scouts] is to help them become men such as the great leaders and teachers around them.”

8. Develop a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Gary Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, said “Duty to God is the heart of Scouting. It is a founding principle as old and deep as the organization itself.” (See BSA Annual Meeting Keynote Speech 2013) Duty to God and the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Church’s involvement in Scouting. In the survey, one leader described it this way, “If we take our young men to outdoor activities and forget to have them bear their testimonies around the fire, we’ve missed the purpose of Scouting.”

7. Teach real life skills

Going through the Boy Scouts program teaches young men many practical skills that will help them throughout the rest of their life. The Scouting program is well known for teaching boys how to camp and thrive in the great outdoors, how to build fires and how to find their way in the woods, etc. But most Scouts live in cities or suburban areas and the Boy Scouts teaches practical skills for them as well, such as economics, budgeting, computers, home repairs, plumbing, communications, gardening, first aid, law, and physical fitness. You can see how many of these skills will help in the practical aspects of a mission and mission prep. On top of that, Scouting helps boys to be well rounded and teaches social and cultural skills such as the theatre, social media, painting, poetry, chess, movie making, and many more.

6. Teach strong work ethic

As a young man goes through the Scouting program, he learns the value of hard work and gains a strong work ethic. He learns of the satisfaction that only comes through hard work and perseverance as he earns merit badge, makes rank advancements, and eventually earns his Eagle. One of the survey participants noted that Scouts aids in “learning how to do hard things, gain confidence and preparing for the future.”

5. Prepare to be a husband and father

Because of many of the aforementioned benefits, teaching real life skills and a strong work ethic, Boy Scouts prepares young men to be better husbands and fathers. Additional, the core values of Scouts teaches boys to be morally straight and prepares them to be faithful to their future wives and children. One surveyed Church leader described it this way: “Life is full of difficult experiences. Teaching resilience in the early years is very helpful preparation for missions, marriage, and parenthood.”

4. Prepare to go on a mission

Church leaders who responded to the survey consistently pointed out that Boy Scouts is great mission prep. In fact, fourth highest on their list of desired outcomes for the boys in the Scouting program was that it would help them be better missionaries some day. I think if you look at this list of benefits of Scouting, physical, spiritual, and emotional, it’s easy to see why it is such a great missionary preparation system.

3. Provide opportunity to connect and interact with others

Young men’s ability to be social and connect and interact with others will make them better missionaries and Scouts helps build those skills. To quote another Church leader from the survey: “Many young men don’t have the opportunity to connect with others. They don’t have strong family ties, they may not make friends easily, don’t fit in well at school. Scouting provides an atmosphere where the kids can fit in with their peers. Our leaders try and do a variety of activities that interest all of the boys. Gives leadership a chance to reach the one.”

2. Become spiritually minded

The spiritual aspects of Scouting are at the root of the program and cannot be overlooked. One survey respondent explained the purpose of Boy Scouts this way: “To develop young men through faith in God, hard work, problem solving, achievement, and character-building activities.” Lee further clarified, “this is what Scouting is meant to be; bringing God into Scouting in a large way and making this tie together. It’s time to make the purpose of Scouting clear.” Scouting helps young men be spiritually minded and I have often thought that to be spiritually minded (see Romans 8:6 and 2 Nephi 9:39) is the key to success in the missionary training center and throughout your mission.

1. Provide young men unique experiences

Number one on church leaders list of reasons for participating in the Boy Scouts is that is gives young men unique experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have. In the survey, a Church leader said:  “There are life learning experiences in an outdoor environment with other boys and men that give the boys a unique experience outside of the home that support what’s going on inside the home.”

In my own personal experience as a Boy Scout in my youth, I participated in service projects, went on hikes and camp outs, learned a wide variety of skills, interacted with many other men and boys, and had countless other experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. The Boys Scouts of America provides young men with wonderful experiences and is an effective missionary preparation tool that I hope all the young men of the Church will take full advantage of.

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