Missionary work has been on my mind a lot lately as I have been recognizing the opportunities for missionary experiences in my neighborhood. I have never lived in a place where there are many missionary opportunities and now I am surrounded by people who are not members or who are not active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The opportunities are there yet it can be difficult to take them. I have taken a few small steps in the right direction and even then I was nervous. I felt impressed to give two sisters that I visit teach (both are not active) copies of the conference issue of the Ensign. This obviously was nothing too big but it was kind of a leap for me. I am not sure if they have read any of it or plan to, but I feel good knowing that I received a prompting and I followed it.
With all of that said about my recent experiences with missionary work now I will mention the real reason for writing this post. My husband has been reading his mission journal lately and thus has shared stories with me that I have never heard. I was absolutely blown away at some of the experiences he had. I am not talking about wonderful experiences of baptizing a family, or teaching a wonderful sister, or anything of the sort. I was shocked by the unreal experiences he had with a few very disobedient and heartless companions (this was before the bar was risen).
After he shared one particular experience I responded with a line of this sort - "If I found out that my son was that kind of missionary I would be heart broken and dissapointed...we can't let our children be missionaries like that." Then I asked him if their parents knew that their sons were missionaries like that and he said that they probably didn't. Then I asked him, "So how will we know if our sons are good missionaries?" We came to this conclusion...we will know long before they ever leave what kind of missionary they will be.
This brings me to this wonderful talk by Elder David A. Bednar called Becoming a Missionary. He perfectly answers what one must do to prepare for a full-time mission and further suggests that in every area of our lives we must focus more on becoming rather than going. Enjoy portions of the talk below or click on the link above for his full talk:
“In meetings with young members of the Church around the world, I often invite those in attendance to ask questions. One of the questions I am asked most frequently by young men is this: “What can I do to prepare most effectively to serve as a full-time missionary?” Such a sincere question deserves a serious response.
“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. Please 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 issue is worshipping 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” (Ensign, Nov 2005, 44).
Let us all focus on becoming missionaries now and help our children to do the same. I loved Elder Bednar's suggestion to emphasize things differently - to focus on the more important issues and become better people rather than just go through the motions of going to church, going on a mission, or going to the temple. Let us not only go but become.