I’m dating someone who doesn’t want to go on a mission. How can I encourage him to go, without being too pushy?
Even though all worthy young men should serve a mission, making the decision to go on a mission isn’t always easy. Nineteen is an age when a lot of exciting possibilities—college, jobs and career, marriage—all seem imminent. Perhaps some of these opportunities have overshadowed the idea of serving a mission for your friend.
You can’t make a decision for someone else, but as a friend and someone special in his life, you can be a good influence on him. First, you should let him know of your desire for him to serve a mission. Then, perhaps, he will confide in you the reasons he has for not wanting to serve. Many problems have solutions as soon as they are acknowledged. The bishop can help if the problems are a matter of worthiness or financial considerations. Talking with returned missionaries can offer comfort if his hesitation involves fear of meeting and talking with strangers. If he is unsure of his testimony, you can suggest scripture study and fasting and prayer. You can plan to attend activities together that may be spiritual experiences, such as firesides or farewells or homecomings of other missionaries.
If he is worrying about you two, you can help by making sure that nothing in your relationship stands in the way of his worthiness to serve a mission. It may also help to avoid making immediate plans for the future. In other words, don’t get in the way of his decision to serve by making it too hard for him to leave you for two years.
One of the best ways of catching the spirit of missionary work is by being involved in it. One young man decided against serving a mission at 19. Later he became involved in helping teach a friend about the Church. He reported feeling such joy when his friend was baptized that he had the desire to serve a full-time mission. He submitted his papers and left just before his 21st birthday.
Talk to your parents and your Young Women advisers about your concerns. They can offer valuable advice and support.
Remember that you can offer support and encouragement, but the decision is still his alone to make. You can remain a supportive friend no matter what he makes up his mind to do.
Realistically, his decision may affect your relationship. However, don’t let his decision change your goals. You should cling to your determination to have a temple marriage or serve a mission of your own. This is an important time in your life too. These are your decisions to make. Be as prayerful and studious in your decisions as you have advised your friend to be.
It isn’t a matter of being pushy; it is letting him know how you feel. Be totally honest with him. Come right out and tell him how you feel, and then the two of you can discuss your feelings together. I know how hard it can be to bring a subject like this up to someone who doesn’t want to go on a mission. But with the help of the Lord, I know that it is possible. And then maybe the guy you are dating will realize what great blessings he will receive if he decides to serve a mission.
Becky Griffith, 18 Taylorsville, Utah
I have been dating my boyfriend for seven months now. We are both juniors in high school, and he is very good at sports, especially basketball. He has even been offered scholarships already. Because of his scholarship offers, he’s hesitant about a mission. The New Era is the best thing to convince him. A while ago I made him a book with tons of Mormonads, Mormonisms, and stories about missionaries. There were even some stories about sports and the gospel. A little light reading has never been considered pushy.
Susy Carpenter, 17 Chandler, Arizona
I’m not ready to date yet, but I’ve set my goals very high, and if the guy I’m dating doesn’t go on a mission, it might ruin a lot of my hopes like marrying a returned missionary in the temple. I know it would be hard to push back this fear of losing him, but I don’t want to lose any of the goals I have set for myself.
Brenda Johnson, 14 St. George, Utah
My boyfriend was not exactly thrilled about going on a mission and leaving home and me for two years. I was and still am the one who insists that I want to date only future or returned missionaries. I pushed and pleaded, threatened and fumed, but he still wouldn’t entertain the idea of a mission—even for me much less his parents. After about a year I gave up!
Then we started talking about what was really worrying both of us about a mission, both of us asking questions and trying to work out a way for both of us to be happy with the results. There were questions neither of us could answer alone, since we both would be affected by the outcome. Our search began with reading the Book of Mormon together. We also began to talk to our bishops about our questions. We also wrote to friends in the mission field to get their input on missions and how they came to the decision to serve. We came to the conclusion that he needed to put in his papers and wait for his call. I needed to go on with my life and future. When he gets back, there will be plenty of time to answer the questions about us.
I have a testimony of the Church, and I know with all my heart how important missionaries are. My brother is on a mission in Japan, and from his letters I’m just beginning to find out what he is really like and I feel a bond of friendship between us.
Heather Bennee, 17 Abbotsford, British Columbia
There were times I didn’t want to go on a mission. At times it was the farthest thing from my mind. I even tried not to think about it. But it still had a way of creeping back into my mind. When people would ask me if I was going, at first I said that I didn’t know, but after a little while I would say no to get off the subject. I actually did all I could to keep people from talking about it and asking about it. But it was still on my mind. All I can really tell you is to do just like you asked—encourage him. Talk about it once in a while, but if he asks you not to talk about it, do as he asks. It will still be on his mind. You just need to remind him one in a while. You can never push someone into a mission.
Elder Braegger, 19 Oregon Portland Mission
Your friend should sincerely fast and pray to Heavenly Father to get counsel from him. He is always there for us.
I’ve been a member for two years, and I have a strong testimony of the gospel. I’ve seen people who return from their missions truly blessed and happy about what they’ve done.
Jennifer Lindstrom, 17 Abbotsford, British Columbia
Girls can have a great influence on young men. Tell him how you feel. Tell him how important it is to you. In the long run, I think he’ll respect you and thank you for the influence you had in his life.
On the other hand, he needs to be going for the right reasons—not to please you, but because that’s what the Lord has asked him to do. He might need a little push to get started, but he needs to see the light for himself. He’d grow so much from serving the Lord in the mission field. Just tell him to do it! Have him read the missionary special issue (June 1989) of the New Era. Most of all, include him in your daily prayers. Our Heavenly Father will help you and guide you.
Rachelle Waite, 16 Idaho Falls, Idaho
A friend of mine had planned on going on a mission but was having doubts. I shared with him my feelings about missions, the great importance of them. I then bore my testimony of my great love for the gospel and for Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. It must have made my friend think. He is now planning for his mission. He has already submitted his papers.
My advice to you is to wait for the right moment to discuss this with him. If you’re afraid of being too pushy, take it one step at a time. If you don’t know the right things to say, ask Heavenly Father to help you.
Kaylene Miller, 15 Magna, Utah