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Guest Post Opportunities

Call for Guest Post Authors

hand and computer keyboardBrothers and Sisters, since I started this website in 2009, I have made efforts to post a new article weekly on Mormon Mission Prep. At times this has been difficult, especially with a growing young family, demands from work and Church callings, and when there are many other worthy endeavors that I feel inspired to pursue. I have long felt I should make efforts to get other people involved in this website, contributing to the content and helping in their unique ways to prepare youth (and those not so young) for missionary service. Therefore, I am sending out a call for help to good Church members to contribute your mission prep talents, stories, ideas, and testimonies by writing a guest post for the website.

Contact Me about Contributing a Guest Post

Why Write a Guest Post

There are many reasons to contribute a guest post to this website, but I hope your number one motivation is to follow the Spirit, build the Kingdom of God on earth, and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. In addition to the spiritual satisfaction, a guest post can be used to promote or shine further light on a missionary-related website, product, or service you many have. The primary purpose of a guest post should not be to promote a website, but if you write a good, substantive article related to missionary work or mission prep, a link to your website or a plug for your product or service is perfectly acceptable. You’ll basically be getting free advertising that will reach the 15,000 unique visitors who come to the site each month, plus the thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers of Mormon Mission Prep.

Ideas for Article Topics

At one time, early in the history of the Mormon Mission Prep website, I thought I would run out of ideas of things to talk about. In reality, I have found the opposite to be true. The longer I run the website, the more ideas I have and the further behind I feel I’m getting. I have dozens of ideas for mission prep articles but I simply do not have the time to write them all. If you need ideas for a guest post topic, please consider one of the following:

  • Information and helps on budgeting and saving money for a mission
  • Adjusting to missionary life (Home sickness, technology withdrawal, hard work, recognizing and following the spirit, the MTC, country specific tips, etc.)
  • Humility: The gospel is to be proclaimed by the weak and simple
  • Sacrifice is an essential part of missionary work
  • What you learned from my mission
  • “It is not your job to convert that is the job of the Holy Ghost.” -Pres Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  • How helping other people makes you happy
  • Missionary work goes on in the spirit world
  • Preparing to receive the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood
  • Mission prep is life prep
  • Tips for getting along with companions
  • A list of mission prep scriptures (like a scripture mastery list)
  • Discerning the Will of the Lord for Me. I think this topic would help many young women, and some young men, who struggle to decide if they should go on a mission.
  • Member-missionary tips
  • Exercise tips
  • Information for Moms of future missionaries
  • Mission prep tips for primary aged children
  • Motivating teenagers to prepare for and serve a mission

Of course you are not limited to these topics, so if you have other ideas for posts that would help missionaries prepare, send it in. Just click on the button below and fill out the form to get started. Thank you.

Contact Me about Contributing a Guest Post

Mission Prep from General Conference Oct 2013

Welcome to Conference – President Thomas S. Monson

I am happy to announce that two weeks ago, the membership of the Church reached 15 million. The Church continues to grow steadily and to change the lives of more and more people every year. It is spreading across the earth as our missionary force seeks out those who are searching for the truth.

It has scarcely been one year since I announced the lowering of the age of missionary service. Since that time the number of full-time missionaries serving has increased from 58,500 in October 2012 to 80,333 today. What a tremendous and inspiring response we have witnessed!

…To help maintain our ever-increasing missionary force, I have asked our members in the past to contribute, as they are able, to their ward missionary fund or to the General Missionary Fund of the Church. The response to that request has been gratifying and has helped support thousands of missionaries whose circumstances do not allow them to support themselves. I thank you for your generous contributions. The need for help is ongoing, that we might continue to assist those whose desire to serve is great but who do not, by themselves, have the means to do so.

Hastening the Lord’s Game Plan! – Elder S. Gifford Nielson

worn out missionary shoes bronzedI walked into the stake president’s office for the initial meeting that weekend, I noticed a pair of tattered-looking, bronzed shoes on the credenza behind his desk, accompanied by a scripture ending in an exclamation point. As I read it, I felt the Lord was aware of my study, had answered my prayers, and that He knew exactly what I needed to soothe my anxious heart. I asked the stake president to tell me the story of the shoes.

