Sunday, October 7, 2007

Missionary Preparation

Joseph Fielding Smith European Mission 21 February 1900

Missionary work is God's work. Missionaries are his messengers, his ambassadors. They must deliver his message to the world. That does not mean that they need no preparation. An ambassador from one nation to another needs a great deal of training to fill that position efficiently and worthily. The ambassadors of our Lord need more preparation than any representative of a mere worldly kingdom. It is a missionary's duty to "get an understanding of the gospel and teach it, as the Spirit directs," but to get an understanding of the gospel, he must both study it and practice it. This is his preparation. When he is thus prepared, the Spirit will direct his utterance. (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976, p. 632).

The Aaronic Priesthood is the preparatory priesthood, given for this preparatory time in your life. How you bear that priesthood now will prepare you to make the most important decisions in the future. These decisions include receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, going to the temple, serving a mission, getting an education, selecting an occupation, and choosing a companion and being sealed for time and for all eternity in the holy temple. There is a time and season for all of our decisions. Make sure you make decisions in the proper time and season. All of these life-altering decisions will be made in a very busy, relatively short period during your 20s—-during what I call the "Decade of Decision." (Robert D. Hales, “To the Aaronic Priesthood: Preparing for the Decade of Decision,” Conference Report, April 2007).

Cultivate in our homes a proper attitude toward missionary service. We enjoy the blessings we so greatly treasure because of those who have gone before us. Out of a sense of appreciation, out of simple gratitude, we should make an effort to extend these same blessings to others. Our young people have an obligation to prepare themselves for missionary service.

We should also build the attitude that there is nothing of a vacation, nothing of a holiday in this great missionary service. It is hard, and at times discouraging, work. Last year our missionaries averaged sixty-seven hours a week in actual proselyting effort. Let those who contemplate missions realize that they will work as they have never worked before, and that they may expect such joy as they have not previously known....

Foster training for missionary service. One of the great compliments paid the Savior was that he taught as one having authority. The missionary, who knows scripture and can quote it speaks with the voice of authority. It is not essential to memorize five hundred citations, nor even three hundred. Fifty well chosen verses of scripture will become a remarkably effective tool in the hands of a missionary. May I suggest that in our family night gatherings we make it a project to memorize one scripture citation a week pertinent to this work. At the conclusion of a year our children will have on their lips a fund of scripture which will remain with them throughout their lives. . . .

Make financial preparation. Missionary work, like everything else, has become more costly. . . . A little at a time, systematically saved, will assure our children that the necessary means will be available when a missionary call comes. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1959, p. 120).

People say: “We cannot understand the strength of ‘Mormonism,’ we cannot understand why [thousands of] young men and young women at one time, at their own expense or at the expense of their families, will go into the world, giving their time without money and without price, to proclaim the gospel, losing their wages, paying their own way, to proclaim your faith.” Every Latter-day Saint can understand it. They understand it because those young men and those young women who go out to proclaim the gospel, live it; they in very deed are fulfilling the requirements laid down by the Savior “to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, might and strength,” and the next great commandment, “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1922, 10).

There is a very great difference between our mode of promulgating the gospel, and that pursued by the world. Many of these men … would be very unlikely instruments for preaching the gospel according to popular notions; but the grand difference between us and them is that we go forth in the name of Israel’s God, sustained by His power, wisdom and intelligence, to proclaim the principles of eternal truth communicated to us by Him; while they go forth to proclaim what they have learned in colleges.

Our Elders go forth in weakness....When [they] go forth, they have no preparation beyond the common rudiments of education that all are supposed to learn; but it is not words they go to teach, it is principles. And although before an audience learned in the laws of God, they may feel a good deal of tremor and bashfulness in trying to express themselves, yet, when they go forth and stand before congregations in the world, the Spirit of the Lord God will go with them, the Lord will sustain them and will give unto them wisdom, “that all their adversaries will not be able to gainsay, nor resist.” [See Luke 21:15.] That is the promise made to the servants of the Lord who go forth trusting in Him. (John Taylor, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, [15 June 1867]: 2).

When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world. That is another challenge that the young people will understand that it is a greater privilege to go on a mission and that they must be physically well, spiritually well, and that "the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance."

I am asking for missionaries who have been carefully indoctrinated and trained through the family and the organizations of the Church, and who come to the mission with a great desire. I am asking for better interviews, more searching interviews, more sympathetic and understanding interviews, but especially that we train prospective missionaries much better, much earlier, much longer, so that each anticipates his mission with great joy. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 4 April 1974; Ensign, [October 1974]: 2).

Every man or woman who goes forth in service blesses the lives of all he teaches. Furthermore, his or her own life is enriched by his selfless labor. Who has not witnessed the miracle of the missionary who has grown in a wondrous way while engaged in the work of the Master?

Priesthood leaders and fathers and mothers should begin while a boy is very young to point him in the direction of missionary service. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Miracle Made Possible by Faith,” Ensign, [May 1984]: 46).

A mission is not just a casual thing--it is not an alternative program in the Church. Neither is a mission a matter of choice any more than tithing is a choice, any more than sacrament meeting is a choice, any more than the Word of Wisdom is a choice. Of course, we have our free agency, and the Lord has given us choices. We can do as we please. We can go on a mission or we can remain home. But every normal young man is as much obligated to going on a mission, as he is to pay his tithing, attend his meetings, keep the Sabbath day holy, and keep his life spotless and clean. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Circles of Exaltation," in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982, p. 10).

In missionary work, as in all else, preparation precedes power. Encouragement to prepare while still very young can make a tremendous difference. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, April 1987).

It is not sufficient that a young man or woman signify his desire, because of his confidence in his parents, to do what they would have him do, go into the world and preach the gospel; it is not sufficient that they answer the call that our Heavenly Father makes from time to time through his servants for mission service; but it is also necessary that they qualify for the work, search the scriptures, and learn what the Lord would have them know. It is important that our sons and daughters become established in their faith and know as their parents that this is our Father’s work. (George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, p. 13).

Attitude is the key. Young people need to commit themselves early in life to the idea of a mission. That way, when they get older and begin to face some of the world’s temptations, those temptations will be less likely to penetrate their hearts or minds. They will resist the temptations because they are focused on becoming a servant of the Lord. It helps if they live in a gospel-sharing home. A missionary spirit is generated in a home where parents and children share the gospel with one another. (M. Russell Ballard, “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era, [March 2007]: 8).

I wish to bring forward a few items which justify this conclusion that our young men missionaries are ministers of religion. I grant you that they do not always look as other ministers look. They may be disappointing to some in formality and grace of expression. Many of them may not have attained the scholastic standing reached by most of the profession. What is the missionary’s training for the ministry.
First, he is usually reared in a home presided over by a man of the priesthood, who, in certain aspects at least, may be looked on as a man of the ministry. The functions of the ministry are carried forward in large measure in the future missionary’s home. Prayer, blessings, scriptural and religious learning are features of his early environment. He is accorded the opportunity of participation. He prays, he sings, he reads, he studies, and in adolescent years, joined in sacred religious ordinances.

Second, in the religious educational program of the Church, he becomes identified with the organizations of the Church. His mother may bring him to Sunday School as a baby; he toddles into the infant classes; and from then on he is taught, and he learns the literature of the Church and the ways of the Lord.

Third, he is integrated into a spiritual society. His recreation, which not infrequently brings the contacts which enable him to choose his life’s partner, is supervised and directed under religious auspices, whose constant endeavor it is to clarify and define the ultimate goals of life. In the atmosphere of such spirituality, his spirit nature is nurtured and developed. His liberal participation in all such institutions and exercises is calculated for the development of that spirituality. What may I ask, is more essential to a ministerial calling?

Fourth, there then comes to the adolescent youth training and experience without counterpart in any other institutions of which I am aware. He enters the quorums of the priesthood. At the age of twelve he is first ordained and inducted into a group of approximately his own age.

He is taught the history of the priesthood and he is made to understand that the power conferred upon him, even though a mere youth, derives from the authentic power given by the Lord Jesus Christ from his servants to those selected to receive the priesthood in this dispensation of time, and from whom it has come in direct and authentic succession to this boy. He has respect for his calling, and he seeks to discharge his duties as a youthful holder of the priesthood of the Lord. Is that training for a minister of the gospel of Christ? Is there anything taught in the seminaries of ecclesiastical learning more important as groundwork for ministerial service than actual participation in the functions and offices of the priesthood?
Well, this young man continues through the various gradations of the priesthood, always being given and assuming larger participation in the functions of the Church and the blessings of the people.

Fifth, much of the education of the young man, not only in Sunday School, the other auxiliary organizations, and the priesthood quorum, but also in his academic training, is directed toward acquisition of theological learning and capacity to live and expound the principles of the gospel. Church schools, institutes, and seminaries are available to him in this preparation.

If he avails himself of all these privileges, I say he is prepared for missionary service and for ordination and setting apart to go forth as an ambassador and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ in teaching the gospel to the people and performing ministerial services among them. I hope that never again in our own country or in other countries will the ministerial status of our missionaries be seriously questioned. (Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, October 1955, pp. 97-98).

As we came in here, we met two young men. I said, “Are you going on a mission?” One young man said, “I just sent my papers in.” The other man said, “I’m getting my papers ready to send in.” I said to myself, “It’s for real. It’s happening. Things are working as they should work.”

It should be the ambition, the desire, the hoped-for experience of every young man in this Church to go into the world as a teacher of the eternal gospel, as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t know where you’ll go. Some of you may even be sent here or to other parts of Asia. It will prove to be a tremendous and wonderful experience for you. You will live close to the Lord. You will pray as you never prayed before. You’ll teach, and you’ll do great good that will bless your life as long as you live. There is no questioning my mind concerning that.

So to all of those little boys who are here tonight, I want to urge you to save and prepare and think of and dream of and pray for the experience of a mission in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Singapore Member Meeting, 30 January 2000 quoted in Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley: Volume 2: 2000-2004, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 281).

Were you going on a mission to the opposite portions of the globe, and about to leave all, with no one to lean upon but God, you would seek unto Him all the time. And when your missions are given you near home, if you cease to trust in God, and to call upon His name with the same diligence as you would in a foreign mission, you will do but little, if any, good, and your missions will be in vain. And I warn you, that if you do not fulfill this mission with an eye single to the glory of God, and with a view to save Israel and the souls of men; that if your minds are upon your farms, houses, lands, and families; you will find your garments soiled, they will not be spotless. If you do not feel disposed to devote your time and attention to your missions, you had better say, “Brethren, please excuse me,” for you had better stay home, unless you whole soul is in the work. (Brigham Young, Conference Report, 9 October 1853).

The Lord has provided wise counsel for youth. Let us grow up the way the Lord planned it.

He provided four stages: Infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. It was not his plan that we should skip any of them. But we do skip adolescence when we date and marry too young.

The Lord gave us parents to help us through at least three of those stages—-in infancy to care for our babyhood needs; in childhood to provide us with direction, food, clothing, and a home: in adolescence to counsel us and prepare us for adulthood.

The Lord is all-wise. It was he who gave us parents. It was he who made them our guardians. He is our parent himself—our Father in Heaven. Should we pit our wisdom against his? Then let us fit into his plan of salvation:

His way of life provides for happy home life, for loving care from parents, for willingness on the part of young people to be taught, and for a partnership of parent and child leading to the eventual success of the child.

So let us delay any dating until our mid-teens. Let us avoid serious dating before twenty. Let every boy go on a mission. Let every girl encourage boyfriends to fill missions and not prevent it by early marriage or sin.

Plan for a good education. Plan for the abundant life. Crowding too much adulthood into a teenager’s life can only impoverish him. (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, p. 116).

Now is the time to prepare for your mission. Depending upon your individual circumstance, you may be able to serve a full-time proselyting mission. While this is important, remember that even more important is going to the temple on the way to your mission. A mission is a priceless opportunity to keep temple covenants by living the law of consecration—-giving all of your time, gifts, and talents to the Lord and serving Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. I have always felt that the two years you serve will be a tithing of time on the first 20 years of your life. But even if you are not able to serve a full-time mission, you can prepare for one day in the future, when the time is right, to go to the temple to make sacred covenants so that you can receive your eternal blessings. (Robert D. Hales, “To the Aaronic Priesthood: Preparing for the Decade of Decision,” Conference Report, April 2007).

God has a timetable--a sequence or season for good things. A mission, when its time has arrived, takes priority over marriage and education. And when one is mature enough and has found the right company, then marriage should not be delayed for education. While all three--mission, marriage, and education--are essential, there is a proper order to follow. (Ezra Taft Benson, "In His Steps," Church Educational System Devotional, Anaheim, California, 8 February 1987).

