Oftentimes the biggest challenge you'll face on your mission isn't the missionary work or the early mornings or the tough schedules. It's something much more common and difficult to overcome.
A missionary once told me, “When people said a mission was going to be hard, I assumed that meant I’d be cold or face difficult living conditions or struggle with the language. But for me the hardest part is what goes on in my head—like feeling discouraged or getting frustrated with companions or not liking talking to strangers—just dealing with all the ups and downs, the rejection, the change.”
To prepare for a mission, you can and should read Preach My Gospel, study the scriptures, and learn how to cook and do laundry. But you should also get practical experience now with the emotional, social, and other skills you’ll need as a missionary. Here’s a list of some of these skills. You can check off one or two of them to start practicing now.
The Skills of Being Humble without Feeling Humiliated
A sister missionary in Alabama, USA, told me, “I guess I thought when they set me apart, somehow I was going to get superpowers. So it was kind of a shock to me to find out when I arrived in my mission that I was still just me. I still had my same weaknesses, fears, and inadequacies. And those really haven’t gone away. I’ve had to learn how to deal with feeling inadequate at doing the Lord’s work.”
Whether you come into the mission with many successes under your belt or few, if you are humble, teachable, and willing to keep trying and working, the Lord can work with you. But your missionary skills will only improve as you practice, ask questions, get help, and keep trying. If you are convinced that people are just naturally good (or naturally bad) at missionary work, languages, testimony, or relationships, you’ll have a harder time.