Each young man will realize that to serve a successful mission he must be prepared spiritually.
Scriptures for each young man.
Pencils for marking scriptures.
Make a copy of the handout “Ways to Prepare Spiritually for a Mission” for each young man.
This lesson gives the young men an opportunity to prepare spiritually for their missions. The young men need to know that the spirituality they develop now will sustain them later as they serve as missionaries for the Lord. Depending on the time available, you may want to take two weeks on this lesson.
Suggested Lesson Development
Ask the young men to imagine that in this modern day of machines, calculators, computers, and robots, the Church has invented a missionary robot and given it the name of Elder Cal Q. Later.
What are some things Elder Cal Q. Later might do very well as a missionary?
What would be some advantages of having thousands of Elder Cal Q. Laters sent around the world to do missionary work? (Possible responses: they could easily endure all the physical challenges of a mission; they could be programmed with all the lessons that a missionary would have to teach; they could be programmed to speak fluently in any language; they could be programmed to respond well to common questions that missionaries are asked; they could be given appropriate social responses and manners that would please people in the cultures where they are sent; they would not have to pay for food or a place to sleep; they could go on many consecutive missions without tiring.)
Do you think such an idea would work? Why not?
What characteristics of an effective missionary can be developed only by humans? (Love, spirituality, testimony, enthusiasm, inspiration from the Holy Ghost.)
Explain that these are spiritual characteristics and they are essential to missionary work. For example, investigators of the Church need to hear a testimony that has been prompted by the Holy Ghost. Because missionary work can succeed only if the missionary has spiritual strength as well as physical, intellectual, and social abilities, a robot could never be an adequate missionary.
How Can an Aaronic Priesthood Holder Prepare for a Mission?
Explain that to be successful, every missionary needs to have spiritual power. Express confidence in each young man’s ability to develop the spiritual power necessary to be a successful missionary.
What does it mean to be spiritual? (To be in tune with and have access to the spiritual help that comes from God in the form of love, forgiveness, inspiration, testimony, revelation, and discernment.)
Why doesn’t God automatically bless missionaries with spirituality when they are set apart to go on their missions? (Spirituality is a character trait that we must develop just like any other ability that we have.)
Why shouldn’t you wait until you get into the mission field to prepare spiritually? (It wastes time to spend several months on a mission without the spiritual abilities necessary to serve well.)
When is the best time for you to prepare yourself spiritually for a mission? (When you hold the Aaronic Priesthood.)
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. …
“Far too many young men arrive at the missionary age quite unprepared to go on a mission, and of course they should not be sent. But they should all be prepared” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, pp. 7–8).
Situations and discussion
Explain that being prepared spiritually gives a missionary the qualities a robot could never have. After reading the following situations, discuss these two questions: Why couldn’t a robot respond appropriately in this situation? What could you do if you were a spiritually prepared missionary?
A child of the family the missionaries are teaching is hit by a car and is rushed to emergency surgery.
A father says he has never prayed and isn’t sure that God answers prayers.
A young man doesn’t see the need to stop smoking and drinking.
The mother in an investigator family says that she has never felt accepted in any church she has gone to.
Bring out the following ideas: robots cannot love, bless, receive answers to prayers, exercise faith, or develop testimonies, but people can. Holders of the Aaronic Priesthood can learn to do these things well and then be prepared to serve with spiritual power as they go on a mission.
Scripture and discussion
Have the young men read, mark, and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 42:14.
What can we learn from this scripture? (We must have the Spirit of the Lord to teach.)
What kind of preparations can we make to help us have the Spirit when we teach others?
Quotation and discussion
President Spencer W. Kimball explained to prospective missionaries:
“One should study, ponder, learn scriptures, and build his testimony so that he may be prepared to teach and train. The Lord has said, ‘If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.’ … Every person approaching a mission should be schooled, trained, and indoctrinated for immediate and proper participation in proselyting. …
“Certainly by the time a young man reaches his nineteenth birthday, he should be prepared to step from his conventional role at home into the important role of the missionary without a total reorganization of his life, his standards, or his training” (“Advice to Young Men: Now Is the Time to Prepare,” New Era, June 1973, p. 9).
Why is it so important for a missionary to have a testimony?
When should the preparation that President Kimball asked for take place? (Right now, while you hold the Aaronic Priesthood.)
Explain that the Aaronic Priesthood is called the preparatory priesthood. It prepares a young man for the Melchizedek Priesthood, which will give him spiritual power to bless and teach others.
There Are Great Rewards for Spiritually Prepared Missionaries
Stories and discussion
Share the following true accounts of missionaries who were prepared spiritually. Ask the young men to listen for ways the missionaries were spiritually prepared and how they were rewarded for their preparation.
“This was my first Sunday in my mission, and I was assigned to a new branch of the Church in North Wales. My companion and I lived with the only members in the area. Their home was the chapel. Our small bedroom was the children’s classroom. It was to be the first Sunday for the Wilkins family, an investigating family, to come to church. They were the parents of four children under the age of eight years, two boys and two girls. My companion said, ‘I’ll teach the adult Sunday School class in the living room, and you teach the children in our bedroom.’ I had never taught anyone before, but there were some stories that Jesus told that had become my favorites through the years. I easily found them in the scriptures and read once again about the good shepherd who left the ninety-nine other sheep to find his lost lamb. I was inspired that those children could love that story as I did. I made some flannel board characters. Then I knelt down in my small bedroom and prayed that the first lesson in the Church for these two boys and two girls would be a good one. When the family arrived, church began, and I was soon entering our makeshift classroom for Sunday School. The children thought it was fun to sit on my companion’s bed while I sat on mine to teach them. The Spirit of the Lord touched us all. Today, eighteen years later, one of the boys serves in a bishopric, after having returned from his mission. The other boy is married, and his wife has joined the Church since their marriage. The two girls were both married in the temple and are raising their children in the Church.”
What were the spiritual tasks this missionary had to do during the first week of his mission? (Use the scriptures, pray, and teach by the Spirit.)
What resulted from this missionary’s spiritual preparation? (He was able to teach children the gospel, even though he had never done it before.)
What could you be doing now so that you could be spiritually prepared like this missionary?
“I was in North Wales for only three and a half weeks. Four days after I baptized Brother and Sister Wilkins in the Atlantic Ocean, I was transferred to Chester, England. My new companion and I quickly went to work to open a new area. We met many new people and felt that we would soon make progress. Because it was a new area, there were no other priesthood holders, nor were there other missionaries within twelve miles of us. We were doing well until my companion awakened early one morning writhing in pain. His appendix was ready to burst. He asked me to administer to him. I felt that the Lord wanted him to be blessed and wanted me to do it, even though I had never administered to anyone before. I prayed for help, and I blessed him in the name of Jesus Christ. After that, everything worked for the good of my companion. I got him to the hospital safely, and he was well cared for there.”
What was the reward for spiritual preparation in this case? (The missionary was prepared to act for Jesus in the way Jesus would have acted if he had been there.)
What kind of spiritual preparation could you do now to be able to have an experience like the one this missionary had? (Learn about the Melchizedek Priesthood and how one performs the ordinances of that priesthood, and learn what spiritual qualities help make a man worthy to use the holy priesthood.)
Account 2, continued
“Because of my companion’s surgery for appendicitis, I was transferred a hundred miles away to Mansfield, England. My new companion had been there for a couple of months and had taught a few people, but they had not shown much interest in the Church. He suggested that we fast and pray for new families to teach. At the time, there were about twenty-five members who came regularly to church. As we finished our fasting, we both felt an assurance that the Lord wanted us to teach many people. In three weeks, there were about forty-five people coming to church, nearly half of them our new investigators. We were busy for many months, both teaching and baptizing.”
What were the rewards of spiritual preparation in this case? (The Church grew very dramatically for a while in that area.)
What kinds of spiritual preparation made the difference for those two missionaries? (They were able to fast and pray for a purpose, and there was unity between them.)
Handout and challenge
Explain that the real fruits of a mission are that people are helped on their way to eternal life. The spiritual abilities that the young men develop now will help make them successful missionaries.
The handout “Ways to Prepare Spiritually for a Mission” could be completed in class or at home.
Ask each young man to do the following:
Read the scriptures at the bottom of the page of the handout and write the scripture reference in the blank that fits with the category of spiritual preparation. Answer the question that goes with each category. Place the paper where it will remind him of some of the things to do to prepare spiritually for his mission.
Begin today asking his Heavenly Father each day to help him become spiritually prepared for a mission.
During the next week find two stories in the scriptures that he could teach to someone as a missionary.