My friends who aren’t members of the Church don’t understand why I want to serve a full-time mission. How can I help them understand what a blessing a mission can be?
When you’re a member of the Church, it can sometimes be difficult to explain to others why you do the things you do. People who aren’t Church members, especially those who don’t practice any religion, often mistakenly see Church standards as restrictive and harsh. Of course, as members of the Church, we know that the standards and commandments we are given to follow are blessings which bring happiness, growth, and protection.
So the first step in explaining a mission to your friends is to explain how important the gospel is in your life. Do you know of things your friends spend a lot of time doing? Perhaps they are excellent students, athletes, or artists. Explain to them that just as they spend time studying, rehearsing, or practicing, you devote a lot of your time to the Church. If it’s appropriate, bear your testimony briefly and simply. Tell them that going on a mission is an expression of your commitment to the gospel and your desire to help others know the truth.
Next you could explain that, while personal benefits are not the reason you are going on a mission, they come as an added blessing when you accept a mission call. When you ask returned missionaries what was beneficial about their missions, they usually say learning things like discipline, hard work, getting along with others, budgeting, and perseverance. Tell them that many missionaries also learn a foreign language and live in a foreign country, an experience that most people would think of as educational, whether or not they think missionary work is a good idea.
Do you know any returned missionaries that you could introduce your friends to? Most returned missionaries are excited about what they did while they were away and are eager to share their experiences with anyone who will listen. Your friend may be curious about what it’s like for missionaries to be away from home for so long without being able to come home for holidays and other important occasions. Meeting a returned missionary would allow them to see that most missionaries are glad to make sacrifices like being away from family and friends because they love their missions so much.
Last but not least, let the missionary spirit into your life. Take opportunities to be happy and positive in response to gospel questions. Let people know that you are excited about being a full-time missionary in the future by being a member missionary now.
Serving a full-time mission is a true blessing in anyone’s life and can help your spiritual growth for the rest of your life. Serving others helps them come to know the truthfulness of the gospel as you do. Since my dad is a mission president, I get to be around the missionaries and feel the joy they have in sharing the gospel. Missionaries are true examples of doing what is right, and it has helped me to make that decision myself to serve.
Carolyn Broadhead, 16 São Paulo, Brazil
I’ve served a mission and completed three years of college. I learned far more about myself, my Heavenly Father, and the world we live in while serving a mission than I have—or ever will—learn in school. It is impossible to damage your future when you are faithfully serving God.
Karl Hartman, 23 St. Petersburg, Florida
I’m from Chile. I was the only member of the Church in my high school and later in the university. All my friends didn’t understand why I was thinking about a mission. But I always try to remember the scripture in 3 Nephi 13:33 [3 Ne. 13:33] that says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Elder Miguel Mercado, 20 New Jersey Morristown Mission
Look your friends in the eye and tell them that your Heavenly Father has given you everything, and the least you can do is serve Him for two short years. Then bear your testimony of the truthfulness of this work. If they’re true friends, they’ll support you in your decision.
Greg Stevens, 18 Eagle, Idaho
When I decided to serve a mission, my friends encouraged me to finish college instead. But I decided to go on a mission anyway, and they wondered why. One of my friends said a mission was a waste of time, and I was a little offended by that. But I told him why my mission was important to me. Now I’m on a mission, and I still write my friends and share the blessings I’m receiving as a result of being a missionary.
Elder Janray Millarez Philippines Quezon City Mission
Two years may seem like a long time to serve, but many other people have been asked to make much greater sacrifices. Hannah (in the book of 1 Samuel) gave her son to the Lord. I am so grateful for missionaries because, had it not been for them, my parents would not have heard and accepted the gospel.
Melani Bowman, 18 Temecula, California
I would tell my nonmember friends that I am doing what makes me truly happy, and that I am eager to go on a mission.
Aaron Murdock, 17 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada