Raising Missionaries Right: 8 Skills Parents Are Overlooking

Here are eight important lessons parents need to teach their kids, not only to help them become successful missionaries but to set a foundation for the rest of their lives.

After church one Sunday, my 10-year-old daughter’s Primary teacher stopped me in the foyer to share how amazing my daughter and her friend had been in role-playing being a missionary. She said she felt the Spirit so strongly as they seemed to answer tough questions with faith and courage, and she looked on in awe thinking about what fabulous missionaries these young women would be in a couple of years.

When she told me the story, this proud mama was all smiles. My oldest daughter is such a good girl. She always tries to do what’s right, and I never really worry about her. That is, until I start thinking about her away from home and possibly on a mission. Will her testimony be strong enough? Will she understand the gospel and scriptures enough to tackle tough questions? Will she really be ready?

I’ve always thought about missionary prep in terms of a class or studying and memorizing scriptures. Then I came across this article in the Liahona by a licensed psychologist about preparing emotionally and socially to serve a mission. The skills she shared are brilliant! They’re important, practical skills that I think we as parents sometimes overlook in our efforts to get our kids spiritually ready for a mission and making sure they know how to iron a shirt and cook a meal. But as the author pointed out, sometimes the biggest challenge in missionary work isn’t missionary work at all. Sometimes it’s what’s going on in their heads and with their emotions. Whether you’re trying to raise a missionary or not, these eight skills can help you better prepare your children to face the world.

Teach them how to be humble without feeling humiliated

Being humble is a hard concept for my kids to grasp. In the article I referenced above, the author explained it like this: being humble means being teachable and willing to learn. Help kids understand that people are not born naturally good or bad at anything. We’re all inadequate. Skills and talents come as a result of work, practice, and often some failure. Missionary work is no exception. It’s the Lord’s work, not ours, and we don’t have to figure it all out on our own. Here’s how parents can apply that idea now:

  • Let your kids try new and hard things to teach them to get out of their comfort zones. Extracurricular activities, new jobs, and unfamiliar classes can teach them to ask questions, get help, analyze mistakes, and keep trying.
  • Teach your kids to not take feelings of inadequacy too seriously. Trust that with practice and work you can improve.
Lead image from Getty Images.
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