He said: “These are shoes of a young convert to the Church whose family situation was strained, yet he was determined to serve a successful mission and did so in Guatemala. Upon his return I met with him to extend an honorable release and saw his shoes were worn out. This young man had given his all to the Lord without much, if any, family support.

“He noticed I was staring at his shoes and asked me, ‘President, is anything wrong?’

“I responded, ‘No, Elder, everything is right! Can I have those shoes?’”

The stake president continued: “My respect and love for this returning missionary was overwhelming! I wanted to memorialize the experience, so I had his shoes bronzed. It is a reminder to me when I walk into this office of the effort we all must give regardless of our circumstances.

serve with enthusiasm alongside the full-time missionaries exclamation pointI know we each must develop and carry out our own personal game plan to serve with enthusiasm alongside the full-time missionaries—EXCLAMATION POINT!

Put Your Trust in the Lord – Elder M. Russell Ballard

Sister Ballard and I recently returned from an assignment to five countries in Europe. There we had the privilege of meeting with many of our missionaries, perhaps some of your sons and your daughters. Since President Thomas S. Monson’s announcement of the lowering of the age for our young men and our young women to serve, I have had the privilege of meeting with over 3,000 of them. The Light of Christ radiates in their faces, and they are eager to move the work forward—to find and teach, to baptize, to activate, and to strengthen and to build the kingdom of God. Meeting with them, one quickly comes to know, however, that they cannot do this work alone. Today I want to speak to all members of the Church, because there is an urgency for each one of us to be engaged in sharing the gospel.

…Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change.

reach out to just one between now and ChristmasPreach My Gospel reminds all of us that “nothing happens in missionary work until [we] find someone to teach. Talk with as many people as you can each day. It is natural to be somewhat apprehensive about talking to people, but you can pray for the faith and strength to be more bold in opening your mouth to proclaim the restored gospel” ([2004], 156–57). You full-time missionaries, if you want to teach more, you must talk to more people every day. This has always been what the Lord has sent missionaries forth to do.

…We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior.

The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith – Elder L. Tom Perry

The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth articles of faith instruct us on how to conduct missionary work and share the gospel in a world of many nations and various laws. We learn about the gathering of Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior. We are instructed that men and women are agents unto themselves, and they can either accept or reject the word of God according to their own conscience. Finally, we learn as we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth that we must respect the governments of each nation we enter.

Ye Are No More Strangers – Bishop Gérald Caussé

Because of the increased availability of transportation, speed of communication, and globalization of economies, the earth is becoming one large village where people and nations meet, connect, and intermingle like never before. These vast, worldwide changes serve the designs of Almighty God. The gathering of His elect from the four corners of the earth is taking place not only by sending missionaries to faraway countries but also with the arrival of people from other areas into our own cities and neighborhoods. Many, without knowing it, are being led by the Lord to places where they can hear the gospel and come into His fold.

Called of Him to Declare His Word – Elder Randy D. Funk

One of many outstanding missionaries with whom Sister Funk and I served was Elder Pokhrel from Nepal. After being a member of the Church for only two years, he was called to serve in the India Bangalore Mission, an English-speaking mission. He would tell you he was not well prepared. That was understandable. He had never seen a missionary until he was one, because no young missionaries serve in Nepal. He did not read English well enough to understand the instructions included with his call. When he reported to the missionary training center, instead of bringing nice slacks, white shirts, and ties, he packed, in his words, “five pairs of denim jeans, a couple of T-shirts, and a lot of hair gel.”

…Though missionary work was new and challenging for Elder Pokhrel, he served with great faith and faithfulness, seeking to understand and follow what he was learning from the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and his mission leaders. He became a powerful teacher of the gospel—in English—and an excellent leader. After his mission and some time in Nepal, he returned to India to continue his education. Since January he has served as a branch president in New Delhi. Because of the real growth he experienced as a missionary, he continues to contribute to the real growth of the Church in India.

How did a young man who had never seen a missionary become one with such spiritual strength? How will you receive spiritual power as a missionary to open the doors, in-boxes, and hearts of those in the mission where you will serve? As usual, the answers are found in the scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles.

…My young fellow servants, doors and hearts open daily to the gospel message—a message that brings hope and peace and joy to the children of God throughout the world. If you are humble and obedient and hearken to the voice of the Spirit, you will find great happiness in your service as a missionary.17 What a wonderful season it is to be a missionary—a time when the Lord is hastening His work!