You young men are no doubt looking forward to receiving the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood. Of this higher priesthood the Prophet Joseph Smith said, "Its institution was prior to 'the foundation of this earth, or the morning stars sang together, or the Sons of God shouted for joy,' and is the highest and holiest Priesthood, and is after the order of the Son of God." (History of the Church, 4:207.)

As priesthood holders we are agents of the Lord. The Lord spoke of this sacred agency to the elders of the Church in Kirtland in 1831: "Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord's errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business." (D&C 64:29.)

President Hinckley has often reminded us that missionary work is essentially a priesthood responsibility. It is a great honor and responsibility to be called to serve the Lord in missionary work. This service brings lasting joy, even though it also can be challenging and discouraging at times. My mission changed the course of my life. It was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Serving a mission prepares us for the rest of our life's work and our eternal work. (James E. Faust, Message to My Grandsons, Conference Report, April 2007).

Early marriage is seldom successful. Girls—-do not rush yourselves and your boyfriends into early marriage. Early marriage is seldom successful. It often prevents completing one’s education. It usually condemns a couple to a low income and low standard of living. It prevents the boy from going on a mission. Every girl should plan to encourage her boyfriend to enter the mission field. (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, p. 126).

Also, another great reason for having all boys become missionaries is the fact that two years of training and preaching and indoctrination themselves is a great education for them as they return home and enter the ecclesiastical field. We will need large numbers of bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents and other ecclesiastical authorities for the fast, constantly growing Church, and especially abroad.

We can never be totally happy with a few missionaries from a country when they should send hundreds, eventually thousands, of young people into the mission field. Yes, of course, it is a sacrifice, but not too great a sacrifice when we consider the advantages and the blessing which come there from. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976).

I was ordained an Elder by the proper authorities, and I went forth to preach this Gospel. Other Elders went forth as I did to the civilized nations, preaching the same doctrine and holding out the same promises. Some of them were not very learned; some were not very profoundly educated. We send a singular class of people in our Elders. Sometimes a missionary is a merchant, sometimes a legislator, a blacksmith, an adobe maker, a plasterer, a farmer, or common laborer, as the case may be. But all under the same influence and spirit, all going forth as missionaries to preach the Gospel of light, of life and of salvation. They have received the treasures of eternal life, and they are enabled to communicate them to others; and they hold out the same promises.

You who hear me this afternoon as well as thousands upon thousands of others, have listened to those principles, you have had held out unto you those promises; and when you obeyed the Gospel, you received this same spirit; and you are my witnesses of the truth of the things that I now proclaim in your hearing and of the Spirit and power of God attending the obedience to the Gospel, and you will not deny it. This congregation will not deny it. When you yielded obedience to the laws of God, obeyed His commandments, and were baptized for the remission of your sins and had hands laid upon you for the reception of the Holy Ghost, you did receive it; and you are living witnesses before God. This is a secret that the world does not comprehend. … We are in possession of the principles of eternal life, and are operating for eternity; and then we are operating to build up the Zion of God, where righteousness can be taught, and where men can be protected, and where liberty can be proclaimed to all men of every color, of every creed and of every nation. (John Taylor, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, [18 April 1882]: 1).

It is so important that you lose yourselves in this work that you don't worry about "what is it going to do for me." You are not out in the world with self-improvement as the major objective, but you can't help getting a maximum amount of self-improvement if you lose yourself in the work of the Lord. I don't know of any better preparation for life than two years of devoted, unselfish, dedicated service as a missionary. (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, pp. 59-60).

A college or university education could be dispensed with, but not sanctification. One who accepts the call to the ministry in the Church of Christ must first be saved from all unselfishness, so that he desires only the glory of God. He must be pure and clean, and be able to bear that testimony before God, the eternal Father. (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974,p. 554).

Young men having planned for 19 years to fill a mission will be more fruitful, more effective, and more successful when they serve and more people will come into the Church and will create more enthusiasm and there will be a chain reaction. Is there any other thing that would have a greater chain reaction and affect more interests and people? (Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary,” New Era, [May 1981]: 48).

Exciting fields of labor the world over allow the inspiration of the Lord to call young men and women and devoted couples to challenging assignments conditioned to each personal need and capacity. I rejoice in the opportunity to participate in this captivating effort that potently blesses so many around the globe.

Elder M. Russell Ballard has spoken about creating a gospel-sharing home. I will discuss how to prepare to be a full-time missionary as an elder, a sister, or a couple.

The process begins in the home long before missionary age when parents instill in the minds and hearts of every young boy the concept of “when I go on a mission,” not “if I go on a mission.” Children are best taught gospel truths in the home where instruction can be adapted to the age and capacity of each child. In the home the whole armor of truth is tailor fit to the individual characteristics of each child. Parental teaching qualifies children for life and prepares worthy young men for the joy of missionary service. In the home a young girl can understand that her primary role is to be a wife and mother. Yet as that preparation unfolds there may be an opportunity to serve a full-time mission, provided recent counsel of the First Presidency is followed: “Worthy single women ages twenty-one and older... may be recommended to serve full-time missions. . . .

These sisters can make a valuable contribution, but they should not be pressured to serve. Bishops should not recommend them for missionary service if it will interfere with imminent marriage prospects.” (Communication from the First Presidency, unpublished. Communication from the First Presidency, unpublished.)

Many parents are using parts of the guide Preach My Gospel to stress the concepts that will bear fruit as their children’s testimonies mature while they are nurtured in the home. As a young boy you can learn how to fulfill your duty as a future priesthood bearer. You will be helped to understand and apply important teachings of the Lord. You will be strengthened to live worthily to be able to receive sacred temple ordinances and to serve a full-time mission. Such experiences will develop a foundation for the later blessing of your being a strong husband and father.

Portions of Preach My Gospel will prepare you as a young woman to understand and apply doctrine for your role as wife and mother. Should you choose to serve a full-time mission, you will have a foundation for it. The seminary programs will help you as a young man or woman to lay a foundation for happiness and success in life. There is a special course in the institute program and at the three Brigham Young Universities that can prepare you for missionary service. It is founded in the principles contained in Preach My Gospel and goes hand-in-hand with that powerful resource. It will give you a head start for when you are called to serve.

The power and effectiveness of the guide Preach My Gospel for missionaries, leaders, members, and parents is manifest in the fact that just under one million copies have been distributed thus far. Are you benefiting from your own personal copy? (Richard G. Scott, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Ensign, [May 2006]: 87).

Every parent who parts with his son can feel perfect confidence, though that son may go forth without money to sustain him, without experience in the things of the world, and without friends, only such as God will give him. He can let his son go with full confidence that if he will do right he will receive the blessings of God during his absence, and will return strengthened in the faith of the everlasting Gospel, full of hope, full of testimony and full of strength to bless his fellows among whom he will dwell after his return. Do you not know that this is the case, my brethren and sisters? Have any of you ever parted with a son, who has been called to go and preach the Gospel, that you have not had this feeling and this confidence, that if he would live pure and keep the commandments of God, he would come back a developed man in the things of God, with increased faith, enlarged knowledge and a broader comprehension of the character of the work God has established? It is this that constitutes the strength of this Church. It is this feature that makes it a power in the earth. It is this that develops the faith of those who take this course. (George Q. Cannon, Salt Lake Tabernacle, 20 October 1889).

Prepare now to go on a mission. It will not be a burden. It will not be a waste of time. It will be an opportunity and a great challenge. It will do something for you that nothing else will do for you. It will sharpen your skills. It will train you in leadership. It will bring testimony and conviction into your heart. You will bless the lives of others as you bless your own. It will bring you nearer to God and to His Divine Son as you bear witness and testimony of Him. Your knowledge of the gospel will strengthen and deepen. Your love for your fellowmen will increase. Your fears will fade as you stand boldly in testimony of the truth. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Converts and Young Men,” Ensign, [May 1997]: 59).

Preparation for a mission begins early. It is a wise parent who encourages young Jimmy to commence even in boyhood his personal missionary fund. As the fund grows, so does Jimmy’s desire to serve. He may well be encouraged as the years go by to study a foreign language, that if necessary his language skills could be utilized. Didn’t the Lord say, “Teach all nations?” (Matthew 28:19.)

Then comes that glorious day when the bishop invites Jim into his office. Worthiness is ascertained; a missionary recommendation is completed. There follow those anxious moments of wonderment and the unspoken question, “I wonder where I will be called?”
During no other crisis does the entire family so anxiously watch and wait for the mailman and the letter that contains the return address: 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah. The letter arrives, the suspense is overwhelming, the call is read. Often the assigned field of labor is a far-away place with a strange-sound name—Tonga, The Philippines, France-Belgium—to name a few. More frequently, the assignment may be closer to home. The response of the prepared missionary is the same: “I will serve.”

The experience at the Missionary Home In Salt Lake City is enjoyable, hectic, and helpful. Never has a young person had newer clothing, cleaner shirts, nor more uncomfortable shoes. He occupies the limelight. It is a touching scene to witness parents of modest means give so freely to outfit their sons and daughters. I hope our youth appreciate the sacrifice their parents so willingly make for them. Their labors will sustain the missionary, their faith will encourage him, their prayers will uphold him. A mission is a family affair. Though the expanse of oceans may separate, hearts are as one, as evidenced by this letter from a missionary son to his father:

Dear Dad:

This is my first Christmas away from home and family. I wish that I could be home to share the joy, good cheer, and the love that come with this season; but I am grateful to be here in Sweden as a missionary.

I’m grateful for my father; I do so love, admire, and respect him. His life has always been a wonderful example to me and has helped me countless times to make the right decisions.

I’m grateful for his wisdom, which has counseled me; his love, which has disciplined me; and his testimony, which has inspired me.

How can a son show love for his father? How can he fully express what he feels? How can he demonstrate his gratitude? I wish I could answer these questions. There is, however, one way that I know I can show my gratitude, and that is by patterning my life after that of my father.

This, then, is my task—to live a life equal to that of my father’s, that I may spend eternity together with him.

Merry Christmas and God Bless You,

As young Latter-day Saints plan with purpose their lives, they should remember that their missionary opportunities are not restricted to the period of a formal call. Time spent in military service can and should be profitable. Each year, our young men and women in uniform bring thousands of souls into the kingdom of God. How do they accomplish this marvelous feat? They themselves honor their priesthood, live the commandments of God, and teach others his divine word. Many returned missionaries have testified that their missionary experiences in the military were equal as bountiful and richly rewarding as in the mission field itself.

And while pursuing their formal education, young people should not overlook their privilege to be missionaries. Their example as Latter-day Saints is being observed, weighed, and ofttimes will be emulated. They should make time in their lives and provide room in their hearts for school, a mission, the military and, of course, temple marriage. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980, pp. 99-100.).

Let us make the rule—-that every boy ought to go on a mission. There may be some who can’t, but they ought to go on a mission. Every boy, and many girls, and many couples. We could use hundreds of couples, older people like some of you folks, whose families are reared, who have retired in their business, who are able to go and spend their own money to teach the gospel. We could use hundreds of couples. You just go and talk to your bishop—-that is all you need to do. Tell him, “We are ready to go, if you can use us.” I think you will probably get a call. (Spencer W. Kimball, Fair Oaks California Stake Center Dedication, 9 October 1976 quoted in A Prophet’s Voice: Inspiring Quotes from Spencer W. Kimball, American Fork, UT.: Covenant, 2007, pp. 97-98).

More missionaries are needed. Earlier prophets have taught that every able, worthy young man should serve a full-time mission. I emphasize this need today. We also have great need for our able, mature couples to serve in the mission field. Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, p. 250).

I know no home that is not revitalized when the spirit of missionary work becomes part of that family's way of life. There is a concern to be healthy so we can be of constant service, a concern to manage our resources so we can be of assistance, a hunger to learn the gospel so we can be a more effective witness, a desire to be in tune with the Spirit so we can receive its continual whisperings and guidance. We need to prepare to receive these blessings. Let us prepare ourselves and take the necessary steps to be missionaries in our daily lives. Let us also prepare for the day when we may either go on missions ourselves or help someone else to go. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Are We Doing All We Can?" Ensign, [February 1983]: 4).

A father’s responsibility is to teach the gospel in the home. Take seriously your responsibility to teach the gospel to our family through regular family home evening, family prayer, devotional and scripture-reading time, and other teaching moments. Give special emphasis to preparation for missionary service and temple marriage. As patriarch in the home, exercise your priesthood through performing the appropriate ordinances for your family and giving blessings to your wife and children. Next to our own salvation, brethren, there is nothing so important to you as the salvation of your wife and children. (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, pp. 153-154).

