Prepare to Be a Missionary Now

I spent the last two weeks writing posts on the topic of missionary preparation in order to prepare for a talk I was asked to give along with my brother when he came home from his mission.  Well, here it is -the missionary preparation talk.  I’d be happy if you left a comment to let me know what you think.  I have already given it, so it’s too late to make any changes, but I’m still always interested in what you have to say.

Hello, everyone. I am pleased to be able to talk today.

Today I have been asked to speak on preparing for a mission.

I would like to start by asking you young people to imagine a situation.  Many of you are very involved in various activities, such as sports and music.  These skills take much practice to excel in.  Imagine, if you will, that, after many weeks of practicing  you were able to make that elite team that you really wanted.  Excited, you go to attend your first day of practice.  Then, imagine the person standing next to you seems to feel out of place.  Nervously, they ask, “Now what are we doing?”  Unbelieving, you say,  “Don’t you know?  I worked so hard to get here, how could you have gotten here without knowing what you are doing?”

It seems silly to wait until the day you have made the team to start learning to play the game.  This same idea applies to missionary work.  If you wait until you are called to go on a mission to start to prepare, it is too late.  NOW is the time to prepare if you hope to make it onto God s great team of missionaries.

In the 2005 October general conference Elder Ballard gave a talk informing us that the bar for missionary work had been raised.  Missionaries from now on would be held to a higher standard.  They would be expected to be prepared to serve in the Lord’s work, or they would not be called.

In that talk Elder Ballard said

Please understand this: the bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised.  The day of  repent and go  missionary is over.

He also later said,

We don t need spiritually weak and semi committed young men.  We don t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul.  We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know ho to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.  This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings.  We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated,     reformed, or to receive a testimony.  We just don t have time for that.  We need you to be filled with  faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God.

You young men and young women, now is the time to prepare for a mission.  When I was young I remember getting the idea that you sent out a weak, struggling young person on a mission, and then just by going on a mission, he came back miraculously changed.  However, this is not the case.  When a young man or woman changes, it is because he goes to the Lord and repents and asks for help to become a better person.  Repentance is hard work, no matter when you do it.  If you wait to do it until you go on a mission, it will be at the expense of those you serve and those you serve with, if you are allowed to go at all.  NOW is the time to become a missionary.

Elder David A. Bednar said,

My dear young brethren, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a  call to serve is to become a missionary     long  before you go on a mission.  Notice that in my answer I emphasized becoming rather than going.  Let me explain what I mean.

In our customary Church vocabulary, we often speak of going to church, going to the temple, and going on a mission.  Let me     be so bold as to suggest that our  rather routine emphasis on going misses the mark.

The issue is not going to church; rather the issues is worshiping and renewing covenants as we attend church.  The issue is not going to or through the temple; rather the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord s house.  The issue is not going on a mission; rather, the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might mind, and strength.  It is possible for a young man to go  on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the Church needs.

My earnest hope for each of you young men is that you will not simply go on a mission-but that you will become missionaries long before you submit your mission papers, long before you receive a call to serve. Long before you are set apart by your stake president, and long before you enter the MTC.

When I asked both my husband and my brother what they did to help them prepare for their mission, their answer were simple.   Go to church  they said,  Pray and read your scriptures.   My husband also said that he did not really do much specific preparation for his mission, but rather throughout his whole life he was prepared to go on a mission by living the gospel.

Elder Bednar also said a similar thing,

You will not suddenly or magically be transformed into a prepared and obedient missionary on the day you walk though the     front door of the Missionary Training Center.  What you have become in the days and months and years prior to your missionary service is what you will be in the MTC.

So, how do you become a missionary?  The best way is to learn to live and love the gospel.  There is a book available that is all about how to become a missionary that you may also want to check out.  It is called,  Preach My Gospel.

When asked  How else can young men and young women prepare for mission,   Elder Ballard said:

Missionaries need to understand the doctrine, and they need to know how to share it.  You can t take water out of an empty bucket.  When missionaries know the gospel and how to teach it, they don t want to do anything else.  They know they can teach anybody, anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, using their own words accompanies by the power of the Spirit.  They have self-confidence and inner strength.  There’s great power in that kind of preparation.

For this reason, I encourage every young man and every young woman to get acquainted with Preach My Gospel.  Young people have the obligation to enlighten themselves, to understand for themselves the doctrines of the Restoration.  That preparation is every bit as important for a girl as it is for a boy  Whether the young woman gets married or serves a full-time mission, the gospel has to operate in her life.

You can purchase a copy of Preach My Gospel online through church distribution.  It is a great companion for anyone, young or old, who wants to serve a mission or who wants to become a better member missionary.  It is not expensive, and I encourage you to give this great book a look.

Now I would like to say a word to the young women.  I did not serve a mission, but I was ready to go if it had been right for me.  Instead, I got married, and now have a beautiful little girl.  When my baby was born I felt again the important of teaching my children the gospel.  I felt that I needed to make my testimony even stronger through study in order to better teach her the right way to live.  But, I found that now that I had a baby my time was no longer my own.  Instead of reading my scriptures first thing in the morning, the first thing I now do in the morning is take care of the baby.  My personal time is precious and I simply cannot take the time I used to study and learn the gospel.  I wish that I had taken better advantage of the free time I had before I had children to make my testimony that much stronger.  Whatever you do with your life, whether it is serving a mission, or raising children, or developing a career, or whatever you are going to do, a strong testimony and familiarity with the gospel will be an incredible help and blessing.

I now would like to bear my testimony to you that this is the true gospel.  Our greatest happiness come through living by it and by taking the Atonement of the Savior into our lives. I testify that he will help you to prepare for what he has in store for you.  If you heed the spirit, you will be guided and protected through your trials and will find happiness throughout your life.

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