Sunday, October 7, 2007

Who Should Serve a Mission

John Taylor

The question is frequently asked, "Should every young man fill a mission?" And the answer has been given by the Lord. It is "Yes." Every young man should fill a mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, "When the World Will Be Converted," Ensign, [October 1974]: 9; Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 4 April 1974).

It is well for us to have in mind not so much the benefit to those representatives as their preparation and fitness to carry on the responsibilities entailed in a missionary call. In choosing a missionary it is well to keep in mind questions as follows:

Is he worthy to represent the Church?

Has he sufficient will power to resist temptation?

Has he kept himself clean while he has been home and by that standard proved himself capable of resisting possible temptation in the field?

Has he taken active part in Church organizations at home?

Does he at least glimpse what the Church has to offer the world?

Has he glimpsed that the Church is the greatest thing in the world, and the only authorized group to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in the salvation of mankind? …
Has he, through prayer, or experience, felt God’s nearness to him, so that he can approach the Lord as he would his earthly father? (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1961, 96).

We now have more [missionaries] serving in the field than we have ever had, but we do not have enough. The world, with its four billion plus people, is a very large world. And while we do not have access to many millions of these, the numbers we are free to work with are still very large. Truly, the field is white and the laborers are few. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, Ensign, [May 1988]: 92).

I am often asked, "How many missionaries do you expect? How many do you need?" And my answer is, "All of them." (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975]: 3).

The Lord’s work needs the very best you are capable of providing. Now is the time to prepare for that service. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1982, p. 63; Ensign, [May 1982]: 42).

Every boy in every country in all the world who has been baptized and received the Holy Ghost will have the responsibility of bearing the message of the gospel to the people of the world. And this is also your opportunity, and it will contribute greatly toward your greatness. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Planning for a Full and Abundant Life," Ensign, [May 1974]: 86).

Every deacon, teacher, and priest, every elder in the Church understands that to be worthy to be a representative of the Church of Christ, he must be temperate in his habits and morally clean. He is taught that there is no double standard of chastity, that every young man, as well as every young woman, is to keep himself free from sexual impurity....

These young men are instructed that they go out as representatives of the Church, and that a representative of any organization—economic or religious—-must possess at least one outstanding quality, and that is: trustworthiness. He was right who said, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” And whom do these missionaries represent? First, they represent their parents, carrying the responsibility of keeping their good name unsullied. Second, they represent the Church, specifically the ward in which they live. And third, they represent the Lord Jesus Christ, whose authorized servants they are.

These ambassadors, for such they are, represent these three groups and carry in that representation one of the greatest responsibilities of their lives. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1949, 119–120).

I recall talking years ago with a Japanese brother about his son going on a mission. The father replied that he could not think of his son’s taking time from school for a mission. The son did not go and has been the loser because of it.
I contrast that with the family of Brother and Sister Masao Watabe. I have known them for many years. Brother Watabe has served in many capacities in the Church in Japan. Today he is an ordained patriarch.

They have not had much money, but they saved to make it possible for their children to serve missions. Masahisa went to Japan. He then completed his education and is an expert in ceramics. Masaji served in Japan, was educated there and in the United States where he now works for a Japanese company. Masakazu served in Brazil, then earned a doctorate degree and is on the faculty of Brigham Young University. Masasue labored in the Fukuoka mission and is now in school in San Francisco.

In serving others through the great missionary cause, they have brought blessings into their own lives. And now today, the father and mother are serving their fourth mission, this one in the Taipei Taiwan Temple, where Brother Watabe is a counselor to the temple president and Sister Watabe is assistant to the matron. Where there is faith, there are miracles. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Missionary Service,” Tambuli [March 1988]: 2).

No one should hesitate when called by proper authority to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1961, p. 34).

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, October 1970, p. 7).

We are constantly calling for missionaries to go to the various fields of labor in this country, in Europe, and in other parts of the world. The greatest care should be taken to select suitable persons for this duty. It often costs a considerable sum to send men to the field of labor for which they are selected; hence it is important that proper persons should be chosen, that their time and the means necessary for their transportation be not wasted. We have a large number of young men who ought to be very suitable for missionaries. Our Sunday Schools and theological classes, and our young men’s mutual improvement associations, should give our young men who avail themselves of these facilities an excellent preparation for missionary labor. Every young man who has faith should be taught to consider a mission to the world as an honorable event in his life, for which he will diligently prepare himself, and which he will look forward to with pleasure. There is an immense field lying before us, which must be occupied by our Elders in order to fulfill the obligations God has laid upon us. Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of Quorums should exercise a wise discretion, and who will be useful in the labor assigned them. (John Taylor, 57th Annual General Conference Epistle, Provo, Utah, 8 April 1887).