This is the work of the Lord. We are on his errand. He has commanded us specifically, and yet we are unknown among many people of the world. It is time to gird up our loins and go forward with new dedication to this great work. We covenanted, you and I, to do it. May we all say with that young man, found in the temple by his anxious parents, sitting in the midst of the doctors, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). (Spencer W. Kimball, New Era, [May 1981]: 50).

Now, the gathering cannot be accomplished unless we have missionaries. There are some 20,000 boys and mostly young men coming from America to all the parts of the world. For this past century, most missionaries have come from America. But we know that there is no reason why they shouldn't come from Korea and Japan and the Philippines and elsewhere. Your sons are sons of God, the same as my sons are. So we think your boys, and a few of your girls, should fill missions to pay to the Lord a little bit of the obligation they owe him for their existence. No person here organized his own brains. No one gave himself his eyes nor his ears nor his mouth. Nobody gave himself his arms and his legs and his strength. Someone must have done it for us--our parents, our heavenly parents and our earthly parents. So we are asking you to send your boys on missions. Every boy should go on a mission, if he is worthy, and we expect you parents to teach them so they will be worthy.

We hope to a great extent that your children can save their own money so that they can pay their own way into the mission field. While we are getting started with this program, there are some funds that can be given to assist those who are not able to do it themselves. Brothers and sisters, will you keep that in mind? Will you put it in your book? Will you think about it every day? That is the only way that we can ever gather Israel. And it is a natural way, and the Lord has given it to us.
For every little boy that is born and placed in his mother's arms, the mother could begin to think, "Someday this will be a missionary and maybe a great leader in the Church." And you could begin to save wons for the little boy and help him to gather funds for his mission.

If you will do this, I promise that this country will grow and prosper. You who are poor and have suffered with poverty will be blessed financially. You will dress better and live in better homes because the Lord never requires a blessing he doesn't make provisions for. And the missionary work, like the tithing, will pour out blessings, as Malachi said, so many blessings that there'll hardly be room enough to receive them. (See Malachi 3:10.) (Spencer W. Kimball, Korea Area Conference, 15-17 August 1975).

For every little boy that is born and placed in his mother's arms, the mother could begin to think, "Someday this will be a missionary and maybe a great leader in the Church." And you could begin to save...for the little boy and help him to gather funds for his mission.

If you will do this, I promise that this country will grow and prosper. You who are poor and have suffered with poverty will be blessed financially. You will dress better and live in better homes because the Lord never requires a blessing he doesn't make provision for. And the missionary work, like the tithing, will pour out blessings, as Malachi said, so many blessings that there'll hardly be room enough to receive them. (See Malachi 3:10). (Spencer W. Kimball, Korea Area Conference, 1975, p. 6).

There are other ways you may not think of as missionary service. For example, a young mother can teach each growing son to prepare to be a missionary to preach the gospel and to share his testimony of truth. As mother and father cultivate that thought throughout his growing years, he will be a missionary. That is excellent missionary service. (Richard G. Scott, “Why Every Member a Missionary?” Ensign, [November 1997]: 35).

Missionaries need to understand the doctrine, and they need to know how to share it. You can’t take water out of an empty bucket. When missionaries know the gospel and how to teach it, they don’t want to do anything else. They know they can teach anybody, anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, using their own words accompanied by the power of the Spirit. They have self-confidence and inner strength. There’s a great power in that kind of preparation.

For this reason, I encourage every young man and every young woman to get acquainted with Preach My Gospel. Young people have the obligation to enlighten themselves, to understand for themselves the doctrines of the Restoration. That preparation is every bit as important for a girl as for a boy. Whether the young woman gets married or serves a full-time mission, the gospel has to operate in her life.

Youth ought to get acquainted with what goes on in missionary work. They would find it helpful, if possible, to assist the missionaries and get a feel for the work.
I also recommend that youth study and follow the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth. Missionaries need to be morally clean and spiritually ready. If they live the principles in For the Strength of Youth, they will be spiritually prepared to be great missionaries. (M. Russell Ballard, “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era, [March 2007, p. 8).

An anxious mother of a prospective missionary once asked me what I would recommend her son learn before his mission. I am certain she anticipated a profound response. However, I said, “Teach your son how to cook, but more particularly, teach him how to get along with others. He will be happier and more productive if he learns these two vital skills.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Save Her! Save Her!” New Era, [May 1997]: 4).

The Lord expects every boy to become a missionary. He said that in the scriptures. It is not forced upon anyone, but the opportunity is given to every boy. So, we hope that every little boy will be building toward his mission all through these years of growing up. As soon as a little boy is born and in his mother's arms, the parents can start saving money for his mission nineteen years ahead, so that every boy would be indoctrinated to prepare for his mission.

Now, all of my sons have filled missions, and my grandsons are filling missions. We have many great-grandsons who are already planning for their missions. I ask you, are there any reasons why my grandsons should go on missions if you son does not go on a mission? This is one way that every boy can partly repay the obligation that he owes to the Lord.

Not only the boys, but some girls and some couples of older people may go on missions. And besides that, every member of the Church should be a missionary. Each person cannot give up his work to go on a full-time mission, but he can do missionary work in between working hours. Already we have some very fine young men from this country who are now missionaries. And within two or three years there should be hundreds of boys on missions from this country. This is the message of the gospel. We receive blessings, and then we go out and give blessings. There are nearly four billion people in the world. They all need the gospel. The gospel will make new people out of them. It changes and transforms their lives if they live it. People who receive the gospel deeply in their hearts are not the same. They change. (Spencer W. Kimball, Taiwan Area Conference, 13-14 August 1975).

Young men—-plan for a mission. Boys—-plan for a mission. The Lord expects you to fill an honorable mission for the Church. President [David O.] McKay has said that filling a mission is an obligation which every one of us owes to the Lord. We should plan for it. (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, p. 251).

Every little boy is under the protection of the Lord when he is in the mission field. In one of the missionary meetings in South America I heard a missionary report on his mission. He said this: "Today is my last day in the mission. I go home tomorrow." He said, "I'm almost afraid to go home, because tomorrow two million people will cease to pray for me." Nearly every family prays for the missionaries, and the Lord is constantly conscious of their faith and their prayers.

Now if your little boys pray in their turn in the home and pray for the missionaries, they are almost certain to plan their lives in that direction. If all of your little boys are trained to earn money and to save money for their missions, the finances are in their favor because in nineteen years they can save a good deal of money. But the more powerful instrument is the fact that they are converting themselves all through those years.

Now, there is no compulsion to go into the mission field, but it is an obligation. It is not enough just merely to go to church; there are other obligations likewise. And this is the way to get your boys and girls into the temple for their marriages. A very high percentage of the returned missionaries are married in the holy temple, and so that in itself is a good way to convert them. (Spencer W. Kimball, Tokyo Japan Area Conference, 9 August 1975).

Your faith and knowledge of truth are the result of your missionary work of days gone by, which you can repay only by giving to others the same opportunities. Hence it is well for every worthy and prepared young man, as he grows up, to desire mightily to fill a mission. Of course, there is no compulsion. Each person makes up his mind in this matter as he does in receiving the priesthood, paying his tithing, marrying in the temple, serving in the Church. He ought to do all these things, but has his free agency. (Spencer W. Kimball, “Advice to a Young Man: Now is the Time to Prepare,” New Era, [June 1973]: 8).

You parents can do nothing better than to send your boy on a mission. It may mean sacrifice for him and sacrifice for you, but this is a training and graduation and growth that can come in no other way. Do you want your boys to be mission presidents and stake presidents and bishops? This is the way we go toward getting those blessings. Let no boy fail to offer himself for his mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, La Paz Bolivia Area Conference, 3 March 1977, p. 23).

Now there is much that young people can do. I see children eating ice cream cones and candy and other things that seem very common among them. If every father would train their children to save and sacrifice, he would have a good chance to rear righteous children. The boy and the girl will be careful in the saving of their money and anxious to serve and to earn money. They will need money to go on their missions. They will need money to go to the temple for their marriage. They will need money for many Church purposes, and to get children in the habit of saving is a very fine service.

Almost every day in the Church Office Building there come families to say hello to me. Nearly always, I say to the little boys who come, "You'll make a wonderful missionary. Are you going on a mission?" And almost invariably, now the boys say, "Oh, yes, I am already saving my money for my mission." He may be only six or eight or ten years of age. But every time he gets some money by gift or earning, he saves part of it for these very important occasions. That is the way to raise your children. (Spencer W. Kimball, Lima Peru Area Conference, 26 February 1977, pp. 22-23).

The hand of a bride becomes the hand of a mother. Ever so gently she cares for her precious child. Bathing, dressing, feeding, comforting—there is no hand like mother’s. Nor does it tender care diminish through the years. Ever shall I remember the hand of one mother—the mother of a missionary. Some years ago at a worldwide seminar for mission presidents, the parents of missionaries were invited to meet and visit briefly with each mission president. Forgotten are the names of each who extended a greeting and a friendly handshake. Remembered are the feelings which welled up within me as I took in my hand the calloused hand of one mother from Star Valley , Wyoming. “Please excuse the roughness o my hand,” she apologized. “Since my husband has been ill, the work of the farm has been mine to do, that our boy may, as a missionary, serve the Lord.” Tears could not be restrained nor should they have been. Such tears produce a certain cleansing of the soul.. That boy continues to be very special to me, as he does to her. A mother’s labor sanctified a son’s service. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways of Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 154).

Recently there came to my office an Indian boy. He was ready for his mission. He brought with him three Navajo rugs which had been woven by his mother. He will sell them in order to help sustain him on his mission. No doubt she will continue to weave in order to support him.

Just yesterday a stake president whose stake includes part of an Indian reservation called to tell me another interesting story:

The father of the family is not a member of the Church. The mother and eight children are. Recently the ten-year-old boy went to his father and told him he wanted to go on a mission as soon as he was old enough. His father said he didn't mind him going on a mission, but there was no money so he couldn't see how it would be possible. The boy said, "Father, you are an artist; paint me a picture and I will make copies and sell them to build up a missionary fund."

The father pointed the picture entitled "A Family Is Forever" and the picture has now been copyrighted and copies made to be sold to help build up a missionary fund. This afternoon that stake president is bringing this little boy to my office to present the original of his father's picture.

In my mind these Indian boys exemplify a new generation of Lamanites emerging in the Church. A generation ago I would have marveled at one or two prepared for missionary service. But now we have over two thousand of them. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 30 March 1979).

We used to think that the missionaries should come from America, but now every community furnishes its own missionaries. And they go to many other countries in the world.

If the records are right, you have fifty-eight missionaries from this stake. But I am looking for the day when you will have two or three or give hundred missionaries from this area. When we think of all the Lord has given to us-our parents, our homes, our families, all the things we enjoy-certainly every boy child can plan to give two years back to the Lord as a missionary. This same record says there are 502 young men, unmarried, who are nineteen to twenty-six years of age and who have not yet filled missions. They are the ones who should be going on missions by the scores at this time.

We may not be able to get those that are twenty-six years old, but we can get the little boys that are now six years old and six months old. And so every young mother, when she cuddles her baby in her arms will look upon him and think, "This is going to be one of the greatest missionaries that the Church has ever has."
That is part of your heritage and my heritage.

Our daughter had five sons. The fifth son is just now going to Guatemala to fill his mission. The other four have already served. When your first son goes into the mission field, then it is easy to train all the others so that they will not fail to go. Another way to guarantee this matter is to start when they are little, tiny children to put in a little savings bank some pennies, nickels, and dimes. And every time that child receives a gift of money you say, "Well, what are you going to do with it now, Te'o? That would be good to go in your mission fund." As he grows up to maturity, mission fund also grows and is available. Keep it before him all his life. Get a picture of the New Zealand Temple and a picture maybe of the Hawaiian Temple, and put them in his bedroom where he will see them every night when he goes to bed and every morning when he gets up. Then frequently remind him in home evenings, and at other times, of his obligation. These little boys are precious. And someday, some of them will be General Authorities of the Church, perhaps. They will be political leaders in your own communities. And they will bring you much joy and credit for all the effort you spend while they are little tiny fellows growing toward this. (Spencer W. Kimball, Samoa Area Conference, 15-18 February 1976).

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. (David A. Bednar, “Becoming a Missionary, Conference Report, October 2005).

There is a spiritual adventure in doing missionary work, in giving referrals, in accompanying the missionaries as they give the discussions. It is exciting and rewarding. The hours, the effort, the wondering, all are worth it when even one soul expresses repentance and faith and a desire to be baptized. (Spencer W. Kimball, "It Becometh Every Man," Ensign, (October 1977): 7).