Bind Up Their Wounds – President Henry B. Eyring

sister missionary treasure up the words of lifeIn your service as a full-time missionary, you will go to thousands of people in great spiritual need. Many, until you teach them, will not even know that they have spiritual wounds that, left untreated, will bring endless misery. You will go on the Lord’s errand to rescue them. Only the Lord can bind up their spiritual wounds as they accept the ordinances that lead to eternal life.

As a quorum member, as a home teacher, and as a missionary, you cannot help people repair spiritual damage unless your own faith is vibrant. That means far more than reading the scriptures regularly and praying over them. The prayer in the moment and quick glances in the scriptures are not preparation enough. The reassurance of what you will need comes with this counsel from the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”

True Shepherds – President Thomas S. Monson

The bishop of each ward in the Church oversees the assigning of priesthood holders as home teachers to visit the homes of members every month. They go in pairs. Where possible, a young man who is a priest or a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. As they go into the homes of those for whom they are responsible, the Aaronic Priesthood holder should take part in the teaching which takes place. Such an assignment will help to prepare these young men for missions as well as for a lifetime of priesthood service.

Power in the Priesthood – Elder Neil L. Andersen

Sincerely asking for and listening to the thoughts and concerns voiced by women is vital in life, in marriage, and in building the kingdom of God. Twenty years ago in general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard related a conversation he had with the general president of the Relief Society. There was a question raised about strengthening the worthiness of youth preparing to serve missions. Sister Elaine Jack said with a smile, “You know, Elder Ballard, the [women] of the Church may have some good suggestions … if they [are] asked. After all, … we are their mothers!”

10 Tips for Preparing Missionaries

young men preparing missionariesWhile the Lord expects each young person to do his or her own part to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for missionary service, preparing missionaries should also be a high priority for parents and Church leaders. Parents should give special attention to helping their boys prepare to serve a full-time mission. Bishops, youth leaders, and other Church members also have an important role in helping young men and women qualify for missionary service.

The following 10 tips will help give guidance to parents and Church leaders in preparing missionaries:

  1. Desire: Work with young men beginning at an early age to help them develop the desire to serve a mission. One of the best ways to do this is to help them gain a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hearing mission stories, from your own life or the experiences of others, is another powerful way to bring the spirit of missionary work. See one of my many article on motivating missionaries or check out my presentation on Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission.
  2. Worthiness: Help young men and women to always remain worthy to serve a mission. Help them to know the commandments and be committed to obeying them, and pay particular attention to the law of chastity. Also help them know that the Lord is very willing to forgive when we make mistakes, and help them to understand the repentance process.
  3. Expectations: Teach young people what will be expected of them when they serve missions. Teach them about the mission rules and the schedule missionaries keep. Teach them about mission life and help them understand the missionary guidelines regarding personal conduct, language, dress and grooming, media, and communications to family and friends.
  4. Purpose: Help future missionaries to understand the doctrinal basis of missionary work and what their purpose will be as missionaries. That purpose is to: “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
  5. Seminary: Encourage youth to attend seminary. Seminary is available in just about every corner of the globe and will teach our youth important basic doctrines of the restored gospel and help them develop their testimony of the Savior.
  6. Leaders: If you are a bishop or stake president, the handbook encourages your to call youth leaders who love missionary work and will help the youth learn to love it as well. It also says to invite returned missionaries to speak about missionary work often in sacrament meetings and on other occasions.
  7. Service and Teaching: Provide opportunities for prospective missionaries to serve others, including serving in Church callings. Young men should serve as home teachers. The new youth curriculum also gives young men and women many opportunities to teach which will help them become better missionaries.
  8. Mission Prep Class: If possible, have the youth take a missionary preparation class. Most wards and stakes offer this class, and it is also taught in Institute. The main source material for the mission prep class is the scriptures, the Missionary Handbook, and Preach My Gospel. Young men and women should study these materials thoroughly as they prepare for their missions.
  9. Scriptures: A large part of mission preparation includes studying the gospel and gaining a personal testimony. Young people should read the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great price, and especially the Book of Mormon and have a testimony that these books contain the revealed word of God.
  10. Share: Encourage young people to share the gospel with their friends and family. As they open their mouth, share the gospel, and become missionaries in their everyday life, they will be blessed and see how the gospel blesses others. They will catch the spirit of missionary work and become great representatives of the Lord.