We're very short of missionaries for this big world. We need your sons. Every boy should be considered. We hope that when he is eight and twelve and fourteen and sixteen and nineteen, he will be properly interviewed by his bishop and prepared for his baptism covenant, his growing priesthood responsibilities, and his approaching mission. All worthy, normal boys should fill missions. The mission is part of his priesthood responsibility. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975, p. 3).

Now, when the Savior was on the top of the Mount of Olives in the Jerusalem area, he did not say, "Now, if it is convenient, I would be pleased if you wanted to go on a mission." he did not say, "If somebody will give you the money to go, I would like you to go." He said to the Apostles, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975, p. 4).

As more of the missionaries come from the less developed countries, we may need to ask for more financial contributions from more of the brethren who are prospering in the States.

I am concerned with the proselyting of the Lamanites through the Americas and the islands, for I realize that some of them have very limited education, understanding, and financing, but I am convinced fully that all of the people of the world need the gospel and that the gospel will dissipate their many limitations in education and understanding, their superstitions, their class systems and all of the things which hamper them. The Church will bring to them stability and progress. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1975).

We must have great numbers of missionaries from all the nations in which we are now proselyting. We can hardly be satisfied with less than all of them. All boys, every young man, should answer the call as a duty call. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976, p. 9).

You young men should look forward to filling full-time proselyting missions for the Church. The Lord has said that all those who have received the gospel have the responsibility of teaching it to other people. If we cannot go on missions away from home, we certainly can live the gospel and teach it to our friends here at home. (Mark E. Petersen, Sao Paulo Area Conference, 1 March 1975, pp. 36-37).

Not too long ago I spoke to a group of perspective missionaries. Many of those young men and women had already decided to serve a full-time mission, but others were not certain they should—-or would—-accept a call to serve. You might think I would be inclined to push a little bit, to see if I could persuade them to make that important commitment to serve a full-time mission. But as significant as that decision is in the life of young Latter-day Saints everywhere, there is an even more important decision that they must make, and that’s the decision upon which I focused with those young people. I told them they did not have to decide that night whether or not to go on a mission; however, I told them, they needed to decide whether or not Joseph Smith knelt in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, “on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty” (Joseph Smith-History 1:14). . . .

If this truly happened to Joseph Smith—-and I testify to you with all the power of my soul that it did—-then the question of whether or not these perspective missionaries should serve a mission pretty much takes care of itself, doesn’t it? Knowing, really knowing, that Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to and spoke to Joseph Smith as he said they did, kindles a strong desire to serve God and His Holy Son to the very best of one’s ability. (M. Russell Ballard, When Thou Art Converted, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001, pp. 18-19).

Too many of our young men have not yet decided to give two years of service to the Lord. I speak particularly to you young men who live in the United States and Canada, the host nations from which the gospel is to go to other nations. While you reap the benefits of prosperity unprecedented in the history of mankind, do you ever think that one of the reasons the Lord sent you to earth under such favorable circumstances is that you could use your talents, education, and money to bless others with the gospel? (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1979, p. 46).

Our health, our strength, our life itself comes from the Lord whose pleasure it is to give us life and enjoyment. Every boy owes a mission to the Lord, and this is the way he can partly express appreciation for the many blessings he has received in his lifetime. (Spencer W. Kimball, Area Conference, London, England, June 1976, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1977, p. 37).

The other day when the press interviewed us, one young man said to me, "President Kimball, why do you send American missionaries to England? We have a lot of fine boys here. Why don't you use British boys for your missionaries?" And of course that pleased me very much. And then I said, "It is because we didn't have British missionaries that we sent the American missionaries, but now we have turned the corner. From today on we are going to have many, many missionaries in this area." There are many young people who have thought they were not obligated to go on a mission, that that was an American job. We would like to emphasize very strongly at this time, that it is not an American job. It is a British job, and it is a Norwegian job, and a Brazilian job. Wherever there are members of the Church, the young men will furnish the missionaries, of course. (Spencer W. Kimball, Area Conference, London, England, June 1976, p. 37).