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “There is a spiritual adventure in doing missionary work” (Ensign, Oct. 1977, 7). To embark on a mission, as so many know, involves many of the same emotions as embarking on some high adventure: excitement, some anxiety, perhaps a touch of fear. In missionary work, we take a step into the unknown. Perhaps we go to a faraway land with a strange culture. We are required to live continually with a companion we have never met before. And the essence of missionary work is meeting and talking to new people, bearing testimony of marvelous and wondrous things that they may find odd. In publicly taking such a stance, we place ourselves at risk of being mocked or scorned. Such is the nature of an adventure, and like many other adventures, we will talk fondly of it the rest of our lives.

Missionary Call Acceptance letters reveal a wealth of spirituality and faith. My own faith is continually strengthened by those who accept calls to serve God, who allow their love for the Lord to overshadow their fears, and who submit willingly to the call of our living prophet. I pray always that every eligible young man, and also every young woman who so desires, may experience the wondrous adventure of a mission. (David B. Haight, “A Spiritual Adventure,” New Era, [June 2000]: 6).

Youth of the Church, the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The harvest truly is great. Let there be no mistake about it; the missionary opportunity of a lifetime is yours. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be, not spectators, but participants on the stage of service to others. (Thomas S. Monson, “That All May Hear,” New Era, [May 1996]: 4).

The reports that we have received from the various missions are most encouraging, with this one exception: the demand from the missionary fields for Elders to preach the gospel to the world seems more than we can fill. The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few. It seems impossible for us to meet the requirements that are made of us for missionaries. In this connection it may be proper for me to say that in some instances—-far too many—-these who have been invited to go on missions have replied that while they felt honored with the call they regretted to say that their circumstances were such that they could not see their way clear to go as they were involved in debt. They had assumed pecuniary responsibilities that they could not discharge at this time, and they were obliged to ask for further time in order to liquidate their indebtedness and prepare themselves to go into the world to preach the Gospel.

For three years and more my text and the text of my brethren, to the Latter-day Saints and to ourselves, has been, pay your debts; get out of debt, and then remain out of debt, by living economically, by being prudent with means by saving up and gathering in our resources, thus preparing ourselves to meet our necessities with ready means, instead of being inclined to go to the stores, to the implement shops, and to the various establishments, to purchase goods on credit—-goods which it might be possible for us to do without, at least until we could pay down for them and get the cash price. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, 6 October 1905).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught us most effectively about the challenge to become something instead of just doing expected things or performing certain actions:
"The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord's teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain 'the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Ephesians 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. . . .

"It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become" ("The Challenge to Become," Liahona,, Jan. 2001, 40; Ensign,, Nov. 2000, 32).

Brethren, the challenge to become applies precisely and perfectly to missionary preparation. Obviously, the process of becoming a missionary does not require a young man to wear a white shirt and tie to school every day or to follow the missionary guidelines for going to bed and getting up, although most parents certainly would support that idea. But you can increase in your desire to serve God (see D&C 4:3), and you can begin to think as missionaries think, to read what missionaries read, to pray as missionaries pray, and to feel what missionaries feel. You can avoid the worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw, and you can grow in confidence in recognizing and responding to spiritual promptings. Line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, you can gradually become the missionary you hope to be and the missionary the Savior expects.

You will not suddenly or magically be transformed into a prepared and obedient missionary on the day you walk through the front door of the Missionary Training Center. What you have become in the days and months and years prior to your missionary service is what you will be in the MTC. In fact, the nature of the transition through which you will pass in the MTC will be a strong indicator of your progress in becoming a missionary.

As you enter the MTC, you obviously will miss your family, and many aspects of your daily schedule will be new and challenging. But for a young man well on his way to becoming a missionary, the basic adjustment to the rigors of missionary work and lifestyle will not be overwhelming, burdensome, or constraining. Thus, a key element of raising the bar includes working to become a missionary before going on a mission. (David A. Bednar, “On Becoming a Missionary, Conference Report, October 2005).

To you younger boys, may I encourage you to save money now for a future mission. Put it in a place where it is safe, not in a speculative account where it may be endangered. Consecrate it for this great purpose, and let it not be used for any other. Prepare yourselves. Attend seminary and institute. Prayerfully read the Book of Mormon.

I hear much these days of costly youth excursions to exotic places during spring breaks and at other times. Why not stay near home and put the money in your future missionary accounts? Someday you will be grateful you did. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR A'86, Ensign, [May 1986]: 41).

Young men, prepare for missionary service. Save money for that purpose. Save it in a secure way so that it will be available when you need it. Study a foreign language if you have opportunity to do so. Take advantage of every opportunity to enlarge your understanding of the gospel. Make the effort to participate in seminary and institute programs. The Lord’s work need the very best you are capable of providing. Now is the time to prepare for service. Keep yourselves clean as those worthy to represent the Lord before the world. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand A Little Taller, Salt Lake City: Eagle Gate, 2001, p. 44).

How do you build in boys a great desire to serve? You do not wait until they are nineteen years old to help them decide to serve a mission. You help them decide to go when they are nine, teen, or eleven! The home is the seedbed for the preparation of young men. And every young man should be prepared in his home to serve. Early preparation consists of teaching a young boy how to pray, reading him stories from the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, having home evenings and giving him a portion of the lesson, teaching him principles of moral cleanliness, starting a savings account for his future mission, teaching him how to work, and providing opportunities to serve others. I know of families who always prayed in family prayer that their sons would be worthy to serve missions. This, they say, had a great effect on their sons. For our teenage young men and women, one of the best preparations for a mission is provided by the Church through seminary and institute of religion classes. We hope you will urge your children to take part in this inspired program. (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1985).

Qualified members should serve missions. We are thrilled with the continuing expansion of the Church worldwide. Our membership now exceeds nine million people who live in 156 countries and territories. Our missionary force [1995] is 47,300 strong in 303 missions, and more missionaries are needed. We call upon every able, worthy young man of eligible age to respond to a call from the Lord to serve as a full-time missionary. Many more mature couples are needed to assist as full-time ambassadors of the Lord. While full-time missionary work is primarily a priesthood calling, young women who reach the age of twenty-one and have no immediate plans for marriage are also welcome to serve as full-time missionaries. (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997, pp. 249-250).

It is well for parents to start preparing their sons to save money early in their lives. Let them have the spirit of saving. Let them also have the spirit of studying and praying about the gospel, of seeing for themselves how the gospel works in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. Let them have the spirit of service throughout their growing years and the experience of helping others discuss the joys of the gospel message in their lives. Let them use their seminary and institute classes and experiences as a training ground for acquiring spiritual knowledge of great value to themselves and others. Let them prepare by keeping their lives clean and worthy and by wanting with all their heart to help the Lord take the gospel to those who are ready for it. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Are We Doing All We Can?" Ensign, [February 1983]: 5).

When I was in London in a stake conference some years ago, I called on about twenty young boys to come up to the stand. I started to talk to them one at a time, and I said to the first boy, "Where are you going when you are nineteen years old?"
And he said, "I don't know."

I said, "Oh, yes you do know. You're going on a mission."

He said, "Am I?" His parents hadn't taught him about a mission, but I know hundreds of parents who talk to their children about missions all the time.

One kind father told us yesterday about a grandson who was given some money. He said, "Now you can go and buy yourself some clothes with it." The grandson replied, "Oh no, one half of this money is going to the mission fund." Every boy and many girls, nearly from the time they are born, should be saving their money for missions. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mexico City Area Conference, 13 February 1977, p. 24).

We urge adherence to the rule of missionary support which has been in effect from the beginnings of the Church--namely, that it is the responsibility of the individual and the family to provide support for the missionary. This must be encouraged, even though there may necessarily be some delay in departure. Better a young man delays his mission for a year and earns money toward his support than he rely entirely on others.

But because of economic conditions in some lands, it is not possible for some young men and women to serve without some financial help. Wards and quorums should then help to the extent possible. The balance may come from the general missionary fund comprised of the contributions of Church members. We encourage members to contribute to the general missionary fund, where it is appropriate and possible for you to do so. This fund has made it possible for thousands of our young men and women to serve. Without it, thousands will be unable to do so.

With every such contribution comes a blessing promised by the Lord. Said He concerning those who assist missionaries: "And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward.

"And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples." (D&C 84:90-91). (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, [December 1986]: 6).

I have noticed in recent years nearly every time I see a little boy, I say, "You will make a great missionary, won't you?" You plant into his mind a seed. It is just like plants and other vegetation. It grows and grows, and if a father and a mother talk to their little boys, particularly, and their little girls, about going on a mission when they are infants almost, that little seed will grow and grow and they won't need to say anything about missionaries when they get a little older. The boys plan it. We have evidence of that. (Spencer W. Kimball, Orlando Florida Fireside Address, 19 December 1976).

There is no reason why any boy in this Church needs to forfeit his mission because of lack of funds if he and his family will begin early saving for that mission. When he is of mission age and worthy, he should first do all that he can, and then the family should do all they can, to prepare financially for the mission. If he still lacks funds, he can then talk to his bishop or branch president. The mission presidents and stake presidents will do all they can, then they can call upon us. We have a fund to which many generous people contribute in order to help missionary work. We will need much more in this fund as hundreds and even thousands of young men call upon us, especially from the less developed countries. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975).

We ask that parents begin early to train their children. Where there is family prayer, where there are family home evenings, where there is scripture reading, where the father and mother are active in the Church and speak with enthusiasm concerning the Church and the gospel, the children in such homes become imbued in a natural way with a desire to teach the gospel to others. There is usually a tradition of missionary work in such homes. Savings accounts are set up while children are small. Boys grow up with a natural expectation that they will be called to serve as missionaries for the Church. A mission becomes as much a part of a boy's program for life as is an education. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "There Must be Messengers," Ensign, [October 1987]: 2).

Fathers, do you understand your role in helping your son to become a missionary before he goes on a mission? You and your wife are key in the process of his becoming a missionary. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders, do you recognize your responsibility to assist parents and to help every young man become a missionary before he goes on a mission? The bar also has been raised for parents and for all members of the Church. Prayerful pondering of the principle of becoming will invite inspiration tailored to the specific needs of your son or to the young men whom you serve. (David A. Benar, “Becoming a Missionary,” Conference Report, October 2005).

Missionary service is the work of the Lord. We who hold the priesthood are the only ones on earth with authority to perform the ordinances connected with it. It is the duty of the young men holding the priesthood to serve in the mission field. In preparation for that service you need to do three things: First, you should decide now, in spite of temptation or opposition that you will serve a mission. It is your duty!

Having made the decision, the second thing you must do is to remain worthy. In our society that will not be easy. But then why should it be easy? The physical strength of youth needs to be surpassed by the moral strength of your young manhood.
Finally, you need to be prepared financially. Every one of you should have a savings account specifically reserved for your mission. I speak to that young man who doesn't have any idea how he can finance a mission. I do not know either. But I do know this: if you have faith and determine that you will go there will be a way. Opportunities will come to you as manna from heaven. Do not let that deter you from your duty. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 71).

We hope that no boy born into this great community will not be trained for missionary work, almost from the time of his birth through his infancy and his youth, to go out and preach the gospel to this great world of billions of people who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. (Spencer W. Kimball, London England Area Conference, June 1976, p. 58).

Now, pertaining to the teachers and priests, every one of you should be given the assignment to home teach with a companion who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. What an opportunity to prepare for a mission. What a privilege to learn the discipline of duty. A young man will automatically turn from concern for self when he is assigned to "watch over" others. (Thomas S. Monson, ”Do Your Duty—That Is Best,” Conference Report, October 2005).

Several years ago my oldest grandson who had been a deacon for a year came to me and said, "Grandpa, I have been a hundred percenter ever since I was ordained a deacon a year ago." I said, "What do you mean by a hundred percenter?" Of course I knew, but he responded, "I haven't missed a sacrament meeting, Sunday School, or priesthood meeting since I was ordained a deacon."

I congratulated him and said, "John, if you will continue to be a hundred percenter until you are old enough to go on a mission, I will finance your mission." He smiled and said, "I'll do it."

I thought I was perfectly safe, but he set about to be a hundred percenter. I remember on two occasions how he disciplined himself in order to accomplish his undertaking. One time his uncle invited him to go for a trip with him and his boys where they would be gone over Sunday. John said, "Is there any place I can attend my meetings on Sunday?" and as he was told there was not, he said, "No, I can't go. I am going to be a hundred percenter," and therefore sacrificed a lovely trip to the ocean and an island on which they were going to celebrate.

Another time near a weekend he broke his leg. The first thing he asked his doctor was, "Will I be able to attend Church on Sunday? I have to be a hundred percenter." He came, of course, on crutches.