Missionary Age Requirements

Summary: This article discusses the age qualifications for serving a full-time Mormon mission for young men, young women, senior couples, and Church service missionaries.

missionary family on stairsYoung Men

Single men between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible to serve a full-time mission for the LDS Church. These young men are generally called to serve for 24 months. Once single men reach the age of 26, the Church will no longer consider their application to be called as a missionary.

Young men and women should also be worthy and prepared to serve a mission. For more information, see my article on what it means to be worthy to serve a mission and my other article on requirements to serve a mission.

Women

Single women are eligible to serve a mission if they are 19 years old or older. The eligibility age difference between the young men and the women is to emphasize that full-time missionary work is a priesthood duty of the men, while women are not under that same obligation. Though not a duty in the same sense as it is for men, women make a valuable and unique contribution in the mission field, and the Lord needs and welcomes their service.

Single women between the ages 21 through 39 are usually called to serve for 18 months.  Single women over the age of 40 are usually called on non-proselyting missions (temple missions, welfare missions, office support, family history, etc.) and serve for 12 or 18 months. For more information, see the sister missionary page which has links to many sister missionary related topics including advice for young women considering a mission, and an article from former sister missionaries explaining what made them decide to serve.

Couples

There is no specific age requirement for older couples to serve a mission together. In order for married couples to be eligible to serve a mission, they must no longer be be working full-time and, if they will be serving away from home, they must not have any dependent children living in their home. Senior couples can be called to serve for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months depending on their capabilities and the mission they are called to fulfill.

Church-Service Missionaries

Church-service missions are a good alternative when worthy men and women are not able to serve full-time missions because of health, financial, family, or other challenges.  There is no maximum age, but men should be at least 18 years old, and women should be at least 19 to be a Church-service missionary. Church-service missionaries can be called for a term of anywhere from 6 to 24 months. They usually work between 8 and 32 hours a week and live at home while they are serving.

Missionary Requirements

A reader emailed me and asked what are the requirements to serve a mission. It was then that I realized that I had never put all the qualifications for full-time missionary service in one place, so here we go.

Requirements to Serve a Full-Time Mission in Your Youth 

Missionary putting on name tagThe Lord expects every young man who is able, and as many young women as have the desire, to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially and to serve a full-time mission. Full-time missionary service is a privilege, not a right, and in order to qualify for this privilege, young men and women should meet the following qualifications:

  • Be worthy: The Lord expects young men and women to keep themselves clean and worthy, repent, keep the commandments, and live a righteous life. By so doing, they can have His Spirit and represent the Savior and His Church. For more information on this topic, see my post on what it means to be worthy to serve a mission.
  • Age requirements: Men should be ages 18 through 25 and able to serve for 24 months. Women should be ages 19 and up and able to serve for 18 months. There are some rare exceptions to the 18 year old rule for young men. If a young man’s father is a mission president, they may be able to go at a younger age.
  • Be single and unmarried. People who have been divorced, young men who have fathered a child, or young women who have given birth to a child are not normally recommended to serve full-time missions. If exceptions were to occur, you would need to speak with your bishop to get his endorsement.
  • Be spiritually prepared: Spiritual preparation means reading the scriptures and praying regularly, building faith in Jesus Christ, and developing a testimony of the Lord’s true Church. It also means living the commandments and being an example to others of what it means to be a true follower of the Savior. Preparing spiritually also includes studying and understanding gospel principles, attending Church meetings regularly, and honoring the priesthood if you are a young man.
  • Be physically prepared: Missionary work can be very physically demanding. Many missionaries have to walk or ride bikes for as much as twelve hours a day. Before serving, a doctor must certify that the potential missionary is physically able to handle the work. A prospective missionary who has a physical disability or medical limitation may or may not be recommended to serve a mission depending on the severity of the issue. In many cases, people with physical disabilities or serious medical conditions can still be called to serve, but they often have restrictions placed on exactly how or where they go, or in some cases they are able to serve Church Service Missions.
  • Be financially prepared: Future missionaries should begin at as early an age as possible to save money to pay for their mission expenses. Missionaries and their families should be prepared to make sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission. However, young people who are worthy should not be prevented from serving a mission solely for financial reasons when they and their families have made sacrifices according to their ability.
  • Be mentally and emotionally prepared: A mission requires young people to be of sound mind and emotionally capable of living and working independently. Candidates for missionary service who have previously had significant mental or emotional challenges must be stabilized and confirmed by a medical professional to be fully functional before being recommended for a mission. Young people who have severe mental or emotional challenges are honorably excused from missionary service, though many of them can, if they desire, participate as a Church Service Missionary.
  • Able to receive the Temple Endowment. Future missionaries are instructed to go to the temple to receive their endowment prior to starting their mission. This usually happens within a few weeks or a month of entering the MTC. This requirement also means, by implication, that potential missionaries should be a member for at least a year prior to beginning their missionary service.
  • Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination for young men. Young men should be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder prior to going on a mission and prior to receiving the temple endowment. Receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, like many of the other steps above, requires preparation and worthiness.
  • Receive a patriarchal blessing. For many youth, they will receive their patriarchal blessing long before, sometimes years before, going on a mission. There is no set age for receiving a patriarchal blessing, but missionaries are required to get it before entering the mission field.

