What Leaders Can Do
Whether you’re a youth leader, bishop, stake president, or seminary teacher, those young men are watching you and looking to you for guidance.1. Be That Missionary
More than the summer boating outing, more than your career, your athletic prowess, or your car, the youth you teach will remember what kind of man you were. They pay attention to how you treat your wife, your kids, strangers, and each of the young men.
They need to see you act with love in all you do. Share your testimony and love for the Lord often and be enthusiastic about your Church assignments. Bring your own investigators to activities and they’ll do the same. Be a representative of the love it takes to be a missionary.
2. Turn the Time Over
Construct activities and lessons around Preach My Gospel, then turn the time over to the young men. Give them the opportunity to teach lessons, plan missionary firesides, and frequently share experiences they have preparing on their own. The deacons and teachers look up to the priests, so encourage them to set a good example and give them the responsibility to lead discussions and share their mission preparation experiences with the younger classes.
Assign responsibilities such as taking care of the meetinghouse, visiting the elderly and less-active members, going on splits with the full-time missionaries, and doing service projects.
3. Encourage His Talents
Whether he’s interested in playing chess, soccer, or the cello, support and encourage each young man to develop his talents and skills. Go to the games, concerts, or competitions and cheer him on.
What Parents Can Do
1. Be a Testimony
Children learn how to talk, walk, laugh, smile, eat, dance, and kiss by imitating their parents. They adopt your accent and your idiosyncrasies. They drive like you, they curl their hair like you do, and they drink out of the milk carton when no one’s looking (like you do). Certainly, as trend-setters parents can set an example.
In addition to bearing your testimony in Church and whenever you stumble on one of those conversations, be sure to live your testimony. If you know the Church is true, act like it. It will strengthen your own relationship with the Lord and influence that teenager you don’t think is paying attention.
2. Be a Missionary
Now, I’m not suggesting that you wake up at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning to don your white shirt and tie for your trip to the beach, but there are a few missionary habits that are completely appropriate for parents to adopt. Create a gospel-sharing home, as Elder Ballard advised in the April 2006 general conference.
Elder Ballard said, “Creating a gospel-sharing home is the easiest and most effective way that we can share the gospel with others. . . . A gospel-sharing home is not a program. It is a way of life. Creating a gospel-sharing home means inviting our friends and neighbors into the ongoing flow of family and Church activities. As we invite our friends to join us for these activities, they will also feel the Spirit.”
Invite the missionaries and investigators over for dinner to demonstrate your belief and conviction in the conversion process. Missionaries love home-cooked meals, and children love learning from cool, fun, spiritually strong, older-brother-like guys. Take your children home or visiting teaching (when appropriate) and encourage them to share Church videos, magazines, and copies of the Book of Mormon with their friends (if they feel prompted to do so). Set goals as a family to give out pass-along cards and use Preach My Gospel as a regular resource for planning family home evening lessons.
3. Create a Plan
Health appointments, dentist checkups, find affordable suits, and send in that passport information. Once you’ve tackled those tasks, you’ll realize that in order to finance the mission, you might need hold a yard sale every weekend for about two years.
It’s simpler to start early, like when your kids are still in Primary. Start a missionary fund—you know, those cute piggy banks with a section for tithing and a section for mission money? That’s the idea. Decide which chores will reap what amount of mission money, and ask your neighbors if they need their lawns mowed or bushes clipped. Part-time jobs (or full-time in the summer) are great for high school and college students. Like Grandpa used to say, work builds character. Start while you’re ahead and those nickels will add up.
Set up a plan with your spouse to set aside a certain percentage of your monthly income towards a mission fund; that way, you won’t gasp for air when you have to shell out $400 per month. And keep in mind that funding a mission shouldn’t be entirely the parents’ responsibility. The balance between what you and what your child will be contributing will be different for each family, but be sure you’re all clear on financial expectations well in advance of receiving the call. Approach mission preparation walking alongside your child, in a partnership.
And don’t forget to cover basic things like cooking and the difference between fabric softener and bleach.
What Teens Can Do
This is your time—take advantage of the relatively few years you have to prepare and get on your feet! Missionary work is the gospel in action. The best thing you can do as a teenager is to start living a missionary life now. Talk to your friends about the gospel; better yet, invite them to church or a youth activity. Go on splits with your ward missionaries, and talk to them about how to prepare. Make a mission plan with your church leaders and parents. Get into service projects. And don’t be a seminary sleeper—be a seminary scholar.
Here are some ways Earl C. Tingey suggested that young men prepare for a mission (“Missionary Service,” Ensign, May 1998):
· Secure an individual testimony of Jesus Christ.
· Study the Book of Mormon to receive a witness of the Restoration and Joseph Smith.
· Be clean and pure—talk to your bishop if you need help.
· Pay tithes and offerings and save money for your mission.
· Learn how to work hard.
· Fulfill your duties as a home teacher.
The best thing you can do, whether you’re a parent, leader, or teenager, is to start preparing now. Your efforts will lead to a successful mission.The Top Ten Attributes of a Magnificent Missionary
1. Friendly—get to know your companion, your mission president, your investigators, your ward members, and your Savior.
2. Culturally dignified—love the land and the culture; immerse yourself in the traditions and love the people you serve.
3. Charitable—serve others and demonstrate the pure love of Christ.
4. Testifying—don’t be afraid to testify of what you believe. Show your faith and love of the Lord and His gospel.
5. Loyal—be loyal to your companion, the missionary standards, and the Church.
6. Christlike—follow the example of Jesus Christ and emulate His divine attributes.
7. Hopeful—maintain a hopeful attitude, even when you are discouraged.
8. Involved—get involved in Church activities and investigators’ lives and needs.
9. Bold—approach people without fear and knock on one more door.
10. Humble—accept and learn from trials; listen to the counsel of your leaders and mission president.
Find out more about developing great missionary attributes like these in 100 Character Traits of the Whole Hearted Missionary by George D. Durrant (Cedar Fort).