When he became 19 years of age, he said, "Grandpa, I have been a hundred percenter ever since we made that deal." I was very happy to finance him on his mission. This achievement has been a great influence in his life. It is not so difficult for him to discipline himself and do those things which are right for him to do and which will bring him success. (N. Eldon Tanner, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 77).

For whom and what should we pray? We pray for the missionaries. Children who have petitioned to "bless the missionaries" are most likely to be desirous of filling missions and of being worthy for such service. (Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, pp. 202,207).

Now we're very short of missionaries for a big world, and we need your boys. Every boy should be considered. We hope that when he is eight years old, twelve years old, fourteen years old, and sixteen years old, he will be interviewed....

Did you know of any reason why I should send my son but that you shouldn't send yours? All these leaders of the Church are sending their sons on missions. All three of my sons have gone on missions, and now my grandsons are going on their missions. I do not know how to make this emphatic enough. We hope from this day of warning that you will not need to be reminded, ever again.

This is a great nation and great people, and it is your responsibility to teach the gospel in these nations. When you have sent all the boys from this area on missions, we can send the North American missionaries to India, or China, or Russia, or somewhere else. (Spencer W. Kimball, Buenos Aires Area Conference, 9 March 1975, p. 52).

Ah, there is the answer; when we have created a missionary force that includes most all of our boys, and when we have brought them up in the spirit and admonition of the Lord, clean and worthy, then we have done something for them as well as preparing them to do something for the world. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Lengthening Our Stride," Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 October 1974, p. 10).

Your boys are not inferior; they are superior young men. They can pick up this program and carry it forward, but you must initiate it; you, the leaders; you, the bishop; you, the branch president; you, the mission president. Don't let any boy grow to maturity without having been interviewed for a mission. Now some of them many not be worthy. Some of them may have been immoral. Some of them may not care, and maybe they will not repent. But most of your boys, if you start very young with them when they are just little boys, will stay clean. And they'll save their money. They'll be expecting a mission, they'll go on missions, and they'll bring into this Church millions of people through the years.

They'll do something else. While they are in the mission field, they'll grow and develop like a blossoming plant. You've seen it and we've seen it. We've seen it with our boys. They grow and they prosper. They learn. They change lives. They become great leaders. Some of these young missionaries just thrill us. They just amaze us with the growth and strength that comes to them while they have been in Brazil these two years. Now that can happen to every one of your boys. (Spencer W. Kimball, Sao Paulo Area Conference, 2 March 1975, p. 51).

We are depending upon the stakes and the missions and the districts and the wards and branches to see that their boys especially, with a few girls, are indoctrinated toward missionary work. We expect you to pray about it and to build a consciousness of it. There are numerous young men who will fill missions if you keep talking about it all their lives from their infancy up. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976, p. 9).

We expect every boy to do all he can toward saving his mission funds. There are millions of dollars that are in savings throughout the country, throughout the world, or young men who are anticipating their missions at nineteen. When I went to another stake in England, a little boy came up to me after conference and he said, "I was to the London meeting last Sunday night, and you gave me ten shillings, and I've already got three times that much. When I told my daddy and my uncles that I was going on a mission, they began to give me jobs to do to earn money."

Now there's no reason why any boy in this Church needs to forfeit his mission because of lack of funds, if he and his family will begin saving for that mission. And when he's nineteen, if he is worthy to go on his mission and has done all that he can, then he can apply to the Church. We have a fund, and the mission presidents and the stake presidents can call upon us to assist. That's extremely important. (Spencer W. Kimball, Buenos Aires Area Conference, 9 March 1975, p. 53).

Within eighteen months or two years, all of these missionaries in this royal army of God will conclude their full-time labors and return to their homes and loved ones. Their replacements are found in the ranks of the converted and devoted members of the Church. Young men and women, are you ready to respond? Are you willing to work? Are you prepared to serve? Mediocrity is not in fashion. Excellence is the order of the day. (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 96).

Put away youthful follies, boyishness, vulgar jests; cultivate manliness, gentility, refinement of manners; qualify yourselves to minister in high places as well as in low; to visit the mansions of the rich and wealthy; to stand before rulers, nobles, and kings; for your message is to all, without respect to persons. (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1981, p. 47).

Let it not be thought that the missionary need not prepare himself to present the gospel, leaving all to heavenly inspiration. The Lord has declared the need for preparation. Rather let him seek the Lord to guide in preparation and point the way to use that preparation for the blessing of mankind. (The Missionary's Handbook, Independence, Missouri: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1937, p. 34).

Every elder who goes abroad to preach this gospel must first live the gospel to the best of his ability and have a conviction in his heart that he is preaching the truth. True, at first this testimony may be somewhat indefinite; but all our children have it to some extent. They breathe it as they breathe the mountain air, but they often neglect to define it, to express it in the plane of consciousness. It is the duty of presidents of stakes, bishops of wards, to make definite in the minds of missionaries this testimony of the truth. Through study, service, humility, and prayer, this testimony will increase. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1927, p. 106).

We must think in larger numbers. We must prepare our missionaries better, not only with language but with scripture and above all with a testimony and a burning fire that puts power to their words. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 5 April 1976, p. 7).

We all learn by example and repetition. So young men will learn that missionary work is important when they see parents sharing the gospel with others repeatedly throughout their growing years. Also, when parents have their sons keep missionary savings accounts; it helps keep a son's mind missionary-centered. When we sing in our homes the Primary song "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission," when older boys who are in the mission field write letters back home that are read around the table, the younger brother's heart and soul are touched and his desire to be a missionary is strengthened. I think the most effective pattern is one of example and repetition. (Thomas S. Monson, "Status Report on Missionary Work," Ensign, [October 1977]: 11).

Let the Primary and the Sunday School talk missionary work to the little ones. Let youth programs, including seminaries, talk missionary work to the growing up young men and women. Let parents make missionary work an important element in their family home evening so that their children may grow to maturity being frequently reminded of their duty. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976).

We have an obligation. This is not optional. We are not just to do it or not if it is convenient. The Lord has commanded us to carry his message to the world and to be witnesses of his name. If it takes some preparation and schooling, if it takes some conditioning and teaching in order to get ourselves in a condition where we can do this effectively, then in wisdom and in judgment and in prudence we ought to undertake the conditioning and make the preparation so that when the time comes we will be financially able, and we will be spiritually prepared to go forth on the Lord's errand. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 56).

Now there is a great difference, brethren, in being prepared to go on a mission and being given the idea you should go on a mission. There is some social pressure there when you try to make someone feel that he should fill a mission because everybody is going on a mission. The president says you should go on a mission, and it is the proper thing for a boy to do so. But it is important that our boys prepare to go and fill honorable missions, realizing that they are going out as ambassadors of the Lord and not just to be like other boys. (N. Eldon Tanner, Conference Report, December 1964, p. 98).

We do not care what the world says with reference to our preaching the Gospel, nor with reference to the necessity of young men being asked to go out into the world to preach the Gospel. In nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand the young men who are asked to take missions to the nations of the earth respond cheerfully and gladly, and rejoice that they are considered worthy to go out bearing the message of life and salvation to the world, and no amount of ridicule, no amount of false accusations and malicious charges, will ever change their thoughts and feelings with respect to this work. They know what they are doing. And there is no coercion used in matters of this kind. It is all free will, all free grace. Never was there a man required to go on a mission to the world, or sent on a mission, who had any objection to going or who declined to go. Those who have gone out to preach the Gospel have gone willingly, cheerfully, gladly, because they felt it was to their own advantage and a great honor. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1905).

We enjoy the blessings we so greatly treasure because of those who have gone before us. Out of a sense of appreciation, out of simple gratitude, we should make an effort to extend these same blessings to others. Our young people have an obligation to prepare themselves for missionary service. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1959, p. 120).

Just after we returned from Fiji, I had a private talk with my six-year-old grandson. I said, "Michael, I know a good man who lives on an island a long way from here, out in the Pacific Ocean. He's old enough to go on a mission, but he doesn't have enough money. Would you like to help him?" "Yeah, I'll help him. My mom and dad will too." "Michael, how much would you like to give?" "Would a quarter be all right?" Now you and I know that Michael's quarter is not much, but his willingness to give and share is what counts. We need to teach youngsters in the home today that it is not enough to save for a mission; they should also have the opportunity to assist others who may not able to save or to have the advantage of home life that recommends saving for a mission. (Marvin J. Ashton, What Is Your Destination? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978], p. 179).

We hope to accentuate missionary preparation in the Aaronic Priesthood program and to build missionary preparation into the Church curriculum. Later, young men in the Aaronic Priesthood program may be given the opportunity to learn the missionary discussions.

In addition, we plan to enlarge the youth missionary program, calling young people for two-week or one-month missions in the summer with stake or full-time missionaries. We hope to make a selection of couples who are physically able to go and use them to augment this great army of full-time missionaries. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 27-28 June 1974).

To those of you who hold the Aaronic Priesthood, I say, prepare for your full-time missions. This would apply also to you young women who, though not under the same obligation as the young men, may nevertheless desire to serve. You will become a part of that valiant missionary army of the Lord which now numbers 50,000 strong. (Thomas S. Monson, “That All May Hear,” New Era [May 1996]: 4).

We have had some tremendously spiritual missionaries go forth in the flower of youth. However, as a general rule, those who have left with a strong conviction of the truth have been the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, it is our firm belief that through careful planning and preparation this condition can and should be reversed. Every young man ought to enter the mission field with some knowledge of the scriptures, with training in how to teach the gospel from the scriptures, with a testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, and with a testimony concerning the marvelous work and wonder restored in these latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Ezra Taft Benson, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 October 1974).

We love all of our missionaries who are serving the Lord full time in the mission field. But there is a difference in missionaries. Some are better prepared to serve the Lord the first month in the mission field than some who are returning home after twenty-four months.

We want young men entering the mission field who can enter the mission field "on the run," who have the faith born of personal righteousness and clean living, that they can have a great and productive mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A '86, Ensign, 16 (May 1986): 45).

Many of these mission Presidents say that the local boys, the Guatemalans and Mexicans, the Japanese, the Germans, are better missionaries almost than the one who come from the States. Now, it is very important that we furnish local missionaries. Every boy who is born in a Latter-day Saint home should anticipate a mission.
I was in London. I was speaking to a big conference. I said, "All the boys that are twelve years old, please come up to the stand." When they were all lined up, I said to the first boy, "Where are you going when you are nineteen years old?" He said, "T don't know." I said, "Oh, yes, you do know. You're going on a mission." He said, "Am I?" I said, "Yes, when you are nineteen you are going on a mission. And here is a shilling to start you on your mission. Now you get back to your seat and tell your father and mother back there that you are going on a mission." To the second boy that came up the line, I said, "Where are you going when you are nineteen years of age?" He said, "I'm going on a mission." He learned quickly. And so will your boys learn quickly. If their older brother fills a mission, they will expect to fill a mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, Guatemala Area Conference, February 1977, 24).

The Lord said, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). This is the day of preparation for you boys, whether you are twelve or fourteen or sixteen or eighteen. Watch yourselves. Never use language when you are with your friends that would be incompatible with the calling that will come to you, if you are worthy of it, to go into the world to represent this church and to serve as an ambassador of the Lord. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR O'84, Ensign, [November 1984]: 48).

I wish to urge the Latter-day Saints to teach their sons and daughters the principles of the everlasting gospel. There is a great necessity today, in the various missions abroad, for efficient men to preach the gospel and to represent the people of God. Many of our young men that go from our stakes of Zion to preach the gospel have not studied it. They have not taken advantage of the opportunities afforded them in the Mutual Improvement Association, in the Sunday School and in other organizations. I am sorry to say that some of them have been grossly neglected by their parents. They had been engaged in herding sheep and other avocations, and had not taken pains to prepare themselves. The result was there was one principle of the gospel, at least, that they did not understand and consequently they did not teach or defend it. To my mind this was a very sorrowful condition, and it cast reflection upon the parents and teachers of those elders. I do not suppose that there is a mission upon the earth that would not desire to have more elders than they now have, especially elders who are better qualified and more thoroughly indoctrinated in the principles of the gospel and more thoroughly imbued with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost before they leave their homes and shoulder the responsibility of carrying the message of eternal life to the nations of the earth. (Matthias F. Cowley, The Southern Star, [23 December 1899]: 30).

I desire to say that our best missionaries are called from these Mutual Improvement Associations. The young men that make the most efficient missionaries are those who have been faithful in these organizations. It is true we have missionary classes in our Church schools, where the young men who have not paid much attention to religious matters and are not well read in the scriptures, may go for a short season and receive instruction. But this work is only temporary compared with the work of the Mutual Improvement Association. It is altogether too brief, and those who attend these classes are generally pushed for time, in a hurry to get home and to go to work again, and can scarcely stay long enough to finish the course. Therefore, I repeat that our best and most effective workers in the missionary field are those that have given most attention to the Mutual Improvement work at home. So that it is doing good. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, 6 April 1906).