If you have been handicapped by some accident of nature or by disease or disability, perhaps you may want to go on a mission. But you cannot serve a regular mission because of a wheelchair, or a brace, or a tongue or eyes or ears that will not respond properly.

You can serve a different type of a mission, one which in your case is equally approved by the Lord. Perhaps a stake mission, perhaps not that--but the Lord loves you and will bless you for your desire and compensate you in other ways. You can at least be an example of wanting to go. You can inspire, or perhaps even shame, some indecisive youth who has the physical capacity to serve a mission but who does not want to go. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come, All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 71).

Young men and young women with serious mental, emotional, or physical limitations are excused from full-time missionary service. They shouldn’t feel guilty about that. They are just as precious and important to the Church as if they were able to go into the mission field.

But while they don’t serve full-time, they can take every opportunity to find and help people join the Church. They can be member missionaries in college, at work, and in their neighborhoods. They ought to go forward, have a wonderful and full life, and help build the kingdom wherever they are. Not all of the Apostles serving today were able to serve a full-time mission in their youth, some because they were required to serve in the military. But they all did missionary work. They all brought people into the Church.

Priesthood leaders are encouraged to help every faithful, righteous young man and woman serve. For example, they can assist the bishop as ward missionaries. They work at the bishop’s storehouse. If they live near a temple, they can serve in may ways there. Priesthood leaders need only think of ways and then move forward. (M. Russell Ballard, “What If You Can’t Serve Full-Time?” New Era [March 2007]:9).

Now we recognize, bishops, that you are going to have difficulty in satisfying some of these young men. . .who may be physically handicapped. Physicians may declare a weakness in the eyes, probably in the heart. The young men will say, “Well, we can work hard, and we should like to go,” and sympathetically you say, “All right.” They feel as though they will be deprived of a privilege, and no doubt they will in a sense, but let us emphasize the importance of the work here at home. It is just as important, the home missionary work, and they can be here under their normal surroundings, and be near any help, medically, which they might need. So let us try to impress them with the fact that they can serve the Lord here at home to the extent of their physical, intellectual, and spiritual ability, and probably better than going out into the world under conditions that might be too strenuous for them. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1949, pp. 177-178 quoted in Mary Jane Woodger, The Teachings of David O. McKay, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004, p. 169).

While every young man should serve a mission, we realize that every young man is not physically, emotionally, or mentally prepared. As a consequence, some may be deprived of missionary opportunities. But all should prepare to go--to be worthy to serve the Lord. (Ezra Taft Benson, "Our Commission to Take the Gospel to the World," Ensign, [May 1984]: 43-45).

We recognize that it may not be wise for some of our young men and young women to face the rigors and challenges of a full-time mission. If priesthood leaders excuse any of you from full-time missionary service, we ask you and your families to accept the decision and move forward. You can prepare to participate in the saving ordinances of the temple and find other ways to be of service. And we ask you all of our members to be supportive and to show great love and understanding in assisting all or our faithful youth in their various Church callings. (M. Russell Ballard, “One More.” Ensign, [May 2005]: 69; New Era [March 2007]: 51).

There are certain standards by which we should be guided in calling our missionaries: First, call no young man or woman for the purpose of saving him or her. The young man is getting wayward, and you think a mission would do him good. It would. But that is not why you are sending him out. Choose the young men and young women who are worthy to represent the Church, see that they are sufficiently mature, and, above all, that they have good character. (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, p. 126).

You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others. (Gordon B. Hinckley, BYU Devotional, September 17, 1996).

The most important standard is character. Let each one whom you interview sense the fact he is going out as a representative. Some of the brethren have urged that each ward should have in the mission field a certain percentage of the ward membership. That is not an ideal. If you have no one who is worthy and financially able to represent the Church, do not send anybody out, but sit down with these young men and young women and say, “If you accept this call willingly, you go out as a trusted representative of the Church and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And to be trusted, young men, is a greater compliment than to be loved, and you cannot violate that trust. You are obligated to keep that trust between now and the time you go to the missionary home. Maintain the Church standards with your companions who will want to give you a farewell party. We have heard of some missionaries who have been called who have joined in with their fraternity friend in action that reflected discredit upon themselves and upon the missionary cause.

Tell the young man, “From now on, from this very moment, you are a trusted representative of this ward, of your parents, and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1950, pp. 177-178).

