It’s one thing to square shoulders, lift chins, and accept with courage and enthusiasm the responsibility to serve a mission. However, commitment needs to be paired with action. Fortunately, prophets and apostles have repeatedly offered counsel about preparing for missionary service.
In addition to reminding young men of their missionary responsibility, President Thomas S. Monson has clearly spoken regarding the need to prepare for a full-time mission. He offers these suggestions:
- Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord.
- Maintain your health and strength.
- Study the scriptures.
- Participate in seminary or institute.
- Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.
- For resources to prepare to share the gospel and be an effective missionary, read Preach My Gospel.
- Also available online is the Institute Missionary Preparation student manual.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advises young men, don’t just go on a mission, prepare for a mission. “The process of becoming a missionary does not require a young man to wear a white shirt and tie to school every day or to follow the missionary guidelines for going to bed and getting up, although most parents certainly would support that idea,” Elder Bednar says. “But you can increase in your desire to serve God (see D&C 4:3), and you can begin to think as missionaries think, to read what missionaries read, to pray as missionaries pray, and to feel what missionaries feel. You can avoid the worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw, and you can grow in confidence in recognizing and responding to spiritual promptings. Line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you can gradually become the missionary you hope to be and the missionary the Savior expects.”
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains how future missionaries can prepare to answer the Lord’s call to service. “No matter how much an individual or family may sacrifice for a mission or anything else, unless missionaries choose obedience, consecrating all of their time, talents, and resources in the service of the Lord while they are in the mission field, they cannot fully realize all the great blessings the Lord has in store for them,” Elder Hales says. “But it will be much more effective if they learn to be obedient before they go to the mission field.
“In order to return with honor, we need the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to be with us each day. You who hold the Aaronic Priesthood, be obedient and exercise your free agency righteously. Be worthy and be prepared to perform your calling well.”
Prophet’s Counsel to Missionaries
In a recent conference address, President Monson outlines basic steps young people should follow in preparing to be missionaries. He also offers counsel to young women and senior couples concerning full-time missionary service. Read, watch, or listen to his complete message.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gives further detailed counsel on preparing to serve a mission. See his article in the New Era’s most recent missionary issue. One tool he particularly recommends to help future missionaries prepare is For the Strength of Youth. “If [the youth] live the principles in For the Strength of Youth, they will be spiritually prepared to be great missionaries,” he says.
President Monson’s challenge during the October 2010 general conference was simple and direct: “To young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: 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.”
Such preparation will enable young men to live up to this statement, also from President Monson:
“Missionaries are marvelous. They’re called of God by prophecy. . . . They represent the fruits of all that is good within the Latter-day Saint family.”