Many countries in the world say, "No, we won't let your missionaries come in here. We have a religion of our own. We don't want any Mormonism." Then what are we going to do? We just have to wait until we can prevail upon them to open their doors. And if a country will give us only sixty visas or a hundred visas, that is the number of missionaries we can send in. But as far as we know, we can send a thousand Guatemalans to their own country. Thousands of Germans, and thousands of French, and thousands of Mexicans. So it is your responsibility.

This is not something that you decide, "Shall I or shall I not go on a mission?" You decide this: "My Heavenly Father gave me two eyes and a mouth and a nose and two ears and many other parts of my body, to give me great joy in this life, so that I can have pleasure." And every boy says, "Because of my eyes and my ears and my brain and all that I enjoy, I am going on a mission." And secondly, "I am going to keep my life clean and virtuous so that I can go on a mission."

Brethren that is the program. Every father and mother will be proud if they have one, two, three, four, five sons on missions. (Spencer W. Kimball, Guatemala Area Conference, 23 February 1977, p. 24).

One of the Church's greatest missionaries, Elder LeGrand Richards, said, "I have had many people ask me what my greatest Church experience has been, and I unhesitantly say, My first mission! That is where I began to really love the Lord and His Church and developed a desire to help build his kingdom." I hope that each of you young men has a savings account and is looking forward to a mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'84, Ensign, 14 [May 1984]: 45).

When I was in Australia, one of the finest of missionaries there told me his story. He was going to college and nearing graduation. He found a very beautiful young woman and she seemed to like him real well too. One night he said, "I would like you to be my wife."

And she said, "I would like you to be my husband, but where did you fill your mission?"

And he said, "Well, I have been too busy to go on a mission. The other fellows can do that. I have got to get my education."

And she just quieted down a little and said, "Well, maybe we had better wait."

And so he was in one of the next companies going to Australia. And when he told me about his return home, he said, "She was waiting for me, and we were married in the temple, and we are the happiest couple in all the world."

Do you young women realize how much power you have? If there was an army here telling them they had to go, it would not be as powerful as you would be. When one of these boys falls in love with you, you have the controls. You can just say what you want to say, but you could say, "Oh, let's wait until you get back from your mission." It is that important.

Do not fail this mission. And tell your little brothers who are very small that they are going on missions. Help them to get their money ready for it. (Spencer W. Kimball, Buenos Aires Area Conference, 8 March 1975, p. 43).

The Lord wants every young man to serve a full-time mission. Currently, only a fifth of the eligible young men in the Church are serving full-time missions. This is not pleasing to the Lord. We can do better. We must do better. (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Men of the Church,” in Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice, Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book, 1990, p. 5).

You can do nothing more important. School can wait. Scholarships can be deferred. Occupational goals can be postponed. Yes, even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord. And I would admonish you to date only faithful young women who also believe this and give you that encouragement. (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Men of the Church,” in Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice, Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book, 1990, p. 5).

May I now speak with you [young women] about missionary service in the kingdom. I feel very deeply about this. I pray that you will understand the yearnings of my heart. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: "After all that has been said (our) greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel." The Lord wants every young man to serve a full-time mission. Presently only a third of the eligible young men in the Church are serving missions. This is not pleasing to the Lord. We can do better. We must do better. Not only should a mission be regarded as a priesthood duty, but every young man should look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation. A young man can do nothing more important. School can wait.

Scholarships can be deferred. Occupational goals can be postponed. Yes, even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord. You can have a positive influence in motivating young men to serve full-time missions. Let the young men of your acquaintance know that you expect them to assume their missionary responsibilities that you personally want them to serve in the mission field, because you know that is where the Lord wants them. Avoid steady dating with a young man prior to the time of his mission call. If your relationship with him is more casual, then he can make that decision to serve more easily and also can concentrate his full energies on his missionary work instead of the girlfriend back home. And after he returns honorably from his mission, he will be a better husband and father and priesthood holder, having first served a full-time mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Young Women of the Church," Ensign, 16 [November 1986]: 82-83).

We would like the young men to prepare themselves, financially and intellectually, and above all spiritually, having the testimony of the Gospel in their hearts, that when they shall be called to go upon missions they will be ready to go, so that we may be in a position to supply the Elders necessary to preach the Gospel to the world. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1905).

If you want to get the spirit of the gospel in your home, support the missionary program. Prepare your sons and your daughters through your home evenings; through setting the proper example in your homes. Prepare to send them into the mission field. These young sons and daughters will bless your names forever if you help to make it possible through your training and your example and your willingness to sacrifice just a little, if you can call it sacrifice, to see them go into the mission field. (Ezra Taft Benson, Glasgow Scotland Area Conference, 21 June 1976).

At what age do we begin teaching our sons these gospel truths? Alma taught his son Helaman while he was in his youth (see Alma 36:3). Our youth ought not to wait until the mission field to get a grasp of the scriptures and a closeness to the Lord. Lehi said that his son Jacob beheld the glory of the Lord in his youth. (See 2 Nephi 2:4). Imagine what would happen to missionary work if we sent out that kind of young men. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR O'85, Ensign, 15 [November 1985]: 37).

How do you build in boys a great desire to serve? You do not wait until they are nineteen years old to help them decide to serve a mission. You help them decide to go when they are nine, ten, or eleven! The home is the seedbed for the preparation of young men. And every young man should be prepared in his home to serve. Early preparation consists of teaching a young boy how to pray, reading him stories from the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, having home evenings and giving him a portion of the lesson, teaching him principles of moral cleanliness, starting a savings account for his future mission, teaching him how to work, and providing opportunities to serve others.

I know of families who always prayed in family prayer that their sons would be worthy to serve missions. This, they say, had a great effect on their sons. For our teenage young men and women, one of the best preparations for a mission is provided by the Church through seminary and institute of religion classes. We hope you will urge your children to take part in this inspired program. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'85, Ensign, 15 [May 1985]: 7).

Prepare young men to serve effective full-time missions. One of the great challenges in this Church is to help prepare teachers and priests to go on missions. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that both teachers and priests had the duty of warning, expounding, exhorting and teaching, inviting "all to come unto Christ" (see D&C 20:50, 59). I believe that when Aaronic Priesthood leadership provides opportunities to fulfill these specific duties, we are preparing our young men for missionary service. Quorum advisers/Scoutmasters must be examples as priesthood holders and must possess the vision to create these opportunities for Aaronic Priesthood youth to serve others. When we can offer a young man opportunities to serve others--to get outside of himself--we are well on our way to helping him get prepared for a mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, "Challenges for Leaders of Aaronic Priesthood," Young Men's General Presidency and Board, 19 September 1979).

I have asked myself, "What can we as parents and leaders do to more effectively teach our youth how to defend the principles of righteousness?"

Better training and preparation seem to me to be the best answer. Realizing that I would need all the help I could get to give my first conference talk, I went to my wonderful missionaries and asked them to help me by answering a few questions about their pre-mission preparation. I think we may learn something from their answers.
My first question was, "What could you have done to better prepare yourself before your mission?"

My missionaries responded with comments like these: "I could have really read and studied the scriptures," "paid more attention in seminary and other Church classes," "learned how to pray and relate to the Lord," "started much earlier to build my testimony."

May I suggest to all of the youth of the Church that I believe you can come into the mission field loaded with knowledge about the eternal truths of the gospel--knowing for yourself that Jesus is the Christ, and that his church has been restored to the earth through a living prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

I like these words of Nephi: "Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." (2 Ne. 32:3). Young people, why not make the best investment of your life by spending more of your time now to study and learn for yourself the ways of the Lord? If you will do this now you will arrive in the mission field with the Spirit of the Lord as your companion, and you will be filled with the desire to enthusiastically and intelligently teach the gospel to the people.

May the Lord bless every one of you who will be a missionary with a clear view of your own self-worth, and the vision of your own important role that you play in this great work. May the roots of your testimony be driven down deep through your pre-mission preparation so when the winds of adversity blow upon you, you will be able to weather the storm and be able to make your very best contribution to the growth of this great Church.

I then asked my missionaries: "What could your father have done to better prepare you?"

Here are a few of their answers: "He could have taught me more about the priesthood," "taught me to understand that the priesthood is the power by which the cause of righteousness moves forward," "given me a father's blessing," "taught me how to budget my money," "taught me how to set and reach goals," "prayed with me and shared with me his testimony." Fathers, you are the first-line priesthood leader, and almost without exception my missionaries expressed their love and respect for you. There is no one in the world that can prepare and train the future missionaries of the Church like you can.

To you wonderful mothers of the Church, listen to the response of my elders to this question: "What could my mother have done to better prepare me?"

They say: "Somehow Mom should have insisted that I pay more attention when she was trying to teach me about housekeeping--cooking, cleaning, laundry, bargain shopping, personal hygiene, mending, quick recipes, to name just a few." To be an effective missionary one must be spiritually in tune, but the temporal well-being of the missionary becomes far more important than perhaps most of us realizing.

Mothers, teach your children to be sensitive and aware of the needs of others. Teach them to know and to practice basic principles of good human relations. May I suggest to you wonderful mothers that you put your arms around your children, look them squarely in the eye, and tell them to learn these skills because you want them to be happy and successful on their mission. What son or daughter will not respond to the loving eyes of his or her mother?

In the survey of my missionaries expressed their love for their leaders and suggested that their stake presidents, bishops, advisors, and teachers could have prepared them better if they would have: explained to them in realistic terms what is expected of a missionary; had more frequent and in-depth interviews; helped them make their commitment to the Lord earlier; taught them from, and stressed the importance of, the scriptures; and taught them the power of a positive and enthusiastic attitude.
If our missionaries could be taught more of these principles before coming on a mission, I believe that their stride would be lengthened at the outset and the pace of the work would be quickened in the beginning, because they would start right out on the first day of their mission prepared to teach the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. (M. Russell Ballard, Jr., CR O'76, Ensign, [November 1976]: 86-88).

There may be a few young men in this vast audience tonight who may be wondering, ever so seriously, whether they should go on missions. There may be scarcity of money. There may be compelling plans for education. There may be that wonderful girl you love and feel you cannot leave. You say to yourself, “The choice is mine.”

That is true. But before you make a decision against a mission, count your blessings, my dear friend. Think of all the great and marvelous things you have—your very life, your health, your parents, your home, the girl you love. Are they not all gifts from a generous Heavenly Father? No, the lives of all of us are in His hands. All of the previous things that are ours come from Him who is the giver of every good gift....

I am saying that out of a spirit of appreciation and gratitude, and a sense of duty, you ought to make whatever adjustment is necessary to give a little of your time—as little as two years—consecrating your strength, your means, your talents to the work of sharing with others the gospel, which is the source of so much of the good that you have.

I promise that if you will do so, you will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make....

The Church needs you. The Lord needs you. The world needs you....There are many out there who need exactly what you have to offer. They are not easy to find, but they will not be found unless there are those who are prepared and willing to seek them out. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Question of a Mission,” Ensign, [May 1986]: 40-41).

Those brethren who are ordained elders at 18 and whose full-time missionary service is ahead of them need special attention. They have been receiving help and encouragement over the years from their bishop. Now the quorum president must step in and see that everything is done that will make them worthy, qualified, and able when the day of their call comes. Elders are needed as missionaries. The Lord wants more missionaries. Every able young man in the Church should serve a mission. Missionary service blesses the life of a young man more than any other thing could during the time and season involved. Elders quorums must become the Church agency that puts the crowning effort on getting all our able young men out on the Lord's errand, preaching his gospel, and declaring his message to his other children. (Bruce R. McConkie, "Only an Elder," Ensign, [June 1975]: 69).

There will not be enough until we have all the boys. Every boy should fill a mission--every boy. The Lord did not say to the boys of the world, "Will you several here, you go, and you go; but the others do not have to go." He said to all men, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). How do you think we are ever gong to reach the millions of people in Mexico--not with three hundred and sixty American boys. We've got to have thousands, tens of thousands of Mexican boys to take the gospel to the people of Mexico. You are in a far better position to proselyte your neighbors and the people you know. You Mexican boys already know the language. You know the people and their habits. You know how to approach them. (Spencer W. Kimball, Monterrey Mexico Area Conference, 20 February 1977, p. 29).

Some years ago I attended a stake conference in a rural area. We were emphasizing missionary work in the Saturday evening meeting. An eighteen-year-old farm boy with freckles on his nose and a winning smile on his face was asked to tell what he had done to get ready for a mission. He listed ten things that had helped him. Here is his list:

“1. First and most important, I have had great parents to help me. They have encouraged me to go on a mission for as long as I can remember. They have helped me to save money for this purpose.