I just want you folks all to praise with me this fine young man who is filling his mission today. Every young man goes on a mission. Every young man in this Church. He is expected to by the Lord, he is expected by the Presidency of the Church. He is expected by every bishop and every stake president. Every boy fills a mission. He can, if he will. He will if he will change his life and put it in total order and let it come first, the gospel and its program first. So now we have large numbers but at least half of them are still not in the mission field and we hope that the day will come, very soon, when every boy will keep himself worthy from the time he is born until his mission day so that he can state to his stake president and his bishop, "I am worthy, I love the Lord, the gospel is true. I want to go out and further the work of the Lord." (Spencer W. Kimball, Missionary Farewell, Scottsdale, Arizona, 14 May 1978).

You stake presidents and bishops have the privilege to prayerfully seek guidance to identify and call individuals to prepare to serve a full-time or part-time mission. While some will approach you, a greater number can be identified and encouraged to submit papers for a call through your prayerful efforts. Church service has always been based on an inspired call rather than volunteerism. (Richard G. Scott, “Why Every Member a Missionary?” Ensign, [November 1997]: 35).

We have instructed bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, and branch presidents to recommend only worthy people for the missions. Too often we find those who have been unworthy, who stir their sympathies and with that of their families; pressure, they recommend them to the missions, thinking, "Oh, well, they'll get along all right." but as stated before, I am sure that much of our trouble in the mission fields and perhaps even the reduction of converts may be because some of our missionaries are unworthy and unprepared. They must not recommend deeply unworthy, immoral boys, those who are too deeply entrenched in their sins. They must not even encourage those who are slightly immoral to go unless they have done a lot of work with them. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 October 1975, p. 4).

Now I want to talk to that young man who has already stumbled, who has already made the type of mistake that can disqualify one from serving a mission. I challenge you; I especially challenge you, to prepare for your mission. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off. It will be harder than you know. But it will be possible. Where is your young manhood? Use the cleansing power of your priesthood. Go to your bishop. it is your duty to go--your duty! He will help you erase a sad episode from your life. We need you! We have the world to teach and warn. We have the world to convert. The Lord really needs you. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come, All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 70-71).

When should a young man NOT go on a mission? In the first place, a young man does not initiate his missionary call. In light of this, it is not his prerogative to choose or not to choose to go on a mission. His bishop and stake president recommend him, and he may state his desires to them. The call comes from the president of the Church, and the young man may then accept it or reject it.

There are circumstances under which he should frankly tell his bishop that he should not be considered for a mission. If he feels himself unworthy to represent the Church as a missionary because of immorality or failure to live other Church standards, he must candidly tell his bishop.

If he has health problems, either physical or mental, that would make it difficult or impossible for him to stand the rigors of missionary service, he should advise the bishop.

He may be seriously in debt or have other financial problems that would make it inadvisable for him to go at a particular time. He should candidly counsel with his bishop on these matters.

Furthermore, if he has a critical attitude concerning the Church, if he is unwilling to go unselfishly where he is called and devote himself whole-heartedly to the work, there may be a serious question as to whether he should be considered for missionary service.

On the other hand, he should know that if he responds to a call given him and devotes himself to the work in the right spirit and attitude, walking in obedience to the counsel of those placed over him, he will come to know a joy and satisfaction such as he is not likely to experience in any other activity in life. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "When Should a Young Man Not Go on a Mission?" Answers for Young Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, pp. 39-40).

Our charge to carry the gospel to all nations is divine. We need more missionaries. We need more qualified couples. We need the missionary-age young men of the Church to step forward in even greater numbers than they are doing now so they can assume their rightful responsibility, privilege, and blessing as the Lord's servants in the missionary cause. How strengthened we and they would be if all young men readied themselves for the Lord's work! (Spencer W. Kimball, "Are We Doing All We Can?" Ensign, [February 1983]: 3).

To preach the gospel, under ordination from the Priesthood of God, is a great privilege, to be enjoyed by those only who are and have been strictly living the commandments and attending to their Church duties. Every bishop will carefully examine everyone whom he considers for a mission; to be sure he meets these requirements. No lukewarm or unworthy person should be recommended. (The First Presidency, Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1942, p. 92).

In greatly increasing our missionary force, there are two things that we must always remember. A missionary must be worthy to represent his Lord and Master, and he must be indoctrinated and inspired to teach the gospel to many people the right way, but never baptize people for records' sake or to glory in numbers. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976, p. 10).