Young men and women who meet these requirements can set up an interview with their bishop, begin filling out the mission paperwork, and complete the other steps of the mission call process.  Please remember that while full-time missionary service is a priesthood responsibility of young men, women should not feel obligated to serve missions.

Senior Couples’ Full-Time Missionary Requirements

Senior couples’ requirements to serve a mission are similar in many respects to the young people, with some differences.

  • Age requirements: There really aren’t any, so long as the couple is physically, mentally, and emotionally able. There is a great variety of assignments that senior couples can be given ranging from some that are physically demanding to other that are not.
  • Married. The couple should be married (obviously otherwise you wouldn’t be a couple). Elderly single women can serve full-time missions, but elderly single men usually do not.
  • No children at home. The couple shouldn’t have any dependent children still living at home.
  • Able to serve for between 6 months and 2 years. Senior couples have the flexibility to choose the length of a mission that works for them.
  • Retired. Neither one of the couple should be engaged in full-time employment.

The Worth of Souls is Great

missionaries teaching in the streetA couple of months ago, I conducted a survey asking reasons why some young men don’t serve a mission. One of the top responses was that other priorities (like college, sports, work, girlfriends, etc.) keep young men from serving missions. So lately I have been thinking a lot about how to motivate young men, and help them see that there is no greater priority than bringing souls unto Christ through full-time missionary service.

Recently, I read a talk by Elder H. Bryan Richards from the October 1998 General Conference in which he addressed this very topic. This is what he said:

“The doctrine that will change the behavior of our young men regarding missions is understanding the worth of a single soul. Jesus Christ paid the supreme sacrifice in providing the infinite Atonement, which provides the only way for us to return and live with our Heavenly Father. When parents, bishops, and our young men understand this true doctrine, our young men will be prepared and have a desire to serve” (from “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord”).

What is the worth of a soul?

In section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord admonishes us to “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;… And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18: 10, 15-16)

As Elder Richards indicated, the Savior loves all of us and understands our eternal value as children of God. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Because of the Savior’s great love for us, He drank the bitter cup, suffered for our sins, and died on the cross. He “suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). When young men truly understand that doctrine, they will have the desire to share that message with the world, go wherever the Lord would have them to go, and bring souls unto Christ.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

Perhaps the best way to motivate young men to serve a mission is to help them understand these and other gospel doctrines. Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is like unto it, to love your neighbors (see Matthew 22: 36-39). What greater motivation can a young man have to serve a mission than sincere love of God and love of neighbors. What Christ suffered on our behalf helps us understand our worth and how much He loves us. When young men realize the value of a soul, and gain that love for their fellow beings around the world, they will be willing to sacrifice. They, like the Savior, will say “not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42), and they will put a full-time mission on the top of their priority list.

Origins of the Saying “Every Young Man Should Serve a Mission”

Most of you have probably heard many times that in the LDS Church, we expect every worthy young man to fulfill a mission. This is not new, every prophet since President Spencer W. Kimball has repeated that charge. Prior President Kimball, the Church had a large missionary program and many young men and young women served missions. But the expectation that everyone young male member should prepare and serve a mission wasn’t quite as strong then as it is today.

President Kimball’s Landmark Address on Missionary Work

spencerwkimball_thumbIn 1974, President Kimball gave a landmark address that changed the way we Mormons view the missionary service of young men. Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quourm of the Twelve Apostles, said President Kimball’s talk “had profound and deep influence on all who heard it.” Elder Monson further said that “the impact of his dynamics as a missionary-oriented person…have set in motion factors which have resulted in one of the greatest upsurges in missionary work that we have ever seen” (Status Report on Missionary Work, Ensign, October 1977).

This is what President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“The question has been often asked, Is the mission program one of compulsion? And the answer, of course, is no. Everyone is given his free agency. The question is asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer of the Church is yes, and the answer of the Lord is yes. Enlarging this answer we say: Certainly every male member of the Church should fill a mission, like he should pay his tithing, like he should attend his meetings, like he should keep his life clean and free from the ugliness of the world and plan a celestial marriage in the temple of the Lord” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Planning for a Full and Abundant Life”, Ensign, May 1974, 86).

Every Prophet Since Then Has Repeated the Call

Since President Kimball’s memorable address, every prophet of the Lord has repeated that message, that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. After President Kimball, came Ezra Taft Benson as the prophet and President of the Church. This is what he said:

“The Lord wants every young man to serve a full-time mission. Currently, only a fifth of the eligible young men in the Church are serving full-time missions. This is not pleasing to the Lord. We can do better. We must do better. Not only should a mission be regarded as a priesthood duty, but every young man should look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation. What a privilege—what a sacred privilege—to serve the Lord full time for two years with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.

You can do nothing more important. School can wait. Scholarships can be deferred. Occupational goals can be postponed. Yes, even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord.” (Ensign, May 1986, pp. 44–45).

Then Howard W. Hunter became Church President, and this is what he said:

“Earlier prophets have taught that every able, worthy young man should serve a full-time mission. I emphasize this need today” (Howard W. Hunter, “Follow the Son of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1994, 87).

Many of you young people may be too young to remember presidents Kimball, Benson, and Hunter.  But hopefully, many of you still remember President Gordon B. Hinckley. This is what he said:

“I throw out a challenge to every young man within this vast congregation tonight. Prepare yourself now to be worthy to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. He has said, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear’ (D&C 38:30). Prepare to consecrate two years of your lives to this sacred service. That will in effect constitute a tithe on the first twenty years of your lives” (Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 51–52).

And of course our living prophet today is President Thomas S. Monson, and he has repeated the call:

“I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord” (President Thomas S. Monson, As We Meet Together Again, October 2010).

I hope all young men, if there ever was a doubt, now know with certainty that the prophet of God expects them to serve a mission. As President Kimball said, the Church will never force you to go because that would be contrary to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But full-time missionary service is the duty of every able young man, and we hope you will choose to accept the assignment.

Young men, we need you to be missionaries. Start preparing now. Keep yourself worthy, study the scriptures, learn how to become an effective missionary, and prepare yourself in all other ways to be a representative of the Lord for two years. Serve with honor and faithfulness and the Lord will bless you. May all the young men out there heed this call from the prophet is my prayerful desire.

Chastity

I’d like to address a question I have gotten from time to time regarding law of chastity violations and the ability to later go on a mission.  Many young people who have had issues with sexual morality want to repent and go on a mission, but frequently they don’t know if their prior actions will prohibit them from ever serving.

While it is far better to never engage in these transgressions, let me reassure you that they can repented of, and generally these young people can eventually go on a mission.  Law of chastity issues are very serious in the sight of the Lord, though, and if serious enough, or if not fully repented of, may disqualify you from going on a mission.

white-rose-purityWhat is the law of chastity?

The law of chastity is the Lord’s commandment that we keep ourselves sexually pure.  For young people preparing for a mission, sexual purity means refraining from sexual relations and other sexual perversions such as homosexual activity, masturbation, viewing pornography, and heavy petting (inappropriate touching). Here is a concise definition of chastity from the LDS.org Gospel Topics section:

Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage.