2. I have attended church. I have learned many wonderful lessons that have helped me to understand the meaning of the gospel.

3. I have been in Scouting for seven years. I am an Eagle Scout. I have been taught to 'be prepared.' I have repeated many times the Scout oath, 'To do my duty to God and my country.'

4. I have earned a Duty to God Award. I know that this duty includes sharing the gospel with others.

5. I am the priest quorum assistant. I work directly under my bishop, who is my quorum president. Ever since I was a deacon my bishop and his counselors have interviewed me and have spoken about my going on a mission. They have helped give me a vision of what a great opportunity and responsibility it is to serve the Lord as a missionary.

6. I have attended seminary, where I have studied the gospel I have had wonderful teachers and friends. I have read and studied the Book of Mormon, and I know it is the word of God.

7. I have been a Primary teacher. This has been a great challenge. I have a small class of boys and girls who are not always easy to handle, but I love them and they know it. We are learning together.

8. I have taken part in family home evenings from the time I was a child. My family and I have prayed together, sung together, and read the scriptures together. We have made plans together concerning our lives and the things we want to do.

9. I have tried to live a clean life. There have been temptations; but I have a goal to go on a mission, and I want to be worthy to go. I decided a long time ago that I don't need to drink beer, I don't need to smoke, I don't need drugs, and I don't need to get mixed up in immorality.

10. I have responsibilities in school to lead and serve. I am a student-body officer. I enjoy it, I am growing from it, and I have made many wonderful friends because of it.”

This boy concluded by saying: "I have enjoyed the story of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. He fought the robbers and protected the sheep. While others, who had run from the robbers, were bragging to the king, Ammon was down with the horses. He did what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to. If we do this and pray for help, we will be ready."

I have never heard a better summary of missionary preparation. It outlines in a very realistic way the preparation that should begin in childhood and continue consistently until a young man is ready to receive a call.

That call will bless the missionary's life, and the lives of those who hear him. And there are others whose lives are blessed when a missionary serves, such as the members of his family who in most cases support him, pray for him, and try to live worthy of him. I think everyone who has ever sustained a missionary can testify of the great good that comes to a family when a son or daughter goes into the mission field. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, (December 1986): 5).

Fathers, bishops, quorum advisers, yours is the responsibility to prepare this generation of missionaries, to quicken in the hearts of these deacons, teachers, and priests not only an awareness of their obligation to serve, but also a vision of the opportunities and blessings which await them through a missionary call. The work is demanding, the impact everlasting. This is no time for "summer soldiers" in the army of the Lord. (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'87, Ensign, [November 1987]: 42).

If we are to increase substantially the number of missionaries, we must begin the preparation process early. That process begins with parents. I wish to discuss four phases of preparation for missionary service: (1) Spiritual preparation; (2) mental preparation; (3) social preparation; (4) financial preparation.

A missionary's spiritual preparation will be strengthened by better family home evenings, by improved teaching in the Aaronic Priesthood and auxiliary organizations, by attendance at seminary and institute, by going to the temple to be baptized in behalf of the dead, by encouragement to read the Book of Mormon. Every boy would benefit from reading the account of the sons of Mosiah. Concerning them the record states:

"Now these sons of Mosiah...had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

"But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayed, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God." (Alma 17:2-3).

Mental preparation. Bishoprics need to be diligent and prayerful as they conduct personal interviews with boys, beginning when the boys are deacons. Let bishoprics give encouragement in the direction of missionary service. Let them help these young men shape their minds and thoughts to face the rigors of missionary service, to make the needed cultural adjustments incident to missionary work in many lands, to surrender themselves wholeheartedly to missionary service when they are called. Obviously, parents should under gird all of these matters with wise and inspired counsel of the same points.

Social preparation. Let us teach our young people with counsel and love the importance of keeping themselves clean and worthy to represent the Lord as His ambassadors before the world. Let us encourage wholesome social activities, and let our youth learn the great are of getting along with others. While in the mission field they will have companions with whom they will be obliged to work. They must be able to look for the good in those companions and to draw from the lives of others virtues to incorporate into their own lives.

Financial Preparation. Missions have become costly. The average expense today is $250 a month, which means approximately $6,000 for a period of two years. The time to start saving is when boys are very young. Let those savings be kept in safe accounts and not be placed in speculative ventures. The young man to whom I referred earlier had saved money to finance his mission. Many of our young men have done so. Many could do much more. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, [December 1986]: 5-6).

The second M: the missionary, the desire of a lifetime.

One of the Brethren went to a conference and brought back to me a very simple note from a missionary.

“Dear President Monson, You shook hands with me when I was 17. You told me to go on a mission. I’m here in Seattle on a mission. Thank you.” Think of it—the influence of a handshake.

Missionaries are marvelous. They’re called of God by prophecy. Only those who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators make the suggested call to a missionary, and they’re called by the prophet of God. They represent the fruits of all that is good within the Latter-day Saint family. (Thomas S. Monson, “The Five M’s of Missionary Work,” New Era, [March 2007]: 43).

Missionaries need to be self-reliant. Young people ought to learn to take care of themselves and not be so dependent on their mother or father.

They need to be able to handle the physical demands of missionary work. Young people should keep their weight under control and be physically fit. The missionary daily schedule has built into it a 30-minute-a-day exercise program. Being physically tuned up enhances mental capacity.

Prospective missionaries need to learn to work. They ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better-prepared missionary. Working and saving for a mission generates enthusiasm for serving and gives a young man or a young woman a good work ethnic. Whatever else missionary work is, it is work!

Working toward a mission and being accountable for their own lives helps young men and young women emotionally as well. They know within themselves that they can succeed no matter where they are sent and no matter the circumstances. They know they are tough enough to handle anything in a world that is becoming less interested in the things of God. We need missionaries with that kind of self-assurance. (M. Russell Ballard, “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era, [March 2007]: 8-9).

Another group that amazes the world and inspires faith is that army of Latter-day Saint missionaries currently serving throughout the world. All through their lives, these young men and women have prepared for and awaited that special day when a mission call is received. Fathers become justifiably proud and mothers somewhat anxious. Well do I remember the recommendation form of one missionary on which the bishop had written: “This is the most outstanding young man I have ever recommended. He has excelled in all aspects of his life. He was president of his Aaronic Priesthood quorum and an officer at his high school. He lettered in track and football. I have never recommended a more outstanding candidate. I am proud to be his father.”

More generally, the bishop and the stake president write, “John is a fine young man. He had prepared for his mission physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually. He will serve gladly and with distinction, wherever he is called.”

One day I was with President Spencer W. Kimball as he affixed his signature to these special calls to full-time missionary service. Suddenly he noticed the call of his own grandson. He signed his name as president of the Church and then penned a personal line at the bottom that read, “I’m proud of you. Love, Grandpa.”

When the call is received, the college text is closed and the scriptures are opened. Family, friends, and often a special friend are left behind. Suspended are dating, dancing, and driving, as the three D’s are exchanged for the three T’s—tracting, teaching, and testifying. (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 67).

Prepare yourselves mentally. A mission requires a great deal of mental preparation. You must memorize missionary discussions, memorize scriptures, and oftentimes learn a new language. The discipline to do this is learned in your early years. Establish now the daily practice of reading the scriptures ten to fifteen minutes each day. If you do so, by the time you reach the mission field, you will have read all four of the standard works. I urge you to read particularly the Book of Mormon so that you can testify of its truthfulness as the Lord has directed. (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1985).

After the missionary assembly had closed. . . my attention was attracted to a woman, one who had long passed the noon-tide of her life, standing with her arms about the neck of her manly son; her head rested upon his shoulder, and she was sobbing with strong emotion. He stood tenderly supporting her with his strong right arm, while tears fell upon her whitening hair. I ventured to approach; and she, becoming aware of my presence, looked into my face through the mist of tears, and smilingly said, "He is my boy, you see, my only son; and he is going far away, across the great ocean." I asked, "Don't you want him to go?" "Want him to go?" she repeated with beaming countenance; "Oh yes! yes! I am so thankful to have a son who is worthy to go out into the world as a missionary of the gospel that I can't help crying, you know." Then, after a pause, which to me was profoundly affecting, she added, "His father filled an honorable mission, and has since died; now our son goes to continue his father's good work, thank God!" And the thought filled that widowed heart with such overpowering happiness, that she could but weep and sob. (James E. Talmage, "Word of Greeting to Missionaries," Liahona: The Elder's Journal, 11 [2 December 1913]: 386-387).

A missionary's preparation consists largely of effort in three areas:

1. Keeping his life clean and worthy and remaining free from all sins of the world. The Lord has provided that forgiveness can be had if there is a total repentance. If there have been problems there must be a total transformation of life, a change in one's life, if he is to be forgiven.

2. Preparing the mind and the spirit—to know the truth. To arrive at mission age and be illiterate in the gospel or otherwise would be most unfortunate indeed. Certainly by the time a young man reaches his nineteenth birthday, he should be prepared to step from his conventional role at home into the important role of the missionary without a total reorganization of his life, his standards, or his training.

3. Preparing to finance his own mission so it may be his own contribution, so far as possible. How wonderful it would be if each future missionary could have saved for his mission from birth. How wonderful it would be if every boy could totally or largely finance his own mission and thereby receive most of the blessings coming from his missionary labors. (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary," New Era, [May 1981]: ).

It follows that if we have more missionaries, there will be more converts. It also follows that if missionaries are better prepared, they will be more effective.
I am one who believes that missionary work is primarily a priesthood responsibility. While many young women perform a tremendous service in the field, some more effectively than the elders, the basic responsibility lies with our young men. We must point our young men toward missionary service earlier, and we must prepare them better. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, [December 1986]: 4).

Preparation for a mission is not a spur-of-the-moment matter. It began before we can remember. Every class in Primary, Sunday School, seminary—-each priesthood assignment—-each priesthood assignment—-has had a larger application. Silently, almost imperceptibly, a life is molded, a career commences, a man is made.

What a challenge is the calling to be an adviser to a quorum of boys! Do our priesthood advisers really think about their opportunity? Do they ponder? Do they pray? Do they prepare? Do they prepare their boys? (Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979, p. 60).

Beloved young people. . .with all my heart I would like to reach the heart of each one of you, especially the young men that I might get you to communicate with your Heavenly Father concerning a mission. There is nothing that can build in you greater confidence and assurance for your future life than a mission; nothing can bring you the opportunity to render greater service to your fellow man; nothing can prepare you better for your calling as a father or leader in the priesthood than worthily fulfilling a mission. Young men, be missionaries. Decide today to be missionaries and make your decision a reality. (Richard G. Scott, Buenos Aires Area Conference, 8 March 1975, p. 6).

We must not hide behind self-made walls to avoid missionary work. As we try to understand the spirit of reconciliation sweeping the globe and to give it meaning within the gospel context, we have to ask ourselves: Could this not be the hand of the Lord removing political barriers and opening breaches in heretofore unassailable walls for the teaching of the gospel, all in accord with a divine plan and a divine timetable? Surely taking the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people is the single greatest responsibility we have in mortality. In 1974, President Spencer W. Kimball, speaking on this theme, said: “I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter.” He concluded by saying that the doors to nations would open “when we are ready for them.” (Ensign, October 1974, p. 7).

As the walls in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Africa, China, India, South America, and many other parts of the world come tumbling down, the corresponding need for more missionaries to fulfill the divine commission to take the gospel to all the earth will certainly go up! Are we ready to meet that contingency?

To satisfy the new demands being made upon us in this great missionary work of the last days, perhaps some of us (particularly the older generation whose family are raised) need to take stock to determine whether “walls” that we have built in our own minds need to come down.

For example, how about the “comfort wall” that seems to prevent many couples and singles from going on a mission? How about the “financial wall” of debt that interferes with some members’ ability to go, or the grandchildren wall,” or the “health wall,” or the “lack of self-confidence wall,” or the “self-satisfied wall,” or the “transgression wall,” or the walls of fear, doubt or complacency? Does anyone really doubt for a minute that with the help of the Lord he or she could bring those walls crashing down?

We have been privileged to be born in these last days, as opposed to some earlier dispensation, to help take the gospel to all the earth. There is no greater calling in this life. If we are content to hide behind self-made walls, we willingly forgo the blessings that are otherwise ours. The Lord in modern-day revelation explains the great need:

“For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul” (D&C 4:4).

An all-wise Heavenly Father goes on to explain that same revelation the qualifications that we need to be good missionaries. Knowing full well of our weaknesses and of our reservations as we stand before the huge gate of our self-made wall, he reassures us that divine help to overcome all obstacles will be forthcoming if we will only do our part, with the simple promise:

“Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 4:7).

