Future missionaries, their parents, and their leaders are inundated with information about preparing for, entering, and serving in the mission field. With all of that information, deciding what to start with can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are five simple things that your missionary can do to focus on what’s most important as they prepare to serve:
1) Begin memorizing and studying D&C 4.
Alma counseled his sons before they left on their missions to have a sober mind as they declared the word of God (see Alma 37:47; 38:15; 42:31). This means to be serious about matters of importance and to keep your heart and mind focused on such matters. This requires that we grow spiritually and become humble and easily entreated so we can gain the knowledge of the truth and the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ. This will allow us to become men and women of a sound understanding. With the understanding of these great truths, we can appreciate Heavenly Father’s perfect plan and our Savior Jesus Christ’s infinite Atonement and our hearts will be full of gratitude. Gratitude draws us to Christ and becomes a catalyst to change. With it, we “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). We become filled with the love of God and we live after the manner of happiness (see 4 Nephi 1:15-16).
Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants becomes our standard for being a missionary. Read, ponder, and pray over these precious verses. This takes time. It is more than memorizing seven verses—it is having them become part of your very soul. They literally become who you are. You will have a desire to invite all to come unto Christ, just like the Sons of Mosiah:
“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” (Mosiah 28:3)
Remember you need to have faith unto repentance before you declare faith unto repentance. You need to come unto Christ before you invite people to come unto Christ.
2) Follow through with all the instructions you are sent.
Sometimes, in the excitement of opening a mission call, other important instructions are skipped over or not read. Remember that you will need to write a letter of acceptance, endorsed by your bishop. Writing that letter is an important part of making a covenant with the Lord to serve Him.
In addition to sending your letter of acceptance, you should also take time to read all of the information that came with your call. A booklet should be included in your packet with specific instructions and online resources that you will need as you finish preparing to serve. After you receive your call in the mail, another letter from the MTC you will be attending will be sent to you. This one will have all of the information you need to be prepared for your time at the MTC.
It is also a good idea to continue attending missionary preparation class and studying things like Preach My Gospel. By carefully reading and following through with the instructions given, it will be easier to focus on what matters most, because as the Lord promised in D&C 38:30, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."
3) Prepare to be endowed in the temple.
Brigham Young stated, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father” (Discourses of Brigham Young, Widstoe p. 416). In the simplest sense, the endowment is a presentation showing how, through ordinances and covenants, you can return to the presence of your Heavenly Father.
The endowment is, in the end, about being empowered from God (see D&C 38:32, 38; 43:16; 105:11; 110:9; 132:59). We understand that the Savior was empowered by God, for the last phrase in Acts 10:38 reads, “For God was with Him.” Heavenly Father will likewise be with you by the power of His Holy Spirit. He will empower you with the ability to do good, the power to live justly, the power to walk humbly, the power to judge righteously, the power to be enlightened, and the power to have your soul filled with joy (see D&C 11:12-13).
Though going through the temple is something you need to do before going on a mission, remember that it is actually the end goal. Taking temple preparation classes, reading books like The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer, and studying the scriptures are great ways to become familiar with the principles you will learn at the temple and will help you be more prepared to understand why the temple is such an important part of your missionary work.
The early apostles were counseled, “but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) as were the early apostles in our day, “and this cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high” (D&C 105:11). Likewise, today you are endowed with power from on high prior to serving your mission.
4) Make the most of your MTC experience.
The MTC is an important stop on your journey to the mission field. On your first day as a missionary, you will receive a booklet entitled A Missionary’s MTC Experience. This booklet will work hand in hand with Preach My Gospel to teach you the skills you need to know as a missionary. The introduction to A Missionary’s MTC Experience reads:
“Each day you will plan, study, and teach. The daily pattern of planning, studying, and teaching activities fit together. Planning prepares you to study with a focus on your investigators. Studying prepares you to teach by the Spirit. Teaching helps you better understand your investigators—and what to plan and study next. Each step is an opportunity to seek direction from the Lord and fulfill your purpose as a missionary.
Your teachers will help you become effective as you plan, study, and teach. Ultimately you will be able to conduct these activities on your own as you consistently focus on helping those you teach have faith in Jesus Christ and become converted.”
Take that pattern to heart! Planning, studying, and teaching will be the pattern of missionary life that will keep you centered on your purpose: To invite others to come unto Christ! Though you may be anxious to enter the field, the time and effort you spend at the MTC developing good habits and expanding your knowledge and testimony will be invaluable once you are on your own in the field.
5) Practice letting your light shine.
In 3 Nephi, Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they are “the light of this people” (3 Ne. 12:14), and explains that they will bless all of Heavenly Father's children. Christ also instructs the Nephites not to put their light under a bushel, but to put it “on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house” (3 Ne. 12:15). That same instruction applies to you: when you possess the light of Jesus Christ, you must not put it under a bushel. That light must be held up for others to see and draw near to. Then—and only then—will you be true and worthy representatives of our Savior. Before you leave, practice spending less time looking at your phone and more time looking at the people around you. Find ways to start conversations with those you encounter each day, or figure out a way to use a special talent you have to share your testimony. Once you are in the field, these same skills can be applied, and will perhaps be even easier if you have already practiced.
We choose, like Alma the Younger, to be instruments in the hands of God—to find and help save the children of God. You will be given strength and abilities beyond your own as you embark on this endeavor. All of the knowledge and skills you learn will be magnified by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Take upon yourself the divine nature of Christ (see 2 Peter 1:3-10; D&C 4:6). Love those you teach. Testify of the knowledge of the truth and of our Savior by the power of the Holy Ghost and invite all to come unto Him. Do this, and you will have joy in serving the Lord Jesus Christ as one of His disciples.
Lead image from Getty Images
For more great insights and suggestions for helping your teen prepare to serve a mission, check out What Every Future Missionary and Their Parents Need to Know by Ed J. Pinegar, available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com.