…In the world today, Satan has led many people to believe that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable. But in God’s sight, it is a serious sin. It is an abuse of the power He has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder and denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:3–5).

Sometimes people try to convince themselves that sexual relations outside of marriage are acceptable if the participants love one another. This is not true. Breaking the law of chastity and encouraging someone else to do so is not an expression of love. People who love each other will never endanger one another’s happiness and safety in exchange for temporary personal pleasure.

Our Heavenly Father has given us the law of chastity for our protection…Those who keep themselves sexually pure will avoid the spiritual and emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

For more information, check out my article that discusses the “Why” of Keeping the Law of Chastity.

elder-m-russell-ballardPriesthood leaders determine worthiness

As much as I want to and try to help young people who email me with law of chastity concerns, these issues must be worked through with priesthood leaders before a potential missionary can be declared worthy to serve.  Elder M. Russell Ballard, in a talk called The Greatest Generation of Missionaries (Ensign, November 2002) said, “as divinely appointed judges in Israel, the bishop and the stake president determine worthiness and resolve concerns on behalf of the Church.”  So if you are struggling with sexual sin, please, talk to your parents and make an appointment to go see your bishop or branch president.  They will love and support and help you through.

In that same talk, Elder Ballard went on to say, “Please understand this: the bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised. The day of the ‘repent and go’ missionary is over. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, my young brothers? Some young men have the mistaken idea that they can be involved in sinful behavior and then repent when they’re 18 1/2 so they can go on their mission at 19. While it is true that you can repent of sins, you may or you may not qualify to serve. It is far better to keep yourselves clean and pure and valiant.”

Raising the bar

Our former prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, also spoke of the need to raise the worthiness standards for missionaries. In fact, he commented on Elder Ballard’s talk saying, “Elder Ballard has spoken to you concerning missionaries. I wish to endorse what he said. I hope that our young men, and our young women, will rise to the challenge he has set forth. We must raise the bar on the worthiness and qualifications of those who go into the world as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 57).lds-mormon-oakland-temple

President Hinckley further said, “the time has come when we must raise the standards of those who are called … as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. … We simply cannot permit those who have not qualified themselves as to worthiness to go into the world to speak the glad tidings of the gospel.” (“Missionary Service,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 17).

Elder L. Tom Perry has also spoken on missionary worthiness, comparing these standards with those needed to enter the house of the Lord, the Holy Temple.  Said he, “Personal worthiness is the minimum spiritual standard for serving a mission. This means that you are worthy in every way to make and to keep sacred temple covenants.” (Raising the Bar, Ensign, November 2007)

bishop-interview2Worthiness interview

As I mentioned above, and as I talked about in my other posts on the Mission Application Timeline and the application process for Mission Papers, only a bishop (or branch president) can interview missionary candidates and recommend them as worthy to serve a full-time mission. In this interview, your priesthood leader will ask you if you meet the qualifications for missionary service revealed in section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants: faith, hope, charity, love, an eye single to the glory of God, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence.

Full-time missionary service is a privilege, not a right, and therefore, potential missionaries must be worthy in every respect in order to receive that privilege. If you have had law of chastity violations, your bishop and stake president (or branch president and district or mission president) will need to confirm that your repentance is complete prior to submitting your application.  They will make sure that you are prepared spiritually for your mission call and that you have been free of transgression for a sufficient time to manifest genuine repentance. If you have had multiple or serious violations of the law of chastity, this time period will likely be at least one year from the most recent occurrence.

Repentance

If you have had problems with the law of chastity, to prepare for a mission you will need to become worthy, and you will need to go through the repentance process. Complete repentance of law of chastity violations is necessary before a potential missionary can submit the paperwork. If you are afraid or unsure how to begin the repentance process, start by going to see your bishop. He will guide you through the steps of repentance and give you support along the way.

My young brothers and sisters, the Lord loves you.  If you have fallen into sexual transgression, He has provided a way back. The road of repentance is available thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The Lord, your family, and Church leaders will help you repent and fully prepare for your mission.

For those of you striving and succeeding at keeping yourself clean and pure in spite of this increasingly sex-obsessed world in which we live, I applaud your faith and courage. If you always obey the law of chastity, you will be spared the hardships that inevitably come when we violate God’s commandments.  You will keep yourself worthy to become one of the Lord’s chosen representatives, and you will have immense joy and eternal blessings for the missionary work you will perform.