May the Lord bless us that the walls of our minds may not obstruct us from the blessings that can be ours. (Howard W. Hunter, Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde W. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987]: 246-247).

Indeed, there are more doors opened to us now than we can enter with the number of missionaries who are available. We hope to see the day when every worthy and qualified young Latter-day Saint man will have the privilege of going forth on the Lord’s errand to stand as a witness of the truth in the nations of the earth. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1970).

An example of stepping up to serve is found in the life of our prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, and the family of which he is a member. President Benson has described to the General Authorities how his father was called to fill a mission. He left behind his wife, who was expecting another child, his seven children, his farm, and all that he had. Did he lose anything? President Benson tells how his mother would gather the family around the kitchen table and there, by the flickering light of an oil-fueled lamp, read the letters from her husband. Several times during the reading there would be a pause to wipe away the tears that flowed freely. The result? Each of the children later served a mission. Each stepped up to serve. An abiding faith, a constant trust, a fervent desire have always characterized those who serve the Lord with all their hearts. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, p. 127).

Soon many of you will be ready to serve missions. It’s wonderful that you are willing and prepared to serve wherever the Spirit of the Lord directs. This alone is a modern miracle, considering the times in which we live. As missionaries, you also can share in this sweet feeling of realizing that Heavenly Father knows each of His children. He will permit you to help rescue those who are spiritually drowning, to see and to share in His divine power to save. (Thomas S. Monson, “Save Her! Save Her!” New Era, [May 1997]: p. 4).

There is a terrible time approaching the nations of the earth, … worse than has ever entered into the heart of man to conceive of—-war, bloodshed, and desolation, mourning and misery, pestilence, famine, and earthquakes, and all those calamities spoken of by the prophets will most assuredly be fulfilled....And it is for us, Latter-day Saints, to understand the position we occupy....

There are some things that make it extremely difficult for men sometimes to perform the kind of missions that they did formerly, owing to age, infirmities, and circumstances. Yet I have frequently felt ashamed when I have seen the acts of many of these quorums to which I refer, when they have been called upon to go on missions. One has one excuse, and another, another. It was easier some twenty years ago to raise two or three hundred men than it is now among all those thousands in Israel. How do you account for this? Partly in consequence of an apathy that exists. (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1943, p. 237).

No mission in the Church, in my view, will reach its exalted pinnacle of perfection without the help of members. Members are essential to our success—-enlist their help. What a beautiful declaration—those two words of missionary work, teach and baptize, that all whom we influence may be candidates for the kingdom of God and have their lives blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Thomas S. Monson, “New Mission Presidents Receive Instruction,” Ensign, [September 1992]: 74–75).

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary. (Howard W. Hunter, “New Mission Presidents Receive Instruction,” Ensign, [September 1992]: 74–75).

was privileged last month to be assigned to attend a seminar with the mission presidents from the North America West Area. Among the mission presidents in attendance was my son, Lee. He had been called to serve before I had completed my yearlong assignment in the Europe Central Area Presidency. It had been three years since I had spent any time with my son, other than a few short visits while passing through his area on other assignments.

After a get-acquainted dinner with all of the mission presidents and their wives, Lee and I, with our wives, went to my hotel room for a visit. Our conversation, of course, centered on missionary work. Lee explained what had happened to his missionaries since President Hinckley asked us to raise the bar on qualifications for missionary service. He reported a decided improvement in the preparation of the missionaries arriving in the mission field. The conversation led us to recall an experience Lee and I had while he was attending high school.

Lee was a member of his high school track team—-he both sprinted and high-jumped. During the 1968 Summer Olympic Games held in Mexico City, the world became enamored with a little-known high jumper named Dick Fosbury. He had experimented with a new high-jumping technique that involved sprinting diagonally toward the bar, then curving and leaping backward over the bar. It came to be called the Fosbury flop.
Like many others, Lee was intrigued by this new technique, but until the new school year started, he didn’t have a place to practice it. I came home one evening to find him practicing the Fosbury flop in our basement. He had set up two makeshift standards by stacking chairs, and he was jumping over a broomstick set on the chairs, using a sofa to cushion his landing. It was very clear to me that the sofa would not hold up under such treatment, so I called a halt to his indoor high-jumping. Instead, I invited him to go with me to a sporting-goods store, where we purchased some foam padding to use for landing and high-jumping standards so he could move the activity out of doors.

After experimenting with the Fosbury flop, Lee decided to return to the western roll technique that he had used previously. Still, through the end of the summer into the fall, he practiced high-jumping for many hours in our backyard.
One evening as I returned home from work, I found Lee practicing his jumping. I asked, “How high is the bar?”

He said, “Five feet, eight inches.”

“Why that height?”

He answered, “You must clear that height to qualify for the state track meet.”

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“I can clear it every time. I haven’t missed.”

My reply: “Let’s raise the bar and see how well you do then.”

He replied, “Then I might miss.”

I queried, “If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?”
So we started moving the bar up to five feet, ten inches; then to six feet; and so on, as he sought to improve. Lee became a better high jumper because he was not content with just clearing the minimum standard. He learned that even if it meant missing, he wanted to keep raising the bar to become the best high jumper he was capable of becoming.

Remembering this experience with my son brought to mind the message Elder M. Russell Ballard gave at the priesthood session of the October 2002 general conference, in which he challenged the young men of the Church to become the greatest generation of missionaries. He announced that the bar for the minimum standard of missionary service had been raised. He instructed the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to prepare themselves more vigorously to reach this new and higher minimum standard. He also gave instructions to fathers, bishops, and stake presidents about helping young men prepare to serve full-time missions. (See “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 46–49.)

In his concluding remarks at that same priesthood session, President Hinckley commented on Elder Ballard’s talk. He said: “Elder Ballard has spoken to you concerning missionaries. I wish to endorse what he said. I hope that our young men, and our young women, will rise to the challenge he has set forth. We must raise the bar on the worthiness and qualifications of those who go into the world as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 57).

Soon afterward, in a letter dated December 11, 2002, the First Presidency instructed Church leaders about the principles of eligibility for full-time missionary service. The instructions stated: “Full-time missionary service is a privilege for those who are called through inspiration by the President of the Church. Bishops and stake presidents have the serious responsibility to identify worthy, qualified members who are spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for this sacred service and who can be recommended without reservation. Those individuals not able to meet the physical, mental, and emotional demands of full-time missionary work are honorably excused and should not be recommended. They may be called to serve in other rewarding capacities.”

The bar was raised by the leaders of the Church, and now the minimum standard for participating in missionary work is absolute moral worthiness; physical health and strength; intellectual, social, and emotional development. In every high-jumping competition there is a minimum height at which the competition starts. The high jumper cannot ask to start at a lower height. In the same way, you should not expect the standards to be lowered to allow you to serve a mission. If you want to be a missionary, you must be able to clear the minimum standards.

But once you reach those minimum standards, shouldn’t you try to keep raising the bar? I ask you the same question I asked my son many years ago: “If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?” My challenge to you is to recognize that a minimum standard exists—-and you must reach it to serve as a full-time missionary—-but don’t stop there. The greatest generation of missionaries will not reach its full potential unless it keeps raising the bar. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).

Remembering this experience with my son brought to mind the message Elder M. Russell Ballard gave at the priesthood session of the October 2002 general conference, in which he challenged the young men of the Church to become the greatest generation of missionaries. He announced that the bar for the minimum standard of missionary service had been raised. He instructed the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to prepare themselves more vigorously to reach this new and higher minimum standard. He also gave instructions to fathers, bishops, and stake presidents about helping young men prepare to serve full-time missions. (See “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 46–49.)

In his concluding remarks at that same priesthood session, President Hinckley commented on Elder Ballard’s talk. He said: “Elder Ballard has spoken to you concerning missionaries. I wish to endorse what he said. I hope that our young men, and our young women, will rise to the challenge he has set forth. We must raise the bar on the worthiness and qualifications of those who go into the world as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 57).

Soon afterward, in a letter dated December 11, 2002, the First Presidency instructed Church leaders about the principles of eligibility for full-time missionary service. The instructions stated: “Full-time missionary service is a privilege for those who are called through inspiration by the President of the Church. Bishops and stake presidents have the serious responsibility to identify worthy, qualified members who are spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for this sacred service and who can be recommended without reservation. Those individuals not able to meet the physical, mental, and emotional demands of full-time missionary work are honorably excused and should not be recommended. They may be called to serve in other rewarding capacities.”

The bar was raised by the leaders of the Church, and now the minimum standard for participating in missionary work is absolute moral worthiness; physical health and strength; intellectual, social, and emotional development. In every high-jumping competition there is a minimum height at which the competition starts. The high jumper cannot ask to start at a lower height. In the same way, you should not expect the standards to be lowered to allow you to serve a mission. If you want to be a missionary, you must be able to clear the minimum standards.

But once you reach those minimum standards, shouldn’t you try to keep raising the bar? I ask you the same question I asked my son many years ago: “If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?” My challenge to you is to recognize that a minimum standard exists—and you must reach it to serve as a full-time missionary—but don’t stop there. The greatest generation of missionaries will not reach its full potential unless it keeps raising the bar. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).

The minimum physical standard for full-time missionary service refers to a potential missionary’s physical health and strength. For example, one of the questions on the missionary recommendation forms asks if you “can work 12 to 15 hours per day, walk 6 to 8 miles per day, ride a bicycle 10 to 15 miles per day, and climb stairs daily.” Missionary work is hard, and full-time missionaries must be in good physical condition to serve. Raising the bar to a higher physical standard could involve further physical conditioning.

It also could include improving your physical appearance. A missionary is expected to dress a certain way, projecting a clean-cut appearance that includes an appropriate haircut; being clean shaven; wearing a clean white shirt, a tie, and a well-pressed suit—all the way down to a good shoe shine. Start now to prepare for a full-time mission by adopting the appearance of a full-time missionary. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).

Raise the bar higher in your intellectual preparation. Take your schooling seriously. It is important to be able to read, speak, and write with intelligence. Expand your knowledge of the world around you by reading good books. Learn how to study. Then apply your improved study habits to learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Consistently and regularly read from the Book of Mormon.

Don’t neglect the opportunity of attending seminary and institute classes.

Participate and gain all you can from the scriptures taught in these great religious-education settings. They will prepare you to present the message of the restored gospel to those you have opportunity to meet. Study from Preach My Gospel, emphasizing the basic doctrines taught in chapter 3. Each time you are asked to speak in church or to teach a family home evening lesson, focus on these basic doctrines.
In Doctrine and Covenants 11:21, the Lord tells us, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” The pre-missionary age is an ideal time to set the bar higher as you prepare your mind by acquiring the light and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).

You must recognize that missionary service is emotionally demanding. Your support system is going to be withdrawn from you as you leave home and go out into the world. Many of the ways you use now to cope with emotional stress—like hanging out with friends, going off by yourself, playing video games, or listening to music—are not allowed by the rules of missionary conduct. There will be days of rejection and disappointment. Learn now about your emotional limits, and learn how to control your emotions under the circumstances you will face as a missionary. By doing this, you raise the bar to greater heights and, in effect, fortify yourself against emotional challenges during your missionary service.

While President Hinckley did not mention this, prospective missionaries also must be prepared with the social skills needed to serve a mission. More and more, young people are isolating themselves from others by playing video games; wearing headphones; and interacting through cell phones, e-mail, text messaging, and so on instead of in person. Much of missionary work involves relating face-to-face with people, and unless you set the bar higher in the development of your social skills, you will find yourself under-prepared. Let me offer a simple suggestion: get a job that involves interacting with people. As an increased motivation, set a goal to earn enough money from your part- or full-time work to pay for at least a significant part of your mission. I promise great blessings—social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blessings—-to every young man who pays for a significant part of his mission.

Personal worthiness is the minimum spiritual standard for serving a mission. This means that you are worthy in every way to make and to keep sacred temple covenants. Do not disqualify yourself from the blessings bestowed on those who serve in this very special calling by committing acts of transgression which will make you ineligible to serve. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).

Please recognize that while your teaching as a missionary may be persuasive, only the Spirit converts. Preach My Gospel gives a good description of what missionary work is all about. It states, “As an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, you can teach people with power and authority that ‘redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah,’ and that no one ‘can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah’ (2 Nephi 2:6, 8)” ([2004], 2).

We remind you that where much is given, much is required. We issue the call again for all spiritually, physically, and emotionally qualified young men to come forth prepared to become missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ. Be certain that you easily clear the minimum standards for service as a missionary and that you are continually raising the bar. Prepare yourself to be more effective in this great calling. (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Conference Report, October 2007).