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! Let me tell you of two young men who struggled with that decision.

The first was in premedical school. He had earned the attention of the faculty, who saw unusual potential in him. They fostered his medical career. But there was something in his way—a mission.

When finally he got the courage to speak about leaving school to serve a mission, his advisors became angry. They could not understand it. Why did he want to do that? He had a medical ministry to perform. Let others preach. They would not let him do it. "If you do," he was told, "we will personally see that you are never admitted to this medical school, or to any other."

He went home to counsel with his father, who was a close friend of mine. What should he do? His father simply said, "Son, for twenty years your mother and I have tried to teach you your duty. If you have not learned in all of those years, how can I tell you in one weekend what you should do? This is a decision you must make yourself."
That young man is now a heart surgeon and a stake president. He is not old enough, really, to be either, but he is wise enough and inspired enough to succeed at both. The German language he learned on his mission helped him in school, the self-discipline he learned serves in his practice and in his life.

Another testimony came to him. When he returned to medical school, here and there the course was altered. But he received his specialist degree on the same schedule his advisors had planned before his mission. Oh, what a temptation! How near he came to making the mistake of his life. He is indebted to the Lord for more than ever he was before.

The second young man faced a similar decision. He was a college athlete, the anchor man on his team. What about a mission? Should he drop out and risk losing that? Was not the fame of athletics a kind of mission in itself? He too went to his father, worried that perhaps a mission would be the end of his career in athletics. He had known of cases like that.

He too made the difficult decision--he would respond to his priesthood duty. During his mission he did not shoot one basket. When he returned, he started out as highpoint man. Whether he wins honors in sports or not, he is already designated as a most valuable player on the Lord's team of priesthood bearers.

Now, it is possible that first young man might not have been admitted back into medical school, or the second would not have made the team. If that had happened, the Lord would surely have blessed them in other ways. But that is not the reason they served their mission--not for blessings! Not for the language, not to travel, not for the self-discipline. Each served a mission because it was his duty. It was not his mission, it was the Lord's mission.

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.
And you have the help of your teachers and leaders in the Church--and most of all your parents.

When Brother Tuttle was growing up, he became too interested at too early an age in a girlfriend. One morning after a late date, his mother sat with him on the porch swing and asked what time he had come in the night before. "Between nine and ten," he replied. He had marked a 9 on one side of the front door and a 10 on the other. He always cane in between 9 and 10.

His mother then talked very seriously of duty, or a mission, and of priesthood responsibility. She counseled him wisely and firmly. One can only imagine where he would be if his mother had not intruded that much into his affairs at that moment--or if he had resented it. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come, All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 70).

The gospel must be preached to the world, but who is going to do it? Not the Baptists and the Methodists; not the Catholics or any other Protestants. You and I are going to do it. You and I must do it because we have the gospel; they do not have it. This is really serious, and we expect that you will take it seriously and that the regional Representatives and the mission Presidents and the stake Presidents will call this to your attention frequently so that no boy will think he has the option. There really isn't any option, only that he has free agency, of course. However, there is not an option as to whether he will fill a mission or not.

If we are going to serve the Lord, we are going to teach the gospel in all of these countries. These countries are rather significant and it frightens us a little bit when we think of the number of countries that need the gospel. Let me read just two or three of them. Here's Afghanistan with eighteen or nineteen million people, none of whom have been touched by the gospel. Here is Burma with over thirty million people, and I don't suppose that there is a member of the Church there in that whole country; Cambodia with eight or nine million people; Ceylon or Sri Lanka with fifteen million people and untouched. Who is going to do it? You are and I am. We are because it is that important. Then there is China with its eight hundred million people untouched. (Spencer W. Kimball, Manchester England Area Conference, 19-20 June 1976).

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. (Spencer W. Kimball, Guatemala Area Conference, February 1977, p. 24).

Let me assure you that calls are a matter of revelation. Missionaries serve where the Lord wants them to serve. We need good, capable missionaries in every mission. For example, let’s say there’s a young man, a leader in school, living in Virginia in the United States. He opens his mission call and is shocked to learn he is being sent to Salt Lake City. But he isn’t there long before he knows precisely why the Lord called him to serve there. (M. Russell Ballard, “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” New Era [March 2007]: 10).

One young man, when called on a mission, replied that he didn't have much talent for that kind of thing. What he was good at was keeping his powerful new automobile in top condition. He enjoyed the sense of power and acceleration, and when he was driving, the continual motion gave him the illusion that he was really getting somewhere.