Restoration of the Priesthood

John Baptist Aaronic Priesthood Joseph SmithToday marks the 180th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood of God.  It was May 15, 1829 when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods on the banks of the Susquehanna River and prayed to God to for the authority to baptize.  Their prayer was answered and the resurrected John the Baptist, the same who baptized Jesus Christ, descended from heaven, laid his hands on their hands and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood.  This event is recorded in section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants and this is what John said:

“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

Restoration of the Priesthood Video

Below is a video that I found depicting the restoration of the priesthood.  The video seems to be a 1970s seminary video produced by the LDS Church, but it’s good and short (about 6 minutes).  It portrays John the Baptist restoring the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery followed by Peter, James and John coming to restore the Melchizedek, or higher Priesthood.

elder david a bednarMissionary Work Inherent in the Priesthood
Elder David A. Bednar, in his Nov 2005 talk called Becoming a Missionary, said:

“All of us who have received the holy priesthood bear the sacred obligation to bless the nations and families of the earth by proclaiming the gospel and inviting all to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation…Proclaiming the gospel is not an activity in which we periodically and temporarily engage. And our labors as missionaries certainly are not confined to the short period of time devoted to full-time missionary service in our youth or in our mature years. Rather, the obligation to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is inherent in the oath and covenant of the priesthood into which we enter. Missionary work essentially is a priesthood responsibility, and all of us who hold the priesthood are the Lord’s authorized servants on the earth and are missionaries at all times and in all places—and we always will be. Our very identity as holders of the priesthood and the seed of Abraham is in large measure defined by the responsibility to proclaim the gospel.”

Blessings of the Priesthood

So on this anniversary of such an important occasion as the restoration of the priesthood, I hope that we priesthood holders remember that missionary work is an inherent part of the priesthood we hold.  I also pray that we remember what a privilege and a blessing it is to hold the priesthood.  It is through the priesthood that the Lord does his work and blesses mankind.  And by being faithful in our priesthood callings, we prepare ourselves and become eligible to receive magnificent blessings from the Lord ourselves.

As it says in the oath and covenant of the priesthood found in D&C 84:33–34 “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”

Temple Is Important Part of Mission Preparation

I received my temple endowment in 1995, in the Washington, DC Temple just prior to leaving for my mission to Rosario, Argentina.  It was a sweet experience as I was surrounded by my parents and other extended family.  All Mormon missionaries receive their temple endowment prior to embarking in missionary service.  Receiving the Mormon temple endowment is an important part of mission preparation because it gives individuals spiritual knowledge and power that will help them better serve the Lord.  The demands of missionary service require spiritual strength, and the temple blessings bring power to worthy missionaries. This power comes through the greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan, and the sacred covenants and blessings obtained only in the temple.

Here some statement by current and past prophets and apostles regarding the importance of missionaries receiving their temple endowment.

  • President Howard W. Hunter taught, “Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
  • “Going to the temple for your own endowment… [is] an integral part of your mission preparation…You cannot do this work alone. We have to have heaven’s help, we have to have the ‘gifts’ of God…This work is so serious and the adversary’s opposition to it so great that we need every divine power to enhance our effort and move the Church
    steadily forward” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr. 25, 1997).
  • “Missionaries …are not fully qualified to go forth, preach the gospel, and build up the kingdom, unless they have the gift of the Holy Ghost and also are endowed with power from on high…[that is] given only in the Lord’s Temple” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary)
  • The Lord “called all the missionaries to Kirtland in the early day of the Church to receive endowments in the temple erected there. He said this was so that they could go out with greater power from on high and with greater protection” (Doctrines of Salvation, Bruce R. McConkie).
  • Elder David B. Haight,”The temple endowment gives knowledge that, when acted upon, provides strength and conviction of truth.” (A Light unto the World [1997], 49).
[colored_box color=”green”]Read a related article on how the temple is and integral part of mission work for missionaries and new converts.[/colored_box]

Here is a great video produced by the Church on why Mormons build temples.

Go to the Mormon Missionary Preparation YouTube Channel.