All along, his father had been content with saying, "He likes to do things with his hands. That's good enough for him."

Good enough for a son of God? This young man didn't realize that the power of his automobile is infinitesimally small in comparison with the power of the sea, or of the sun; and there are many suns, all controlled by law and by priesthood, ultimately--a priesthood power that he could have been developing in the service of the Lord. He settled for a pitiful god, a composite of steel and rubber and shiny chrome. (Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, [June 1976]: 5).

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, February 1977, p. 24).

I am confident that the time will never come when we shall not need vigorous men and women of faith to go into the world as missionaries. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1959, p. 120).

Missionary service is one of the richest experiences of life; and every man should seek the privilege of a mission, and every family should have the privilege of helping maintain one of its members in the mission field. (John A. Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 339).

You could not have doubted that testimony if you had heard those young men and women. Some of them had been in the mission field only a month, and oh, how they thanked the Lord for the privilege of that mission. I thought what a shame it would have been if any one of those boys or girls had been denied that mission some day, and sometimes they are made to feel as if they cannot afford it. I hope some of us in the Church who have been blessed perhaps more than others with financial security and material things, will share it with some missionaries who want to go on a mission, and never let it be said that a boy was kept home from a mission because someone could not afford it. (Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, October 1949, p. 158).

The Lord is always looking for men in whom he can place his full confidence, who can represent him in the mission field, and men who can be trusted in every way and who are prepared to help build his kingdom.

He said, "this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). He is asking us as priesthood holders if we will come and help him spread the gospel and live, and help others to live, so as to enjoy immortality and eternal life. (N. Eldon Tanner, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 77).

I am under no delusion to think that this can be done without strain or that it can be done overnight, but I do have this faith that we can move forward and expand much faster than we now are.

Some time ago I was in Japan and Korea, and as I saw the many handsome young men joining the Church and giving leadership to its organizations, I seemed to envision a great movement when there would be thousands of local men prepared and strong and anxious to go abroad. As I have been in Mexico since that time, I seemed to envision again Mexican youth and Latins from Central and South America in great numbers qualifying themselves for missionary service within their own countries, until the army of the Lord's missionaries would cover the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep.

I have stated the challenge. i believe there is a solution. I think that if we are all of one mind and one heart and one purpose that we can move forward with great energy! (Spencer W. Kimball, "When the World will be Converted," Ensign, [April 1984]: 6).

We realize that while all able men definitely should, all men are not prepared to teach the gospel abroad. Yes, we would say, every able, worthy man should shoulder the cross. What an army we should have teaching Christ and him crucified! Yes, they should be prepared, usually with saved funds for their missions, and always with a happy heart to serve.

The Lord says:

"And that every man [Did you catch the words, every man?] should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked." (D&C 63:37). (Spencer W. Kimball, "When the World will be Converted," Ensign, [April 1984]: 5).

The question is frequently asked, Should every young man fill a mission? The answer to this inquiry has been given by the Lord. It is yes. Every young man should fill a mission.

While every young man should serve a mission, we realize that every young man is not physically, emotionally, or morally prepared. As a consequence, some may be deprived of missionary opportunities. But all should prepare to go--to be worthy to serve the Lord. The Lord has said: "And . . . every man [notice the words every man] should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked." (D&C 63:37). (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'84, Ensign, 14 [May 1984]: 45).

Young men, this statement by President [Spencer W.] Kimball should be your personal motto: "Every LDS male who is worthy and able should fill a mission" (Ensign,, May 1974, p. 87). We ask you to make the sacrifice. We call it that because of want for a better name for it. It is an investment. Enlist in this, the greatest service in the world. Do not evade the responsibility. Do not conscientiously object. We invite you to join the army that is swelling in numbers each day. Your job will be to proclaim the message of the restoration to the world. Know that you have our confidence and love. We expect you to perform that mission. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'79, Ensign, 9 [May 1979]: 33).

The world needs the gospel, and we are charged by command of the Lord and through our Abrahamic lineage to spread it. Every young man in this Church should be qualified for a mission and then should go. Many sisters may also serve missions. I am grateful my wife went on a mission and that we have granddaughters and grandsons in the mission field. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'86, Ensign, 16 [May 1986]: 77).

It is interesting to me that some statistician told us that in A.D.33 when the Savior himself was stressing so strongly "every nation, kindred, tongue, and people" that there were on the earth possibly a quarter billion.

Eighteen hundred years later, when the command came through Joseph Smith to proselyte the word, our experts estimated there were one billion people (1,000,000,000) or about four times as many as in the meridian of time. And now as we renew the injunction to cover the earth with the gospel, it is estimated that there are probably three-and-a-half billion.

The question is frequently asked, "Should every young man fill a mission?" And the answer has been given by the Lord. It is "yes." Every young man should fill a mission. He said, "Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews." (D&C 133:8.)

We now ordain young men at nineteen years of age to be elders...Every man should also pay his tithing. Every man should observe the Sabbath. Every man should attend his meetings. Every man should consummate his marriage in the temple and properly train his children, and do many other mighty works. Of course he should. He does not always do it.

We realize that while all men definitely should, all men are not prepared to teach the gospel abroad. Far too many young men arrive at the missionary age quite unprepared to go on a mission, and, of course, they should not be sent. But they should all be prepared. There are a few physically unfit to do missionary service, but Paul also had a thorn in his side. There are far too many unfit emotionally with the spirit of missionary work. They should have been prepared. Should! But since they have broken the laws, they may have to be deprived, and thereon hangs one of our greatest challenges, to keep these young boys worthy. Yes, we would say, every able worthy man should shoulder the cross. What an army we should have teaching Christ and him crucified! Yes, they should be prepared, usually with saved funds for their missions, and always with a happy heart to serve.

The Lord says: "And that every man [did you catch the words, "every man"?] should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked." (D&C 63:37). Note that he said "every man," but we must find a way to have "every man" prepared. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 4 April 1974).

In obedience to our invitation, our people are sending their young men into the mission field to preach the gospel. We are still urging that every young man have the privilege of a mission to give him a rounded-out life and also to teach the gospel to a dying world. We are still pressing our young men, our bishops, our stake and mission leaders, and we are anxious for more missionaries, better and stronger missionaries, more capable and better trained missionaries.

We are remembering that the Lord of heaven and earth, whose program it is and who has created and peopled this earth--he is anxious. He commanded that we continue and increase our efforts to reach the people. We continue to read his earnest statements that the gospel must go to all the world, to every creature, every clime, every people, every soul. It calls for an "all-out" effort. This appeal is not for the rich or the poor, the successful or the intelligentsia, but to every heart and mind in the world--to every corner of the earth. We are still far from our goal. Though we have made some excellent advances, we are still far from the mark. We still look at the seeming millions in the many lands with which we have to do. We still see numerous nations without a knowledge of their Savior, their Redeemer, without the gospel and its saving and exalting principles. We still see nations who have closed doors and limited visas, greatly limited opportunities for us to enter and teach the gospel.
We still have too few missionaries. Especially do we have too few local missionaries from the areas across the seas and in the distant lands, those who speak the language and know the culture of the people. (Spencer W. Kimball, Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 October 1975).

The Church needs you. The Lord needs you. The world needs you--yes, ten thousand more of 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. God bless you each one, every one of you, that a mission may be a planned and essential part of the program of your lives. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR A'86, Ensign, [May 1986]: 41).

We have heard President [Ezra Taft] Benson tell of the call from "Box B" that came to his father. A letter from "Box B" in those days was a call from the First Presidency to serve a mission. President Benson's father answered that call--leaving his wife and children--which resulted in a powerful missionary spirit that came into that home that has blessed countless lives.

Today that call--in the spirit of "Box B"--has been extended to all young men. They are prepared from an early age to serve the Lord. Thousands upon thousands have responded. The spirit of "Box B"--the call to serve--rest not only upon all young men and dedicated young women who desire to serve, but now it has also been extended--and has been for some time--to mature couples. (David B. Haight, CR A'87, Ensign, [May 1987]: 60).

Every week, nearly 800 recommendations to serve missions arrive at the Church’s Missionary Department in Salt Lake City. These recommendations indicate the faith and obedience of young men and women worldwide in response to the Savior’s declaration of responsibility.

Not long after the stake president recommends a prospective missionary, that long-awaited letter—the call to serve a mission—arrives in the mailbox.
Included in the packet is a page that may go unnoticed at first. It is a form, the Missionary Call Acceptance. This is a personal letter in which the missionary, addressing the First Presidency, formally accepts his or her missionary call. The form contains 15 lines on which the missionary expresses feelings about the singular opportunity of serving the Lord. The letters are usually handwritten, brief, and direct. Yet these few words speak volumes and convey deep meaning. Behind each one is a faith-promoting story.

“My Savior has blessed me more than I ever imagined. He gave His life for me. The least I can do is give Him two years of my life.”

The letters frequently contain expressions of faith in the Savior and gratitude for His sacrifice. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote, “It is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action” (Lectures on Faith, 1:10). Faith, to be saving faith, must center in Christ and move one to obey Him, to follow His example. In accepting a call to serve, the missionary is expressing sufficient faith to act on his or her beliefs. Blessings will inevitably follow, as so many returned missionaries can testify. Faith in the Savior becomes an anchor to the soul.

“I can’t express the happiness and joy I feel as I accept this call to serve. I am ready and willing to commit two years of my life to preaching the gospel.”
In the acceptance letter, many missionaries state, “I gratefully accept my call to serve.” But I wonder how many missionaries realize the implications of the word accept. It means to receive willingly something given or offered; to respond favorably to; consider right and proper. It also means to be admitted into a group or community. In a gospel sense, it implies submission to the will of the Lord and willingness to follow the prophet, who extends the call. The mission “call” is to serve the Lord with all one’s heart, might, mind, and strength. The mission “assignment” is to serve in the assigned field of labor. The acceptance letter implies willingness to accept both the call and the assignment as the Lord’s will. (David B. Haight, “A Spiritual Adventure,” New Era [June 2000]: 6).

Now, we have an interesting custom in the Church. Departing missionaries, are accorded a farewell. In some wards this has become a problem. Between outgoing missionaries and returning missionaries, most sacrament meetings are devoted to farewells and homecomings.

No one else in the Church has a farewell when entering a particular service. We never have a special farewell meeting for a newly called bishop, for a stake president, for a Relief Society president, for a General Authority, or anyone else for whom I can think. Why should we have missionary farewells?

The First Presidency and the Twelve, after most prayerful and careful consideration, have reached the decision that the present program of missionary farewells should be modified.

The departing missionary will be given the opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. But parents and siblings will not be invited to do so. There might be two or more departing missionaries who speak in the same service. The meeting will be entirely in the hands of the bishop and will not be arranged by the family. There will not be special music or anything of that kind.

We know this will be a great disappointment to many families. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends have participated in the past. We ask that you accept this decision. Where a farewell has already been arranged, it may go forward. But none in the traditional sense should be planned for the future. We are convinced that when all aspects of the situation are considered, this is a wise decision. Please, accept it, my dear brethren. I extend this plea also to the sisters, particularly the mothers.

We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionaries speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.

Missionary service is such a wonderful experience that it brings with it its own generous reward. And when a missionary returns to his family and his ward, he may again be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, 5 October 2002).

I pray, my young brethren, that our Heavenly Father will bless you with an understanding of how desperately you are needed in His service today. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'85, Ensign, 15 [May 1985]: 37).

There are lots of able-bodied men who, if they could only have a little more faith in God, and could realize the calamities that are coming upon the earth, and the responsibilities of that priesthood that God has conferred upon them, they would be ready to break all barriers and say, Here I am, send me; I wish to benefit the human family. If Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, let me be possessed of the same spirit. (John Taylor, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, [24 Sept. 1878]: 1).

If you are a young man wondering whether you ought to fulfill a full-time mission, don’t approach that vital decision with your own wisdom alone. Seek the counsel of your parents, your bishop, or stake president. In your prayers ask to have the will of the Lord made known to you. I know that a mission will provide extraordinary blessings for you now and throughout your life. I urge you not to pray to know whether you should go; rather, ask the Lord to guide you in whatever may be necessary to become a worthy, empowered full-time missionary. You will never regret serving a mission, but you most probably will regret not serving if that is your choice. (Richard G. Scott, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Ensign, [May 2006]: 87).

This call to missionary service does not leave us any choice or option as to the course we should purchase. It is not merely a permissive invitation which allows us to spread the gospel message on a voluntary basis, or if we find it convenient to do so. The decree is mandatory. We have no choice about it, if we are to retain the favor of God. The Lord has laid upon our shoulders the obligation to spread the gospel, to raise the warning voice, to gather in the lost sheep of Israel. If we neglect to do so, we have violated our trust and failed to comply with a divine directive. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 54).